Lori Gordon

Bletherings From a Music Obsessed Mind

Best of Danny Kyle Open Stage 2013, week 1

Every year, I look forward to the Danny Kyle Open Stage competition that takes place during Celtic Connections in Glasgow. It’s a fantastic opportunity, not just for up & coming artists to gain wide exposure, but to hear some amazing musicians that I might otherwise miss. My music collection has grown substantially over the years, thanks to the Danny Kyles. Of course, I have to give a huge Thank You to the folks at Celtic Music Radio, who make it possible for me to listen to the Danny Kyle from 3,000+ miles away.

After last year’s stellar DK, I wasn’t sure that this year could match it. I needn’t have worried. The caliber of performances is even higher.  I listen to a lot of traditional and “new trad” music, so in order to catch my fancy, the music has to be top-notch. Of the 13 groups that I adored from this first week, 11 of them are trad.

Here are my favorites, listed more or less in chronological order:

Matt Tighe – A young fiddler from London who plays in an Irish style. A lot of talent in this lad. You can listen to his set here.

Halina Romaniszyn & Aidan Morrison – A trad duo from Orkney. Absolutely brilliant! You can hear their set here.

Neusa – A refreshing group of students from Glasgow. You can listen to their set here.

Gria – A brand new group, hailing mostly from the Islands, performing their first gig. I can’t wait to hear more! Their set is here.

Kat Healy – A lovely singer/songwriter from Edinburgh. I’ve already added her CD to my collection. Listen to her set here.

The Jellyman’s Daughter – Great name, great duo from Edinburgh. They remind me of  The Civil Wars. You can hear their set here.

The Mhairi Marwick Band – Amazing! One of my top favorites. I hope there’s an album in their future soon. You can listen to their set here.

Charlie Grey & Pablo Lafuente – A fiddle/guitar duo from Plockton. These lads have a bright future ahead of them. Listen to their set here.

Malcolm Bushby – Tasmanian fiddler who was also on the Danny Kyles last year. I loved him last year and love him just as much this year. His music is truly sublime. Give his set a listen here.

Askolenn – A stunning Breton band. If you’re not familiar with Breton music, listen without haste to their set here!

Shona Brown – Delightfully surprising flute player and singer from Motherwell. Fantastic integration of styles. Give her a listen here.

Cairngorm Ceilidh Trail – Unbelievably talented group from the Highlands. I’ll be surprised if they’re not one of the winners. You can hear their set here.

Mulk – A trio of lads who play a crazy and amazing fusion of styles. Their set was jaw-dropping. You can listen to it here.


January 26, 2013 Posted by | Celtic, Country, Folk, Jazz, Singer-Songwriter, Traditional | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best of Danny Kyle 2012, week 2

The final week of the Danny Kyle Open Stage ended this evening and it featured performances by a lot of extremely talented artists. In fact, the field of competitors has been amazingly strong and I don’t envy the judges their task of narrowing down the group from 73 to just 6 finalists.  Below are my favorites artists from this past week and, before I list them, I want to give a huge shout out to Celtic Music Radio, a wee station run entirely by volunteers, for broadcasting the entire run of the Danny Kyle each year.

In no particular order:

Muran – A trad music trio from Glasgow. Their music is high energy and spot on. You can listen to their set here.

Lorraine McCauley & The Borderlands – Folk group with a fantastic sound. Lorraine’s vocals are lovely, as is her glockenspiel. You can listen to their set here.

Thalla –  A spectacular trad group from Plockton. Their set floored me. You can listen to it here.

The Coaltown Daisies – This singer/songwriter duo features gorgeous harmonies and deeply thoughtful songs. You can listen to their set here.

Malcolm Bushby – Exquisite fiddler originally from Tasmania. You can listen to his set here.

Ben Church – Traditional folk singer with a clear, strong voice and great guitar skills. You can listen to his set here.

Marit & Rona – A very delightful mandola/fiddle duo. I’ve been familiar with Marit’s music for a couple of years and her pairing with Rona is superb. You can listen to their set here.

Maggie & James Nicolson – These youngsters are only 13 & 14, but have more polish and musical talent than many twice their age. You can listen to their set here.

No Soond – A young trad group from Orkney that packs a wallop! A fantastically talented group. You can listen to their set here.

St. Ambrose High School Traditional Band – These youngsters are dazzling! They have great musical futures ahead of them. You can listen to their set here.

Barluath – These are students from the Royal Conservatoire and they are all very musically gifted. You can listen to their set here.

Give them all a listen. You will be hearing a lot more from these folks in the future.

February 4, 2012 Posted by | Celtic, Country, Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Traditional | , , | Leave a comment

GiveWay – “Lost In This Song”


GiveWay’s third album, Lost In This Song, is markedly different from their previous releases. Produced by Phil Cunningham, the quartet explores new territory with strong Nashville and funk sounds. Four of the five vocal tracks would be perfectly at home on Country stations throughout the U.S. Lead singer Kristy Johnson really hits her stride on the upbeat breakup song “This One’s On You” and the traditional “The Water Is Wide.” The latter features a simple musical arrangement that allows her voice to soar over the melody and provides a beautiful close to the album.

The instrumental tracks, most composed by Fiona Johnson, push the boundaries even further. After giving a nod to their roots on the gentle “Violets,” the quartet launches into a fantastic fusion of traditional and contemporary sounds. Fiddle and accordion are backed by electric guitar riffs, driving drum beats and funky bass popping. One has the sense that the reins have been dropped and the band has been allowed to run free. The stellar tracks “Lofty’s” and “Beginning Set” really showcase the quartet’s musical skills and maturity. Lost In This Song is an invigorating journey that promises even greater adventures down the road.

To find out more about GiveWay, click here.


May 21, 2009 Posted by | Album Reviews, Celtic, Country | , , , , , | Leave a comment