Four on

the floor

In Irish (which always gets a good showing at Mayfest) and Scottish folk music. the greatest attractions are the bands that mix powerhouse. muscular instrumentals with songs.

Over seven days, four groups line up to separate you from your cash in exchange for a night of fiddle music and fun.

Mariead Ni Mhaonaigh is the pure-voiced, captivating singer, in Irish and English, and the dynamic fiddler prominent in Altan, who. with flute player Frankie Kennedy and the rest of the boys on second fiddle, mandola and guitar. bring their tasteful Donegal-based traditional music back to an ever-growing Glasgow audience.

Also from Ireland, Four Men And A Dog are not so refined, preferring to go for the jugular in terms of musical excitement. The fiddler has an extraordinary technique which he doesn‘t mind displaying every time he plays tunes. usually reels. which he dashes ofwith astonishing speed and assertiveness. Certainly out to entertain, the band have a droll sense of humour and a larger-than-life character in Gino Lupardi who plays bodhran, sings songs and generally won‘t stay in his seat.

Scotland‘s Battlefield Band are back from their Australasian walkabout with young fiddler and multi-instrumentalist John McCusker fully at home on the big stage. The combination ofJohn‘s fiddle and Iain MacDonald’s peerless piping has breathed new life into what remains one of Scotland’s most famous musical exports.

Expect a surge of Caledonian emotion when Dougie MacLean joins Capercaillie for a night at the Royal Concert Hall. His song from the lager advert, recorded by Frankie Miller, is still a big seller in Scotland, and he no doubt will find the audience ready and willing to sing every line along with him. Capercaillie have a new video planned and soon to be filmed, an undertaking which won’t come cheaper than a six figure sum these days, and their record company has just released a CD-single with Karen Matheson on Gaelic vocals, from the soundtrack they recorded for the film Prince Among Islands. As Glasgow has the biggest concentration of Gaels outside of the outer isles, I expect Karen will find enough of the audience ready to sing every line along with her as well. (Norman Chalmers)

Mariead Ni Mhaonaigh supports Altan at the Henry Wood Hall on Wed 13; The Battlefield Band play the Moir Hall on Sat 9; Four Men And A Dog play the Moir Hall on Wed 13; and Capercaillie play (ilasgow Royal Concert Hall on Fri 1 .

A good heart

Back in the early 70s, an album called ‘Celtic Folkweave’ brought together some of the great talents of a new stream of emerging lrish music. Essentially an urban reworking of the old traditions of instrumental music and song, the young musicians were incorporating instruments from elsewhere such as the Mediterranean bouzouki and Portugese guitarra, playing steel strung guitar in open, modal tunings, adding harpsichord to groupings with uillean pipes and in general redefining the sound of Irish music.

All of the musicians went on to create other bands and all have had a marked influence on a generation of players. Liam O’Flynn, Matt Malloy, Donal Lunny and the others through Planxty, The Bothy Band and Moving Hearts stimulated groups all over Britain, Europe and America to create music in forms and styles that are still apparent.

Of that new wave of singers, Andy Irvine performs regularly on solo tours or with the band Patrick Street, his love of rolling story songs complemented by his remarkable technique on the mandolin family of instruments.

Christy Moore is a toweringly

respected singer and songwriter whose sense of phrasing is masterly and who lets no one escape from a concert unaware of the injustices perpetrated in Ireland and the world.

But Mick Hanley, who took over Christy’s microphone in Moving Hearts, is the most engaging singer of all. His clean, tasteful guitar playing perfectly suits his songs, be they the great ballad melodies like “The Verdant Braes 0f Screen’ or some of his own recent compositions. There is a lyrical quality in his songs and a non-saccharine sweetness in his voice that can be infinitely charming. Though rarely heard live in Scotland, his occasional solo records are available through some of the major record stores. Like Paul Brady, another great singer who emerged from the folk revival in Ireland and is playing Mayfest solo, Mick Hanley has never been one to seek attention or climb on the publicity bandwagon, so take the opportunity to catch this individualistic talent in a late night ambience at the Moir Hall. (Norman Chalmers)

Mick Hanley plays the Moir Hall on Sun 10.

J s the piano .1”, 651;,

Much like the late Benny Hill, Howard

: Jones has been more appreciated in

the United States, where he has been routinely filling 10—15,000-capacity venues, than in his homeland.

Here, he’s been the victim of that

typically British attitude which decrees 1

that any performers who begin their careers with a few poppy Top Twenty hits must suffer the consequences when they try to show that they were serious-minded adult artists all along. Some, like Nik Kershaw, drop their plans of a solo career and slink behind the scenes. Others find the climate overseas more forgiving.

The single ‘Lift Me Up’ is his first for three years, and it’s six since he had a British hit. However, in France and Germany, the demand spurred by a different track, ‘Two Souls’, prompted his record company to release the new album, ‘ln The Running’, in those two countries almost a month before the rest of the world.

’In The Running’ - his sixth- is slick,

fairly poker-laced mid-Atlantic AOH. On it, he’s joined by such guests as Carol Kenyon, Mark Brzezicki, David Lindley, Midge Ure and Little Feat’s old drummer Ritchie Heyward. He has been compared with Steve Winwood, not a regular occurence when Jones first made the charts with ‘What Is Lovet

He is playing his current tour with just 5 a grand piano (and percussionist Carol l

Steele) for company, stripping away

I the layers of songs which, on ‘In The

Hunning’, are never very fussy in the first place. This denuded Howard Jones j is, however, only a temporary state; he’s taking to the road again in August with a full band.

‘I suppose I see what I’m doing now as a bridge between where I was in 1985 and people like Don Henley, Steve Winwood and Jackson Browne,’ he said recently. You have been warned. (Alastair Mabbott) Howard Jones plays Henry Wood Hall on Mon 11. I


Early 3 birds

' Up until now. live performances of early instrumental music in Scotland have tended to be the preserve of specialist visiting groups, such as the Academy of Ancient Music, and the Scottish Early Music Consort, which has done a magnificent jobin bringing the delights of early music to a wide audience. That scene. however, is now set to shift into another gear with the arrival ofa new group which goes under the dramatic sounding name ofScaramuccia. The players, mainly from the SCO, spend most oftheir time playing on modern instruments. but. explains founder-member and cellist Katrin Eickhorst-Squire. the Scaramuccia sound requires something else. ‘For string players it is really quite different, as both the technique and the 1 response are different. J Basically, on a modern instrument it is easy to make a sound, but because ofthc gut strings and set up of an old instrument it is much more difficult.‘ Both she and her husband. Gregory Squire, violinist and director. go regularly to London for lessons, ‘but the secret‘. she says, is ’to make the instrument speak to you and find out what it wants.‘ Her cello is an actual 18th century English instrument, but the violins are both replicas of older ones. And Scaramuccia? ’The name really comes from a piece by Matties, an ' Italian composer, which means skirmish.‘ she explains. What is not in dispute is that Scaramuccia is another welcome addition to Mayfest‘s greatly enhanced classical programme this year. (Carol Main) Scaramuccia play the RSAMD on Sat 9 and St I Bernard‘s Church,

Edinburgh on Sun 10. . (See Mayfest and I Classical listings).


The List 8 21 ME; i692 13