CD review by Tony Smith
This 1997 album by Fiddlers Feast features good balance between traditional and recently composed tunes. Although the music was remastered at Bloody Dog studios, the album title is accurate as most tracks were originally recorded at Pixieland in Tamworth or The Basement in Sydney.
The fiddlers are Marcus Holden, Ray Schloeffel, Mark Oats, Andrew Clermont, George Washingmachine, Ian Cooper, Caroline Trengrove, and Adrian Keating.
They are joined by Ian Date, Garry Steel, Peter Howe, Laurie Ernst, Greg Bryce, Natalie Morrison, Lyn Wallis, Paul Burton, Peter Kennard and Michael Hawk on a huge range of instruments.
The fiddlers are also versatile as they switch occasionally to bass, guitar and mandolin.
Ray Schloeffel does many of the arrangements and ‘Trade Winds’ and ‘Talkin’ Balkan’ are by Marcus Holden.
Attributed tunes include, Frank Loesser’s ‘Slow Boat To China’, Bob Wills’ ‘Rose of San Antone’ and the finale Jay Unger’s ‘Ashokan Farewell’.
Making a bridge with the traditional tunes which are mainly Irish is ‘Martin Carthy’s March’, which is paired with ‘Lemon Tree’.
Traditional tunes include ‘Dion Reel’ and ‘Mouth of the Tobique’, ‘Minstrel Boy’ and ‘Scaley Devils’ and the standards ‘Danny Boy’ and Ruainn Dall O Cathain’s, ‘Give Me Your Hand’.
Then there are the Red Haired Boy Set including ‘St Anne’s Reel’ and the ‘Merry Blacksmith’ and the Ashplant Set including, ‘Siobhan O’Donnell’s Reel’.
Adrian Keating’s solo violin effort is by far the briefest track but ‘Adagio’ from Sonata 1 in G Minor by J.S. Bach is by no means any less interesting than some of the more complex tracks.
This album makes for a lot more relaxing listening than some of Fiddlers Festival’s other CDs.
The balance between light and shade gives the ear time to adjust between tracks and this allows deeper appreciation of the fiddlers’ skills.
Aspiring fiddlers will find several pieces here to add to their repertoires.