Genre busting is a post modern reality, but this debut album by Marcus Holden's Fiddlers Festival doesn't just crash through the boundaries, it nukes them. A track by track tour shows how extensive the scope of it all is.
Fiddlers Curse is an instant classic in the country rock vein, with Kevin Bennett (of The Flood fame) delivering a gritty narrative lyric. Peel Of The Onion, a traditional Celtic tune, is lent a slightly new age air with it's keyboard programming while retaining the folky robustness. La Cumpasita, a tango, has a bewitching Argentinean texture created by Holden's lusty fiddle, accompanied by accordion, guitar, bass and drums. A similar texture is used to different effect on the ensuing two-tune medley of Celtic flavour.
El Condor Pasa is a highlight. Holden doubles on viola and recorder, while Kate Morgan adds cello and Willy Qua flute. The result is a reading of the timeless melody which exquisitely emphasises its loneliness and desolation. A rather cheeky medley combines Coleraine Jig with Jesu, Joy of Man's desiring and gets away with it, while Tiger Rag sees Holden joined by George Washingmachine for a two-fiddle workout that would get them whooping in the pub and might have you doing the same in your living room if you're not careful.
Holden is a selfless leader who clearly delights in the talents of his peers. Ray Schloeffel plays violin on his own charming Blacktown Jig, and Malachy Bourke is the lead fiddle on Holden's arrangement of the Morning Dew. If the core Celtic theme seems to be developing at this point, Holden's title track is a country hoedown with a hint of the melancholy to ease the
glibness that can beset such music. What follows could be the genre busters anthem: Cole Porter's Don't Fence Me In (with Goofy Scatting). Music for a Found harmonium is a kind of country
Ravel's Bolero, with a repeated theme growing in intensity.
Turkey Set is a bluegrass stomper (with soprano sax interjections from Willy Qua) which gives way to Old Tunes, a simple setting of the Henry Lawson Poem. So what do call it? A pedant might try for Celtic country with rock and jazz influences. But it's music- unassuming, honest and fun.