What can I say? The whistle player is Kevin Crawford of LUNASA . That band performed here in Cranbrook about a year ago. The fiddle player who is doing nothing is Martin Hayes. He is an outstanding fiddle player from Ireland. The guitar player is John Doyle. There’s nobody quite like John Doyle, he is a beautiful driving rhythm player. He plays in Dropped D and he is all over the neck dropping in counter melodies, bass runs and syncopations like you wouldn’t believe. Listen to the switch up just beyond the 6 minute mark. Doesn’t that nearly unseat you? Maybe one day we will get to hear him here in Cranbrook. After all, over the years we have heard some of the great legends here in Cranbrook so why not?
What I like about this music is that there are no false theatrics. Just driving music that speaks for itself.
I am not so sure about banjos. I don’t care too much for the mechanical five string Bluegrass styles. To my ear they don’t sound very musical, and yet, in the hands of a master like Bela Fleck I am forced to re-evaluate that statement. When he steps outside the Bluegrass box his music is sublime. On another note (pun intended) the Irish adopted the banjo and, being Irish, they changed it by getting rid of the fifth string, tuning it like a mandolin and playing it with a pick. The Irish Tenor Banjo sounds great in Celtic ensembles where it adds punch and drive to the melody line but to hear it practiced solo in one’s basement it sounds frightful. Then there is the the open backed Clawhammer Banjo with the melody floating atop of nice chunking rhythms. It is capable of producing the very best in banjo music. Despite the subversive activities of the Irish the banjo is still the most American of musical instruments. It’s origins may be African but in practice it is absolutely American with a solidly American repertoire. I am so attracted to the sound of the Clawhammer Banjo that I own two and I always have the hope and ambition to one day actually play a tune in the appropriate style. The only thing that puts me off is that I have no real desire to play American tunes. The world does not need another stumbling musician trying to play Old Joe Clark, Cripple Creek or any of the many other standard banjo tunes. So it was nice to come across a video of an Irish tune played on the Clawhammer Banjo. It is a tune composed by Thurlough O’Carolan . For those who don’t know of O’Carolan or his music he was a blind traditional Irish Harper living way back in the late 1600’s. He was a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach and he left us with a legacy of many wonderful tunes. They may not have the contrapuntal complexities of a Bach composition but they have a melodic strength that has kept them very much in circulation right up to present times. Acoustic guitar players love O’Carolan tunes and with the introduction of the DADGAD tuning system on the guitar they have adopted O’Carolan tunes with a vengeance. So here it is, Thurlough O’Carolan’s tune Morgan Magan (Morgan Megan) played on the Clawhammer Banjo.
For those who maybe interested here is the melody for the tune.
I haven’t yet managed to get to grips with playing the tune on the Clawhammer banjo but I suspect it will sit well on a banjo tuned ADADE. It’s another one of those things on my ever lengthening wish list. It just might be that one elusive tune that I am destined to play on the banjo.
11:00 am Musical Taste of the Tattoo – Free Platzl Concert
Cowichan Pipe Band
BC Regimental Band
Saturday, July 15th, 2017
09:30 am Rotary Pancake Breakfast – Centre 64
10:00 am Parade of Bands – Centre 64 to Civic Centre
5:45 pm Doors open – Civic Centre
Concession Opens – Support the Dynamiters
6:00 pm Kimberley Community Band – Civic Centre
7:00 pm Tattoo Performance – Civic Centre
9:15 pm Ceilidh / Dance with Johnny McCuaig Band
For the past 90 years the Kimberley Pipe Band has been an integral part of most major parades and festivals held in the Kootenay region and beyond. Every 10 years, since their 50th anniversary they have hosted a major music and marching performance known as a Tattoo. The 2017 Kimberley Pipe Band’s 90th Anniversary Tattoo featured a 2 hour show of music, pipes, drums and dancing; a street parade featuring over 200 drummers
FREE PLATZL CONCERT – FRIDAY 14th, 2017, 11 am
AT THE KIMBERLEY ARENA, SATURDAY JULY 15, 2017 (in the evening)
Kimberley Community Band
KIMBERLEY PIPE BAND
JAMES NEVE “On the Road to Passchendaele”
That was not the end of the festivities, the evening concluded with a kitchen party in the Arena.
