Sharon Shannw From Fairport Convention to a charity fashion show. the line-up of Glasgow’s Celtic Connections series is vast and varied. including a tremendous line up of talent from Ireland. Well, one ofthe bands is from New York. but they’re at least as Irish as the home grown variety. I saw them in Brittany a year ago. where they emerged as the hit of the Festival. They take their name. Cherish The Ladies from a traditional jig. and as you might have guessed. are all young women musicians. singers and step dancers. Really skilled players. with an energy. physical enthusiasm and obvious love of performance which stands apart from the usual Hibernian restraint, their concert with De Dannan will certainly be outstanding.
De Dannan continues to be the most influential if unpredictable of all the Irish bands. centred on the outstanding talent of ﬁddle and ﬂute player Frankie Gavin. Their zesty instrumental prowess. reﬁned playing, creative imagination and musical check is always a delight. Listeners to Radio Scotland’s Mr Anderson is Fine Tunes hear the band each day when their bravura recording of Handel’s ‘Entry Of The Queen Of Sheba (Into Galway)‘ is used as the signature tune.
The great and reciprocal inﬂuence that America has on Irish music has long been obvious in the band‘s repertoire, with singers like Dolores Keane and Mary Black passing through the De Dannan school. Mary’s sister. Frances. appears with her own band in back-to- back concerts with Dolores Band later in the week. in a powerful expression of the emergent stream of highly polished. sentimental soft rock and country-tinged Irish music which has taken the album A Woman Is Heart to double platinum status in Ireland.
But Irish and Celtic music takes many forms. and the last word and the last concert of the Festival is given to a band led by a young woman who grew up beside De Dannan in Galway and is emerging as a great ambassador for traditional Irish music. Ex-Waterboys,
with a solo album featuring members of
U2 and other mainstream rock luminaries. young Sharon Shannon plays the old double-action accordion with taste and virtuosity and the son of charm endlessly celebrated in all the old ballads. (Norman Chalmers)
Celtic Connections takes place at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. De Dannan and Cherish The Ladies play on Fri 14, Dolores Keane and Frances Black on Sun [6 and Sharon Shannon on Sun 23.
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Continuing their season of ‘music with bite’, Paragon Ensemble present two new works to get your teeth into this month. Both commissions, ‘llorn Theatre’ by Philip llorris and ‘Incredible Vistas’ by John Mcleod, are receiving their world premieres and both are scored for soloist and chamber ensemble. Although the horn is heard regularly as a concerto instrument, the instrument chosen by McLeod, the free bass accordion, is not.
‘It has,’ explains McLeod, ‘taken a long time to reach this country. The Russians and Scandinavians have known about it for years.’ The more
familiar piano accordion has set
chords, but the free bass accordion is '
fully chromatic. ‘lt’s just in the last five years that it has become accepted here - for instance, last year’s Royal Overseas league winner was the brilliant young player David Preston - and this is mainly due to Owen Murray, who has been a pioneer of the instrument.’
McLeod met Murray in bizarre circumstances in the home oi fellow composer Ronald Stevenson while recovering from shattered nerves following a car accident. Along with the whisky and the incredible sounds of Murray and his accordion, a friendship was struck up, ‘The Passage Of The Divine Bird’ was written for Murray and the 1991 St Magnus Festival and now ‘lncredible Vistas’ has been written for him and Paragon.
‘It was started by my reading of the poem, “Incredible Vistas” by David Ghaloner and is in three parts, with each part separated by virtuosic accordion writing. In some ways, it’s symphonic development, but in others it’s what I call cross-fertilisation, with fragments of earlier works paraphrased and extended.’ A technique adopted by composers such as Mahler, Prokofiev and Boulez, whom McLeod greatly admires, it is, he says ‘a development of ideas’. (Garol Main)
The Paragon Ensemble play Stevenson Rail, Glasgow on Sun 23 and Queen’s ilall, Edinburgh on Tue 25.
mirr- Gig frenzy
If RGA Music hadn’t existed, probably no one would have had the gumption to invent it. flow that it does exist, as many as 200 bands from the west of Scotland and further afield would attest to its necessity.
In the six months since its foundation, this two-man operation has been responsible for promoting 100 gigs in Glasgow, varying in stature from confidence-boosting free pub gigs to the full-blown King Tut’s effort, all featuring unsigned bands at embryonic stages in their career. Yet by their own admission, lain Rankin and Peter Andrew, both Glasgow University Business School graduates, ‘lust fell into it’.
‘Vlhat we were doing was helping out bands on a hobby basis,’ says lain, ‘but because we were on a business course we thought “Is there a business for this?”, so we asked the bands we’d been speaking to and venues and record companies and they said it was a good idea.’
‘Vle started off on the basis of trying to be an umbrella organisation,’ says Peter, “arranging everything a band could possibly need at any stage in its career, acting as agents to arrange photography, design, etc, but bands were coming in and saying that it was a lot of gigs they were looking for.’
llence the development along the gig
promotion lines (including plans for a demo disco and a tour) which wasn’t an area Peter and Iain envisaged operating in. RGA Music can afford to be flexible in its remit, because acting simply as go-betweens requires only modest overheads. As such, the company can afford to be more adventurous in outlook because they don’t stand to lose out financially. They can acquire good rates for demo tape duplication, cover design, merchandising deals, etc, and encourage bands to raise some revenue by selling their demos at gigs. ‘Essentially what we’re trying to do is create a virtuous circle for bands,’ says lain. And their quality criteria? ‘We’ll do anything as long as there’s a following for it and it’s reasonably marketable.’ (Fiona Shepherd) RGA Music can be contacted at Suite 102“, 36 Washington Street, Glasgow GS 8A2 or on 0412481632.
I After all the fuss about the 40th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster last year. 1994 is the centenary of the Gibson company. So. it‘s time to replace all those iconic posters of Jimi Hendrix
' having carnal knowledge
of his Strat. with pics of Jimmy Page mangling the frets of his Gibson Les Paul. Among the special events planned for the centenary are a mobile
museum to tour the States and a week of gigs by ? Gibson-players in
London. In May. there
4 will be a Presidential
tribute to this American
institution on the lawn of the White House. and ; political pundits are
unanimous: following up his vote-catching sax s'olo on the campaign trail in ‘92. knocking out a few licks on a battered Gibson SG could be just what the People's Prez needs right
I It’s been a few weeks. so time for another Finitribe snippet. The trio have not (yet) signed to a major London record company after their unhappy split from One Little Indian and a brief— though more amicable — stint with ex~Bros and Pet Shop Boys manager Tom Watkins last year. They are. however. receiving funding (thought to be from London Records
itself) to make an album.
and a deal should follow if the recordings are deemed satisfactory. The band have already signed their half of the contract. and the deal will most
f likely be closed when the
album is completed.
I Penicuik band The Shadowland have chosen to bow out in a dignified
.fashion with a ‘fond
farewell‘ gig at Moray House Student Union on Thurs 27. No messy endings for them. but a ‘massive’ psychedelic Iightshow and a free Shadowland gift for early arrivals. The band have spent the last four-and-a- halfyears working their own acclaimed blend of rock/beat/pschedelia around Britain and Europe with what they accurately term a ‘Hammond/ Telecaster collision'. A posthumous single. ‘She' on Twist Records. will be issued after the gig.
The List l4—27 January I994 33