Tannahill Irish Songs

St Andrew’s in the Square

29th Jan


Another 18th century Scottish poet called Robert...
Another 18th century Scottish poet called Robert…

Dr. Fred Freeman, expert commentator on the fascinating Paisley born weaver-poet, Robert Tannahill (1774 – 1810), set the scene for this feast of the poet’s songs and musings, especially focussed on the Irish immigrant population of the 18th Century. Those immigrants had been made to feel as welcome as the 17th Century Scots had cherished the Highlander migration and last century welcomed the ex-empire immigration from the West Indies and Indian sub continent. Tannahill however found himself drawn to these impoverished souls’ plight and collected their melodies and tunes writing verse to praise, eulogise, gently mock and even satirise their homeland which he called by the poetic title of Erinn.

A marvellous cast of traditional musicians brought the music to life and voice. Notable were Fiona Hunter, Brian O’hEadhra, John Morran, Lucy Pringle and Wendy Weatherby. By clever positioning different combinations, utilised the stage in St Andrew’s in the Square and the musicians Sandy Brechin, Marc Duff, Aaron Jones, Angus Lyon, Frank McLaughlin, Richard Werner and Chris Agnew, ensured that there was never a dull moment. In play were mandolins, accordions, guitars, flutes and an electric piano, and each musician made their instrument zing.

St Andrews-in-the-Square
St Andrews-in-the-Square

Not only did I leave the concert with the distinct feeling that I learned a lot about this important early Scots poet, but I also found myself humming a tune and recalling that ‘Will ye go lassie go’ derives from Tannahill’s song ‘The Braes of Balquhidder’. Well worth the purchase of a CD from the 3 volumes so far released.

 Reviewer : Marc Sherland

The Dublin Legends

Queens Hall


27th Jan



The iconic folk-band, TheDubliners, are of Ireland’s national treasures,  & in 2012 celebrated 50 years together as a group. Sadly, & suddenly, not long after this, founder member “Banjo” Barney McKenna passed away, & with him the Dubliners. However, like a phoenix, the spirit of the music has risen again as ‘The Dublin Legends,’ with Sean Cannon & Eamonn Campbell being joined by Gerry O’Connor & Paul Watchorn, one of the best 5 string banjo players in Ireland – which is great news for Dubliner’s fans the world over.

Their gig in Edinburgh was excellent, a packed house of acolytes to these remarkable musicians. With a twist of the violin strings the music took hold. The folk music of the Irish culture came to life. With Whiskey in the Jar to Dirty Old Town, the classics rolled on. Still with a magical presence at this stage in their career, they pulled a good number of jokes followed with a huge laugh from the audience.  Caledonia was a big favourite with all and brought the crowd to there feet with a Ceilidh feel to the room. The dancing continued for the 3 encores before the band bid us farewell, and then headed for the bar to meet their audience that felt more like guests by the end of the show.  All in , great and wonderful show from these newish, oldish Irish Greats.


