Vince Collins,
Lifting Out the Stove
(Singsong, 2002)

Lifting Out the Stove is what folks did around the bay in Newfoundland when they'd have a dance and needed room in the kitchen -- they'd play through to the morning, then lift it in again in order to boil the kettle!

Vince Collins picks a good, wide-ranging selection of tunes, occasionally interspersing them with a bit of background history and local recollections. This is a family musical evening, dedicated to the late Dorothy Collins, and setting down many traditional tunes learned by Vince from his father, Jim Collins. The CD is produced by his son, Glen, who provided the cover photo, holds a joint copyright on original tunes and arrangements, and plays mandolin and guitar.

Most of the time, however, the guitar is too overpowering, particularly when the CD gives the impression that Vince is heading the playing on his button accordion (or melodeon). Both are competent players, particularly Vince, but while this is a nice memento CD, preserving Vince's memories and the old tunes, I felt Glen and his guitar should have been more complementary, like the bodhran of Fergus O'Byrne and the banjo and whistles of Bob Hallett.

Vince records his first original composition, "Vince's Triple," and also recounts the inspiration his father had when Jim returned from the fishing having composed his own tune with "Get Me the Accordion Quick!" The other 12 tracks are all traditional tunes and medleys, more than a couple having been learned locally in the way these things are passed around. The recording, apart from the dominance of the guitar, is a polished and professional job and the tunes should have your feet, or at least your fingers, tapping.

It would have been interesting to have had at least one of the tunes recorded "live" in the kitchen, with the step-dancing or square-dancing going on and a bit of the atmosphere recalled by Vince when he speaks of days gone by. The goal of the recording, to preserve the traditional tunes before they are lost, is certainly achieved. Doubtless the fishing communities around Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, are changing in the way all small communities are in modern times, but these memories of lifting out the stove to give the dancers room, and the Irish-American tunes and locally appropriate songs that accompanied them, keep the past vibrant and add colour to the present.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 24 May 2003