Scottish musicians lead very busy lives. In fact, I sometimes wonder how they keep track of what they are playing where and when and with whom. So it was that when Mairearad Green and Mike Vass decided that they wanted to play together they tried to set aside a day every month for the purpose. They didn’t always succeed but their efforts led to A Day A Month, a collection of ten tracks made up of nineteen traditional tunes gleaned from old collections and recorded in a croft near Achnahaird.
These are accordion and fiddle duets with no guest stars although there is guitar and I detect some background percussion which gives a modern feel to some of the tunes. The recording is very clean and, I suppose, designed to sound as live as possible. Most of the tracks are up-tempo with one set entitled ‘Jigs’ and another ‘Reels’. The opener, ‘Puirt’, consists of two tunes: ‘‘Ille Bhig’ and ‘Ruidhlidh Na Coilich Dhubha’. I know that puirt means port but I’m none the wiser as to the connection between the three. There are two lovely slow pieces. The first is ‘Dhomhnuil’ or ‘Donald’ which I’m guessing started life as a pibroch, and here the two instruments meld in what is probably an old-fashioned style. A similar unison style is employed on the delightful ‘Miss Muir Mackenzie’. The second slow air is the closing track, ‘Failte Do’n Mhisg’, which features the fiddle over deep rumbling bass chords on the accordion – an almost bleak sound for a haunting tune.
Mike Vass’ guitar opens ‘Tha’m Buntàta Mòr’ with Mairearad’s accordion initially taking the melody before Mike’s fiddle sweeps back into the fray. It’s one the album’s best tracks. Unless you’re a real aficionado of Scottish traditional music or a dedicated session player, most of these tunes will be unfamiliar to you and it’s great that there is trend for musicians digging deep into old books and revitalising some half-forgotten tunes.