Reviewer : Spud

Adam Cohen

Voodoo Rooms
Wednesday 28th January
From the Voodoo Rooms Edinburgh to Byron Bay Australia, Adam Cohen begins his tour taking in 26 cities in Europe and Australia.  The Voodoo Rooms is a sultry venue, intimate gigs do well here and this one was no different.  Being honest, I’m not used to seated music gigs, in fact, they scare me.  When the stage is jumping and the crowd are jumping we’re all in it together, but when the crowd are seated and wide-eyed with an ‘entertain me’ look about the face, well, I’m nervous for those brave souls who have taken on the challenge. Hat’s off!  Adam along with his multi-talented musical entourage really did give us a charming show, though at times I felt the theatrics were unnecessary and distracting from the music, but it did seem to fit with the intermitting light hearted humour, Adam is the perfect host.  
Most of his latest album We Go Home was showcased.  What Kind of Woman stood out for me, but Adam’s gift is in the softer songs, his diction, perfectly elegant.  The single We Go Home is perhaps the most accessible tune off the album, I’ve been humming the chorus since and there is a lovely feel to it.  The album was half written in his family’s house on the Greek island of Hydra and completed back home in Montreal and the single captures the feeling of return.  The world needs more artists like Adam, a musician who values the subtleties of music and the reasons why we as emotional beings are intrinsically drawn towards it.
 And yes, the White Elephant in the room was addressed, Adam paid proud acknowledgement to his old man Leonard, in song and humour.  Jokingly, Adam announced his famous Canadian parent to be none other than… “Celine”.  My smitten plus one after twenty minutes whispered in amazement “Is he really Celine Dion’s son?” I thought she knew!  Later a droll Scottish voice came from the back in true Burns style “Adam, you’re a star!  It disnae matter who your parents are!” – And I agree.  Definitely a chip off the old block, but Adam is truly a credit to himself.
Reviewer : Sinead Drysdale

The Bruce 700 / Daimh

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

28th Jan


I love the skirl of the pipes and that is what was delivered by Allan MacDonald in his landmark orchestral piece The Bruce 700. It is a sound-picture, commissioned originally to mark the 700 anniversary of Bannockburn. It begins by celebrating the life of Robert the Bruce, features the Battle of Bannockburn with vivid evocation of the action, then moves to the lamenting of the after conflict keening and finally expands into the growing realisation that a great battle has been won and a new Scotland forged.


Emotionally supercharged especially when a young troop of pipers and drummers, from Stirling youth music groups, take the stage. It is a fantastic work let down by only two things, the audience participative song at the end which should be a rousing call to freedom, but it doesn’t have enough oomph! and the words are simply not anthemic. This brings me to the other problem the piece finishes with this paean, and, when the last note sounded, there was a considerable pause before the audience realised the work was completed and we should clap. About half the audience gave a standing ovation (including me), but it could have been so much better with a rousing ending.

The support act was a Gaelic named group ‘Daimh’ pronounced ‘dive’, comprising four super-talented traditional musicians on mandolin, fiddle, guitar and pipes. Twice nominated for Folk Band of the Year at the Scots Traditional Music Awards, they regaled a foot-tapping audience, with reels, songs and tunes written for each other or commemorating places dear to them.
Gaelic champion, Griogair Labhruidh, who also featured as one of the soloists in The Bruce 700, complimented the lineup by both singing and then reciting some of his poetic work to the background of stirring new/traditional music. Prefacing their music with humour and anecdotes it was a pleasure to listen to them.

Reviewer : Marc Sherland

The Music of Craig Armstrong


27 January 2015

Classic FM was a staple in my family’s weekend songs of choice. While I shuffled around the house in Adidas clobber, wrapped in the thin, teenage threads of Britpop, my dad would be sitting in the kitchen, cigarette poised over ashtray, losing himself in the strings of Vivaldi, Mozart, Bach, and Schubert. An echo of tutting at one another began many a Sunday morning, but perhaps it was here that I learnt to appreciate tonight’s performer.

Craig Armstrong is a Glaswegian-born, London-educated composer and musician who was first celebrated worldwide for incredible movie scores in the late 1990’s. At a time when strings were strongly in favour (The Verve, Oasis, McAlmont and Butler, etc), Armstrong’s evocative music chimed and vibrated in the bones, both tender and impassioned. Grammy’s, Golden Globes, and BAFTA awards were awarded for cinematic triumphs such as Moulin Rouge and Ray, and collaborations with big-hitters such as Madonna and U2 heralded that a modern-day, classical composer had finally found a formula that could work on a contemporary pop scene.


