Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham
Fiddler Aly Bain and accordionist Phil Cunningham, Scottish musicians who have toured together since 1988, complement each other nicely in this new album. The first track, "My Lily, the Sweetness of Mary" is a medley with a power born out of the music’s astonishing purity. The album ends with "Sophie’s Lullaby," a haunting and stately waltz. Compass Records.
THE MERRY SISTERS OF FATE
Lunasa’s latest album showcases their instantly recognizable sound, that fine weaving of fiddle, flute, bass, pipes and guitar. Lunasa wowed a crowd of about 3,000 in Brooklyn’s Prospect park last summer, and with the launch of this 11-track album, "The Merry Sisters of Fate," the band will embark on an extended world tour until March 2002 — so look for a New York gig soon. The band members say the tunes in the album were selected for the way in which they convey a message that cannot be told in words, but has to be experienced as the music flows as pure emotion. Green Linnet Records.
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THIS PLACE ON THIRD AVENUE
Irish New Yorker John McNulty worked for years as a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and tramped the streets and avenues for nearly 20 years in search of stories. One unfailing well of tall tales, scandals, tragedies and drama, was Tim and Joe Costello’s bar on Third at 44th Street.
A stream of cab drivers, handymen, drinkers, has-beens, never-weres, dreamers and despairers, strut, stroll and stumble across the pages in a lowlife comedy that shows of McNulty’s incredible ear for dialogue and eye for detail. The book of 28 short stories also contains a memori by McNulty’s widow, Faith, and two never-before-published stories. Counterpoint. 195 pp. $23.
KEEPER OF THE FLAME
Imagine Luka Bloom, Celtic musician of renown, and then imagine the Abba hit "Dancing Queen" — that’s what "Keeper of the Flame" is about, as Bloom takes pop and rock classics from the last 30 years and reworks them into something new and, often, astonishing. The final track on this album, the Abba hit, is typical — both shockingly new yet soothing at the same time. The inspiration for the album came one dark winter’s evening as Bloom was leaving Penn Station for Washington, and on his walkman, heard U2’s song "BAD" and was transformed himself. He vowed to tackle his own version as a tribute. Bar None Records.