Last weekend I headed down to Wiston Lodge to take part in the 17th BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year semi-finals. The weekend started with a relaxing Friday evening full of tunes, songs and rehearsals.
With 13 musicians to rehearse with, rehearsals were splayed across Friday evening and Saturday day and we each had 30 minutes to arrange 10 minutes worth of music (and chat!) which would be performed at Coultar Village Hall.
Saturday was full of workshops, starting with Tai Chi then a workshop about our interaction with the media with Helen Needham, senior producer of Travelling Folk, Take the Floor, Out of Doors. Then a great workshop with Simon Thoumire which touched on a few different topics.
The concert on Saturday night had a well-attended audience, and regardless of nerves, the participants put on a great performance and a lovely show and was a nice round off to the weekend.
I had the pleasure to find out that myself, along with Charlie Stewart, Kim Carnie, Dougie McCance, Ella Munro and Grant MacFarlane had made it through to the finals, which will be held at City Halls, Glasgow on the 5th February 2017.
Luckily, the weather was lovely for the participants mini-shoot with Martin Forry out in the woods!
A few weeks ago we caught up with William Johnston from Simple Sounds who recorded a lovely video for us. Here we are playing Lovely Molly, also knwon as I Once was a Ploughboy. From the singing of Jeannie Robertson.
“This year sees the release of East, a form of concept EP release from Iona Fyfe Band. The six track CD is focussed on the oral tradition of Eastern Scotland and aims to encapsulate Eastern Scottish folksong and bring it back into the modern day. Not to spoil the surprise but this is something that they have done with roaring success.
Overlaying each and every track on this CD is the sweet, soothing and honeyed vocals of Iona Fyfe herself. When it comes to folk music, she has one of the most stunning voices on the circuit today. Her beautiful and subtle Scottish lilt flickers in her words and catches in your ears with every syllable. Her voice is soothing and versatile, as adept with happy, dancing folk tunes as she is with morose and tender ballads. Songs such as Cairn o’ Mount really bring her talents to life as this is where she performs solo and uninterrupted by any musical score. This song is a perfect example of how stunningly powerful her vocals are.
The music of the band is understated and gentle in a perfectly complimentary way as it accompanies Fyfe’s tender vocals. Fiddles soar however with bhodrans, tinkling piano keys, gently plucked guitar strings and of course a scattering of bagpipes. Even when songs such as Earl Richard do burst to life there is still something beautifully calm and collected about these perfectly crafted songs. With East they have created a series of songs that are so soft and subtle that they swirl around you like the breeze on a summers day.
There are plenty of Celtic bands on the circuit today so it might seem crass to say we’ve never heard anything like this before but this is a CD that really does make you think ‘I’ve never heard anything like this before’. Between Fyfe’s vocals and the music that she is enveloped in there is s quiet power to these songs that feels almost mythical. In just six tracks they are able to transport you to a mist dappled Scottish hillside in another time and take your very breath away in the process.” – Artree
Review by Joe Knipe
The Musicians Union have published a mini-review of East in their Autumn issue of The Musician Magazine!
“Vocalist and pianist Iona has graced many stages across her native Scotland and in Europe with her portfolio of haunting ballads and upbeat modern fare. Here her debut CD just sweeps from the speakers.”