Post script: Here’s something that puzzled me. I have been in Canada over forty years and as usual the Canadian national anthem was played during the evening but this is the first time in all those years that I have been at an event where they played “God Save the Queen”. I find the playing of “God Save the Queen” in Canada a little weird. That’s the British national anthem.
Cello player Jeff Faragher does not need an introduction. He is probably the best known professional musician in the Kootenays. He is the musical director and conductor of the Symphony of the Kootenays. He is a classical cello soloist and teacher of the first order as well as a performer in number of classical chamber music configurations. And, if that is not enough he the driving force behind a “celtic mish-mash” called Breakwater. This group plays in a somewhat Celtic style but, in Jeff’s own words, it is “a mish-mash” of everything from traditional fiddle music, classical, jazz, pop, film music and pretty well anything musical that comes to hand. Over the past two years the group has toured the region extensively. First in a configuration that included Aurora Smith on violin; Jeff Faragher on cello; Ben Johnson on drums and percussion and Rob Fahie on double bass. This was a tight, exciting and well balanced performing unit. That was last year and, of course, as always, things move on. Aurora moved to Victoria; rehearsal travel became an issue for Ben (he lives on the remote east shore of Kootenay Lake); Jeff is now splitting his time between Nelson and Calgary, and Rob, although still available, has a number of other projects on the go. To keep the “mish-mash” mix bubbling Jeff has enlisted the aid of two top flight Calgary musicians. James Desautels has taken over the fiddle chair. James is a full time professional musician and teacher with many, many years experience in a multitude of circumstances and geographical locations including residency in Austin, Texas. Similarly, Rob Maciak is also a full time professional musicians and is best known as a percussionist and teacher. He is currently on the faculty of Mount Royal College in Calgary. Although, in Breakwater Rob plays drums and percussion, he is also an outstanding classical performer on tuned percussion (tympani, chimes, marimba and the like). He performs as a marimba soloist in classical symphony orchestras. He will be the featured soloist with the Symphony of Kootenays this fall performing Neg Rosaaro’s Concerto #1 for Marimba and Strings.
There is an old notion that classical musicians cannot play outside the box. That may have been true sixty or more years ago but now that is no longer the case. Often a sound formal music education is a basis to move onto the exploration of a whole plethora of musical options. A quick research of the resume any number of of top flight musicians will reveal an extra ordinary number who have formal academic and performance credentials out the ying-yang. All musicians in this ensemble would fall into that category. This new incarnation of Breakwater is different from the first edition. For a starter it is a trio rather than a quartet and while it does not have the mellow polish of the first edition it does have more of an edge and a higher entertainment quotient. The current repertoire draws from the same arrangements and sources but with a few more entertainment motifs thrown in for good measure. The “mish-mash” of Bach’s Jesu of Man’s Desire overlaid on top of the the old classical soprano tear jerker Ave Marie is still there to give new life to a couple of classical staples as the trio seamlessly slides into the old fiddle tune The Ash Plant. Other songs and tunes during the evening included Jeff Faragher’s version of the maritime ballad Song of the Mira coupled with the fiddle tune Stolen Apples; Jeff’s version of this ballad is probably one of the best around. James Desautels did more than justice to the old American fiddle show pieces The Orange Blossom Special, The Arkansas Traveler and The Soldiers Joy and a series of waltzes that included the Tennessee Waltz and the Shannon Waltz. As promised, the evening’s “mish-mash” contained a little bit of everything from Beethoven through some fiddle tunes in 7/8; Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind and Running Through Tall Grass; Natalie McMaster’s Volcanic Jig; the traditional Southern Song There is more Love and my all time favorite fiddle tune The Pelican Reel. It was quite a night of good food, good cheer and great entertainment and one that I hope will be repeated at some time in the not too distant future. Here are some images from the night.