Armstrong’s mix of classical and contemporary sounds were afforded a full orchestra at the Royal Concert Hall this evening in front of an eager crowd, keen for a glimpse of the rarely-sought son of the city. Starting with fond favourites from his ‘The Space Between Us’ record (1997), Armstrong and his orchestra rumbled through horns and brass during “O Verona”, then electronically during “Weather Storm”. The introduction of the exquisite Jerry Burns wrapped up the earlier hits with a seductive performance during “This Love”, not unlike the alluring delivery given by Portishead’s Beth Gibbons while swaying at the microphone, but with a marginally cleaner, purer delivery.

At this point, Armstrong opted to leave his piano, not for the only time, and allow Clio Gould to take centre stage with some breathtaking violin work during songs from ‘The Great Gatsby’ score. Despite the irritation of some latecomers teetering into their seats, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera flowed wonderfully with crashing cymbals, swaying brass, and rewarding throes of tuba, yet were never at their most haunting than when Gould’s violin pierced through the cavern of noise. The strings emerged victors in whatever this war was. The accompaniment of footage from the film assisted in narrating the story, providing pictures to Armstrong’s tender thoughts and dissolute melodies. Returning to the piano, our host welcomed Jerry Burns once more to the stage for the heart-breaking “Dust”. This was the first song off the new album ‘It’s Nearly Tomorrow’, and could easily have accompanied footage of any of Glasgow’s tragedies in recent times – the propellers of the helicopter wedged into the roof of the Clutha Vaults; the ugly scenes at George Square following last year’s referendum; or the horror etched on Christmas shopper’s faces after witnessing the bin lorry crash. Burns’ vocals have featured previously on Armstrong’s work, and it is obvious why as her fragile delivery compliments the equally-frail, but arresting, music that carries each word that falls from her lips. Add to this mix a bewitching harp and minimal orchestra interference, and a real classic begins to spellbind the audience.

A further fantastic contribution from Lucia Fontaine and Katie O’Halloran on Suede’s Brett Anderson-penned “Crash” preceded some prepossessing cello work by Alison Lawrance during the powerful “Piano and Cello Theme” from the ‘World Trade Center’ film. Trumpets herald the light after the collapse of the twin towers in the picture, while minimal piano notes dart into the small gaps that remain in people’s hearts affected by the attack. Armstrong used his entire orchestra, with Bond-esque trumpets, magical percussions, and clarinets snaking between lines during two numbers from the Moulin Rouge score. Strong vocals provided by Katie O’Halloran and the suave James Grant melted like butter into the instruments bearing their incredible voices.

After the interval, the romance of the harp, the lovelorn violins, gasps of trombone, and destructive cymbals reverberated on each note during “Glasgow Love Theme” from the film, ‘Love Actually’. However, it was Armstrong’s affection towards Peter Mullan and his theme for the 1998 film ‘Orphans’ which really hit the tender spots whereby cinematography behind the orchestra somewhat distracting the viewer from the incredible soundtrack which accompanied the picture. It is only when Alistair Ogilvy delivered guest-vocals on the slow and thoughtful “Wake Up In New York” that the audience were able to return attention to a central focal point, and wonderful lyrics concerning the ‘….drug store on First Avenue’ transported each one to that remarkable, sleepless city. An unreleased film from Scandinavia provided the source of inspiration for the next song. On this occasion, Linda Cochrane played piano, and the mix of pink lights dancing on the ceiling, gentle harp and quivering violins all contributed to a fascinating composition. The premature applause of the crowd after what appeared to be the final flute note did not appear to distract either composer or orchestra alike.

As the concert reached the three-quarters point, Armstrong chose to introduce another four songs from the new album; “Sing” was a pulsating, abrasive number where you would never have known there were strings until the conclusion if it hadn’t been for visibly being able to see bows moving; “Powder” was perhaps one of the weakest inclusions in the set with lyrics that could be deemed slightly corny (“…sunlight / songbirds”) until the duet of Burns and Grant on the final verse rescues the number; “Strange Kind of Love” was far more stripped with subtle violins and a gorgeous Durutti Column sound on guitar; and “Lontano” was a wonderful return to the electronic beats and angelic strings favoured by Bristol trip-hop acts in the mid-nineties. Two further songs returned Clio Gould to the fore with her poetic violin, and allowed guitarist Ryan Joseph Burns to step up and serenade the crowd over simple keys and a maraca beat.

