Intensely Creative Fiddle Stories

Childsplay - Waiting for the Dawn

Waiting for the Dawn (Childsplay Records 005, 2010)

Childsplay is a superb acoustic ensemble that brings together a large number of fiddlers around violin maker Bob Childs. The list of fiddlers, who use Childs’ violins is impressive. Many of them appear on this recording titled Waiting for the Dawn.

The album contains a mix of traditional and new pieces from various folk music traditions on both sides of the Atlantic including Celtic (Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton), bluegrass and Americana. Waiting for the Dawn explores the relationship between the human voice and the violins made by Bob Childs.

The fiddle ensemble Childsplay includes over two dozen musicians from the United States and Sweden and features some of the leading virtuosos in traditional and contemporary fiddle music. It is a folk orchestra similar to the folk orchestras that are found in some European countries. For over 20 years, Childsplay has performed in the United States and Europe, showcasing different styles of fiddle music.

The line-up has varied throughout the years. The current line-up includes vocalist Mollie O’Brien, violinist Bonnie Bewick from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, U.S. national Scottish fiddling champion Hanneke Cassel, All-Ireland fiddle champion Sheila Falls-Keohane, renowned fiddlers Lissa Schneckenburger, Ellen Gawler, Naomi Morse, Laurel Martin, Katie McNally, Graham DeZarn, Steve Hickman and Bob Childs as well as All-Ireland harpist Kathleen Guilday and acclaimed Irish flute player Shannon Heaton, together with the rhythm section of Keith Murphy on guitar and piano, Mark Roberts on banjo, Ariel Friedman and Elsie Gawler on cello and Ralph Gordon on bass, along with step-dancer Shannon Dunne.

We come from all these varied musical traditions, from Ireland to Appalachia, from Scotland to Cape Breton, and everybody is out of their comfort zone,” artistic director Childs explains. “It makes for a very focused and creative working atmosphere and you just naturally open up a bit. That’s what brings people back year after year: the process is very intensely creative and organic.”

Waiting for the Dawn features a guest appearance by Crooked Still vocalist Aiofe O’Donovan, one of the most reputable singers in the modern bluegrass scene.

Among the many cherished and unexpected gifts I’ve received from violinmaking have been the friendships I’ve made with the amazing musicians who come into my shop,” says Bob Childs. “Each musician has his or her own story, a story which infuses each instrument I make and helps shape its voice. Together these voices create the unique sound of Childsplay, with its breadth of stylistic repertoire and its strong familial bonds. It is my joy and privilege to be a part of this musical family.”

Waiting for the Dawn is an extraordinary album that celebrates fiddle makers and the fiddle traditions of western Europe and Atlantic North America.

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Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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