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Norman & Nancy Blake / Boys of the Lough / James & Rachel Bryan - Rising Fawn Gathering

Rising Fawn Gathering

Norman & Nancy Blake
Boys of the Lough
James & Rachel Bryan

Plectrafone Records - 04012

Available from Plectrafone Records.

A review written for Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Jim Zimmerschied

Rising Fawn Gathering is more than a music collection. It is the confluence of three musical groups with similar interests and a love for old time and Celtic music. The CD jacket explains that Norman and Nancy Blake had been at festivals with the Boys of the Lough. They have similar musical interests and jammed together a number of times. They thought it would be nice to pool their talents and make a recording but they were not able to make it happen for a long time. Finally the stars were right and they were able to meet at Norman and Nancy's place in Georgia. James Bryan has played fiddle on several of the Blake's recordings so he and his daughter Rachel also joined the effort.

The resulting album is a real prize of Celtic and old time music. There are ballads, marches, hornpipes and waltzes. Normal and Nancy provide most of the vocals except for Cathan McConnell singing Derry So Fair. The instrumentals included everyone over the course of the recordings. Twelve pieces are preserved on the album but I am sure there were many more gems that someone has on tape somewhere.

Norman is at his usual great southern drawl on The Sweet Sunny South. Nancy provides her voice in the ballad While the Band Is Playing Dixie. The instrumentals are all great with a variety of fiddle, guitar, accordion, pipes, cello, mandolin, and flute. While the group doesn't play together normally, they are all fine musicians and the synergy of their company carries through the recordings. Notable to me is the tune The El Paso Waltz which Dave Richardson of the Boys of the Lough wrote and James Bryan plays the lead on. This tune has to take its place next to Ashokan Farewell which you might hear associated with the PBS series on the civil war.

The tunes are mostly lively and will keep your CD player warm. The haunting ballad "Derry So Fair" is a change of pace but it is beautifully done by Cathal McConnell.

The Boys of the Lough consist of Brendan Begley (accordion, Dave Richardson (mandolin, concertina), Cathel McConnel (flute, whistle, voice), Kevin Henderson (fiddle) and Malcolm Stitt (guitar).

James Bryan plays fiddle and Rachel Bryan plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar.

Normal Blake plays guitar, dobro, mandolin and most of the vocals. Nancy Blake plays cello, mandolin and provides vocals on While the Band Is Playing Dixie.

The chances are that the groups will not have another confluence where they can get together for another CD (unless this album sells so well they are forced to). You would do well to grab this one and wear it out while waiting for another so good.

Track List:

  • The Sweet Sunny South
  • O'Connells Trip to Parliament/The Twin Katies
  • Castlebeery's March
  • Da Unst Bridal March
  • The Stockton & Redesdale Hornpipes
  • The El Paso Waltz
  • The Bonnie Bunch of Roses
  • Joe Bane's/The Gypsy Princess
  • The Teelin March
  • Eamon An Chnoic (Ned of the Hill)
  • While the Band is Playing Dixie
  • Derry So Fair

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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