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Avonmore Records 

Though born in St. Louis, Kevin started taking fiddle lessons at the age of nine and developed an early career in Irish traditional music, soon branching out into other styles of fiddle music before essaying garage rock, then indie rock with the band Grace Basement, and latterly the world of record engineering and mixing. It makes sense, then, that Kevin’s debut solo album should showcase his exceptional prowess as fiddler, while also utilising his portfolio of accumulated professional talents.

Big Spring is a cross-genre fusion album with the spotlight on Irish traditional and bluegrass fiddle styles and making the occasional excursion into swing – all performed with a knowing twinkle in the eye and an infectious rhythmic verve. It’s a polished collection, recorded in Kevin’s home studio; Kevin majors on fiddle but also picks a neat guitar – but in spite of its studio production values there’s also an appealingly downhome feel to the proceedings.

The CD opens and closes with rip-roaring Irish fiddle tunes – Sweeney’s Wheel by Jackie Daly, and the traditional Langton’s (by way of a coda to Ships Are Sailing), in between which it goes on its merry way picking up musician friends at various points. Two tracks (La Rubia and Hardiman The Fiddler) embrace a contribution from harpist Eileen Gannon; others bring in Alan Murray on bouzouki, Gerard Eeker on banjo or Jon Ferber on guitar. As well as the spiritful instrumentals, Kevin treats us to three songs: the traditional Miss Bailey, Andy Irvine’s Never Tire Of The Road, and best of all The Blackest Crow, where Kevin comes closest to role-model Tim O’Brien and features a supportive harmony vocal from Alex Sinclair.

This is a most enjoyable album that employs plenty of variety and should appeal as much to the non-specialist as to the enthusiast of fine fiddle playing.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine