House Red,
(Tunes on the House, 2006)

To say that House Red is a tight trio of musicians is to sell them short. To mention how well they sizzle on an instrumental set of tunes is to tell only half the story. To say that they punch up this selection of traditional and original music with phenomenal energy and skill is to show an utter lack of the proper superlatives.

This band is good. Really good. Have I gotten that much across to you yet?

House Red is Shawn Brenneman on piano, Jonathan Thielen on fiddle and Owen Morrison on guitar, mandolin and, um, feet. Based in the North Carolina area, they play a lot of contra dances -- and I suspect the dancers who frequent their sessions go home with very tired legs, sore feet and big goofy smiles on their faces.

The album supplies 12 tracks for those who prefer to listen or dance at home. Traditional Irish and Scottish favorites include "Fisher's Hornpipe," "Atholl Highlanders," "Connaughtman's Rambles," "High Reel" and more, all sitting comfortably aside the Cape Breton tune "Julia Delaney" and French-Canadian "Reel de Pere Leon. There are also a handful of originals here, all of which fit into the sets like a bow on strings: Owen Morrison's "Maria's Waltz" and "El Hambo Emborrachado," Larry Unger's "Lowdown Hoedown" and "All the Rage," Susan Conger's "The Gale" and "Over the Causeway," and Keith Murphy's "Haapavesi."

It all comes together in a neat package that, if anything, should be longer. When you listen to a lot of Celtic music, albums, bands and arrangements can sometimes run together. House Red and Uncorked stand out in the crowd.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

29 September 2007

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