Hawp’s Storm + Calm

hawpDescribed on their website as ‘a swirling reverie of Scots and Irish song; flute; whistles; fiddles; guitar; bouzouki; bodhran; and Irish dance, HAWP is a Celtic ensemble that combines ancient traditions with modern musical approaches to create a sound truly representative of Celtic culture in the 21st century.’ This album does just what it says on the tin.

Hawp hails from Nova Scotia, Canada, and this is their debut album. The band are Andy Webster (vocals, guitar, bouzouki, and piano); Niamh Webster (vocals and piano); Anne Lederman (fiddle and foot percussion); Jason Pfeiffer (flute and whistles). Guest musicians on the album are Joe Phillips (double bass) and Martin O’Neil (bodhran and percussion).

The music, arrangements, and playing of the tunes is superb with a strong Scottish feel to them. However, unfortunately, they do tend to sound very much like hundreds of other Celtic bands around on the festival circuit at the moment. As to whether this is a good thing or not, I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

My only other small criticism is with their choice of material for the vocal tracks. I thought this was a little weak and they could have done better, as none really stood out. Clearly the band is very strong on instrumentals. But, this is their 1st album and so it will be interesting to see which way they go on future albums, always assuming there will be one.

The album opens with traditional song ‘The Fisherman Boy’ which is followed by several sets of jigs and reels. Many of the tunes appear to have been penned by band members and are exceedingly good to say the least and you’ll find it hard to distinguish them from traditional material. Jason Pfeiffer and Andy Webster write most of them.

To sum up, this is a very nice debut album from a band that is well known in Canada already and is definitely on the way up. You can learn more about the band and buy the album online here. If you go to the website and click on various pages, you can hear the band playing in the background. I think this band will appeal to the folk traditionalists amongst our readers who enjoy ethnic Celtic music from Scotland and Ireland.

(own release, 2009)

Peter Massey

Born in 1945, Peter Massey, Senior Writer, is now living in the city of Chester, England with his wife Sandra. Now medically retired he worked for 35 years in the shoe business. He has been a semi-professional musician and singer performing mainly traditional / contemporary folk songs for over 38 years as part of the duo (and sometimes trio) 'The Marrowbones'. His musical interest started at the age of 14 with Rock 'n' Roll and by the time his seventeenth birthday came along he was already playing rock 'n' roll and R&B in and around the local dance venues and clubs such as the Cavern in Liverpool. Thankfully he was saved from the evils of rock 'n' roll when he discovered real music and folk clubs. His collection of recordings houses over 3500 folk songs alone. Other interests and hobbies include Computers and Amateur Radio (he has a class A G4 call sign) His latest project is 'The Little Room Studio' dedicated to making 'live' recordings of folk artists and producing their work on to CD using a portable digital recording studio. To date he has written and composed over 12 folk songs and co-wrote with Gordon Morris another 10 that have been recorded on CD. The song writing has continued and they have another 10 songs in the pipeline not yet recorded to CD. Favourite music / bands at the moment are Steeleye Span, The Battlefield Band, Little Johnny England and Fairport Convention, (in that order), and much admires the work of Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson, Roy Bailey, Vin Garbutt, and Bob Fox, to name but a few! You can visit the crummy Web site here and read about The Marrowbones and how to get your free songbook.

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