Link to Living Tradition Homepage





VARIOUS ARTISTS - Orkney Folk Festival: Fiddle Gathering

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Orkney Folk Festival: Fiddle Gathering
Private Label OFFCD027

A second CD from this popular Northern Isles festival, Fiddle Gathering focuses on Orkney's strong fiddle tradition, with a wide range of performers from older and younger generations and everything in-between. It's not all fiddles - far from it in fact. There are three songs, and only half the tracks are truly fiddle led. There's plenty of great fiddling here, of course, from some weel kent names and some surprises. The house band includes Kristan Harvey and Douglas Montgomery, stalwarts of several touring bands such as Blazin' Fiddles and Saltfishforty, and their storming opener is the perfect start with Liz Carroll's Wisahicken Drive leading into the Canadian cracker, Mass Pike. At the other end of the tempo scale, Fionn MacArthur plays his own poignant air, Kirk On The Shore, a beautiful melody with masterful piano accompaniment by Jen Austin. The Wrigleys, the Drevers and a few others are missing, but that just shows the depth of Orcadian talent.

Several sets of dance music feature local composers: Billy Peace, Hugh Inkster, Aly Windwick, Brian Cromarty and others. There are also tunes from the core Scottish dance band repertoire: moothie maestro Billy Jolly leads the pair of pipe marches, Father John MacMillan Of Barra and The Balkan Hills, followed by Flett From Flotta and The Reconciliation. All tracks were recorded live at the 2015 festival, and there's a relaxed atmosphere to the music which adds to its consistent high quality. The three songs are all very different: Billy Jolly sings an unaccompanied local ditty, and tells the cautionary tale which inspired it. Jenny Keldie and Jeana Leslie join the house band for The Trooper And The Maid, a traditional ballad of love and soldiering given a saucy setting here. The Games People Play is performed by the five talented young ladies of Fara - Kristan, Jeana, Jen, Louise Bichan and Catriona Price - and it honestly took my breath away. The singing is spectacular, the accompaniment inspired, and the whole thing is polished to perfection. Fara also deliver a set of fiddle tunes, Kristan's 7/8 composition, Billy's Short Leg, joined to a powerful rendition of Thunderhead and finishing with Diarmaid Moynihan's reel, Across The Rooftops, another highlight of Fiddle Gathering. I'll be looking out for Fara's new album this year. In the meantime there's lots to enjoy on this Orcadian CD. 

Alex Monaghan

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.