Posts Tagged ‘Karen Tweed’

Celtic Connections

January 22, 2008

I have been to Accordion Hell. It was marvellous.

So, I’m up in Glasgow for a couple of days, to see some gigs at Celtic Connections, what is possibly the biggest celebration of traditional music still going in the UK. It’s around 3 weeks long with hundreds of acts all over the city. Sadly, due to workload and things like inconveniently having to graduate, I’m going to miss seeing my favourite acts playing here (Shooglenifty, Peatbog Faeries, Colin McIntire (or Mull Historical Society to you) and the secret GOD of Scottish song writing Michael Mara) but next year I intend to remedy this. OH do I intend to remedy this.

Anyway, enough about me, back to what I was watching last night. Keeping with the sense of humour all the best trad musicians have about the scene, as an antidote to Sunday’s ‘Harp Heaven’, last night there was a show called ‘Accordion Hell’, celebrating… well, the infamous accordion. The musicians were full into the theme and were all bedecked with little devil horns and plenty of damnation jokes. We were treated to 8 mind-blowingly talented accordion players, accompanied by a rather good drummer and an excellent guitarist (who also was an honorary accordion demon for one tune that he had written.) The range of tunes spanned from the bright and high-energy to the beautiful, delicate and moody, to the downright funky. All of it played with style, humour and skill. I think one reason most people hate the instrument is they’ve never heard it in the hands of someone who really knows how to work it, and haven’t seen what an amazing, rich sound one person with a squeezebox can make happen. When the cords and complex melodies get layered up it’s hard to accept it’s just one instrument doing it, and some of the intricate and blisteringly fast finger work that was going on in the concert was just staggering. (Though that’s something else people who have never much been in the folk scene get to see. Sure, some of it can be lacklustre, but we’ve also got some of the most technically brilliant musicians playing in this scene and the level of skill it takes to pull off some of the things they can do is hugely under-estimated.)

So yes, Accordion Hell was fantastic and renewed my appreciation for those can take an instrument used for so much evil and mediocrity and use it for the forces and good and awesome. Brilliant.

Advertisements