Tuesday, June 24, 2008

now playing: Breabach: The Big Spree

The Big Spree

A guitarist, a fiddle player, and two players of the highland pipes -- when you get beyond the surprise of imagining what that sort of ensemble would sound like, you realize there are incredible possibilities for melody and rhythm inherent in such a quartet. It helps that the fiddler and the guitarist also sing lead, one of the pipers does harmony vocals, the other piper plays whistles and flutes, and the fiddle player can double on the cello.

That gives the members of Breabach quite box of crayons to color with, and color they do, through a clearly imagined and really interesting program of jigs, reels, airs, marches and the occasional song. There is music from the Scottish, Cape Breton, and Irish tradition, as well as original music from member of the band. Notable track include the song, The Rolling Hills of the Borders, The Sheepskin and Beeswax set, and the Cockerel in the Creel set, but really all the eleven tracks, some sets, some individual tunes or songs, are all equally fine, really melodic, fresh and engaging.

Breabach is piper Calum MacCrimmon, piper Donal Brown, guitarist Ewan Robertson, and fiddle player Patsy Reid. They got together to play at the open stage competition at Celtic Connections in Glasgow in 2005, and won it, and have since been nominated for best up and coming musicians at the Scots Trad Music Awards.

If you want to get an idea of what their music really sounds like, though, just look at the photograph of them playing on the front cover of The Big Spree. Concentration, respect for tradition, and laughter: those qualities are all there in the the music. If you like The Battlefield Band, Lunasa, or Nickel Creek, check out Breabach.

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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