Brenda Hunter,
with Banshee in the Kitchen,
Catching the Mooncoin
(Speirbhean, 2003)

The title of this CD alone got me hooked. I was enthralled by the name of the band. These are performers with a sense of humour.

Brenda Hunter plays hammered dulcimer and fiddle to perfection and, along with her accompanists (the California-Celtic trio Banshee in the Kitchen), she has produced a beautiful album of mainly but not exclusively Irish tunes, giving many of them a new slant.

She opens with "The Mooncoin Set." (From her notes I wonder if she realises that there is a town in County Waterford called Mooncoin, and of course there is the song "Rose of Mooncoin.") They take "Star of the County Down" on a beautiful trip through two different tempos to great effect.

Not to be classed solely in an Irish context they also perform the beautiful "French Cafe Set" that simply must be experienced. "Rhythm of the Rain" is an old pop hit, but it sounds absolutely fantastic here.

No album of Irish music is complete without O'Carolan, and I compliment this group for including "Planxty Kelly," which is played more rarely than some of the bard's other tunes.

This is a great album -- the presentation complements the ingredients beautifully. You get a new take on familiar tunes that changes them just enough but never eliminates the original feel.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 29 May 2004

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