FEATURE THE FLEADH
At the time it must have looked like the archetypal novelty hit. With ‘There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears lle’s Elvis’, Kirst MacColl was a prime candidate ior one-hit wonder status: More than ten years later, however, she has established herseli as one oi the most consistently intriguing writers oi three-minute pop songs. Marriage to producer Steve Lillywhite has also meant she is one oi the most prominent backing vocalists, lending her services to everyone irom Simple Minds and The Smiths to The Wonder Stuii and Happy Mondays.
It’s odd then that it has taken Kirsty all this time to periorm live, guest spots with The Pogues apart.
‘i was scared but thought it was now or never,’ she admits, ‘l didn’t want to look back in twenty years and think “I wish I’d had a go”. I thought it i didn’t like it then l’d just never do it again but it was ianiastic.’
For the live shows, her band includes iorrner Fairground Attraction songsmith Mark Nevin who, along with Johnny Marr, co-wrote much oi her last album ‘Electric Ladyland’. Despite yielding a bona tide hit in the shape oi ‘Walking Down Madison’, Virgin, her record company ior the past iew years, decided a parting oi the ways was in order leaving Kirsly in the ludicrous position oi being without an outlet ior her already hall-recorded follow-up album. (James Haliburton)
Playing the two-row accordion, the classic Irish box, Sharon comes from County Clare, the heartland of free reed playing. Although still only 23, she has already served her apprenticeship- first in her family, where her parents are dancers and her two sisters and a brother constitute a band, playing fiddle, flute and banjo - and later in Arcady, formed by De Danaan’s Ringo McDonagh.
What really brought her to the general'public’s attention was her spell in the Irish/Scottish roots version of the Waterboys. Many people found an interest in traditional music through their Fisherman’s Blues album, and of the musicians Mike Scott gathered in the touring band, Sharon shone out as the oustanding player.
Sharon had a great time with the Waterboys but eventually decided to go solo and record her own album. At a time when many bands are adapting traditional music, rediscovering their roots or repackaging their musical heritage, there is a marked lack of taste in most of the new syntheses. Sharon cannot be faulted in that respect. Her first album is a great, cheerful and eclectic set of music, and such is the respect she commands of her Irish musician peers that Liam O’ Maonlai of Hothouse Flowers,
Adam Clayton of U2, various Waterboys and Donal Lunny queued up to be part of it. In Glasgow with her own band. she‘s guaranteed to pull a smile out of the
LUKA BLOOM Roving endlessly. Luka Bloom has been wending his way round the global gig grind for sixteen years now. ‘Up to now that's been a matter ofchoice.‘ he admits. ‘but I do intend to try and get it a bit more under control.” Strumming furiously. said wending wound its way to Glasgow Pavilion two years back in support of Toronto‘s finest stage-whisperers. ‘I felt like a heavy metal opening act. supporting the Cowboy Junkies!’ Scrubbing diligently. Luka Bloom appears to be doing the dishes whilst calling from his Dublin home.
‘Yeah. I am actually! I‘m enjoying a bit ofdomestic bliss now that I‘ve got
two weeks off.‘
Through such tireless vim and committed Showmanship. Christy Moore‘s younger brother — for ’tis he — has successfully promoted his self-made alloy of acoustic guitar and electric momentum. By dint of his busting wide the strictures that are meant to govern solo strummers. Bloom has created a music that the Yanks in particular just luurve, and a stage performance that positively gallops.
‘When you write on your own and you play a guitar and you write songs, you tend to get lumped into a very specific category.’ he says as he Brillo‘s a pot. ‘I like to play in front ofan audience that like a lot of noise. I like the irreverence that goes with working in a rock ‘n‘ roll arena as opposed to working in a folk arena. Folk seems to be very reverent and serious. . .
