Karen Ashbrook
& Paul Oorts,
Celtic Cafe
(Maggie's Music, 2001)

With Celtic Cafe, Karen Ashbrook and Paul Oorts pull from the true variety of Celtic music, giving a sampling of more than just the typical Scots-Irish Celtic styles that we normally hear.

Joined by an ensemble of other musicians (Andrea Hoag on fiddle, Bonnie Rideout on Scottish fiddle and viola, Mark Hillmann on uilleann pipes, Bobby Read on woodwinds and soprano sax, Dwight Purvis on French horn, Ralph Gordon on bass, Dave Wiesler on piano, and Paddy League on bodhran, snare drum, concertina and percussion), this pair reaches into the French and Flemish traditions, as well as Irish and American contra dance styles. Karen, who plays the hammered dulcimer, wooden flute and pennywhistle, is accompanied by Paul on his guitars, mandolin, musette accordion, cittern and tenor banjo.

What I love most about this album is the variety of sounds and sources used to create it. Nineteen tracks, which include "Napoleon Suite," a Flemish carillon set and an Irish reel set, combine to make for great listening. From the toe-tapping set of "Bear Island/Sean sa Cheo/Hong Herald," to the melodic and sweet "Mairin De Barra Aire," this album quickly earned itself a spot on my regular rotation.

Also worth mentioning is that Paul and Karen are also part of Cabaret Sauvignon, a contra dance band. They also tour, and teach, at folk festivals across America. Karen has also published a book and tape set, Playing the Hammered Dulcimer in the Irish Tradition on Oak Publications.

From fiddles to pipes to guitar, Celtic Cafe blends together the different roots of what is Celtic, along with other sources, into a beautiful blend of music. A definite for the Celtic music enthusiast, and a joy for music lovers everywhere.

[ by Charlie Gebetsberger ]
Rambles: 21 July 2001

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