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This is one of those kitchen sink columns. We’ve ignored a lot of great cd’s. They pile up and here we are. It’s not pretty, we admit this. But, when you get 500 a year sent to you for review, you can blink once and fall a month behind. So it has happened. In fact, this column is going to waddle us through about half of what we want to talk about. So let’s can the chat and get to the work!

Want to start with something really different and special? Wandering in our usual haze to the mailbox recently, what appeared but a cowboy album!? Well, it is and it isn’t. Skip Gorman has a wonderful album out entitled, A Herder’s Call. It is filled with 12 perfectly performed cowboy tunes--most of which are actually Irish. The regular reader knows how much we love this fusion stuff, but we had never P.S. (Pre-Skip) been aware of this rich and deep tradition. We have always loved cowboy music, and you should see our office! Wall to wall Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Wild Bill Hickok. One of our favorites in this genre has always been the great Connie Dover, who actually appears as a guest with Skip on one of the songs here. Just listen to the likes of Buffalo Hunters and you will hear it instantly. Melodies you have heard before, sometimes actual lyrics. Oh, this is wonderful! If you love Americana and you love Irish music, we can’t think of a more terrific blend for you than A Herder’s Call. Skip has been in the business a long time. A perfect voice for the cowboy/Irish songs and a talented fiddle player to boot! Which brings us to his all-fiddle album, Yankee Porridge. Subtitled, Skip Gorman Fiddles Celtic, and it is all trad. It is fantastic. What a two-pack!! Highly, highly recommended.

Colm Phelan is the bodhran player for Goitse, one of our favorites groups in the world. He is out with his first album, Full Circle, and it is a beauty. Lots of different bodhran styles, never overdone. A nice bit of business, altogether. Recommended, and doubly so if you play bodhran.

One of the hot new musicians on the scene is a young lad from New York. He is a three-time All-Ireland Fiddle Champion named Dylan Foley. Only 20 years old, his first solo album is entitled, Hup! Suffice it to say that lots of Irish musicians are getting on board with him, and grabbing him for various bands and projects. There are these young musicians who come along of whom the older cats speak glowingly. You know the older cats. The “ones”. The fellow, older, well-regarded and loved musicians who can make or break a reputation with the drop of a word. Well, in the case of this young lad, they all seem to be “on side”. Great buzz on Dylan out there in the music. A student of Rose Flanagan and mentored by Brian Conway among others, his playing has a definitive melodic appeal. Great style, especially in one so young. This young fella is set for a long run.

Luke Daniels is one of our favorite button box players in the world, and has been for some time. He is out with a fabulous double album, entitled The Mighty Box. We first heard him years ago with the iconic, Reeltime. He stayed with us here in Chicago, and we also met him in Ireland for a couple nights at Reeltime founder, Chris Kelly’s home. Magic memories, now lost in the veil of history. At that time, he had been selected by the BBC as Young Musician of the Year. That was many years ago (enough that it would be indelicate of you to ask what specific year) again, all lost in the veil. However, he has gone on to wonderful things since then. He is a master of the traditional form and is also extraordinarily creative at the same time. An extremely gifted musician. If you love Irish button box, this album is a must. Be aware that there are stretches of trad perfection, accompanied by brilliant modern touches. This is magic. This is Luke Daniels. This is the best. Wow! Let us repeat, Wow!

Greentrax is the unquestioned leader on the Scottish music scene. They have been for 25 years. To celebrate their Silver Anniversary, Greentrax has re-released their first album ever. It is a lovely piece of fiddle business called A Breath of Fresh Airs by Ian Hardie. Wonderful music. As most of us love the Scottish fiddle, you really ought to have this. Along with that particular piece of loveliness comes a singer new to us. Alistair Ogilvy. The album is Leaves Sae Green. All singers come down to whether or not you individually like their voices. We love Ogilvy’s. Very mature for his young age, this album shows a real presence and understanding of the music. This is great stuff. The other recent winner we got from Greentrax is by a new Scottish band, Rura. Well, new to us anyway. They most recently won the MG Alba Scots Trad Music 2011 Award for “Best Up and Coming Group”. Get hold of this and you will know why. The name of the album is Break It Up, and indeed they do. This is a foot tapper. All congratulations must be given to Greentrax for 25 years of unbroken excellence. From Ian Hardie to Shona McMillan’s, People and Songs of the Sea, Greentrax has offered us not only entertaining albums, but in many cases, culturally important ones, as well. Long live Greentrax.

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Tags: Dylan Foley, Luke Daniels, Skip Gorman

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Comment by Sergij Fab on April 20, 2012 at 17:23

Dear Bill,

yesterday night at 2am I read your last post, every time you talked about someone jumping on youtube to seek simultaneoulsy for the artists you mentioned: so it looked like a multimedial lesson!

So, I learnt much about the bodhran, the button box, the fiddle and so on, ever more going into the deepest roots of the Irish music.

Thank you very much...


P.S. Because of the late hour and not a bit of Lagavulin, eventually I thought the Greentrax was a band!

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