Celtic Artists page

Trad & Folk
Artists and Albums

Hello! This page is part of an opinionated overview of Celtic and British folk music, with record reviews by me, Joe Sixpack... This is not meant to be taken as a "definitive" resource, but rather as a record of some of the music which has caught my interest. I am always looking for more good music to explore, so your comments and suggestions are welcome.

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Cockersdale "Wide Open Skies" (Fellside, 1997)

Cockersdale "...Been Around For Years" (Fellside, 2000)

Cockersdale "Doin' The Manch' " (Fellside, 2001)

Shirley and Dolly Collins - see artist profile

Sonny Condell "Camouflage" (Mulligan, 1977)
A solo album from a member of the Irish band, Tir Na Nog...

Johnny B. Connolly "Bridgetown" (Green Linnet, 2001)
A fine set of accordion instrumentals, from a young Dubliner with a nice light touch. Kevin Burke, who was a patron of sorts for Connolly, adds some nice fiddling on three of the tunes... Nice variety of styles, as well as the inclusion of a French musette tune, "Marcelle and Marcel," which shows his range of interests.

Connemara "Beyond The Horizon" (Blix Street, 1993)
The first album by this Washington, DC-based trio...

Connemara "Siren Song" (Blix Street, 1995)
Fiddle, harp and airy vocals from the duo of Grace Griffith and Cathy Palmer, with additional instrumental help from Touchstone's Zan McLeod and others. This is too sugary for my liking, but it doesn't dip as heavily into the Celtic new ageiness as you might imagine... It's okay, just a bit amorphous and saccharine.

Coope, Boyes & Simpson - see artist profile

The Copper Family "Come Write Me Down: The Early Recordings Of The Copper Family Of Rottingdean" (Topic, 2001)
The Copper Family, whose playful, earthy a capella recordings of the 1950s and early '60s are credited as being fundamental to the folkloric explorations of likeminded young'uns such as Shirley Collins and The Watersons, were as authentic a repository of English folklore as one could ever hope for. Of good, working class Sussex stock, the Copper Family has performed (to this very day) for several generations, singing humorous and whistful songs drawn from across the British landscape. Some are familiar, such as "Spencer The Rover" and "Good Ale," which open this album, and others, like "Thousands Or More" (a lament regarding the singer's lack of funds) and "The Birds In Spring" are more off the beaten path. Although a capella albums can sometimes be a bit dry, the Copper Family's style is particularly appealing, and quite inviting. Unlike some of their followers (Collins, in particular), the Coppers shyed away from taxing minor-key harmonies or atonality; sticking to the major scale, they are much more accessible and warm sounding, and less of a chore to follow. Thus, the stories and sentiments of these songs come through vividly, and even casual listeners may find themselves drawn in by these recordings. There are plenty of great songs on here; one of the most striking is the rural ballad, "The Seasons Round," which details the agricultural calendar, from plowing and planting through the harvest of various crops. The song vividly evokes the camradery hard physical labor, and ends with a new verse (written by Bob Copper) that laments the coming of mechanized harvesting equipment, "labor-saving" devices that undercut the old-world sense of communality. This deluxe, 28-track CD draws equally on early '50s/early '60s sessions made for the BBC, and EFDSS and folklorist Peter Kennedy, and is accompanied by not one but two booklets, copiously documenting the family's history and professional work, as well as all the songs, with lyrics and historical information noted for each track. Lots of information about folk music and its study can be prized out of this classy collection... Highly recommended; if you're in doubt, just go ahead and pick it up. You won't regret it!

Bob & Ron Copper "English Shepherd & Farming Songs" (Folk Legacy, 1964)

Bob Copper "Sweet Rose In June" (Topic, 1977)

The Corries "The Corrie Folk Trio With Paddy Bell/Promise Of The Day" (Elektra, 1965/1965)

The Corries "In Retrospect" (EMI/Talisman, 1965)

The Corries "Cam Ye By Atholl" (Philips/Fontana, 1966)

The Corries "Bonnet, Belt & Sword" (Polygram, 1967)

The Corries "In Concert/Scottish Love Songs" (Fontana, 1969/1969)

The Corries "Those Wild Corries/Kishmul's Gallery" (Fontana, 1968)

The Corries "Live At The Royal Lyceum Theatre" (EMI, 1971)
A fine live set that shows the confidence and elan of the Corries duo, performing in front of a good-humored, receptive hometown audience in Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre. There's a core element of old-fashioned (but not quite fusty) folk-scene earnestness, but it's tempered with a flashing, subtly wicked Scottish sense of humor. Although much of their work as a dup doesn't have the evocative, magical feel of many of the Celtic bands that would come in their wake, one song stands out, a spooky adaptation of "The Great Silkie," an eerie, hushed, ten-minute long drone that has a positively Dransfieldian feel to it... That track is a standout, although the rest of the album is fine as well. Overall, it's workmanlike, yet personable, with several rousing, anthemic, historically-themed songs, such as "Ye Jacobites By Name," etc., as well as a fair amount of comedic material, including a slightly dated parody of '60s-style rock-blues bands, and even a quick little limerick. Not dazzling, but worth checking out. (Reissued as a 2-CD set, along with Sound The Pibroch, reviewed below.)

The Corries "Sound The Pibroch" (EMI, 1972)
An interesting album, with a fuzzy-textured, multilayered feel, with a bit of the mellow, mystical tone of musicians such as the Dransfields and Nick Drake, yet with a solid traditional footing. A nice, surprisingly subtle set... Worth checking out! (Reissued as a 2-CD set, along with Live At The Royal Lyceum Theatre, reviewed above.)