Before wishing his audience goodnight, Armstrong returned for an encore to play ‘three small piano pieces’, dedicated to his family living in Glasgow. At this point, the orchestra downed tools and allowed the beautiful “Leaving Paris” and the affectionate “Angelina” (for his daughter) to be played. As if there could be any other contender, Armstrong saved the best for last – the wonderful “Balcony Scene” from the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ film. This was the song which turned me, and many, many others on to his brand of contemporary, classical compositions and this overwhelming beauty moved a number of the audience to tears. As far as romantic songs go, this one is a contender for the greatest in history – and most likely the least recognised.

If Armstrong is to be believed, his new album is “a Glaswegian record”, with many of its vocalists emanating from the city. There is often a proclivity among Glaswegians to disregard its cultivated and elegant side, and shy away from the more honed, sophisticated ways of the world. In Craig Armstrong tonight, the city finally learned to pat itself on the back; one of our own done good.

Reviewer : Stephen Watt

Oh Susanna and Dennis Ellsworth

The Tron

27 Jan


On a dreich night, it feels alright to be listening to soulful, tuneful folk and blues in a darkened room and that is what Oh Susanna served up with crystal clear lyrics. Susanna wore a black dress with a repeated white fleur de lys motif, over which a dark cardigan covered her shoulders. This contrasted with her rosewood acoustic guitar to great effect, for she makes it sing. Her voice is reminiscent of the younger Nanci Griffith and Susanna (Suzie) Ungerleider does that curiously effective thing Nanci does so well, prefacing her songs with pithy apt comments and anecdotes which draw the audience in, so you feel included and valued.

She revealed how she had insisted that her team take a walk to see the bridges over the Clyde before the show began, as the bridges remind of her favourite city Vancouver. Jim Bryson accompanied and threw in one or two of his melodious songs, whilst playing guitar, piano and other electric instruments one or two clearly of his own devising. The audience were warm to her and she responded by giving an encore of two songs.


The support act was another Canadian, Dennis Ellsworth, who in trilby hat and dark clothes, explained just what a difficult flight it had been leaving a raging blizzard behind and observed that the 35 hour journey had been longer than it had taken for him to travel to Georgia to lay down tracks for his new album. Dennis brought on stage, English folk musician, John Smith and together they enriched the hour with ballads and songs inspired by among other things, failed romances, flat sharing and the death of Dennis’s cat. Bluesy and soulful Dennis brought real life into his songs, favourite for me was a collaborative piece written with John, titled ‘Perfect Storm’ – beautiful and poignant.

Overall the Concert was a couthy two and three quarter hours short, with not a grumble or moan about the buses.

Reviewer ; Marc Sherland

Big Burns Supper Taste of Eden Opening Party

Jan 23rd

The Speigal Tent, Dumfries

eden_logo_small (1)


January in Scotland can be a dreich affair with many of us feeling the bite of fuel poverty and counting the cost of the Christmas glutfest. Summer and those halcyon festival days can seem so very far away. However if you happen to live in South West Scotland, a rather special seasonal celebration has been giving the streets of Dumfries a cinematic dash of colour and a reason for people to dress up like outlandish fops. We are of course taking about Big Burns Supper, arguably the biggest Burns festival on the planet. Dumfries plays host to much wackiness and boundary nudging interpretations of the world’s most famous poet and songwriter Robert Burns. So far so groovy, but when you combine this winter warmer with an opening night curated by Eden festival then you know that the ingredients are shaping up for a soufflé of frolicking and cavortment.

