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FIDDLERS' BID - All Dressed in Yellow

All Dressed in Yellow
Hairst Blinks Music HBM001

Compared to many multi-fiddle groups out there, these guys have a couple of advantages. They've grown up playing music together, in a small community which particularly cherishes fiddlers. Also, they come from the Shetland Islands, where there really is nothing else to do a lot of the time except play music! Whatever the reasons, Fiddlers' Bid have a particularly tight and intuitive sound: Andrew Gifford, Chris Stout, Maurice and Kevin Henderson gel perfectly with each other on fiddles, and with Fionan de Barra and Jonathan Ritch on guitar and bass. Another great asset is the harp playing of Catriona McKay, not an obvious Shetland sound but used intelligently here to add contrast and soften the raw fiddle sound. Catriona backs the whole outfit on keyboards too.

All Dressed in Yellow features several big old Shetland tunes, as well as many compositions by band members. Some surprises have sneaked in too, including the well-known Scottish march Hunter's Hill and a less familiar Estonian waltz. Da Skeklers is pure Shetland, driving unpredictable rhythms and a modal melody that fits the fiddle well. Midnight is a gentler version of Shetland dance music, the solo fiddle here allowing some very tasty touches on harp, guitar and bass to be appreciated. The opening set of odes to drink contains three great new Shetland tunes. Fetlars Topp is a catchy jig by Norwegian fiddler Vidar Skrede, and it's followed by Chris Stout's tremendous composition Skerryholm. Olav Johansson composed the beautiful Astrid's Vals, deservedly given a track to itself.
The title track is a fifteen-minute monster mix of old and new tunes from Shetland and beyond. Starting with the late Willie Hunter's reel Simon's Wart, the gang launch into Lowrie's Reel by Chris Stout before two very traditional Shetland fiddle tunes.  Cascou from French Canadian fiddler Pascal Gemme is another unpredictable driving reel, fading into a traditional Swedish waltz.  The track, and the album, finally ends with the Shetland song air Aa Dressed in Yallo.  Marvellous stuff, more power to their collective elbows!  Visit for more information.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.