The Corries "Strings And Things/A Little Of What You Fancy" (EMI, 1970/1973)

William Coulter & Barry Phillips "Simple Gifts" (Gourd, 1990)

William Coulter & Barry Phillips "Tree Of Life" (Gourd, 1992)

William Coulter & Barry Phillips "Music On The Mountain" (Gourd, 1993)

William Coulter "Celtic Crossing" (Gourd, 1995)

William Coulter "Celtic Sessions" (Gourd, 1997)
Lovely stuff, centered around Coulter's delicate guitar work, which has clear echoes of John Renborne and, to a lesser extent, John Fahey. At any rate, these mellow instrumentals never fall into the easy listening/New Age abyss, retaining dignity and authenticity while also sounding very, very relaxing and easy on the ears. Themes are well-developed and fully explored, particularly on longer tracks like "March Of The King Of Laois." Recommended!

William Coulter "The Crooked Road" (Gourd, 1999)
Pleasant, if somewhat generic, Celtic/new acoustic music that drifts into New Age-y terrain as often as not. Not my cup of tea, but if you're into it, it ain't bad.

William Coulter & Benjamin Verdery "Song For Our Ancestors" (Solid Air, 2001)

William Coulter "The Road Home" (Gourd, 2004)

William Coulter & Barry Phillips "The Simple Gifts Collection" (Gourd, 2001)
A box set collecting their early collaborations...

Harry Cox "What Will Become of England?" (Rounder, 2000)

Harry Cox "The Bonny Labouring Boy" (Topic, 2001)

Crasdant "Cerddoriaeth Draddodiadol Gymreig (Welsh Traditional Music)" (Sain, 1999)
Pretty, flowery-sounding Welsh instrumentals, with harp, flute, fiddles, and a bit of guitar and "stepping" (also known as "clogging," sort of a percussive tap-dance for rhythm...) This is maybe a bit softer than the stuff I like, but it's still pretty nice, and very true to the folk traditions. Easy on the ears without being all New Age-y and bland.

Crasdant "Nos Sadwrn Bach (Not Yet Saturday)" (Sain, 2001)
A lovely instrumental set, more accomplished than their earlier recordings, mellow and engaging without being either saccharine or intrusive. If you like pretty-sounding Celtic harp music, this is an album worth checking out. (Available at the band's website: www.crasdant.com )

Crasdant "DWNDWR: The Great Noise" (Sain, 2006)

Kevin Crawford " 'd' Flute Album" (Green Linnet, 1995)

Kevin Crawford "In Good Company" (Green Linnet, 2001)
A fine all-instrumental album, featuring English flautist & tin whistle whiz Kevin Crawford (of the band Lunasa), in collaboration with several high-powered guest performers, folks such as fiddlers Tommy Peoples, Martin Hayes, Manus McGuire and Frankie Gavin, just to name a few. A couple of tracks are super-goopy, but most are straightforward and pleasantly pure.

Kevin Crawford "A Breath Of Fresh Air" (Green Linnet, 1995)

Tony Cuffe "When First I Went To Caledonia" (Iona, 1988)

Tony Cuffe "Robert Burns Volume 1: The Complete Songs" (Linn Records, 1997)

Tony Cuffe "Sae Will We Yet" (Greentrax, 2003)
A lovely set of guitar instrumentals and Scottish songs. Cuffe has a nice light touch, and a warm feel for the material; stands up well next to forerunners such as Davy Graham and John Martyn. Mostly, this album is just a delight to listen to...Recommended! (Available through the Greentrax label.)

Cuig "Prospect" (Green Linnet, 2002)
A lively set of inventive, modernized Celtic tunes, mixing Irish and Northumbrian styles with a slight rock-pop undercurrent. Pretty catchy overall, with a few vocal tunes, although the instrumental work is really the main attraction. Might be a little too crossover-y for some, but basically, it's pretty straightforward traddish material, with a few nice twists. Not a "keeper" from my perspective, but certainly not bad at all.

Phil Cunningham & Aly Bain "The Pearl" (Green Linnet, 1995)

Phil Cunningham & Aly Bain "The Ruby" (Green Linnet, 1997)

Phil Cunningham & Aly Bain "Another Gem" (Compass, 2000)

Phil Cunningham & Aly Bain "Spring The Summer Long" (Whirlie Records, 2003)

Phil Cunningham & Aly Bain "The Best Of Aly And Phil" (Compass, 2004)

Phil Cunningham & Aly Bain "Another Musical Interlude" (DVD) (Dunya, 2004)

Phil Cunningham & Aly Bain "Roads Not Travelled" (Whirlie Records, 2006)

The Cut And Dry Band "The Wind In The Reeds: The Northumbrian Smallpipes" (Topic, 2001)
(Produced by Tony Engle)

A musical feast for fans of Northumbrian music, and in particular of the "small pipes," a distinctive bagpipe-ish instrument peculiar to that region of Northern England. This band features five(!) pipe players, Colin Ross, Jim Hall, Alistair Anderson, Anthony Robb, and Carole Robb, with various members contributing a bit of fiddle or concertina as well. This reissue CD combines songs from two albums by the band, Cut And Dry Dolly from 1976 and Cut And Dry #2, from 1980... It is frequently mistaken for a various-artists collection, but is actually just the work of the Cut And Dry Band. Odd stuff, but marvelous as well.

Gordon Cutty/Tommy Williams "Masters Of The Concertina" (Free Reed, 2007)
A twofer reissue of a pair of albums by two separate artists, Gordon Cutty's A Grand Old Fashioned Dance and Tommy Williams' on Springtime In Battersea, each with simple, stripped-down concertina instrumentals of the sort one might have heard in English alehouses in decades and centuries gone by... The CD reissue includes artist interviews as bonus tracks. Probably for hardcore concertina enthusiasts only. (And there are many!)

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