Setting off to the show, l quickly rounded up my posse of justified and ancient droothy neighbours, scraped my hair in some kind of order and headed out into the ancient burgh of Dumfries. First stop was the Coach and Horses for a catch up with some friends and to pay tribute to a recently deceased biker friend. Live rock music was pounding out via the sensational Mary Barclay band as we left and began winding our way to our ultimate destination of the amazing Spiegeltent.

An extra few pints were lashed down in the world famous Globe inn, to the accompaniment of a live Irish folk band. To be honest either of these venues would have provided a great night but we knew that the “A Taste of Eden Opening Night Party” was going to be a little bit special and sparkly. Our anticipation grew as the heady brew of rapidly consumed beer mixed with the cold drizzle which seemed to lurk in between the pubs. In short order the Spiegeltent materialised much like a brightly lit canvas spaceship. A quiver of excitement reverberated through the crowd and then just seemed to spiral round and round the circular venue never quite finding a way out the whole night. I was almost tempted to shout to the steward “quick secure those doors man or the excitement will escape” but managed to restrain myself.


Tantz were first on the bill and from what l can gather these guys were developed in a secret laboratory in Leeds, Balkanesque dub and hip hop were just some of the influences which registered with me as I grinned at the gloriousness of it all, cocooned in a bubble of creativity as the January weather skulked outside. Next up Gypsy disco were the sometimes naked meat filling on this triple sandwich of entertainment and as they themselves say they attract the freaks, dreamers painted and obscure people who prefer marginalia to the main text of society.


Come the end of the Gypsy Disco, it was like saying goodbye to an eccentric transvestite uncle when they exited stage left and cleared the decks for the Electric Swing Circus. a fusion of swing and electro music cleverly blended with a saucy bawdy vaudeville type performance that seemed to inhale time as effortlessly as an onion Johnny donning a striped shirt. All too soon my pumpkin arrived to whisk me 50 miles north to my home town of Newton Stewart, meanwhile the party moved from the speigletent to the Venue to give 500 adventurous souls a night that many of them can’t remember.

Reviewer : Sid Ambrose

Photography : Peter Robinson

The Chair & Fara

Sunday 25th Jan

Old Fruitmarket


It’s a long walk when it’s raining from the Royal Concert Hall to the Old Fruit market, but somehow on Glasgow January nights that doesn’t seem to matter. Celtic Connections it seems is enough to warm any heart, mine in particular when you have a ticket for one of the hottest gigs at the festival. On Sunday night I was lucky enough to be in possession of such a ticket. The concert concerned was The Chair, an event which for those who have not seen the band can only be described as stunningly brilliant madness.


The support band for the evening was Fara who like The Chair a highly talented Orcadian multi-taskers. The only difference being that The Chair are a group of lads whereas Fara are group of lassies two of whose  members I know well Louise Bichan, and Scotland’s very own princess of song not to mention Sunday’s Birthday Girl Jeana Leslie. As the crowd gathered it was a good thing this event was standing room only as the last thing anyone ever needs at a Chair gig is a chair. Believe me the band may never have played the Nolan’s 1970’s classic I’m in the mood for dancing but their followers myself included always are and it’s a great way to shed those Christmas pounds.
Fara being the support band were first to take to the stage and I have to say I was very impressed not only by their musicianship which I always knew would be of the highest standard, or with the beautiful singing voice of Jeana Leslie, but with the seamless way they transitioned between the slower more melodic tunes and the rip roaring faster ones which got everyone’s toes tapping. This is the mark of a quality Celtic act and Fara are a top quality band who know the tradition well. In a set which was all too short I really enjoyed The Fisher Three,  The Loon and his Quine, and of course my Heart is in the Highlands.  Believe me the band were quite simply superb and got the audience nicely warmed up just in time for the main event of the evening… it was now time for the madness of the Chair.
As the band took the stage the air was electric with anticipation and they got us all up dancing with a set of reels which set the tone for the night. The first of the many times I saw the band was in the heats of the Danny Kyle Open Stage and sometimes you know when you’ve seen winners. That night was one of those moments and of course I was right, indeed they had us dancing in the isles on the finals night when they as I thought they would be named among the winners. Having seen them many times since I knew what to expect…. tonight the real winners were those who didn’t.

