Blazin' Fiddles

Blazin' Fiddles ****


THE final night of Blazin' in Beauly, the annual week-long fiddle school run by Blazin' Fiddles, began with the enrolled students performing three tunes arranged for them by group tutor Rick Taylor.

The playing then got serious when Blazin' Fiddles took the stage, with Allan Henderson restored to the line-up alongside Catriona MacDonald, Bruce MacGregor, Aidan O'Rourke and Iain MacFarlane, with Andy Thorburn on keyboards and Marc Clements on guitar.

They fired off frenetically energised but subtly arranged reels, jigs and strathspeys in their customary high-octane fashion. Slower tunes like the lovely Murdo of the Moon, dedicated to its writer, the late Johnny Cunningham, brought light and shade to their sets.

Ordinarily, these ensemble pieces would alternate with solo spots for the band members, but on this occasion those slots went to the various guest tutors on the course. We heard fine sets from American fiddler Ed Perman, Shetlander Chris Stout, and Eilidh Shaw from Taynuilt.

Each brought their own stylistic nuances, and Cajun fiddler Jock Tyldesley added yet another dimension. His duet with percussionist James Mackintosh, who tapped out rhythms on the fiddle neck, earned a special ovation.

Blazin' Fiddles added cellist Christine Hanson and Mackintosh to the band for the last three sets, and the concert ended with students and tutors en masse.