From a Distant Shore:
Irish & Cape Breton Traditional Music
Nimbus Records NI 1752; 4 CDs; 289 minutes; 1999
Unquestionably the best bargain currently available [as at 2nd May, 2006], From a Distant Shore consists of four albums recorded live at Cork Universityís traditional music festivals between 1991 and 1994. Each element of the quartet of discs is devoted to one of those four festivals, so lovers of Donegalís fiddle music will discover a gamut of bow-wielders from the county, all thankfully accompanied (until the closing ensemble track) including Tommy Peoples and his nephew Sťamus Gibson, CiarŠn Tourish, the then youngsters Paula Doohan and Liz Doherty, and the late Francie Mooney with his daughter Mairťad, plus Derry man Dermot McLaughlin and the brothers Kevin and Sťamus Glackin.
Thatís indeed a cracking affair, but perhaps too single-minded for those who seek variety. However, diversity is ever present on the second disc, Across the Waters which features a veritable host of musicians from Englandís southeast quarter. Irish emigrant musicians include fiddlers Brian Rooney and Brendans McGlinchey and Mulkere, while the second generation crew incorporates John Carty, Niall Keegan and Brendan Ring. However, though both Julia and her son Billy Clifford are listed as appearing on the disc, they certainly arenít identified as doing so in relation to any particular track. Still, Brendan Ringís wild flights of piping fancy more than compensate.
Disc three focuses on North America (though London-born Kevin Burkeís there too) and offers two of the highlights of the whole collection, Seamus Eganís joyful flute on an untitled jig and The Wee Bag of Spuds and the late Tom Dohertyís rollicking melodeon on a set of reels kicked off by Moneymusk. Others featured include Liz Carroll, Billy McComiskey, Joe Shannon and John Williams.
Lastly, and by far the wildest of the four CDs, comes Traditional Music from Cape Breton Island and itís not just the ferocious fiddling but the madcap piano accompaniment Ė all offering plenty of shoe-leather scraping and tapping Ė which must have made the islandís cobblers millionaires.
2nd May, 2006
The boxed set is currently selling for a mere £19.99. For more information visit www.wyastone.co.uk/nrl/index.html.