This was a night for fast-paced jigs and reels and just when your weren’t expecting it the band would throw a song or a haunting melodic air into the mix. This was a night for playing familiar tunes and fresh new material. Most of all however it was  night of dancing for all generations and the great thing was that no one was remotely embarrassed. After all, this is a Chair night and it just kinda happens. I was a bit surprised that they only played three songs in their set and I particularly liked the one about the only landlocked parish in Orkney the title of which escapes me but my favourite part of the night was the brilliant festival reel which with so many key changes in it shows the importance of getting a band to play instruments in harmony and when this is done at it’s best as is the case with The Chair it is a joy to listen to.

As the night neared its climax so to the madness, and I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to get involved in any conga. However as is usually the case on nights like this, I got caught up in the insanity of the moment and when the conga came calling I couldn’t refuse and ended up doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t.  At the end of what was an excellent, exhilarating, and exhausting evening, I also chatted to a few audience members to see where they had travelled from. Locations included the wonderful and exotic Lanarkshire industrial towns of Motherwell, and Coatbridge, and more far flung parts of Scotland such as  Aberdeenshire, and Moray, not forgetting the many Orcadians here to support their local bands. There were also those who had travelled that wee bit further to support the band.  This included one woman who had come up from the Home Counties to see the band. Now that’s what I call loyalty, but I know she thoroughly enjoyed her evening. Well it’s a well known fact that from Orkney to Oxford everyone loves musical Chairs especially when there’s standing room only.

Reviewer : Gayle Smith

Blood & Roses: The Songs of Ewan MacColl

25th Jan

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall


This tribute centenary concert – on what would have been singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl’s 100th birthday – was a family affair in many respects. Not only was it curated by MacColl’s two sons, Calum and Neill, and featured four grandsons (Jamie, Harry, Alex and Tom) – but other family members too, like Kate St John and, by ‘adoption’, the philosophical and talented Chaim Tannenbaum. Among the guests were another close kin group in Martin and Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson. Also featuring strongly were Dick Gaughan, Karine Polwart, the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan and Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker – so no shortage of interest, and genuine accomplishment. Plus a really good house band.
So what happened? Well the night started with a solo from the man himself: a powerful, and in the circumstances even more so, recording of Ewan MacColl singing ‘A Man’s a Man’ – a perfect choice, given MacColl’s personal politics and the fact he shared a brthday wth Burns. Then there was a relayed message from Peggy Seeger, setting the tone of fond, though not over the top, remembrance and affection, with the keynotes: ‘humour, harmony, love and productivity.’And quality. Every one of those family members rose to the occasion, and a high standard in delivery and musicianship was maintained whether there were two on stage or ten, or the whole shebang for the conclusion.

There was also variety.At one point in the second half I thought: ‘There’s really a great range of songs here – to suit just about any taste’. Everything from ‘Ballad of Accounting’ (a fine opener from Gaughan and Polwart) and ‘Ballad of Tim Evans’ (the first but not last excellent contribution by Tannenbaum) to Jarvis Cocker, with his ‘rock-hard physique’, and a radio ballad from ‘The Fight Game’, then Paul Buchanan bringing fragility with poignancy to perhaps the most famous piece: ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.’

The Carthy-Waterson complex gave us, in strength and profusion: ‘Champion at Keeping Them Rollin’, ‘Space Girl’, ‘Alone’, ‘Moving On Song’ (in a great set as a tribute to Travelling Folk, with a dedication to Sheila Stewart and Ray Fisher).There was also a skilful, rambunctious set of shanties (with crackers like ‘General Taylor’ and ‘Paddy Doyle’s Boots’) from most of the males on board. Dick Gaughan’s ‘Jamie Foyer’ was as good as it gets; Karine Polwart’s ‘The Terror Time’ ditto. There were, too, some directly affecting personal connections: ‘Nobody Knew She Was There’ – MacColl’s late tribute to his mother – and also to his father in ‘My Old Man’. The most affecting of these though was both sons caught up in singing ‘The Joy of Living’. We also had – my notes in the dark were written over three times at some points – ‘Shoals of Herring’, ‘Sweet Thames Flow Softly’ and maybe more.

