MONSTER CEILIDH BAND – Mutation (Haystack Records HAYCD011)

MutationThere was a time when I would stand in front of a ceilidh band and when things were going well and you had a hall full of people who were into it it was the most fun you could have with your clothes on. When it comes to recording an album a ceilidh band has two choices: play the music four-square for dancing and teaching or spice it up a bit. The first option must be deadly for the band so, with Mutation, Monster Ceilidh Band have opted for the latter, recording this set live off the floor at Castle Sound under the watchful eye of Stuart Hamilton.

The band can boast four writers who are responsible for 80% of the record. There’s Amy Thatcher, purveyor of accordion to The Shee and Kathryn Tickell, fiddlers Shona Mooney (The Shee) and Grace Smith (The Rachel Hamer Band) and multi-instrumentalist Kieran Szifris, who restricts himself to octave mandolin on this album. Add a couple of traditional tunes and a borrow from Adam Sutherland and there you have it. Monster Ceilidh Band don’t go in for monster medleys only pairing tunes.

The opening set, ‘Venus’, is one such pairing, mating ‘Proximo B’ by Shona with ‘Venus’ by Amy. The others are ‘Mutated Beeswing’ pairing the essentially fiddle solo of ‘The Beeswing Hornpipe’ with Shona’s title track. It’s not clear who the soloist given but as Amy joins in after a couple of minutes I’m guessing it’s Shona. ‘Mutation’ is mutated by Joseph Truswell’s electronics which are a feature of the album. Here, there is something that could be accordion but could equally be distorted wordless vocals.

The band move seamless from that to the relatively conventional ‘All The Swingle Ladies’ by Keiran, half of which you could dance to if you could keep up the pace. Great titles include ‘Trouser Worrier’, ‘Octopus’ and ‘Disgrace’, the latter coming from the quill of Grace Smith as if you had to ask. Even past the record’s half-way mark we hear something new as ‘Never Will’ is introduced by snarling, distorted…what? Bass, I suppose as David de la Haye takes a brief solo.

No, you’re not going to dance (in any formal sense) to ‘Mutation’, although Joseph’s drums are rock solid throughout, but you will enjoy some musical invention.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the MONSTER CEILIDH BAND – Mutation link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artists’ website: http://monsterceilidhband.co.uk/

‘Disgrace’:

Continuum whirlwind continues with April tour

Continuum
Photograph by Louise Bichan

The Shee’s much lauded 2016 album, Continuum, continues to garner critical acclaim – so much so that the band is responding to demand by taking to the road for a second album tour.

The album, composed and released in celebration of the band’s tenth anniversary, will be the focus of the nine-date tour which takes in venues throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

The dates are:

9 April Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare

10 April Otley Courthouse, Otley

11 April The Sage, Gateshead

12 April Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon

13 April The Met, Bury

14 April Universal Hall, Findhorn

15 April The Stables, Cromarty

16 April Workshops and acoustic show alongside mini festival featuring local artists as curated by The Shee, The Old Brewery, Cromarty

17 April Lyth Arts Centre, Wick

The announcement of the new tour comes after the band’s recent live session on BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe.

‘We’re delighted to be taking Continuum back out on the road again in Spring,’ says accordionist and clog dancer, Amy Thatcher, ‘playing for people up and down the country is our real passion and we’re so pleased that the album has captured so many people’s hearts and minds.’

What the press say:

‘A sophisticated, unexpectedly emotional set’ The Guardian

‘The Shee have already made a considerable mark on the folk landscape, but this excellent album takes them to another level’ fRoots

‘The premiere of Continuum at Celtic Connections was an unforgettable event; the album that’s grown from it is simply outstanding’ FolkRadio UK

‘Innovative, creative and beautifully crafted’ Bright Young Folk

‘A thoughtful and emotional collection of songs and instrumentals’ FATEA

‘An impressive, intelligent album’ Folk Witness

‘Sophisticated layering and interplay’ The Living Tradition

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the The Shee – Continuum link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artists’ website: www.theshee.com

‘Troubles/Norther Frisk’ live at Celtic Connections:

THE SHEE – Continuum (Shee Records SHEE4)

ContinuumThe concept behind Continuum, supported by Celtic Connections, was to celebrate their tenth anniversary by having each of them commission a musician of their choice to write a piece of music for the album. That’s only half the story, of course, for the band had then to arrange the music for six players and write some pieces to bind the whole thing together.

