Celtic Crossover Notes:
These are pretty much the same as the liner notes in the CD itself, with
a little elaboration here and there. Click on the lightning bolt icons
to hear a particular track. (The entire CD can
be played online, thanks to the magic of MPEG 2
Layer 3 audio compression.)
(4:05) Jig of Slurs / Atholl Highlanders
This set of fine Scottish jigs always starts our shows - but what's
a Celtic music group without tradition? Atholl Highlanders is a particular
favorite, with its high-spirited supremely confident tone. Just the thing
for marching into battle.
(4:16) Farewell / Four Green Fields
Farewell is an old pipe tune we learned from Pat
MacSwyney, another great musician and a former member of Highland Sun.
It's actually a dirge, but we play it a bit faster to keep the accompanying
song from killing the singers. Four Green Fields is a well-known song by
Tommy Makem which laments the division of Ireland. Gretchen leads on this
song, with Heather adding the harmony.
(2:33) The Gravel Walks to Grania's
This reel comes from The Northern Fiddler, a great book of tunes and
stories now long out of print. The tune is popular in many regions, with
their associated regional variations, but we play it in the traditional
Donegal style here.
(3:35) Donald McGilavry
Donald McGilavry is a questionably historical character of the eighteenth
century Jacobite rebellion. The song is of particular interest because
it references common trades of the time, using them as similes for Donald's
military prowess. Heather leads on the song, with Gretchen and Howard joining
the chorus. Along the way we're treated to a brilliant fiddle solo by Linda;
you can practically see the sparks flying as you listen.
(3:33) Patrick Street
A jaunty song about a cross-dressing sailor's misadventures upon returning
home from sea. Howard plays the part of the hapless sailor, not surprisingly...
(3:31) Trip to Duro / The Earl's Chair
A pair of reels we learned from our friend and mentor Cait Reed, fiddler
extraordinaire. Trip to Duro is also one of the tunes Howard performed
with the Chieftains in March, 1995. As such, it's one of the catalysts
that caused Highland Sun to be formed.
(2:40) Give Us a Drink of Water / Rattlin' Roarin' Willie
These two slip jigs serve to tell the tale of Rattlin' Willie, a famous
fiddler and swordsman. We are told that Willie was slain shortly after
an altercation where he killed a rival fiddler, Robin Rool.
(3:51) The Scholar / The Maid Behind the Bar / The Merry Blacksmith
This is one of those sets where if you let your mind wander over the
titles of the tunes, it's liable to get you into trouble...
(3:11) Lark in the Morning / Tobin's Favorite
The legend surrounding the Lark in the Morning tells of a fiddler's
competition that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. On the verge
of exhaustion, a fiddler stepped into the cool morning breezes and heard
the song of a Lark. Inspired by the tune, he rushed back in, played the
song, and won the contest!
(3:49) The Ash Grove
This lovely Welsh song features Gretchen on vocal, Bill on penny whistle,
with Linda leading on fiddle, Ken on guitar, and Howard on mandolin. Bill
and Linda worked out an absolutely gorgeous duet here, a fine complement
to the sensitivity of Gretchen's mellow vocal.
(3:43) Bucks of Oranmore / Dowd's #9
"The Bucks" comes from the Gaelic word ("bochai") for "boys," and this
tune is sometimes called the Boys of Oranmore, commemorating soldiers from
the town in Co. Sligo. Dowd's #9 is a favorite session tune.
(3:39) The Blacksmith
This song has an unusual ending for an Irish ballad as the maiden of
our story doesn't kill herself for unrequited love.
(3:43) Auchindoun / Tam Lin
This brooding song features Heather on the lead, with Gretchen joining
in for added angst. The song itself recalls a typically bloody episode
in Scottish history, where members of the MacIntosh clan, returning from
a raid on an English garrison, discover that their own homes have been
sacked by the English army. We follow up that desperate situation with
another; Tam Lin is a character from an old Scottish legend. He was captured
by the Queen of the Faeries, and doomed to spend the rest of eternity under
her spell, but eventually was rescued by his true love.
(3:26) Rocky Road to Dublin
The trials and tribulations of venturing forth to find gainful employment
are regaled in this playful slip jig.
(3:24) Boys of Malin / High Road to Linton
Malin is a small town on the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal and
is not far from the northernmost point in Ireland. The High Road to Linton
is of Scottish origin. Both of these tunes have traveled back and forth
across the water many times over the years, melding and evolving as they
went. The combination of Donegal and Highland styles defines the music
of Highland Sun.
(4:29) Fiddler's Green
Another well-known song, Fiddler's Green refers to a fisherman's Heaven,
the metaphorical opposite of Davey Jones' Locker. Howard sings this one,
with another lush fiddle harmony provided by Linda.
(4:05) Tongs by the Fire / Kid on the Mountain / Jump at the Sun
This set of jigs has been our traditional closing set for the evening,
and was collected from diverse sources. The Tongs by the Fire comes from
the playing of Sean Keane and the Chieftains. Kid on the Mountain is a
popular slip jig, often heard at sessions. Jump at the Sun comes by way
of our friend Kate Price, a wonderful musician.
Ian Abramovitch - bodhran,
Howard Chu - fiddle, mandolin,
Heather Greene - vocal
Linda Kodaira - fiddle
Bill Marks - guitar, cittern,
Ken Shaw - cello, cittern,
guitar, hammer dulcimer
Gretchen Witte - vocal
All selections are traditional unless otherwise noted; arrangements
Copyright © 1997 by Highland Sun. Four Green Fields written by Tommy
Makem. Tam Lin written by Davey Arther.
Thanks to Sue, Emma, Eric, and Tristan Hancock for sharing space.
To Darnell Harrison II of Biscotti and Books. Thanks go to Dan Auerbach
for his generosity in donating his fabulous antique cittern for use on
several tracks and to Julie, Erik, and Zakfor their support in this project.
Most of all, our thanks to all of our friends and fans who come to listen,
to sing, and to dance. "Hi, Mom."
Produced and Engineered by John Hancock
Recorded and Mixed at The Pobble's Toes, Van Nuys, CA
Black & White Photography by Ray Camarillo
Color Photography by Howard Chu
Cover Painting, "Freeway Whistler," by Steve O'Loughlin (310-215-3896)
CD Graphic Design by Peter Underwood
Online Audio Notes
All of the CD tracks have been copied to this web site in compressed form.
The tracks were compressed using MPEG 2 audio layer 3, with a 24kbps data
rate to allow real-time streaming with 28.8kbps modems. This is our way
of letting you "try before you buy." The compressed tracks have only half
the audio bandwidth of the original recording, so disregarding the actual
compression, half of the music is missing! If you like what you hear, buy
the CD, and get all the music! If you need an MPEG Audio Player,
try these links...