Celtic Fiddle Festival Plays On

Danbury, Connecticut, USA – The popular Celtic band
Celtic
Fiddle Festival
is back for Saint Patrick’s Day with Play On. After
the unexpected passing of founding member Scottish fiddler
Johnny
Cunningham
, in December 2003, fiddlers
Kevin
Burke
(Ireland) and Christian Lemaître (Brittany) along with guitarist Ged
Foley were left with an unimaginable hole to fill in their hearts and in their
lineup. The band made the difficult decision to play on, and invited the young
French-Canadian fiddler André Brunet (of
La
Bottine Souriante
) to join them. On tour, Brunet’s lively Quebecois dance tunes and contagious enthusiasm
lifted both tempos and spirits. At the end of a tour in March 2004, the group
recorded three shows in Portland, Oregon. The result is the new CD, Play On (Green Linnet GLCD 1230), the fourth album by Celtic Fiddle Festival. It is
dedicated to the memory of Johnny.
The news of Johnny’s death was heartbreakingly sad and it did not seem
possible that the Celtic Fiddle Festival could continue without him
,” says
founding member Kevin Burke. “Yet once the initial pain and sadness subsided
a little, we started to think that Johnny would have been horrified at the idea
of us calling it quits! After much soul searching we decided to ask Andre if he
would like to join us on the upcoming tour.

“Once the tour got under way it became quickly evident that inviting Andre
along was an inspired decision. There was great excitement in the music, we
enjoyed each others playing immensely and it was evident from the audience
response that they too felt they were witnessing something special.

The first track of Play On is a set of Quebecois tunes brought to the
group by André, whose percussive, foot-stomping rhythm is contagious. The
occasional yelp during the performance makes this opening track the first
indication that this CD is going to be not only an inspired selection of tunes,
but a rip-roaring good time. Brunet also shares another track of tunes, “Maison
de glace/Le Printemps” – the first composed by his brother Rejean and the second
by André himself.

Leaving Brittany is a hauntingly beautiful tune, composed by Johnny
Cunningham and played with emotion here by those who were both his fans and his
friends. It was first recorded on the album Relativity by the group of the same
name, featuring Johnny and his brother Phil, and sister and brother Triona and
Michael 0 Domhnail of
The
Bothy Band
.
The tunes of Christian Lemaître’s Brittany, the Celtic region of Northwestern
France, include a march originally written for bagpipes, and well-known tunes of
Dans Fisel, which is a special style of Gavotte.

The set “Lord Galway’s Lamentation,” composed by Turlough O’Carolan, and “Planxty
Whitbread” are a harp composition from 18th century Ireland and a guitar piece
from 20th century England and combine to form this beautiful solo guitar medley
from Ged.

Kevin Burke contributes a Yiddish tune, Itzikel, most likely from Eastern
Europe. “We miss Johnny terribly,” says Kevin. “But we’d like to think
he’s out there somewhere, grinning down on us, wishing us well and exhorting us
to P/ay On
.”

[buy

Play on
and also the previous CDs (with Johnny Cunningham),


Celtic Fiddle Festival: Encore
and

Celtic Fiddle Festival
].

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