So Luka Bloom Celtifies LL Cool J's ‘I Need Love’. spices up his recent The Acoustic Motorbike album with rhythmic racing, and somehow stokes a mighty buzz from the most basic of instrumental building blocks. ‘You never imagine yourself wanting to dance to a solo performer.‘ he says. rinsing a cup,
‘or want to make love to the thing. I like the idea of breaking down some of those barriers. And of making as much fucking noise as possible!‘ (Craig McLean)
,; '3’ n‘ '
.. I The Levellers area
their tour bus for most of
. ‘v I" _ musical expression ofthe H ' “Y I ageless anarchic touring I band. Freedom is the 5 message, and an uncompromising English rootsiness the medium. ‘ But they will incorporate _ anything from anywhere, } ifit’s got the energy they a : need. American : hoe-down tunes and songs ‘ ‘ from the dispossessed of any era will do. as long as l they can be hurled out. On
the year, they‘ve moved far away from their Brighton pub roots. and have already achieved chart success with one single. In purely musical
terms don‘t expect much,
and don‘t make the mistake of pigeonholing them. They resent being
thought of as a folk band.
Essentially an angry. inﬂamed response to a decade of Thatcherist
materialism and conformity. their urge to
the native instrumental
confrontation, protest and cultural freedom will find ready empathy on Glasgow Green. (Norman Chalmers)
I The Chieltains are now the establishment of Irish traditional music. having emerged in the 605 from a musical experiment of the great composer and patriot Sean O'Riada. who took the remnants of
forms and artfully reconstructed them. Since O‘Riada‘s death the band has been pushed forward by the conﬁdent energies of uillcan piper Paddy Moloney. but the classical overtones are still apparent in the arrangements. and especially in the harp and hammered dulcimcr playing of the individualistic, perhaps
musicologist Derek Bell. Back from Hollywood where they’ve been recording the score for Tom Cruise’s latest film with composer John Williams. they‘ll turn in their usual polished performance, but in flautist Matt Malloy and fiddler Sean Keane. you‘ll hear the highest level of traditional music making. (Norman Chalmers)
The Glasgow Fleadh is not, as the promoters insist, the first fleadh cheoil , or feast of music in the city. There have been annual regional ﬂeadhanna all over Ireland, Britain and overseas for decades. The movement began in Ireland with the foundation of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri
Eireann, the Association of Irish Musicians, set up to promote the dying traditional music, both instrumental and song. The first fleadhanna were established in the 60’s with competitions for harp, uillcan pipes, ﬁddle, ﬂute, whistle and other instruments, song competitions in Irish Gaelic and English, and the mesmerising step dancing. Winners of a regional ﬂeadh went on to compete in the All-Ireland which moved around the country from year to year.
The real business of a'ﬂeadh is.
however, the crack. Almost medieval in its concentration on music, drink and potential short-term relations with the opposite sex, fleath developed an attractive allure, that could draw huge crowds to small Irish towns for long weekends of over-indulgence.
in a long street of crowded pubs, there was a buzz as the two great and distinctive flute players ended up in the same room. With a few other instruments and the ubiquitous glass of stout, the music would then unravel over hours, the rivalry keeping an edge, and the bar full of
The democratic principle of no separation between player and listener meant that there were no concerts and no ticket prices. Spontaneous music would ignite when old friends or strangers met in bars or at street corners, in tents or on the beach. Big names on concert stages could remain unremarked on while playing guitar with a fiddle and box in a corner.
There would be good-natured musical duels, as once in Kerry when the word was out that Tansey was looking for McConnell. Eventually,
punters and musicians celebrating great playing.
I h0pe there is the potential for some degree of music making on Glasgow Green, rather than simply performance and consumption. The ﬂeadh was a reaction away from the - music biz and pop culture , and it would be sad to see the concept hijacked. And anyway, in Scotland, we already have an equivalent, emerging movement of Feisean. Perhaps this country will some day support a Glasgow Feis? (Noman Chalmers)
IO'I‘he List 22 May - 4 June 1992