The recent performance of the Irish Celtic Band Lunasa At the Key City Theatre in Cranbrook should have been an eye (ear) opener for local audiences. I am sure it is the first time that a Uilleann Piper has graced a local stage. Cillian Vallely playing that curious collection of Irish plumbing certainly gave Lunasa a very distinctive sound and his solo piece was, for me, the highlight of the evening. This is a uniquely Irish instrument that as a Celtic mood instrument has replaced the highland bagpipes. It is not unusual in movies these days when the story line involves the highlands it is the Irish Uilleann that you will hear on the sound track providing the appropriate mystical mood. So it would seem appropriate to have a look at tutorial video to get some idea of how the instrument works.
Also here are also some performances on an instrument that has since the early 60s has gone from strength to strength. I remember in the mid 60s pipers traveling to Ireland to literally sleep on the floor to study at the feet of the great masters who were still alive. Here are some more recent performances. First off there is the Scotsman Fred Morrison who is also a master Highland piper, whistle, small pipes, etc, etc. .
Catherine Ashcroft playing a slow tune that only bagpipes can bring us to a high emotional state. She follows the slow piece with a tour de force on the KING OF THE PIPERS. What I find fascinating is how full the sound can be with all the drones going and various registers that can be heard when Catherine drops her wrist onto the registers. Also Maurice Dickson percussion and guitar accompaniments are more than note wothy. Celtic guitarists seem to have a lock on how to play rhythm guitar.
Just in case it is thought that only traditional Irish Music can be played on Uilleann pipes here is a classical piece by Handel.
and of course Cillian Vallely of Lunasa fame playing the popular LARK IN THE MORNING
HOME ROUTES HOUSE CONCERT – THE BOMBADILS Wednesday November 23, 2016, 7:30 pm at 8163 Gibbons Road Mayook
In a nutshell this was a concert of brilliant music.
Without a doubt one of my favourite recordings is The Lonesome Touch (Green Linnet GLCD 1181) featuring that marvellous Irish fiddle player Martin Hayes and his stellar accompanist Dennis Cahill on guitar. The recording has great sound, great atmosphere, great tunes and as a duo they are absolutely rock solid. Dennis Cahill’s accompaniments are a model of how it should be done. I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to attend a concert and hear music of that caliber. I was wrong. The Home Routes House Concert of the Bombadils was more than a step above that particular recording. As a duo Sarah Frank (5 string fiddle, clawhammer banjo and vocals) and Luke Fraser (guitar, mandolin and vocals) are also absolutely rock solid. Sarah started on violin at age 4 and with Luke graduated from the McGill University Music Program. Sarah majored in classical violin where she shared classes with Cranbrook’s Sarah Aleem. Luke majored in Classical guitar. The program for the evening was a mixture of traditional and original Canadian songs and tunes with great vocal harmonies, fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo accompaniments. They kicked off the evening with one of Sarah’s original tunes called Hazeldean. This was followed by Luke’s Train in the Night. Other tunes and songs included The Fountain, The Feel Good Times Set, the Newfoundland Sea Shanty Heave Away, Doc Watson’s The Long Journey, and an original song written by Caroline Spence called Mint Condition. The final tune in the first set was called Squirrels Rule the Day and Racoons Rule the Night and it featured some marvelous instrumental interplay between both musicians that had them slipping in and out of spectacular unison playing. Playing in unison is, in theory, a simple musical exercise but when played up to tempo between some freewheeling solo excursions it is exciting and impressive.
For the second set, in response to some sheet music from the audience, they sight read the Swedish tune Homage Till En Spelman that they then morphed into one of their regular Norwegian tunes. The performance was flawless. Through out the rest of the evening they played more of the same style of songs and tunes. When they played Black is the Color of My True Loves Hair there was some lively banter in the audience over it’s origins. Was it Scottish or Irish? As it turns out it was neither. It was composed by the American John Jacob Niles in the early days of the twentieth century.
Cranbrook audiences over the last little while have had the opportunity to experience some of the very best musicians that the Celtic world has to offer. Performances have included the Cape Breton groupCoig, Ireland’s Lunasa, both at the Key City Theatre, Blackthorn, Breakwater, Lizzy Hoyt, Jocelyn Pettit Band and now, on this particular evening, in this wonderfully intimate setting Montreal’s The Bombadils. It was a unique opportunity to hear the dynamics and tonal nuances of these two superb musicians. Thanks Glenn and Patricia for hosting this wonderful concert. Here are some more images from the evening.
