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.

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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

Joy Dunlop – Dùsgadh (Awakening)

Joy Dunlop has been a strong advocate of the Gaelic language, both as a teacher and as a performer. Those roles continue on her debut release Dùsgadh (Awakening). Sung in Gaelic, with liner notes in Gaelic and English, Dùsgadh offers listeners a guided foray into the world of traditional Gaelic song.

Though the material is traditional, the delivery is fresh and vibrant, reminding the listener that this is indeed a living language. Sultry jazz grooves, string crescendos, luscious piano and even step dancing layer behind Joy’s crystalline voice. While the puirt a beul and upbeat songs are performed brilliantly, Joy’s real strength is in the songs of love and tragedy. Her voice beautifully transports us deep inside each story. We feel every nuance of love, wistfulness, despair and grief.

The standout song for me is the closing track, “Thig Am Bata,” a take on the Two Sisters tale. It is heartbreakingly poignant and left me breathless. I found it to be the perfect conclusion to this album.

Joy Dunlop’s Dùsgadh (Awakening) is an amazing debut that promises even greater things to come.

To visit her website, click here.

To visit her MySpace page, click here.

February 23, 2010 Posted by | Album Reviews, Celtic, Traditional | , , , , | Leave a comment

Danny Kyle Favorites, week 2

The final week of the Danny Kyle Open Stage (as well as Celtic Connections itself) has passed and there were a few more stunning gems performing their hearts out. I recommend checking them all out – I think they all have fantastic careers ahead of them!

Fiona Driver – fantastic fiddler from Orkney who is also a very prolific composer.

Enez Trio [Tristan Le Govic] – Centered around Tristan’s harp playing, they have a full, rich sound.

Seonaid Aitkin – Amazing fiddler who spends most of her time as a classical violinist.

Rachel Sermanni – Really delightful singer/songwriter who performed with a couple of friends.

Parsec – These lads have mad skills! All hail from the University of Limerick.

Kilairum – This group came to my attention early last year. Their music is a blend of trad & jazz.

Lurach – Great trad group that performs Gaelic song & music.

Kirsty and Katie Lawrence – Incredible trad musicians from the Isle of Man. I found their stage presence refreshing and funny.

All of their performances can be found over on Celtic Music Radio in their “Listen Again” section.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Celtic, Folk, Jazz, Singer-Songwriter, Traditional | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment