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THE BRIDGE CEILI BAND - ""Sparks on Flags" - Clą Iar-Chonnachta CICD138

In May 1970 a bunch of musicians got together in Portarlington to form the Bridge Ceili Band, and they're still playing under the same leader, Eugene Nolan. Obviously there have been several personnel changes in that time, but this is a group that has avoided the staleness that can sometimes creep in over such a lengthy spell.

Perhaps this freshness has something to do with the ten-piece line-up, which blends five (yes, five) fiddles, two flutes, accordion, piano and drums. Unlike some ceili bands, where the plodding of the piano is matched only by the hammering on the drum kit, the Bridge is driven, subtly yet passionately, by the fiddle section, allowing the other instruments to intertwine and build up a smoothly fluid sound, in which no-one predominates. But they interact as a true band should, giving a performance which is as tight as I have come across in bands of this style.

Their music is chiefly that of the Midlands of Ireland, with the occasional Scottish tune being allowed in. Mostly reels here, interspersed with jigs, polkas and hornpipes, plus one march for good measure, with a grand blend of standard and lesser-known tunes.

As I have come to expect from this recording company, the packaging is also impressive, with informative background notes about the band and the music, all of which make this a very tasty production indeed.

Gordon Potter

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