John McCusker, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle may well be familiar to a number from their appearances on ‘Transatlantic Sessions’, now some seven or more years old.
McCusker and McGoldrick were hardly new to the folk scene when these programmes on BBC4 first aired, McCusker as a long-time member of the Battlefield Band as well as featuring in the productions of artists as diverse as Ocean Colour Scene, Teenage Fanclub, Linda Thompson and Edi Reader.
Mike McGoldrick helped form ‘Toss the Feathers’ while still at school, and has been part of ‘Flook’ and ‘Lunasa’, in addition to appearing with numerous other musicians.
John Doyle is an accomplished guitarist and traditional singer, with an extensive and intimate knowledge of the oral transmission of Irish singing in particular.
The trio fair bounced onto the stage of the Queen’s Hall, despite this appearance being the 39th of a 40-gig tour.
McGoldrick’s sensitive rendition of ‘Carrickfergus’ on the uillean pipes opened the first half, followed by a lively set of jigs and reels ably syncopated and decorated by the three players.
John Doyle’s vocal contributions to the first half were a version of ‘The Two Brothers’ (Child mentions six Scottish versions alone), ‘The Path of Stones’, his own composition based on a poem by W. B. Yeats, and ‘Billy O'Shea’ a topsail shanty warning of the perils awaiting hung-over sailors working high aloft.
The second half of the programme opened with another lively set, in which ‘Rip the Calico’ featured, skilfully blended with a number of other readily recognisable tunes, played with the same pitch-perfect timing and delivery as that of the previous one.
McCusker’s own ‘Leaving Friday Harbour’ slowed the pace to a more reflective mood. Altogether, an excellent evening that demonstrated, if demonstration were needed, the range and abilities of these three musicians.
copyright Bill Dunlop 2015
first published on edinburghguide.com 2015