I SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK Amazingly varied black Acapella all-temale grouptrom the USA. Queen’s Hall. Clerk Street (Fringe Venue 72) 668 2019.31Aug.8.30pm and llpm. £7.50 (£6.50).
tiddlerAly Bain and tlautist/singer Cathal McConnell.
Queen's Hall. Clerk Street (Fringe Venue 72) 668 2019.25. 26. 27Aug.
j 7.30pm. £5.50 (£4.50).
Norman Chalmers listens out for this week’s folk hits.
I FISHER FAMILY This group of talented Scots brothers and sisters include Archie. Cilia and Ray. Acoustic Music Centre. Chambers Street (Fringe Venue 25) 220 2462. 29 Aug. 7.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50).
I AWATINAS Wonderful music. dance and costume from Bolivia. StJohns. West End (Fringe Venue 126) 6.30pm. 30 Aug-1 Sept. £4 (£3). Three day workshop at Riddles Court, Lawnmarket (Fringe Venue 11)11am—1pm. 28(24).
Norman Chalmers sounds out the kings of the squeeze-box.
Astride a horse. and sporting a stetson over a fringed jacket. Phil Cunningham gazes out ofthe cover ofhis latest album. The Palomino Waltz is scheduled for autumn release on the Green Linnet label. As with Archie Fisher‘s latest album. Sunsets I Have Galloped Into. let‘s hope the record shop doesn't stack it in the country and
Scotland‘s horseback accordionist produced the album himself. and finds his studio skills are much in demand. The album he recorded of Dolores Kean was awarded a gold disc in Ireland. he then produced Altan‘s last album. and next week he goes into the studios with young Gaelic
singer Mhairi Maclnnes.
‘Nowadays I would much rather produce
albums than tour. I must be getting old. although these things are relative. It‘s a laugh. when I‘m on tour with Aly (Bain). I like telling the audience that he‘s my father.‘
Brought up in Portobello and still in his twenties. Phil has. for more than a decade now. been climbing onto the stages of Europe and the States as a member. with fiddler brother Johnny. ofthe extremely popular Scottish folk outfit. Silly Wizard. Like Relativity. the group the brothers formed with Irish siblings and Bothy Band
members Triona Ni Dhomnaill and Michael O‘Donnell. Silly Wizard is now an occasional band. ‘The Wizard won‘t be getting together in the foreseeable future. although we were nearly going to do this year's Cambridge Folk Festival. But Johnny is living in Boston and really busy with Raindogs. the rock band. He's even doing an American tour with a Soviet rock singer — as a duo. playing electric violin! But we will all be free to do a Relativity tour early in 1990.‘
At the moment Phil is on a ten day tour with ex-De Danaan two-row button box maestro Martin O‘ Connor. and next week in Edinburgh they share a Queens Hall concert with the superlative Irish group Altan.
Phil. whose fluency on the bigger piano accordion is legendary. is looking forward to introducing Martin to Scottish audiences as someone who ‘has been my hero forever. He‘s a genius. technically brilliant. and plays with amazing feel. Not just traditional music. but classical and French material . . . it comes out in his playing. . . in the middle ofa reel he starts to intertwine these things together.‘
I Phil Cunningham/Martin O'Connor with Allan (Fringe) Queen‘s Hall. (Venue 72). 668 2019.2
Sept. 8.30pm. £5 (£4).
On their West Highland tour. between Mull and Oban. Ian McCalman confides. ‘The McCalmans have been going 25 years — this year. Why are we not doing an anniversary tour. like the Dubliners and the Corries? Good question. It‘s because we‘re too embarrassed.‘
As anyone who has heard the Macs‘ humour and harmony will know. when Ian is not singing his tongue stays firmly in his cheek. ‘And we‘re unhappy about being bracketed with the Corries. There are big differences between us. For instance. they make money. we don‘t. They were already playing venues like the Usher Hall when Derek. Hamish and Igot together at Art School and started the band.
Nick Keir. who replaced original member Hamish Bain. finds it amusing to be called ‘New‘ after all those years. ‘It is fading away. except ifthe band plays somewhere it hasn‘t been for say. ten years. you get someone saying. “ah yes. the New Boy'. but I‘ve now been inthis
band longer than any other.
