Tickle Harbour,
Battery Included
(Singsong, 1998)

Tickle Harbour's Battery Included is a lively and appealing collection of tunes and songs.

The band is Vonnie Barron (vocals), Patrick Moran (fiddle), Fergus O'Byrne (vocals, bodhran, concertina), Gerry Strong (tin whistle, flute), Francesca Swann (cello, backing vocals) and Don Walsh (guitar). Guest artists include Patrick Boyle (trumpet), Seamus Creagh (fiddle), Jim Fidler (percussion), Rick Hallett (saxophone), Paddy Keenan (uillean pipes) and Frank Maher (accordion). Also lending their talents are Sean McCann, Dermot O'Reilly and Jim Payne (backing vocals), Sandy Morris (guitar) and Scott Schilleroff (hammered dulcimer).

The CD starts off with what the band considers its signature set: "Teetotalers/The Ships are Sailing." The fiddle, whistle and accordion are balanced and the pace is just right, lively but not hurried. "Maurice Kelly," the song that follows, is an amusing tale of a woman who conspires with a "ghost" to set her husband on the straight and narrow, and Barron's lilting voice carries it off perfectly.

"The Banks of Newfoundland" is about the fishermen who traveled from England and Ireland to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, staying all summer and returning home in the fall. O'Byrne's plaintive voice is well-suited to this simple, poignant song, and it is equally well-suited to the up-tempo "The Warlike Lads of Russia." It's one of the best renditions I've heard lately and neatly meshes with the tune "Caislea na nOr."

"Water Street Jigs (Sean Ryan's/Cliffs of Moher)," "Paddy Fahey's/The White Petticoat" and "Julia Delaney/Farewell to Erin" are all solid, well-executed sets that keep your pulse pumping. "Prince Rupert's March/Trippin' Up to Samaria" and "I Didn't Drink the Rum/Jim Keefe's/Gortnatubrid" both have an exotic flair; the first set especially serves as a showcase for Moran's fiddle.

The arrangements are tight with smooth transitions between tracks. You get a good sense of the band's range in terms of both versatility and expression. Battery Included includes it all: fast fiddle tunes and slower melodies, lively stories and sorrowful laments. The only thing missing is a ticket to Newfoundland to hear Tickle Harbour perform live.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 28 June 2003

[ visit the artist's website ]