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Guest review

A Clatter O Fowk
The Ulster-Scots Collective of Performing Artists. CD, 16 tracks; total playing time 45 minutes. £11.00. 

A CLATTER O FOWK is a real breath of fresh air in comparison to the usual musical exports from Ulster. The Scottish influence is rampant throughout the work. Not only because of the use of traditional instruments like the bagpipes, flutes and whistles, but also because the way the melodies have a Scottish ‘flavour’ as distinct from the Irish.

This difference is eloquently portrayed in track 8 - Bagpipe & Lambeg Medley. Incorporating the traditional Ulster instrument, the Lambeg Drum, you’ll not forget where this music is coming from. This difference between Scottish and Irish music is also evident in track 12 (Scotch Medley) which features a medley of Scottish reels and jigs, played on the fiddle and accordian and accompanied by the bones. Scottish influences can also be found on tracks 14 (Caledonian Heartbeat) and 16 (Over The Water). For me, track 14 is the highlight of A Clatter O Fowk, as it sums up what the CD is about. Additionally, track 16 could quite easily bring you to tears.

On the other hand, tracks 3 (Will Ye Go Lassie Go), 6 (My Darling’s In Tennessee), 7 (Margaret’s Waltz) and 9 (Tam Archer) take you far off to the other side of the water to America. You can imagine yourself being entertained in Grizzly Adam’s log cabin and thinking of home with the Hillbilly’s, getting blattered on moonshine!

My Darling’s In Tennessee is performed by Roy Arbuckle and Trevor Owens. However, I’d like to hear it sung by Laura Sinnerton, who, along with Elizabeth McLeister sing some traditional songs on this CD. Both have stunning voices, and the songs they sing really compliment their talents.

The McNeilstown Pipe Band, as the name implies, play the bagpipes. However, as a fan of the drum, I find their drum patterns quite complex and exciting. It’s actually a similar style to some of the more experimental types of drum and bass music that you’d find being played at any rave or in any inner city nightclub.

And finally, Natty Shaw’s rendition of John Clifford’s Wullie’s Motor Car is amazing. If this is what the Ulster-Scots voice sounds like, well, I’m speechless! The basic Ulster accent is mixed with the Scottish. But for me, there’s hints of Cornish and West Country English in some of the phrases. It’s quite hard for me to understand as I’m from the English Midlands, where our accent and dialect is relatively easy to understand. A Clatter O Fowk should be in everyone’s music collection and on every jukebox in every bar and pub everywhere. Excellent.

Russell Ewins

Available from: Glenwood Publications, First Floor, 316 Shankill Road, Belfast, BT13 3AB.


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