Special Guest Artists:
John Doyle - guitars/mandocello
Dermot Byrne - accordion 6, 10, 11
Sean og Graham - guitars, bouzouki
John Joe Kelly - bodhran
Brona Graham - banjo 3, 6
PJ McDonald - whistle 6
"There was great rejoicing when the news came that Brid had finally been persuaded to record her brilliant fiddling. She has been highly regarded in the cognesenti of Irish traditional music since her early teens. Here she delivers in spades". Alan O'Leary
The Living Tradition: "an absolute gem from a player at the height of her prowess". Jim Byrne
Bríd is an Irish traditional fiddle player from Castlefinn, Co. Donegal and now living near Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. Encouraged by her parents she grew up learning and playing Irish traditional music with her sisters in the Finn Valley area. With music on both sides of the family she is carrying on the tradition of fiddle playing. She won numerous under-age All Ireland titles and other prestigious fiddle awards including the Senior All Ireland, Oireachtas na Gaeilge and Fiddler of Dooney.
Bríd has toured extensively and has performed with many great musicians including Dermot Byrne and Steve Cooney. She has been hailed as one of the leading exponents of traditional fiddle playing of our time. Bríd is highly respected as a teacher and has tutored at many Summer Schools and Workshops throughout Ireland and in France, Holland and the USA. Her first solo CD has now been released and she is currently studying at the University of Limerick for the MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance.
Track 1: Jig For Johnny/Finn From Fairymount
Track 2: Knotted Chord/The Coast of Austria/First Century Reel
Track 3: Mrs Carroll's Strathspey/Marquis of Huntley's/Beautiful Gortree
1. The Flower of Sweet Strabane / Greenfields of Glentown / Farewell To Ireland / The Flower of Sweet Strabane
2. The Warbling Robin / Alec Menzies / The Steeplechase
3. Jig for Yvette / Lad O'Beirne's No2 / The New Whistle
4. Jig for Johnny / Finn from Fairymount
5. Bó Mhín na Toitean / The Tartan on the Heather / Johnny Boyle's Jig / The Atlantic Roar
6. Knotted Chord / The Coast of Austria / First Century Reel
7. The Diamond / Reel Joe Bouchard
8. Ciaran's Reel / Black Pat's
9. The Road to Hughie's / The Beech Tree
10. Edward on Loch Erne's Shore / Larry Reynold's Fancy / Sheba's Jig
The Living Tradition Music Magazine April/May 16
Once it a blue moon a CD comes along about which you can immediately say: 'This is a little bit of magic'. Here's a case in point from Donegal fiddle player extraordinaire, Brid Harper - a wee cracker of a recording which takes fiddle playing to another level altogether. From the ?rst listen I was hooked and subsequent forays into it con?rm the initial impression. This is honest to goodness. solid and imaginative playing item a master at her craft.
There's a bold and unusual start with a solo fiddle playing the slow air, The Flower Of Sweet Strabane, steadily and sweetly, then moving into a solo reel (Tommy Peoples‘ Greenfields Of Glentown), below transforming into Farewell To Ireland played Donegal style on octave ?ddles accompanied by Sean Og Graham on guitar, before ?nally returning to a reprise of the initial slow air. Lovely stuff indeed.
Throughout the recording. there is a great variety of styles and musical backgrounds — a number at her own compositions sit comfortably alongside those gleaned from the playing of Tommy Peoples, Jerry Holland, John Doherty, Liz Carroll, Charlie Lennon and James Byrne. amongst many others.
Changes of pace and temperament within each set maintains interest. indeed some are unusual enough to make you sit up and pay closer attention.
The pretty sparsely accompanying musicians are a who's who of current top notch players - John Doyle, Sean Og Graham, Trevor Hutchinson, John Joe Kelly, Dermot Byrne, Brona Graham and PJ McDonald. This is not always a good thing as it can lead to the homogenised sound often found on recordings these days but, in this case, the relatively uncomplicated arrangements are crisp and clean and the individual tunes each come to life with in this finely crafted sets.
There is a fair bit of unaccompanied playing here as well, nicely showcasing Brid‘s impressive command of her instrument; in particular, a cracking set of tunes - Bo Mhin Na Toitean (march), The Tartan on the Heather (strathspey), Johnny Boyle's (jig), The Atlantic Roar (hornpipe) - all learned over the years while teaching at Glencolmcille Fiddle Week, highlighting her Donegal musical background.
Informative sleeve notes giving background on the sources of the tunes complete a very nicely put together package. Don't miss this if you're a fiddle fan - an absolute gem from a player at the height of her prowess. Jim Byrne
Irish Music Mag
Gorgeous fiddling – no other word for it. Brid hails from Donegal originally, and her playing has been well known for a while now in Ireland, but for some reason she hasn't recorded previously. Which is a shame, judging by this debut CD. If you want to hear complete control, rich expression, and a great range of fiddle tunes from Ireland, Scotland and North America, this album will definitely hit the spot. Not to sell Brid short, she also lays claim to three of the melodies here, fine pieces all, and she's gathered an impressive crowd of fellow musicians on accordion, whistle, banjo, guitars, bass and bodhrán to make her first recording something rather special. You can get a wee taste on the website, but it doesn't really do her music justice.
