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BUMBLEBEES - "Buzzin' - Behave Records BHCD001

"Yet another traditional Irish tinkly group ..." I hear you say? Well actually - not really. The Bumblebees are an all female, all tune playing band who, at first listen appear to be doing nothing different from what any other Irish band has done in the past (eg. Cherish the Ladies, Dervish). However, a few more listens and a read of the CD blurb tells you otherwise.

All of the tracks are instrumental, so if you are looking for nice Irish singing this is not for you, but those of us who are "tunes people" are not disappointed. A breath of fresh air from many groups who are tied to their own tradition, The Bumblebees take their influences and tunes from Canada, Scotland and Cape Breton as well as Ireland. Tunes gathered from all over the place are taken and "Irishised" while still keeping the original spirit of the tune.

Particularly noteworthy for this is the excellent "Brake Yer Bass Drone" a Gordon Duncan tune which has been tried and tested by many bands. The Bumblebees have used the fiddle, banjo and accordion as the melody instruments while the harp takes the accompaniment. The tune is still very much what it was intended to be but it has a new, Irish angle to it. A similar treatment is given to the La Bottine Sourante tune "Nos Braves Habitants" which is played by the banjo, fiddle and accordion with a rhythmic accompaniment on shells (use your imagination)! Also worth noting is the addition of the banjo to the usual line of instruments (fiddle, harp accordion) which adds an extra dimension to the music and helps to reinforce the melody line which can often be lost in the mish mash of instruments of many bands. The playing is generally light and sparse but they are not afraid to let loose on tunes such as "De Saint Paul A Terrebonne" where Bumblebees make full use of the ranting fiddles of Liz Doherty and Laoise Kelly.

All in all this is a great album which would make a worthy addition to the collections of anyone who is an Irish music fan looking for something with a different slant.

Paul Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 35 of The Living Tradition magazine.