May 10, 2016. California-based Celtic band Molly’s Revenge announces “Lift,” a new album featuring a sparkling array of the band’s unusual and arresting aural folk art.
In early 2016 the band retreated to the Northern California coast, where they worked night and day to put together a record that could surpass the band’s previous 12 releases. Their fans (or Mollycules) were very generous with donations to a successful fan fundraising campaign. As before, they traveled north to a secluded retreat among the redwoods to arrange and record the album. They have always specialized in rocking Scottish and Irish jigs and reels, but they wanted to push the envelope on this one, and they did. A quiet beauty only hinted at before has now emerged as a foil for the wall of wailing pipes and fiddle that is the hallmark sound of Molly’s Revenge.
They recorded Scandinavian and French melodies with beautiful guest performances by Aryeh Frankfurter (nyckelharpa) and Lisa Lynne (Celtic harp). They tapped into the American tradition with a lovely waltz written by Norman Blake and brought back by David from a Scottish pub session. A Swedish song melody on bagpipes introduces a set of American fiddle tunes. A melody from a hurdy-gurdy jam leads into a Quebecois reel. Traditional Irish jigs and reels coexist with blazing pipe sets from the pen of the legendary Gordon Duncan. Many of the band’s musical heroes are represented in these tunes–composers with familiar names like John Doherty, Tommy Peoples, and Jerry Holland.
This unlikely collection of melodies was Mollified with a generous dose of California sizzle and old school grit. To complete the project, the band invited German producer Juergen Treys (Cara, Litha) to work his magic in mixing and mastering the record. The result is a step up for the band. An evolutionary leap with plenty of… lift.
David Brewer: highland bagpipes, whistles, bodhran
John Weed: fiddle
Stuart Mason: guitar, mandola.
1. The Black Mare of Fanad 3:52
The Primrose Lasses, The Black Mare of Fanad, Untitled (arr. John Doherty)
2. Cloud of Dejection 3:09
The Wild Irishman, The Poacher (Bob Worrall), The Cloud of Dejection (David Brewer)
3. Prisme (Annbjørg Lien) 3:31
With Lisa Lynne on harp and Aryeh Frankfurter on nyckelharpa.
4. Miriam’s 6:32
Ornette’s Trip to Belfast (Donald Shaw), The Green Fields of Glentown (Tommy Peoples), Miriam’s (Collin Farrel)
5. French Set 4:40
Capriole (Cliff Stapleton), The Stockfish Schottisch (Daniel Thonon). With Aryeh Frankfurter on nyckelharpa.
6. Gordon Duncan Tribute #2 7:02
More Brandy (G.Duncan), Jig O’Beer (G.Duncan), Clueless (G.Duncan), Ramnee Ceilidh (G.Duncan)
7. Money In Both Pockets 4:31
The Winding Road to Advance (Alan Kelly), Money in Both Pockets, Paddy Lynn’s Delight
8. Stepping Stones 3:57
The Further in the Deeper, Lakeview Drive (Jerry Holland), Stepping Stones (trad arr. Packie Manus Byrne)
9. The Abbey Set 5:31
Cameronian Highlanders, Antrim Rose, Martin Rocheford’s, Abbey Reel
10. The Squirrel Hunter 4:59
Glasena Klingar, Hanings Farewell, The Squirrel Hunter
11. Cairo Waltz 4:51
Produced and Engineered by Molly’s Revenge. Mixed and Mastered by Juergen Treys. Photography by Matthew Geyer. Packaging Art by Stuart Mason.
All tunes are traditional/public domain unless noted otherwise.
NOTES ON THE TUNES
1. The Primrose Lasses, The Black Mare of Fanad, Untitled (arr. John Doherty) David was taught this Cape Breton setting of the first tune by fiddler Deby Benton Grosjean, via Buddy MacMaster. John learned the last two tunes in this set from transcriptions of archival settings from legendary fiddler John Doherty of Ardara, County Donegal.
2. The Wild Irishman, The Poacher (Bob Worrall), The Cloud of Dejection (David Brewer). A highland bagpipe setting of a classic Irish tune, followed by a wonderful contemporary reel composed by one of David’s favorite pipe tune composers, piping instructor and adjudicator Bob Worrall of Ontario. The set ends with a tune David composed while living in Edinburgh after several failed attempts to flag down the ornery city bus drivers to stop and pick him up.
