NorthCregg,
Summer at My Feet
(Greentrax, 2003)

This band was formed in Cork, the second city of Ireland -- and my favourite location outside my hometown. There is a long tradition of great musicians and singers from the city by the Lee and the oddly named NorthCregg continue the line.

Not surprisingly the band owes its genesis to that old and hallowed rite the informal pub session. We hear so much about the evils of drink and the detrimental effect of pub culture; listen to this CD and you will witness another side. How much poorer would we be if these young people had avoided the public house?!

The album opens as if we were in the middle of one of those sessions. The tune is Canadian but the delivery is pure Cork hostelry. It is like walking through the doors as a good ceili band is in full swing on "The Pitchfork Reel."

Fiona Kelleher is from the town of Macroom near Cork and her vocal talent is to the fore on the track "There was a Maid in Her Father's Garden," a traditional Irish song of courtship. She lends her beautiful voice again on the lovely song "The Recruited Collier," also known as "Jimmy's Enlisted."

Not that Fiona is the only member, the lads are truly accomplished musicians who make it all sound so simple -- as only maestros can. The set of slides on track 5 (simply called "Slides") is a joy to hear. One can feel the enjoyment emanating from the players. The snare drum gives this group the feel of a lively ceili band from the 1950s. They slip from slides expertly into a set of hornpipes and reels that make you wish you could dance.

As with all good bands, they bring us great versions of old material but they also use new songs from modern writers. A gem in this CD is the exposure for a new name in my database. "Summer at My Feet" is written by Cork writer Ger Wolfe and from the work on this CD I look forward to hearing more of his material. His "Swallow Sing" has a beautiful light feel and seems to sing of the ordinary everyday young love.

"Fred Finn's Polka" opens with a very deceptive piano solo that then segues sweetly into some inspired playing that will close this album with anyone who enjoys good music shouting for more.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 13 September 2003