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Notes from Celtic Airs

At long last, the Celtic Airs Concert Series will resume in the friendly confines of the University of Hartford’s Wilde Auditorium. By the time Malinky take’s the stage on 8/13/2010, it will have been almost four months since Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill performed for a sell out crowd on 4/24/2010. Two weeks after you’ve enjoyed Malinky, Jim Malcolm will be here to entertain us on 8/27/2010.

            Malinky will be making their second appearance in the Celtic Airs Concert Series. During one of their three U.S. tours in 2009, The Boston Globe proclaimed them “the finest young Scottish traditional band since Silly Wizard.” High praise indeed!!

            The band had it’s origins in the lively session scene of late 1990’s Edinburgh and celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2008. Two of the founding members continue as cornerstones of the ensemble; Steve Byrnes (vocals/ bouzouki/guitar) and Mark Dunlop (vocals/whistles/bodhran). They’re joined by Fiona Hunter (vocals/cello) who replaced founding member Karine Polwart is 2005, Dave Wood (guitar/ bouzouki) and Mike Vass (fiddle).

            Malinky is certainly one of Scotland’s most distinctive and accomplished folk bands. Their hallmark song based repertoire features the voices of three superb vocalists who share lead and harmony. With three folklore and traditional music graduates in their ranks, it should come as no surprise that they are outstanding interpreters of traditional songs. They’re equally gifted exponents of contemporary material. AND don’t overlook their tastefully inventive instrumentals characterized by their seasoned maturity and sparkling freshness.

            Malinky have released four albums, Last Leaves (2000), Three Ravens (2002), The Unseen Hours (2005) and Flower and Iron (2008) to increasingly greater acclaim. Their most recent release prompted the reviewer in Folk Roots Magazine to say “Malinky is a class act which achieves the quality and musical accomplishment previously associated with their Scottish forbearers the Whistlebinkies, Ossian and Ceolbeg.”

            Irish Music Magazine said “Malinky has a beautiful delivery that needs no gimmicks to enthrall their audience. They simply let the strength and power of traditional songs and tunes communicate their story.”

            I strongly encourage you to come out and see “Scots music at it’s most evocative” (Mojo Magazine) when Malinky appear in the University of Hartford’s Wilde Auditorium on Friday August 13th, 2010 at 7:30PM.

            Do you remember Jim Malcolm’s tenure with The Old Blind Dogs, successor to their original vocalist Ian Benzies? He joined that stellar ensemble in 1999 and recorded three albums with them during an eventful seven year career as a “dog”.

            In 2006, he decided it was time to resume a solo career that began with acclaimed performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1994. His first solo album, Sconeward, was released in 1995 on Greentrax Records, Scotland’s premier traditional label. His second solo album “Rohallion” was released in 1998 and drew the attention of The Old Blind Dogs, already a very popular folk ensemble that originated in the same region of Northeast Scotland where Jim was brought up.

            Jim needed an outlet for his prodigious song writing talents and continued to record solo albums in between tours with the Old Blind Dogs including “Resonance” (2001), “Home” (2001) , “Live In Glenfarg” (2004) and “Tam o’ Shanter” (2005), These song writing skills didn’t go unnoticed, and in 2004 he was voted “Songwriter of the Year”  at the Scots Trad Music Awards. (This same august body nominated him for “Male Vocalist of the Year” in 2004, 2005 and 2008)

            Since devoting full time to his solo career in 2006, he has toured extensively on both sides of the Atlantic and has found time to record two additional studio albums, “Acquaintance” (2007) and “The First Cold Day” (2009). His vocal talent hasn’t gone unnoticed by American reviewers. Dirty Linen Magazine said “Malcolm has one of those pure warm folk voices, two parts Archie Fisher /one part Dick Gaughan, that one never tires of listening to.” The Boston Globe said “Jim Malcolm’s voice has the complex individuality of an aged single malt whiskey.” His U.K compatriots were no less ebullient; “One of the finest singing voices in Scotland in any style” (Living Tradition Magazine) “The new male voice of Scotland.” (Radio Scotland)

            Lest we focus too much on Jim’s singing talents, let me remind you that he is also a leading exponent of simultaneous guitar and harmonica playing (a la Bob Dylan) AND provides a witty and informative patter between songs!

            Don’t miss what promises to be an entertaining and memorable night of music when Jim Malcolm returns to the Wilde Auditorium Friday August 27th, 2010 at 7:30PM.

            Tickets to the WWUH/Celtic Airs Concert Series are only available through the University of Hartford’s Box Office, open Monday –Friday 10:00 AM – 6:00PM. Call 1-800-274-8587 or 860-768-4228. On line purchases can be made at www.hartford.edu/hartt.

            Celtic Airs , now in it’s 17th year on WWUH, is broadcast every Tuesday morning 6:00-9:00 AM on 91.3 FM and streaming live on your computer at wwuh.org. Tune in every week for the best in Celtic music old and new. You’ll also hear information about our concert series and selections featuring our concert performers.

            Thank you for supporting the WWUH, Celtic Airs and the concert series. Please spread the good news to someone you know who hasn’t yet discovered what we have to offer!!

                                                                                    Steve Dieterich
                                                                                    Producer/Host of Celtic Airs