A small technical Note: Both musicians play superb instruments. Sarah plays a five string fiddle tuned CGDAE (from the bass to the treble side). Effectively it allows Sarah to cover the full range of the violin and the viola on a single instrument. Luke plays a Collings Dreadought guitar and a Michael Heiden mandolin. Michael, who is one of the world’s great luthiers, has a work shop just down the road from here in Creston. Here is the manuscript for Homage Till En Spelman that was thrown into the arena by a member of the audience:
Now, as I said it was a brilliant concert and you had to be there but if you couldn’t make it here is a taste of what you missed:
The stellar “Celtic Band” Breakwater (Jeff Faragher – Cello, Guitar & Vocals; Aurora Smith – Fiddle & Vocals; Ben Johnson – Drums; Rob Fahie – Bass) performed in two concerts, one in Cranbrook, one in Kimberley, in March of this year – see the review below:
Two weeks ago they performed at the Kaslo Jazz Festival. Since we last heard them in Kimberley they have “kicked it up a notch” with tighter ensemble playing, blistering solos and new material. The fact that they continue to expand their repertoire and are constantly bring new material on board gives them a distinct edge over their contemporaries. There was no sitting on their laurels for this band on this tour. Their older material was well represented with the sly segue from the traditional Canadian Log Driver’s Waltz to J.S. Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring. Similarly with Cold Play’s , Viva La Vetta sliding into Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony. But it was not all Classical high jinks. There were healthy doses of traditional fiddle music that included a set of jigs – The Roaring Barmaid / Morrison’s Jig / The Swallow Tail Jig; the Lunasa Set of the Spootiskerry Reel and the Road to Bagra . I couldn’t let the tune with the weird name pass me by so I looked it up in the The Sessions and in the comments it was described as “composed by Shetland fiddler Samuel Ian Rothmar Burns in 1980. Spootiskerry is the name of a farm in the Burns family. A “skerry” is a group of rocks which is covered by the sea, but can sometimes be visible depending on the tide.” So there you have it – my little bit of trivia for the day. Although the strength of the band is in instrumental music they did throw in a few vocals. Aurora did a fine job on the classic highland ballad Wild Mountain Thyme (Will you go Lassie go), and Scarborough Fair. Jeff lead the audience in a soulful version of There is more Love Somewhere. What was missing from the evening was Jeff’s version of the classic Maritime song Song of the Mira ……. maybe next time. There was TV Music – The Theme from Dr Who; film music – The Curse of the Black Crow from Pirates of the Caribbean and a rip roaring version of Amy Cann’s the Catharsis Reel.Aurora and Jeff are very much front and centre in the music but they would not be as successful as they are with out Rob Fahie providing the solid bass parts and the outstanding drumming of Ben Johnson. I have a personal dislike of drummers performing in Celtic bands. I feel they are trying too hard to tap into the pop culture ethos and as a result the music suffers. Drummers always have a tendency to play way too loud without any sensitivity or thought to musical dynamics. Ben is not like that. He is more like a percussionist searching for the right textures to enhance the music. Way to go Ben!. The band finished the evening with an encore version of The Ashokan Farewell from the Ken Burns PBS documentary on the American Civil War. For some unknown reason the light during the performances was a little “dodgy” never-the-less here are some more images from the evening.
The Jocelyn Pettit Band at the HeidOut July 7, 2016, 7:30pm
This was a surprise engagement. Normally the LJO plays at the HeidOut on the first Thursday of the month but due to some health issues they cancelled their regular gig. The Jocelyn Pettit Band was on their way from Fernie to Nelson so they were offered the opportunity to fill in for the LJO. This band from Squamish features Jocelyn Pettit (Fiddle and Stepdancing), Joel Pettit ( Bodhran, Cajon), Siew Wan Choo (Keyboard, fiddle), Colm MacCarthaigh (Guitar and Vocals) and Erik Musseau (Irish Whistles and Vocals). Although I had been in touch with Jocelyn by email the previous week but this gig was such a last minute thing I almost missed out. I received a phone call from a buddy at 8pm letting me know they were playing at the HeidOut. I managed to catch their last set. This was a straight up mix of music from across the Celtic World. I wasn’t organized enough to write down their set list but there were lots of fiddle tunes, songs, Cape Breton style piano, Step Dancing and, of course, Low Whistle tunes. This is a very polished band and I am looking forward to their return. Here are some images from the evening.