There's a vast array of styles packed into these twelve tracks, from Sliabh Luachra polkas to Scottish reels, Chicago strathspeys to Canadian clogs, Jerry Holland jigs and John Doherty hornpipes, plus of course the Northern fiddler's repertoire of reels and more reels. It's hard to choose favourites from almost three dozen tunes, but a few tracks stand out. The opening reels bookended by the slow air The Flower of Strabane are a declaration of intent, a microcosm of the fast and slow brilliance which Brid shows throughout this CD. The Knotted Chord and The Coast of Austria reveal a more contemporary side to Ms Harper's music, with generous space for whistler PJ McDonald, and a full band sound with Brona Graham and Dermot Byrne on the final Canadian reel. Billy McComiskey's Diamond Waltz is another gem (sorry), in stateside style with John Doyle's guitar and the inimitable Hutch on upright bass. Brid's Beech Tree Reel is not so far from Liz Carroll territory, grinding on those back strings and dancing delicately in the higher octave. Back on home turf, Tommy Peoples' reel Beautiful Gortree is a stunner, classic Irish virtuosity. The big finish throws everything into the mix: powerful fiddle, blistering reels, with producer Séan Óg Graham again relinquishing the guitar in favour of John Doyle, while that man John Joe Kelly batters up a storm. Tremendous playing all round, and Brid Harper is surely heading for my 2015 Top Ten. Alex Monaghan
The Irish Echo
From Castlefinn, Co. Donegal (although now living near Dungannon, Co. Tyrone), Bríd Harper is one of the finest fiddlers in traditional music. She has played since she was 9 and is a fiddler of great achievement (in 1988, for example, she won the Senior All Ireland fiddle champion, the Oireachtas na Gaeilge and the Fiddler of Dooney triple crown) and she currently has a new album out – her debut! – called “Bríd Harper.” Harper's album is attracting some compelling buzz in Ireland and it is extremely easy to see why: it is a fantastic collection of beautiful fiddle playing given tasteful support by a handful of top players in the music.
The album begins auspiciously with “Flower Of Sweet Strabane,” an air that unfolds slowly and deliberately, and sets a serious tone. However, the moment is fleeting as Harper soon changes the tempo and bursts into a pair of fast reels, first “Green Fields Of Glentown” and then “Farewell To Ireland.” Her playing is bold and nuanced, and has incredible lift here. Toward the track's end, Harper shifts gears again and reprises “Flower” to close. It's an unexpected and somewhat jarring move, but it works well because it's an evocative and very well executed idea that reflects a good sense of taste and an imaginative musical mind. It's a move that sets the album's positive tone and foreshadows the music to come.
Harper's ideas and performance are excellent throughout the album. For example, her playing on tracks like “Ciaran's Reel / Black Pat's” and “Bo Mhin Na Toitean / Tartan On The Heather / Johnny Boyle's Jig / The Atlantic Roar” is wonderful. Both are solo fiddle tracks in which she moves seamlessly between dance rhythms with a sense of logic and ease you don't always hear – it's just brilliant stuff. Indeed, her tune choices really complement her playing, not only on these two particular tracks, but throughout the album. Much of what she's recorded here are outstanding, recently composed tunes from folks like Tommy Peoples, Liz Carroll, Jerry Holland, Billy McComiskey, and others, and they add to the album's greatness.
There are several notable guests here, including guitarist John Doyle (guitar and mandola), John Joe Kelly (bodhrán), Trevor Hutchinson (bass), Dermot Byrne (accordion) and P.J. McDonald (whistle), all of whom give strong performances. However, one guest who I think recommends herself particularly well is banjoist Brona Graham who appears on two tracks – she's just brilliant. Her contribution on “Jig For Yvette / Lad O'Beirne's No.2 / The New Whistle,” where she joins Harper and Seán Óg Graham (guitar) is stunning, and adds an extra dimension to already spirited playing. She also makes a great partner for Harper, McDonald, Byrne and Kelly on “Knotted Chord / The Coast Of Austria / First Century Reel,” which is an exciting track that has a nice band feel in its arrangement.
Overall this is an excellent CD from a sophisticated musician. Harper uses her sense of taste and her guests' many talents to bring variety here in a way that will reward multiple listens. “Bríd Harper” is an album that will absolutely attract lovers of fiddle music but also anyone who loves good traditional music. I'm delighted to have heard it – highly recommended! Mighty Keith O'Neill
Combining elements of solo fiddle of the most exquisite kind, with high energy numbers, delivers one of this year's best traditional albums. The album shifts between solo excursions that display Bríd's unquestioned talent, with larger ensemble numbers that are as good as any you will hear. Her team of players include John Doyle, Seán Óg Graham, Trevor Hutchinson, John Joe Kelly, Dermot Byrne, Brona Graham and PJ McDonald.
When the tracks gather pace and the double bass and guitars of Doyle or Graham kick in, you get a full force gale of high energy music. Several tracks combine different tune types within the set, including the outstanding Barndance /Clog/Reel combination that is ' The Warbling Robin' . Doyle's trademark guitar always impresses and a duet called Jig for Johnny/Finn from Fairymount keeps it simple and effective. Tunes are sourced from her many years playing in Donegal and elsewhere, with inspiration and compositions coming from Billy McComiskey, Liz Carroll, Tommy Peoples, Denis Lanctot and Jerry Holland.
More than anything it's the thrill of hearing an extraordinary fiddler in a range of solo, duet and group combinations, that makes this album work so perfectly. Sometimes the stars collide and an album comes together so perfectly. This is one such instance. It's in the top 3 albums for 2015 so far, and will be very hard to beat. Tony Lawless