Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Four Nations' Folk Is Set to Be Showcased; ALAN NICHOL Has the Latest News on the Roots Music Scene

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Four Nations' Folk Is Set to Be Showcased; ALAN NICHOL Has the Latest News on the Roots Music Scene

Article excerpt

Byline: ALAN NICHOL

ENGLAND, Scotland, Ireland and France are represented this week - a week which is dominated by visiting folk-related acts.

Duos seem to prevail, too, each with a distinctive take on the form.

Tomorrow night, the Old Town Hall in Gateshead will resonate to the Celtic sounds of wind and wood. Scotland's Calum Stewart and Heikki Bourgault from Brittany combine beautifully with Stewart on Uillean pipes/wooden flute/ whistles and Bourgault's variously-tuned acoustic guitar.

Stewart has played with both the London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestras but he is more usually found with the likes of Welsh folk outfit Jamie Smith's Mabon, who have played the Sage Hall 2 a couple of times recently.

Stewart has featured on the band's recordings and played with them live but he also has a solo album and a couple of duo records with Bourgault plus other recording credits as a guest. The last of those duo outings, Hunter's Moon (Full Spate Music), is the reason for their visit here, the gig serving as the album's launch.

While the record features all-original work, Bourgault's Breton roots offer ample source material and a host of bands/solo instrumentalists have emerged from that fertile ground since Alain Stivell (and guitarist Dan Ar Braz) brought it to the forefront in the early 1970s.

Opening the show is Gareth Davies-Jones.

The singer/guitarist may have an overtly Welsh name but he is actually from just outside Belfast and is currently ensconced in our region. He has received much praise for his original songs and has five albums to his name, the last of which is Now But Not Yet.

On Wednesday night, the Sage's Hall 2 has the Melrose Quartet in residence for the evening. The MQ actually comprises two duos - Nancy Kerr and James Fagan (fiddle and bouzouki, respectively but both sing) plus Shef-field pair Jess and Richard Arrowsmith (a fiddle/melodeon singing team).

The pooled resources offer some four-part harmonies but there are still plenty of instrumental workouts in the set. Twin fiddles offer further possibilities but the four-piece line-up amounts to more than the sum of its parts. …

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