There were two really nice guitars on stage; A mid-1980s Larrivee with some fancy inlay on the head stock and the characteristic cut away of that make of guitar. Colm was playing a custom hand built guitar by James Goodall of Fort Bragg in California.
Also thank you Heidi for adjusting the positioning of the lights to improve my photography of the event
LUNASA at the Key City Theatre in Cranbrook, April, 16, 2016
As a descriptor for the music of LUNASA “Banshee Wail” it is not strictly accurate. Wailing it definitely is but Banshee, well maybe not. A BANSHEE is a female spirit in Gaelic Folklore whose mournful wailing is supposed to warn of an approaching death in a household. Lunasa’s music is much more joyous than that. In discussions of art, and in particular music, there are two terms generally applied; Apollonian – characterized by clarity, harmony and restraint; Dionysian – sensual, spontaneous and emotional. Forget death and destruction. The wailing aspects of the flutes, whistles, fiddle and Uilleann pipes can only be described as Dionysian. After all it is joyous enough music to blister paint, get the feet stomping and generally bring down the roof.
LUNASA is probably the most significant band to come out of Ireland since the The Bothy Band roared onto the scene in the early 1970’s. They share the same sonic spectrum with the emphasis on flutes, whistles and fiddle. The Bothy Band used guitar, harpsichord and bouzouki to anchor the rhythm. Lunasa has gone in a slightly different direction by using the ultimate “bottom-end dweller”, the upright double bass, and along with guitar it anchors the band and creates a unique sound.The band has been around for nigh on twenty years and, if one is to believe the flute player Kevin Crawford, they continue to stick around with the hope of another Hawaiian tour at some time in the near future. Over the years the band has had a number of very prominent top flight musicians taking their turn in the line up. They include:
For the concert at the Key City Concert Kevin Crawford played Flute and Irish Whistles as well as doing double duty as the MC. Kevin plays custom handmade instruments by the Australian builder Michael Grinter . Cillian Vallely performed on that mystery of Irish plumbing, the Uilleann Pipes, and the Low D Irish Whistle. Belonging to the esteemed Vallely Family Cillian has a very honorable pedigree in the Irish music scene. His cousin Fintan Vallely edited The Companion to Irish Traditional Music and co-authored Blooming Meadows – The World of Irish Traditional Music. Both of these have a prominent place on my book shelf.
Collin Farrell, not the real Colin Farrell of Hollywood fame , that would have cost the Key City a bundle, but rather an imposter who was actually born in Manchester, England. As an imposter, according to Kevin, he has scored numerous awards as performer of the year, month, week, day and on this tour and on this particular night performer of the minute on a set of tunes that included The Raven’s Rock / Ruby / The Beehive. Colin brings to the stage the fire and precision of the Irish fiddle tradition that is a big part of Lunasa’s music. He also plays Low Whistle and in combination with Kevin and Cillian creates a unique trio unison sound on a number of tunes.
Although there are many guitarists out there playing solo finger style Celtic music the strength of the instrument in the Celtic context is in it’s supporting role as a rhythm instrument. It adds punch and drive to a band. Apart from that through out the evening Patrick Doocey did get opportunities to explore some of the delicate nuances of the guitar. Most notably in a set of Breton tunes and particularly in the wonderful Galician tune Aire de Pontdevedra. In combination with the upright bass player Trevor Hutchinson the guitar and bass combinationprovided the front line of Lunasa with a rock solid foundation to support their melodic explorations. Trevor’s upright bass is almost unique in Irish Celtic music. To my knowledge the upright bass, unlike in Bluegrass music, is not a common instrument in Irish Celtic music. Having said that Trevor’s contribution adds an unmistakable signature sound to the ensemble. Over the years he has graced a number of bands, including those of the Irish button accordionist Sharon Shannon. Moving around the world poses some unique challenges for a bass player . Trevor is a tall man and he requires a big instrument . The shear size of the bass is a major financial and logistical hurdle in transporting the instrument from place to place. Trevor has overcome some of those difficulties by using an instrument that literally comes apart and folds down into a more manageable package. There are a number of these instruments on the market and to get some idea of the just how that is done check the link below.