3. Prisme (Annbjørg Lien). David fell in love with this tune some years ago, after hearing it played by Norwegian hardanger fiddler Annbjørg Lien. Our kind friends Lisa Lynne (harp) and Aryeh Frankfurter (nyckelharpa) added their magic to this track.
4. Ornette’s Trip to Belfast (Donald Shaw), The Green Fields of Glentown (Tommy Peoples), Miriam’s (Collin Farrel). The first tune, composed by Scottish accordion player Donald Shaw, was taught to David during a stop over in Denver in the midst of a coast to coast drive across the US, by wonderful Irish flute player and friend of the band Leslie Anne Harrison, who resides there. Green Fields of Glentown was learned from the playing of fiddler Tommy Peoples, a legendary fiddler and composer in the world of traditional Irish music. John learned Miriam’s from French Algerian violinist Gilles Apap in the storage room of the San Luis Obispo Grange Hall.
5. Capriole (Cliff Stapleton), The Stockfish Schottisch (Daniel Thonon). Aryeh Frankfurter contributed nyckelharpa to this track. The first tune here was snagged by Stu last summer at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA as it was being played gorgeously by a gaggle of hurdy gurdies. The second tune appears on the album “New French Folk Music” from Canadian band Ad Vielle Que Pourra (which was one of the first folk albums David owned) and apparently was composed by Belgian-born band member Daniel Thonon. Or it is a traditional Breton tune, as noted by one source.
6. More Brandy (G.Duncan), Jig O’Beer (G.Duncan), Clueless (G.Duncan), Ramnee Ceilidh (G.Duncan). Scottish highland piper Gordon Duncan was an inspiration to many pipers and musicians across the world, including David, who has been heavily influenced by his playing. In this sequel to our original tribute to the master, we celebrate his legacy with another string of amazing compositions by the legendary piper.
7. The Winding Road to Advance (Alan Kelly), Money in Both Pockets, Paddy Lynn’s Delight. To start this set, David poached a great dorian reel by Irish piano accordion player Alan Kelly from the playing of Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely. John learned Money in Both Pockets from Dublin accordion player Johnny B. Connolly on a house visit. David came across Paddy Lynn’s delight during a lesson with his whistle student Ellen Baker, as they where flipping through the well known Santa Cruz tune book The King Street Sessions, compiled by Mike Long. It has remained a favorite ever since.
8. The Further in the Deeper, Lakeview Drive (Jerry Holland), Stepping Stones (trad arr. Packie Manus Byrne). John was introduced to the first jig at a New Year’s session in Gaoth Dobhair in County Donegal. The band cemented this setting from John Doherty’s “Floating Bow” album of unaccompanied fiddle. Lakeview Drive was learned from a collection of tunes from Cape Breton great Jerry Holland, and Stepping Stones is apparently a very old melody that was transcribed by Donegal whistle player Packie Manus Byrne as he heard it sung by people all around the countryside.
9. Cameronian Highlanders, Antrim Rose, Martin Rochford’s, Abbey Reel. This set begins with a traditional Scottish pipe march that ironically doesn’t feature the pipes. We adapted Cameronian Highlanders as a slow reel that sets the stage for three cracking session reels that we learned from our extended music family at Lark In the Morning music camp.
10. Glasena Klingar, Haning’s Farewell, The Squirrel Hunter. This set begins with a Swedish drinking song that appeared on the very first folk album David owned, from a group called Boiled in Lead. He won the album by calling in to the DJ of the pan-Celtic radio program that originally lured David into traditional music, hosted by mentor and friend of the band now passed, Tam Paterson of Glasgow. Stu first heard the American tune Haning’s Farewell on the classic recording Thunderhead by Malcolm Dalglish and Grey Larsen. Squirrel Hunter’s is an old Kentucky fiddle tune learned from our friend and string wizard Isaac Callender, from Eastern Oregon.
11. Cairo Waltz (Norman Blake) Here is an example of a newish tune that has already traveled across the Atlantic and back, and evolved in the process. It was composed by American guitar master Norman Blake, but David learned this gem while living in Edinburgh from Angus Grant and Toby Shippey, where it would be played at the end of the night to conclude every session at The Reverie. Those sessions no longer happen at The Reverie, but the magic lives on in this tune.
ABOUT THE BAND
Molly’s Revenge performs instrumental Celtic music and related tunes, both ancient and modern, on bagpipes, whistles, fiddle, mandola, bodhran, and guitar. The California-based band has been in existence for 16 years, and they have played concerts from Glasgow, Scotland to Shanghai, China.