‘Dirty Old Town’ and ‘The Manchester Rambler’ gave us a finale of different moods and tempi, and got the slightly douce but willing audience chiming happily along. Ewan MacColl never dodged controversy in his lifetime, but he sure stuck at it; and I doubt if the man himself, who was capable of laying down guidelines for this, that and t’other, would have found much to fault in this cheering and well-rounded concert offered in his name.

Reviewer : Mr Scales

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino


O2 ABC (Glasgow)

23rd Jan

The chairs were out last night on the main floor of the ABC, ready for Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, a world-touring outfit from Italy’s heel – the Salentino Peninsular. Their music of choice is the very old & very funky folk music form known as Pizzica Tarantata, which I had the great fortune to witness in its home region three winters ago.


The support act were a highly delightful vocal group from South Africa, known as COMPLETE, who served up a fine sample of zulu-inspired native songs. Cue amazing harmonies & synchronised foot & hand movements & a completely enthralling sound that made me feel as if I was taking a nice hot bubble-bath. Pockets of Gospel broke through into their music, but unfortunately they completely butchered Yesterday by Paul MaCartney! For the last two songs they were joined onstage by Hannah Beaton & Tom Cannister, & it was lovely to see the Gaelic & the Zulu vocal traditions forge in a seamless blend.


Then came the Italians, an amiable bunch of polished performers, who have played across the planet, including a Burmese music festival. Formed in 1975 by the writer Rina Durante, it has changed personnel on many occasions, but never its quality interpretation of the Pizzica music that has been performed in the piazzas & tavernas across Salento for centuries.

Heralding from Lecce, the gorgeous capital of Puglia, they were led by Maura Durante through a rich ensemble of songs & dances. One of these was an exceptionaly poignant piece, & uses the poem ‘Solo Andate’ Erri De Luca for its inspiration & lyrical contect. A testimony to the fatal one-way ticket that many African immigrants buy on the flimsy rafts to Italy’s shores, Durante reminds the audience that, ‘we are all sons of immigrants.’

Some of the songs in partucular really explore the paramaters of the individual chord, with a massive tamborine & boiled-egg shaped fist-drum kicking on the single bum-bum-bum of the stomping bass, with the violin, lutes, bagpipes & accordian holding the same note in a brutal & dynamic surge of sound. The only melody comes from the enchanting singers, while in front of them a beautiful woman dances elegantly, strutting & parading her stuff with a liberty forged from the unrestrained energies of the Pizzica.


About me, like flash-fires breaking out in the September hills above Santa Catarina, handsome couples began to shimmer in a ritual meant to cure the poison of a tarantula’s bite – hence the name, Pizzica Tarantata. It comes across as something of a mating-dance, with twirling girls, arms arching from their hips, being courted by the barefooted boys buzying about them with their own arms stretched to Heaven. By the end of the show it seemd the whole place was dancing, & joining hands they danced around the ABC to settle in front of the stage to acclaim their heroes.

Reviewer : Damo Bullen

(from Solo Andata)

It was not the sea to gather
We picked up the sea with open arms.

Dropped from the highlands burned by wars and not from the sun,
traversed the deserts of the Tropic of Cancer.

When he was in sight of the sea from a height
It was the finish line, hug the foot waves.

Africa was over the sole of ants,
caravans learn from them to trample.

Under the lash of dust in column
Only the first has an obligation to raise the eyes.

The others follow the heel above,
the journey on foot is an ice-backs.