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VARIOUS ARTISTS "Ceilidh House Sessions" Greentrax CDTRAX 5002

A country's people are drawn to their capital city. Edinburgh is no exception. Transient city residents, students, tourists and visitors, the cultural explosion every August, the city's architecture and history have all helped in the creation of a cosmopolitan air round many parts of Edinburgh, especially in the "auld toon". Leave Princes Street and take the steep curving road, called The Mound, turning past the Castle, then on to The Sheriff Court and St. Giles Cathedral, along part of the cobblestoned Royal Mile and then to Hunter Square and The Tron Tavern. Worth visiting for the fine historic pub that it is but with the added bonus that music is a regular addition to the bill of fare. The Ceilidh House Sessions is a showcase displaying some of The Tron Tavern's regular singers and players, ranging in styles from a cappela harmony to ceilidh band, taking in some impressive fiddle and banjo playing along the way.

The majority of the music recorded here is Scottish Traditional or traditional based plus some material written by the musicians themselves. There is a wealth of experience and talent among the performers. Palaver, for instance, are an all-women singing group better known for their work individually than as a foursome and include Aileen Carr who has done much for traditional music through her singing and involvement with the T.M.S.A. Chris Miles, an organiser of many events and a well known figure and voice at clubs and festivals. Gordeanna McCulloch sang and recorded with The Clutha for many years as well as recording a solo album for Topic and, from Dundee, Maureen Jelks, a character in her own right who has an album on the Dunkeld label. Notable among the musicians is Simon Thoumire who has astounded audiences throughout the U.K. with his fusionistic progressive concertina style. Added to this are the performances from fiddle players, Eilidh Shaw, Kathryn Nichol, Michael Gill, Freddy Thomson and Adam Jack, songs from George Duff and Scottish group Seannachie and the banjo playing of Sam Ramsay and Ian Carmichael. William Haines plays a more traditional sounding concertina set, with a keyboard and whistle accompaniment from Martainn Beag. A track from Davy Thomson, who died earlier this year before all recording work was completed, is included. The guitar solo, "Tron Blues" was Davy Thomson's own composition. Overseeing all this, as well as the Tron Tavern, is the boss himself, Cy Laurie. Involved with various aspects of acoustic music since the sixties, he has a liking for ballads and songs of a similar construction and tone. He is included here with a couple of songs including a fine one of his own, "Strangers to Me".

The fifteen tracks on the Ceilidh House Sessions add up to a mini festival, from The Tron Tavern in the heart of the Festival City.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 7 of The Living Tradition magazine.