The Routes Quartet announce their debut album

The Routes Quartet

The Routes Quartet is an exquisite blend of the folk and classical traditions, featuring evocative arrangements of folk tunes and stunning original compositions. The Routes Quartet is made up of the classic string quartet instrumentation of cello (Rufus Huggan), viola (Emma Tomlinson), and two fiddles (Gràinne Brady and Tricia Mullan). The sound is a charming concoction of classical, Scottish, Irish and English traditional music as well as their own deftness for the art of composing. The string quartet instrumentation is well established in other genres but is entirely new to the British folk scene. Routes set out to arrange and explore the vast textures, tones and intimate musical qualities that are characteristic of the string quartet, but with a folky, rootsy accent.

Their debut album, Windrose, was recorded live by Keir Long at St. Columba’s Chapel, Drimnin Estate on the Morven Penninsula and was produced by The Routes Quartet and highly acclaimed fiddle player Patsy Reid. It was mixed by Keir Long at Carrier Waves Studio and mastered by Gordon Gunn in Caithness Mix Room. All photos, artwork and design by Somhairle MacDonald. The Routes Quartet is named so due to the combination of Scottish, Irish and English members. Consequently the title Windrose stands for the cardinal points of a compass which represents the band’s mixture of geographical heritage and musical influences.

The Routes Quartet would like to express their deep gratitude to Louise and Derek Lewis and everyone at Drimnin Estate for their generosity and hospitality throughout the recording. Special thanks to Patsy and Keir for their energy and creativity. Also to Somhairle for the stunning artwork and photos. Thank you to Greg Lawson, Charlie Stewart, Chris Stout, Marc Clement, Charlie Webster, Ross Couper and Jenn Butterworth for all your help and the latter for the living room rehearsal space! Thank you to Kevin, Mike, Adam, Yaffa and our families for their continuous support. Finally, thank you to Creative Scotland for making this recording possible.

Artists’ website: www.routesstringquartet.com

‘Night Mouse’ – live:

Live Dates

August

23rd: Edinburgh Fringe Festival, National Museum of Scotland (Live Music Now Scotland)

September

9th: Creagan Inn, Appin
10th: Abriachan Village Hall, Abriachan
16th: Shawfest, Glasgow

November

22nd: Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast
24th: Mullingar Arts Centre, Mullingar

Fraser Shaw – posthumous tune book and CD

Fraser Shaw
The Islay Sessioners

Fraser Shaw was a wonderful piper, whistle player and composer from Glasgow who resided on the Isle of Islay. After his passing in May 2015, a group of friends and family started a Trust in his honour. The foremost aim of the Fraser Shaw Trust is to raise money for the relief of multiple sclerosis, particularly in Argyll, Scotland, through a series of projects and events celebrating Fraser and his music.

A few years before Fraser’s passing, he had it in mind to release a book of his own compositions, the proceeds of which would go towards the MS Care Centre in Lochilphead, Scotland. Unfortunately, due to his illness, this never came to fruition.

Over the last year and a half, the Trust have been working hard to bring this idea to life and release this much anticipated book, along with an album comprised of Fraser’s tunes. In November 2015 a group of musicians gathered on Islay, to play a special memorial concert at Fraser’s festival, The Islay Sessions, thus laying the groundwork for this album. In January 2016 at Celtic Connections this same group of musicians, “The Islay Sessioners”, as they called themselves, performed this music as part of Islay Night, a concert that both celebrated the music and culture of Islay, and the music of Fraser Shaw.

In September 2016, recording began for the album in Castlesound and Carrier Waves Studios. Many of the arrangements heard at Islay Night have been recorded, along with a few additional tracks. Playing on the album are; Adam Sutherland, Eilidh Shaw, Gráinne Brady, Lori Watson, Innes Watson, Angus MacKenzie, Calum MacCrimmon, Kevin O’Neill, John Somerville, Laura-Beth Salter, Jenn Butterworth, Ross Martin, Tina Jordan Rees, Duncan Lyall, with very special guests; Kathleen Graham, Mhairi Hall and Ross Couper.

The Fraser Shaw Trust is delighted to announce the release of the book and CD on Tuesday June 27th 2017, with a big launch on the Isle of Islay to mark the occasion. The event will take plce in Bruichladdich Hall, with a concert featuring the musicians on the album. A second launch in Glasgow is set for Monday August 7th in St Luke’s Church as part of Piping Live!

Hard copies of Fraser’s CD will be available exclusively at the pre-launch party which will take place in The Sparkle Horse, Glasgow on Tuesday May 16th. Tickets for launch concerts and pre-orders will be for sale online from May 16th through the website – www.FraserShawTrust.com.

Proceeds of the tunebook will go directly towards the MS Care Centre in Lochilphead. Proceeds of the album and further donations will be used for the advancement of education, arts and culture and for the relief of those living with multiple sclerosis in Scotland, particularly on the Isle of Islay.

TOP FLOOR TAIVERS – A Delicate Game (TFT Records TFTR001)

A Delicate GameThe first thing I had to do was discover the meaning of taiver. Apparently it means a rag and, by extension, low or abject. Top Floor Taivers is a good name for a band but there is nothing abject or low about Claire Hastings, Gráinne Brady, Heather Downie and Tina Jordan Rees or their debut album, A Delicate Game.

There’s not that much delicate about their music either. The opener, ‘Johnny O’ Braidieslee’ begins with big piano chords from Tina counterpointed by Heather’s clarsach and Gráinne’s fiddle. It’s a great old ballad of death and derring-do and Top Floor Taivers do it full justice. Next is Findlay Napier’s ‘Princess Rosanna’ inspired, so we’re told, by graffiti on a Glasgow wall. The song is ostensibly about a woman who drowned in the Clyde although I’ve long fancied that Princess Rosanna was, in fact, a ship. Again, it’s given a robust treatment after an a cappella introduction – perhaps a shade too strong given the subject.

‘The False Bride’ is actually quite delicate and stately with piano and fiddle, despite the pain at the end of the story, but the ladies immediately return to the robust with ‘Everybody Knows’. Most people think of Leonard Cohen as being somewhat morose but he could be a bit of a curmudgeon with a bitter sense of humour and a wicked way with words. This is one of his best songs in that vein.

I love ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ but I always worry when someone covers it because, for me, the essence of the piece is Richard Thompson’s incredible guitar part. No-one else dare even attempt it. Top Floor Taivers begin the song with staccato piano chords before opening it out with fiddle but it’s Tina’s playing that expresses the story.

‘Jeannie And The Spider’ is by Heather and her brother Alasdair but sounds traditional and ‘Campfires’ is not so much delicate as fragile with lead vocalist Claire Hastings’ echoey ukulele sounding almost mournful behind her. ‘Ramblin’ Rover’ is a song that is being covered a great deal in the wake of Andy M Stewart’s death and it may be that, of all the songs he’s written, this fine rollicking piece will prove to be his legacy. Finally ’10 Little Men’ is Claire’s adaptation of a nursery rhyme complete with what I take to be synthesised sounds.

A Delicate Game is a fine debut album and I reckon that Top Floor Taivers must be a knockout live.

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 TOP FLOOR TAIVERS – A Delicate Game 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.topfloortaivers.com