March 4, 2012
Hawp, on this CD, is made up of husband and wife team Andy and Niamh Stewart, Anne Lederman, and Jason Pfeiffer. Andy is originally from Scotland and has toured with Dougie MacLean, among other Scots icons. Niamh is a Canadian, and has been director of Tir Na nOg Irish Dance Academy for 15 years. They are radio hosts, producing a show named Hawp’s Kitchen Ceilidh. This show can be heard on www.wolfvilleradio.ca
during the summer’s, and on Saturday’s during the fall on Acadia University’s Radio Station.
And, of course, as part of the cycle of music heard on Highlander_Radio
Storm + Calm. This CD has been nominated for ‘roots/traditional album of the year’ by music NovaScotiaAwards. It was recorded in 2009, for release for 2010. Musicians include Andy Webster, vocals, guitar, bouzouki; Anne Lederman, fiddles, foot percussion; Jason Pfeiffer, flute, whistles, and Niamh Webster, vocals, piano, dance (unfortunately, this is a CD, so cannot actually see her dance). She dances with her brother Ciarnan Myers when they are doing live shows. Ciarnan is a drama student at Waterloo University, and a publish poet.
Additional musicians include Joe Phillips on double bass, and Martin O’Neill on bodhran and percussion.
This is truly a recording which was put together in a friend’s home. The mics and other gear were loaned to them, as well as the bells and whistles. The art work for the cover was donated by a friend named Eva MacCauley. So this is not a ‘slick’ recording.
What I mean by that is that this is a very professional sounding release, but it is not overwhelmed with huge orchestrations and choruses ‘ it is six people making beautiful music together, and it is the best of what you might hear at the local pub. Because that is what it feels like ‘ a nice, friendly, but talented group of people who could be your next door neighbors, and who had the smarts to put it all on a very professionally-done recording, and make it sound like the fanciest of the music made in recording studios.
According to MySpace, they do not currently have a label. Apparently they have also changed a couple of their musicians, but I am reporting on this particular recording and what I hear on it. But listen up, producers, and latch onto these folks they are good and they deserve the world of Celtic music’s notice.
Some comments on the music itself. Six of the eleven cuts on this CD are instrumentals, standard jigs and reels and haunting melodies. I love the fiddle, and the violin, and when they are one instrument, you know you have a good musician. Anne’s haunting melodies during the ‘The Four Redheads’ set, in which the second and third pieces are slow violin tunes, The Belles of Tipperary and Man From Bangrove, which follow the first piece, The Four Redheads, which is a rolicking dance tune, prove she has the ability to play both styles. Anne has been called a National Treasure in Canada. The rest of the set pieces, which are standard sets of mostly jigs and reels, and step-dancing tunes, are lively, and make it hard for you to just sit and listen.
The five cuts which are vocals feature Andy alone on The Fisherboy, and Niamh sings with him on the other four. Andy and Niamh both have voices in the lower registers, so no tenors or sopranos for you here. Just a good release of music that you would hear if you stopped in the local Scots pub down at the crossroads.
Nearly every cut on this CD is written by members of the band, or are traditional tunes which have been arranged by Andy and Jason. The exceptions are in the fourth set, Dinny O’Briens, written by P. O’Brien; The Angel’s Whisper (and glorious song about a woman whose fisherman husband has been lost, and her baby is talking to him through the angels) lyrics written by Samuel Lover, with music by Andy Webster; and The Four Redheads, which was written with Andy by K. Easdale.
Give them a listen if you like the traditional Scots/Celtic music, you will love this album/CD. I know I do.
Celtic Radio Contributor