‘The travel does get a bit irksome though. strange foreign food and the likes. We‘ve been all over the place. llong Kong. Australia. New Zealand. Bermuda - lots and lots of places.‘
Ian breaks in: ‘But we want to have to do less. Stay at home more. It matters more and more to us that the quality oflife rules. lfyou're looking at this game as being a means to an end then you‘ve had it. cos the end never comes. So you’d better enjoy the means.‘ I The McCalmans (Fringe) Acoustic Music Centre. Chambers Street (Venue 25) 220 2462. 27. 30 Aug. 7.30pm. £3.50.
Brought up on the Hebridean island of Eriskay where her grandfather was a fine Gaelic singer. Morag MacDonald little new that her future life would revolve round music. Later. married and living in Glasgow. she founded that great Scottish singing family. as mother of all the Fishers. ‘I used to singin the bath and in the sink she laughs ‘and we used to
sit round the piano in the ﬂat off University Avenue. everybody singing. But they‘re all much better now than I was.‘
Everyone interested in Scottish song knows Archie. Cilla and Ray. but the three other daughters. Joyce. Cindy and Audrey are all fine performers. although they have not made a career ofit.
The Edinburgh concert will involve Cilla. Archie and Ray with Cilla's husband Artie Trezise and their multi-instrumental collaborator Gary Coupland.
Morag laments. ‘I won't get to it— granny‘sthe babysitter— but I hope it will be as good as it was at Dundee. It was just like a ceilidh there. Everybody was singing — all the folk.‘ I The Fisher Family (Fringe). Acoustic Music Centre. Chambers Street (Venue 25) 220 2462. 29 Aug. 7.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50).
BOYS OF THE LOUGH
For over twenty years the groupled by Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and Irish ﬂautist Cathal McConnell has journeyed from its Edinburgh base.
delighting and educating audiences world-wide in the beauties oftraditional music. Usingacoustic instruments. and with a repertoire based on the instrumental music of Sheﬂand.Scannd. Northumberland and Ireland. they are blessed not only with virtuoso musicians. but have in Cathal one of Ireland's great singers. Lately. some American musicis creeping into their repertoire. a legacy ofall those tours of the States. Immune to the fads and fashions ofthe music world. neither have they taken up electrified instruments nor added a drum kit. preferingto travel light and talk tothe audience rather than posture in the stagelighting.
Aly‘s networked shows. which are produced in Scotland. are redefining the way that traditional music is represented on TV. and convert an increasing number to one of the most ancient art forms.
One ofthe reasons for The Boys’ long lasting appeal was modestly expressed by Aly ‘we could go on improving. getting better and better for the rest ofour lives and still not be very good. The music has got so much
depth to it. Players like Scott Skinner or Micnael Coleman. these people had techniques of playing that I‘ve not got anywhere near. but I would like to. So you can push the music forward that way. but there aren‘t many bands doing it. There are just a few who do push the technical side oftheir music. and I think that‘s the way the music should be played. lt‘slearningthe art of music instead of going round it. So many groups today aren't pushing their music. They‘re taking safe tunes and making elaborate arrangements.‘
I Boys 0i The Lough (Fringe) Queen's Hall. Clerk Street (Venue 72) 668 2019. Aug 25. 27. 7.30pm. £5.50 (£4.50).
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK
Gospel and politics. with a leavening ofhumour. is the basis of Sweet Honey in The Rock‘s style. This group of black American women has been mixing the sacred and the secular in unaccompanied vocal harmony since their first performance at Harvard University way back in 1973. and though the line up changes with the years
and albums. the pride and dedicated effort in their work shines through. Using minimal percussion. and a huge repertoire of vocal effects. they can draw from over two hundred arranged songs.
A few Festivals back. they arrived here as guests of Washington’s Smithsonian Institute. where founder member Bernice Johnson Reagon works as a cultural historian. As well as performing in the Royal Scottish Museum. they played smaller venues. and I remember them being cheered to the rafters in a hall in Gorgie by a mainly local audience and a few stray Festival-goers.
As well as theirtender love songs. African funeral chants and black American hymns. their hair-raising harmony in
songs about exploitation. corruption. class struggle. gender wars or prejudice is a potent brew. As Evelyn Maria Harris says. ‘It‘s a range ofblack women‘s experience in the USA and what you can share from that is what we want you to have.‘
I Sweet Honey In The Rock (Fringe) Queen‘s Hall (Venue 72) 668 2019.31 Aug. 8.30pm and 11pm. £7.50 (£6.50).
40 The List 25 - 31 August 1989