Sing Out! magazine, Vol. 41, #3
...Nancy Johnston is delightful. She has a big voice, but is capable of great delicacy as in "ChiMiNa Morbheanna"...
Dirty Linen, Fall 1996
... this is a solid release from a maturing band...
Craicmore's first CD release is a collection of songs and instrumentals that take a "somewhat traditional celtic music" approach. Featuring critically acclaimed contralto Nancy Johnston - vocals, bodhran; Steve Pribyl - Banjo, Mandolin, Flute; Bryan Ogihara - Irish Bouzouki, Guitar; Ted Colt - Fiddle, 12 string Guitar; John MacAdams - Conga, Dijeridoo
About the Artist
Celtic music, like the Celts themselves, has put down roots the wide world over. Scholars may quibble and traditionalists argue about the finer points of lineage, but there's no better proof that the family tree is flourishing than the L.A.- based group Craicmore. The name itself - an easy blend of craic - an Irish word for fun, and the anglicization of mór - Irish for "big" or "great," reflects the group's approach to its music.
"We're not a Celtic folk band. We're not a Celtic rock band. We're not a Celtic traditional band," the group agrees. But they draw their words and music from the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland and claim influences as diverse as The Bothy Band, Chieftains and Pogues. And rock, country and R&B. It's an amazingly seductive marriage: one that never fails to turn new faces into fans.
Craicmore came together through chance meetings at the L.A. Celtic Arts Center's legendary Monday night seisiuns. In the years since, the group has played to enthusiastic audiences at festivals, fairs and Highland Games gatherings, in pubs and clubs and concerts throughout the Western United States.
The ongoing adventure has given the group - known for its sense of humor - some memorable stories to tell, like: the logistics involved in playing five different venues - including a Mexican restaurant one St. Patrick's Day; the night Soyars performed with a broken hand; and the time Johnston sang "Molly Malone" for 22 minutes straight - by request.
Craicmore's approach to each and every song is framed by abiding respect for the material, but maybe more important is the musicians sheer joy in the music and willingness to take chances, enriching the tradition with their own time and place. As Johnston says, "Celtic music is a living tradition that continues to influence and absorb other traditions. For example, I am now singing a waulking song in Gaelic backed a shruti box, an East Indian instrument. Its raspy drone is a perfect fit with the song. It's not on this album but will be on the next!"
Born and raised in the Boston area, Nancy Johnston came to music through theater's door. She saw Dylan plug in at the Newport Folk Festival, got muddy at Woodstock, and is possibly the only living person ever to fall asleep at a Jimi Hendrix concert, but it wasn't until college when she did arrangements for a production of Brecht, that the then-theater major got serious about music. And it wasn't until after graduation that she began her professional career when a friend, tired of hearing her talk about singing, picked up the phone herself and answered a newspaper ad for a country singer on an L.A. radio station: Johnston got the job. A few years later, she arrived at The Celtic Arts Center in search of a play and walked away with as the vocalist for Craicmore. Since then, her rich, smoky contralto and way with a bohdran have become signatures of the group.