Fresh off the back of this year’s Celtic Connections and Transatlantic Sessions, folk heavyweights John McCusker, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle are at Aberdeen’s Blue Lamp this evening as part of the final show of Other Music Promotions folk and trad weekend of events.
The trio are internationally-renowned collectors and composers of traditional Scottish and Irish music, and the venue is accordingly packed to the brim. Tonight marks one of the final nights of a 20 date UK tour, promoting the trio’s first studio album together entitled The Wishing Tree, after decades of playing live together in various formations.
Scottish fiddle maestro McCusker introduces a set of reels inspired by his nephew, a hilarious incident at an Eddi Reader concert in Tokyo and an inconsiderate trumpet player, ending with the foot stomping Frank’s Reel. The breadth of experience each man possesses shines through, with McCusker’s fiddle and McGoldrick’s flute acting as old friends through harmony, while Doyle leads the rhythm on guitar.
Liberty’s Sweet Shore, a ballad composed by Irish-bred singer Doyle, has roots in Irish famine and exodus, describing a shocking 30,000 victims who died at sea en route to the Americas. This is a message that Doyle says resonates just as much today with the current refugee crisis the world is facing, much to the agreement of the crowd.
Leaving Friday Harbour is a particularly beautiful traditional waltz, which McCusker wrote as an 18 year old at the end of his first American and Canadian tour. The tune would act as a sign of times to come, as McCusker and his two pals would spend much of the following decades performing around the globe, playing alongside the great and the good including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Mark Knopfler.
The great tradition of Scottish and Irish folk music is captured to a tee by the trio, who are mesmerising to watch throughout the evening. A beautiful moment occurs in the encore, when all three players are lost in the music, each with their eyes closed, showing the experience and trust the trio have in each other.