Lori Gordon

Bletherings From a Music Obsessed Mind

Best of Danny Kyle 2013, week 2

Another year of the Danny Kyle Open Stage competition has come to an end. All that’s left are for the 6 winners to be announced and the “winners concert” tomorrow night. There was a strong showing of musicians from Orkney this year; all of them ended up on my favorites lists. For such a small island, they have an amazing music culture up there. Once again, I would like to thank the folks at Celtic Music Radio for broadcasting the Danny Kyles. CMR is one of the finest sources of folk and traditional music I’ve come across and it’s run entirely by volunteers.

Here are my Week 2 favorites, in chronological order:

Reely Jiggered – A trad trio from Gourock. Their fiddler, Alison McNeill, left me speechless. As soon as their set finished, I tracked down their debut CD. You can listen to their set here.

The Scott Wood Trio – A very sharp, incredibly talented band with lots of pipes & fiddling. Their EP is just as fantastic. Check out their set here.

Genesee – A singer/songwriter with a gorgeous bluesy voice. Reminds me a lot of blues & gospel singer Ruthie Foster. You can hear her set here.

The Linzi Murphy Band – Linzi is a young trad/folk singer from Neilston. The band has only been together for a few months but they have a beautifully polished sound. Listen to their set here.

Hannah Graham and Josh McGregor – Fiddle/guitar duo originally from Orkney. Exquisite playing!  You can listen to it here.

Graham Low & Jack Kirkpatrick – A young trad duo from Orkney. Absolutely brilliant fiddling. They both have incredible futures ahead of them. You can hear their set here.

Zoë Bestel – When I first read that she was a ukelele player, I almost wrote her off. I’m glad I didn’t. This 15 year old singer/songwriter/ukelele player has more brilliance and talent than many twice her age. I was blown away. Listen to her set here.

Do yourself a favor and check out all of these performers. It’s so rewarding to come across new artists and watch them grow and evolve into even more amazing musicians. Cheers to another successful Danny Kyle!


February 1, 2013 Posted by | Celtic, Folk, Music Styles, Singer-Songwriter, Traditional | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rallion – “One For Sorrow”


Rallion’s sophomore release, One For Sorrow, is a dazzling display of musicality by the Scotland-based traditional folk quartet.  The members of Rallion are prolific performers and the skills honed on stages around the world shine on this recording. Featuring a mix of traditional songs and mostly original tunes, One For Sorrow has a deliciously exciting feel.

Marieke McBean’s rich alto marries perfectly with the material, whether conveying the dark humor of “The Astrologer,” the poignancy of “Lassie Lie Near Me,” or the good cheer of the Dutch drinking song “Wat Zullen We Drinken” (What Will We Drink). The instrumentation accompanying each song is truly splendid, creating an aural luxuriance that reaches the listener on all levels.

The crème de la crème of One For Sorrow, however, are the tunes, the majority composed by the group’s tunesmiths: Stevie Lawrence, Fiona Cuthill and Andrew Lyons. Not only are the compositions exquisite, their execution is phenomenal. All of the members of Rallion are multi-instrumentalists, lending an incredible depth and texture to each piece. The highlights are “Askival,” an energetic set of tunes by Andrew, “Fez,” an exotically flavored set by Fiona and Stevie, and, my personal favorite, “Waiting For Dawn,” a gorgeously evocative slow tune by Fiona.

One For Sorrow is a brilliant album that will leave you hungering for more.

To learn more about Rallion, visit their official website or their MySpace page.

August 16, 2009 Posted by | Album Reviews, Celtic, Folk, Traditional | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Favorite Fiddlers

I’ve loved fiddle music for a long time and there are so many amazing fiddlers out there that I deeply admire. This is a list of my top favorites – the ones who inspire me the most. While they are all excellent “traditional” musicians, it is their original compositions that I am the most impressed and awed by.  To find out more about any of them or to hear some of their music, just click on their names.

Lauren MacColl – my favorite fiddler overall. Her playing is so incredibly beautiful and exquisite  and I am truly in awe of her talent. Her music is quite magical in general, but few can match the emotion she puts into her slow airs. She plays with a skill far beyond her years.

Annbjørg Lien – absolutely amazing hardanger fiddler from Norway. I’ve admired her for a long time. I love that she’s not afraid to take risks and explore new territory, yet even her most experimental pieces are rooted in tradition. Definitely my favorite Norwegian fiddler.

Sarah-Jane Summers – a fantastic Scottish fiddler who plays both the standard and the hardanger fiddles. Her music is wonderfully textural and lovely. There is something very exciting and addictive about her tunes.

Duncan Chisholm – amazing Highland fiddler. Like Lauren, his slow airs will leave you aching. His music, in general, is incredibly beautiful.

Katherine Liley – another delightful Scottish fiddler! I really like her playing style. She has a sort of “grunge” fiddle sound going on that gives her slow tunes a bit of rawness and the fast tunes a playful edge. I find her music fresh and fun.

Alasdair Fraser – the first Scottish fiddler I ever heard. He truly is a master of the fiddle and in a league of his own. I’m awed by the sounds he can coax from his fiddle. He has done a lot of good things for traditional music, especially here in the U.S.

Natalie MacMaster – she is the one who started it all for me. I saw her on a fluke 12+ years ago and it was the first time I’d seen/heard fiddle-driven trad music. I haven’t looked back since. I’ve really enjoyed listening to her music evolve over the years. She works ceaselessly to promote the traditional music of Cape Breton.

Annlaug Børsheim – she is an incredibly talented hardanger fiddler from Norway, though she also has a fine voice! Her compositions are out of this world and have been performed by numerous other folks, including Sarah-Jane Summers. Ranks second only to Annbjørg on my list of favorite Norwegian fiddlers.

Hanneke Cassel – my favorite fiddler from this side of the pond. Her style ranges from edgy and fiery to tender and poignant. She has a very contemporary feel to her and she doesn’t hesitate to incorporate new styles.

Sigrid Moldestad – another fantastically talented hardanger fiddler from Norway. Not only do I love her solo work, I also love her work with Spindel and Gamaltnymalt. A very fresh approach to traditional music.

Catriona MacDonald – I first heard Catriona as part of the String Sisters project. Fantastic Shetland fiddler who blends traditional and contemporary sounds. I enjoy her work with Blazin’ Fiddles just as much as her solo stuff.

Shona Mooney – a fiddler from the Scottish Borders. Though I’ve heard her works with Border Young Fiddles and The Shee, I think her solo stuff is incredible. It has a bit more experimental flavor than that of most of the other Scottish fiddlers.

Patsy Reid – most of her stuff is fairly traditional but her latest solo work is a blending of classical and traditional and it’s phenomenal! It really showcases her talents as a composer. It’s one of the most exciting recordings I’ve heard in a while.

Susanne Lundeng – a fiddler from the northern region of Norway. Her original compositions have an edginess, almost a wildness, to them that I haven’t really heard amongst most other Norwegian fiddlers. She melds traditional music with contemporary styles beautifully.

Celtic Fiddle Festival – originally Kevin Burke, Christian LeMaitre, and Johnny Cunningham (later Andre Brunet after Johnny’s passing). All of them are phenomenal fiddlers in their own right, but I love their work as a group even more than their individual stuff, which is saying a lot.

Fiddlers’ Bid –  there are 4 fiddlers in the group, most of whom also have solo careers. They hail from the Shetland Islands and, moreso than with other groups/artists, there is a strong Nordic influence evident in their music. I find their music a joy to listen to.

March 12, 2009 Posted by | Traditional | , , , , | Leave a comment