Link to Living Tradition Homepage





Sleeve not available Sleeve not available
"Celtic Fiddle Festival Encore" Green Linnet GLCD1189
WENDY MacISAAC "That's What you Get" KRL CDLDL1266

If you don't like fiddle music, you need read no further because these two CDs contain little else! At well over 60 minutes each, there's enough fiddle music here to keep most people happy for a while.

If you like your music polished, you won't go far wrong with "Encore". This is the second offering from Celtic Fiddle Festival, live recordings of Kevin Burke, Johnny Cunningham and Christian Lemaitre. In twelve tracks we have six fiddle solos and five trio sets: the missing track is a solo by Breton guitarist Soig Siberil, who accompanies most of the other eleven tracks with admirable skill and discretion. The formula is much the same as on the first album (GLCD1133), but the material is perhaps slightly more traditional. Highlights include the opening set of driving reels and jigs from Kevin Burke, the flashy and carefully arranged set based around "Mrs Kenny's Waltz", an 8-minute unaccompanied medley from Johnny Cunningham, and the two classic Scottish slow airs "Hector the Hero" and "The Dark Island". (This is the second interesting rendition of "The Dark Island" to be released recently: the other one is on Iain MacLachlan's re-released album "An Island Heritage" (SPRCD1022) and is completely different.)

If you like a less polished sound, then you could do a lot worse than Wendy MacIsaac's album. As the title suggests, this is fiddle music as it comes naturally: 63 minutes of Cape Breton dance music, full of energy and lift, with some added fireworks from the backing musicians. There are no slow airs in evidence here, but reels, jigs and strathspeys aplenty. Wendy is a cousin of rebel Ashley MacIsaac, and she may be familiar from her playing with singer Mary Jane Lamond, but on this recording she puts aside both those influences and gives us twelve tracks of good old-fashioned foot-tapping fiddle tunes. She's also joined by Willie Kennedy on a couple of tracks, a rare appearance by a leading figure from the older generation of Cape Breton musicians. Wendy's fiddling fits very comfortably with the older style, and even the addition of electric guitar and drums on one track doesn't mar the traditional feel of her music. Some may find this recording rather overpowering: an hour of unrelenting step-dance music is not for the faint-hearted, so if you're not up to the full Monty I suggest you skip the first five tracks!

Whether you go for the heady blend of top-class Irish, Scots and Breton fiddling from Celtic Fiddle Festival, or the sheer bow-shredding power of the unadorned Cape Breton tradition, you won't be disappointed.

Alex Monaghan

Secure On-line mailorder service Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 27 of The Living Tradition magazine.