Here are some images from a memorable night of music.
Saturday March 12, 2016, 7:30 pmat the Key City Theatre in Cranbrook performing on the small stage in the foyer.
To the purists this may not really be “Celtic” music but to the rest of us it turned out to be a really interesting “mash up” (Jeff Faragher’s words) of what is a really fascinating mix of musicians, tunes and styles. Breakwater is a quartet of musicians from the West Kootenays that includes Jeff Faragher on Cello, guitar and vocals, AuroraSmith on vocals and Fiddle, Rob Fahie on Double Bass and Ben Johnson on Drums and Percussion. These musicians come from varied backgrounds with impeccable credentials. Jeff is an outstanding classical celloist who has played in a number of local solo and chamber group situations as well being the conductor and soloist with the Symphony of the Kootenays; Rob is originally from the Montreal jazz scene and is also one of the principal bass players in the Symphony of the Kootenays; Aurora is a fiddle player who teaches in Nelson and also performs as a classical violinist in a number of orchestras, including the Symphony of the Kootenays. Ben Johnson is a drummer and percussionist whose primary interest is in Balkan, Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern music. Apart from percussion he plays a number of instruments from that part of the world including Greek Bouzouki, Oud, Saz and many other instruments with unpronounceable names. With that as the kick off point it is hard to imagine the music being anything other than interesting. The central core of the repertoire is Celtic, specifically, fiddle music, to which the group adds music from the classical masters (J.S. Bach, Dvorak), film music (Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Caribbean), pop music(Coldplay), Canadian (Song of the Mira, Log Drivers Waltz), folk music (Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind), Bluegrass and just about anything else that tickles their imagination. The front line of fiddle, cello and double bass is a combination that fits well with the repertoire. To prove the point they kicked off the evening with a J.S. Bach minuet that morphed into the fiddle tune The Ash Plant. This they followed up with a rousing set of Aurora’s fiddle tunes (The Roaring Barmaid / The New Reel / The Tamlin Reel). After that whirlwind performance Aurora knocked it back a notch by singing The Banks of Loch Lomond followed by the band’s exploration of Jay Ungar’s classic tune The Ashokan Farewell (from Ken Burns PBS Documentary on the American Civil War). For the rest of the evening it was more of the same. Lots of fiddle tunes, including two that I noted for later research when I got home. They were The Pelican Reel (by Gordon Stobbe) and Catharsis (by Amy Cann). There were lots of songs including Jeff Faragher’s outstanding version of Song of the Mira with the tag fiddle tune Stolen Apples (another tune I will have to research). All in all it was an evening of fine music in a performance space, the foyer of the Key City, that has lots of promise. It is a more intimate arena than the performance area in the main theatre. It had good sight lines and sound. However, the lighting was really poor, and I do mean poor. It was dim and marred by undesirable tints from the overhead LEDs. They will have to work on that. A black backdrop curtain would also improve the visuals.
Sunday March 13, 2016, 7:30 pmat the Studio 64 (Centre 64) in Kimberley.
The concept of the “Small Stage” at the Key City and Studio 64 in Centre 64 is much the same. The idea is to create a small performance area with a cabaret like atmosphere with available refreshments and snacks. By and large they have both succeeded, albeit with 5 year head start Studio 64 is closer to finalization. Within the past few years Studio 64 has manged to improve the performance area with a large black back drop curtain and a sophisticated lighting system. The lighting and sound are managed by Ray’s music and the results are first class. All that remains to be improved are the sight lines by the installation of a slightly raised stage for the performers. That is in the works. On the other hand the Key City “Small Stage” is only in the first year of development. On the positive side, with the raised stage the sight lines are good but there is real need for a black backdrop curtain and an improved or better managed lighting system. The sound is good but the lighting is very, very poor.
Breakwater performed the same program at both venues and with the better lighting the Studio 64 performance had more appeal. Below are images from the latter concert. You be the judge of the visuals.
Breakwater – two fabulous concerts with great visuals and great music. I’m looking forward to their return to this area. When they do make sure to mark it on it is on your calendar.