Hadrian's Wall,
Tonight's Lineup
(independent, 2009)

Hadrian's Wall is an Ontario-based Scots-Irish band that made a big splash when I first heard them in 1999. I followed their recordings for a few years, then lost track of them. (They're particularly memorable for being a lively kilted band that does not feature the bagpipes!)

After just missing them at the recent Mid-Winter Scottish & Irish Music Festival in King of Prussia, Pa., I picked up a recent live CD, Tonight's Lineup, which was recorded in 2009 at the Glengarry Highland Games in Ontario. It's the band's first live recording since 2001 -- and it's good to know the band hasn't lost its touch and is still going strong.

The band makes good use of its seven current members (a larger lineup than I recall them having, including at least two members I thought had left the band): Neil Emberg (vocals, acoustic guitar, drone), Dave Gossage (Irish flute, whistles, electric guitar), Richard Irwin (vocals, drums), Ashley MacLeod (fiddle), Nelson MacPherson (button accordion), Ewen McIntosh (vocals, mandolin) and Terry O'Farrell (vocals, electric bass).

Their sound is full, fun and lively. Vocal tracks range from the traditional ("Mairi's Wedding," "Jock Stewart," "Peter Street") to the unusual ("Viva Las Vegas," "I Useta Lover"), and there are enough instrumental bits and pieces to demonstrate the band's considerable chops.

This is, by the way, the first time I've ever heard "Step It Out Mary" end with Mary, her soldier boy and the rich man who's sworn to marry her all still alive by the end of the song. The situation can only end badly -- and usually does.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Tom Knapp

26 March 2011

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