IRISH CHANTEUSE Mary Black is one of the most guaranteed crowd-pleasers on the bill. though if the wind gets up it could cause a certain amount of havoc with her silken. subtly shaded vocals. Born into a musical family who play together as a band
occasionally. Black spent several years as a member oftop traditional outﬁt De Dannan before striking out on her own. motivated by the desire: ‘To do more contemporary music. to experiment with different styles. and to be more in control of what i was doing. [just don’t feel I‘m expressing myselfproperly if I'm performing in just the one style.‘
It proved to be a shrewd move — Black's melting delivery of contemporary ballads. mingling folk. country and pop styles. with the odd jazzy or bluesy touch. has earned her a clutch of music industry awards and made her the biggest-selling act in lreland after U2. She has expressed the desire to 'leam to let go a bit‘ with her singing. and her forthcoming album The Holy Ground. like its predecessor Babes in the Wood. sees her experimenting with a wider range of vocal styles. a little pleasing rawness creeping where before all was polish. (Sue Wilson)
THE HUMPFF FAMILY
AT LAST MONTH‘S Kelvingrove Free Music Festival in Glasgow. an otherwise humdrum day of emerging Scottish talent was suddenly enlivened by that old Jockrock standby: the ceilidh-cum- hoedown verve of the busking band with a cattle- prod tip their jacksies. Glasgow's Humpff Famin are a mix of two country musics — the Scottish Country Dancing of the traditional type that is foisted upon recalcitrant schoolkids throughout the Isles and the miles. and American country twanging of the type that left Celtic shores with 19th century emigrants and wound up in the Mississippi delta and the Louisiana swamps.
The Humpff Family straddle both (interlinked) forms. splicing cajun banjo-pickin' velocity with Celtic folk poignancy. They‘re also rather humorous a bunch. Their Mothers album. released last autumn
on lona Records (home of another Fleadh star. Carol Laula). was a fine. if overstretched approximation of their ‘Ry Cooder meets Rab C. Nesbitt' rock ‘n‘ reel. But it‘s on stage. with all umpteen of them madly jamming and banjoing and fiddling away. that they really take hold ofthe imagination. Watch out for their a capella gospel chuckle ‘Teach Jesus‘. complete with hand actions straight out of the Brian Cant/Play Away school of mime. ‘You have just been Humpffed . . .‘ they'll say. and you‘ll know it. (Craig McLean)
Who’s on when and where at this year’s Headh. This running order was correct at time
Lost Soul Band Mouth Music
The Humpff Famin (8.15M) John Martyn
l Main Stage:
(from12.15pm) River Detectives Lindisfarne Dougie McLean Mary Black The Pogqu Aztec Camera Van Morrison
THOSE SEEKING a few dance grooves to leaven the Fleadh’s predominantly folk/Celtic- rock mix will be pleased to see Mouth Music on the bill. It’s been quite a year for the Edinburgh six-piece. which has developed from a twosome setting Gaelic songs to high-tech backings into a seriously funky Clubland outﬁt. producing upfront. up-to-the-minute dance sounds with an unexpected Gaelic or ‘ethnic’ twist. Since the release of their latest album Mo-Di a few months back. the band’s wide-ranging approach has gelled into a tight, distinctive sound; suddenly they're the name on everyone’s lips as a damn fine live act. not just an interesting concept.
While they‘re targeting their efforts very much at the dance scene these days, their multicultural edges also open other doors for them. like the Fleadh. or the WOMAD gigs and folk festivals they’ve played. Main man Martin Swan is happy to perform for any audience who‘ll listen, but . . . ‘We don’t want to go out as a band that plays Gaelic music in unusual styles. we want to go out as a left-ﬁeld rock/dance band who integrate a certain amount of Gaelic music into what they do. it all sounds as though we're bending over backwards to be successful at all costs. but what‘s the point of doing it if you don’t want the largest number of people to hear what you do that’s different?’ (Sue Wilson)
I Dysney Moon
This lnverness duo are veterans of supports with Capercaillie. Wolfstone. Frankie Miller and Ralph MrTell. and their recently- released ‘Runaway' CD bears out the disparate elements of such acts and their inﬂuence on the Dysney twosome. Their folk is ethereal. the voice of Anne Marie Middleton (presenter of the lnverness profile in last year's BBC Scotland Insiders prog) ‘ casting an atmospheric spell over the swelling keyboards of partner Kenny Macl.ennan. The trick for Dysney Moon at the Fleadh will be to capture the delicate intricacies of this Celtic ambience and retain its spark in the larger arena...
Disney Moon: atmospheric
1e Dreaming: festive joy?
I The Dreaming Drawing deep draughts from the folk-rock adrenalin well. The Dreaming will be aiming to emulate the scenes of festive joy invoked by The Levellers at last year's Fleadh. While still some way behind those Kings Of Crusty. The Dreaming have the mix of rock exuberance and fiddly- diddly mystique off pat. They‘ve caused a stir in their native Aberdeen this past year. and if they‘re to follow the Levs and broaden their appeal beyond the merely local and purely pub-like — the level which Edinburgh‘s similarly- inclined We Free Kings and Pure Blind Panic made their own — then the 30 000 capacity Fleadh provides the perfect forum.
The zenith of Celtic rock or its nadir? Hollow- hearted. hollow-headed anthemic cheese or deeply-felt. deeply-stirring poetry? Tired old thirtysomethings or veteran master craftsmen of the stage? Misty-eyed pap evoking hackneyed postcard snaps of lochs and glens. or the passionate voice of the disenfranchised heartland? Scotland's greatest ambassadors or a nation's most embarrassing folly? You buys your ticket and you makes your choices. Whatever. expect a rousing. carousing. celebratory sundown on the Fleadh as Donny and the lads gie it vest-wearing Celtic laldy.
I The Pogues
Sans Shane. the Pogues do miss the air of damaged dignity he gave to his majestic compositions. Spider Stacy is a ballsy but one-dimensional replacement. offering an in- yer-face holler where a subtler croon might be required. and MacGowan's lush writing often gets rather bruised in the process. That said. the boys in the band are still a mighty fine Celtic stomp combo with a capacity for no-holds-barred Hibernian hoe-down second to none. if they play to their strengths and avoid the sad tradness they‘re occasionally guilty of. they‘ll be a tough act to follow.
Te ogues: hoe-down h
The List 4—l7 June 1993 7