Baltimore Fiddle Fair

Last night Ted and I went to a performance of the Baltimore Fiddle Fair (not the Baltimore in America). The best I can say about the first half of the performance is that I don’t often get to use the word “soporific” in casual conversation. It reminded me of a review my father got when he was quite young: “Murphy played the part quietly. So quietly, in fact, one occasionally glanced at him and wondered what he was doing on stage.”

Ted, who is much kinder than I am, said the poor man was very, very nervous. I believe that this is probably true, but I have never in my whole life seen a performance with so little energy. The songs ranged from maudlin to suicidal with two forays into something up-tempo but still quite miserable in content. The fellow could sing better than Mark Knopfler, but not much. He had no stage presence at all, and the music did nothing to enliven the utter lack of personality on stage. Furthermore, he had a band with him, and they were as boring as he was. The female vocalist had a sort of warm burr to her voice that might’ve been nice to listen to with almost any other kind of music. The violinist (actually, the violinist reminded me of Questionable Content‘s Hannelore physically, only without the quirky personality) made me think, several times, “What’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle?” There was a guitarist, but I couldn’t see him through the head of the man in front of me. They could all /play/, but my God. I pretty much had a nice little shut-eye for the forty or so minutes of his set, and hoped to God the next half would be better.

Fortunately, it was. :)

It was a bit of a ceili session, though wholly structured. Rather than all fiddlers, though, which I kind of expected (what with the name “Fiddle Fair” and all), it was a bodhrán, a fiddle, a flute, an accordian, and a guitar. The guitarist was great. He made me think that if you took Christopher Eccleston and put him on David Tennant’s frame, gave him a broad combination of the 9th and 10th Doctors’ physical schticks, made him Irish and handed him a guitar, he was what you’d get. *laugh* Which is quite a lot to take in, isn’t it? :) But he was wonderful. Lots of fun to watch, and he and the bodhrán player kept trying to work each other up and out-do the other, which was very funny. :)

The bodhrán player himself was fantastic. He did a solo in which he made the drum make sounds I’d never imagined it could. :) It was wonderful, and he got a stupendous amount of applause for it. Made me feel kind of badly for the accordian player, whose solo had preceded him and who didn’t get nearly the outrageous response, but, well, he wasn’t nearly as impressive. He was very *good*, mind you, just not mind-blowing.

The fiddler picked up a whistle at one point and said, “We’re going to attempt…” then paused, said, “Really what I mean to say is, I’m going to attempt these two pieces, and Michael’s going to cover for me,” and indicated to the sound guy that he should turn the volume way up on the flautist’s mic and it way down on his. :) But he did quite well, though the look they exchanged at the end suggested he’d screwed up in ways I didn’t catch. :)

I couldn’t tell you any of the names of the pieces they did, although they did a cool reel from the Brittany area, and indeed, it did not sound like an Irish reel at all, which was interesting to my ears. The guitar player sang a few songs, none of which I knew, but he had a very nice Irish tenor sort of voice. Overall, it was well worth going to, though Jesus God, if I ever see something with that guy as an opening act again I’ll come late. @.@

On a related topic, there’s an empty space right across the street from the opera house that desperately needs a dessert and coffee house in it. There’s nowhere in Cork you can go for a late night bite after a show, which just seems so very, very strange to me, and that place would be so perfect. Sadly, we have not yet won the Euromillions, and so there is no dessert and coffee house in our future. :)

5 thoughts on “Baltimore Fiddle Fair

  1. “What’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle?”

    “No one cries when they spill beer on a fiddle.”

    There’s essentially no difference in the instrument. It’s just how it’s played. Though there are some folk traditions where they cut the bridge with less of a curve to make it easier to play certain styles.

  2. QC *and* Dr. Who *and* Celtic Fiddle. Could you possibly be any more perfect? :)

  3. *laugh* The answer that I’ve heard to that joke is, “A fiddle is fun to listen to.” :) I knew there was no essential difference in the instrument. :)

  4. That sounds like a fabulous evening. Well, short of the human draught of the living death in the opening act. The Irish have some of the best music to be found on earth.

    What? Me, Irish? Noooo… *whistle* ;)

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