The opening song is ‘From The Shadows’ by Laura-Beth Salter. It’s a powerful call to arms to … ah, well. It could be a feminist piece, the logical first thought, but it could be a warning to the rich and powerful that the poor and oppressed aren’t going to take it any more. Next come two atmospheric pieces by Kathryn Tickell; one evoking the borders and the other with a Scandinavian feel. The playing, needless to say, is exquisite.

Rachel Newton commissioned Karine Polwart and the result is ‘Song For Mary’. The Mary in question is Mary Brooksbank, composer of ‘The Jute Mill Song’ and an archive recording of one verse forms the introduction. We’re not told that it’s Mary herself but I’d like to think it is. Amy Thatcher naturally turned to a box-player and who better than Andy Cutting? Olivia Ross’ choice was Chris Wood who shares the credit for ‘Cradle Song’ with lyricist Hugh Lupton. The Shee turns what could be a pretty little song into something quite strange so you’re not sure whether this a mother singing to her baby from the safety of a warm fireside or struggling home from the storm outside.

Laura-Beth, Amy and Shona Mooney provide the next two tune sets with Shona responsible for the wonderfully titled ‘The Vampire Rabbit Of Newcastle’. Olivia wrote ‘Precious Tears’, a song for children – possibly the band members’ own – and Brian Finnegan wrote a trio of tunes with Lillias- Kinsman-Blake’s flute and a journey through India in mind. Finally, we have Martin Simpson’s song for his mother. ‘Dance With Me’ might be seen as the companion-piece to ‘Never Any Good’. Laura-Beth sings it and plays mandolin where Martin would use guitar and the band play what is almost an orchestral accompaniment.

Continuum is a monument to musical collaboration and the exchange of ideas but more than that, it is a tribute to six exceptionally talented musicians.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the THE SHEE – Continuum link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: https://theshee.com/

‘Ower Late For The Lasses/Sheepolska’ and more with Kathryn Tickell live at Celtic Connections 2016:

KATHRYN TICKELL & THE SIDE: new album and tour

KTandSide‘Kathryn Tickell & The Side’
Release Date: 29th September 2014
Label: Resilient Records RES006 (Proper Distribution)

Kathryn Tickell & The Side features Kathryn Tickell on Northumbrian pipes, fiddle and voice; Louisa Tuck (Royal Northern Sinfonia) cello; Amy Thatcher, accordion and voice and Ruth Wall, harps (lever, bray, wire-strung) and voice.

When world-renowned Northumbrian piping virtuoso Kathryn Tickell decided to put a new band together, she wasn’t going to let a mere 600 mile round trip for rehearsals stand in her way (Ruth, the harpist, lives in Cornwall, the rest of the band are in Northumberland) nor was she daunted by the fact that cellist Louisa already had a full-time job with Royal Northern Sinfonia. “These are the musicians I wanted to work with” she says “and the best things in life are not always the easiest!” Eighteen months later, that determination and focus has paid dividends with the release of the ensemble’s eponymous debut album Kathryn Tickell & The Side which will be released on 29th September, followed by a UK tour in October / November.
Continue reading KATHRYN TICKELL & THE SIDE: new album and tour

KATHRYN TICKELL – Northumbrian Voices (Park Records PRKCD121)

KATHRYN TICKELL Northumbrian VoicesThere can be nobody prouder than a father and raconteur (Mike Tickell) witnessing his daughter entertaining an audience from centre stage and in this case the daughter (Kathryn Tickell) vice-versa. That much is obvious from the camaraderie of everyone involved on this wonderfully crafted 2-disk set from those very fine chaps at Park Records. Now, where do you place a recording that would comfortably settle on either an audio book or music CD shelf? Well, for me it sits alongside my previous recordings of her albums of which I profess to own most of them. Although internationally recognised for her Continue reading KATHRYN TICKELL – Northumbrian Voices (Park Records PRKCD121)