Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kevin Burke and Cal Scott

Kevin Burke and Cal Scott bring the best of Celtic music and American roots, folk and jazz to their collaborative style.

The two first met in Portland while working on a documentary titled "The Troubles," a history of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland. Scott — a film composer who has created scores for about 30 PBS documentaries — was commissioned for "The Troubles," and he engaged Burke as a consultant on the project.

Burke's links to Celtic music include being one of the leading fiddlers in his homeland and his roles as a player with the Bothy Band in the late '70s and other groups such as Patrick Street. He has toured extensively with the Celtic Fiddle Festival since the '90s. Being at the forefront of traditional Irish music for nearly 30 years has gained Burke a reputation as a skilled solo artist and ensemble player.

Scott, whose background is in American roots, folk and jazz, plays bass and brass as well as guitar. He is a member of The Trail Band, an ensemble that plays annually at the Craterian in Medford.

The two musicians enjoyed working together enough that after the film score was finished, they continued to spend time together, playing, recording and exchanging ideas.

They released their debut album, "Across the Black River," in May 2007. It was recorded in Oregon and was the premier recording on Burke's new label, Loftus Music.

The album title comes from one of Burke's compositions, named for a river in County Sligo where his mother grew up. Guest musicians on the album are Johnny B. Connolly (accordionist from the band Bridgetown), Michael McGoldrick (flutist for Capercaillie) and Phil Baker (bassist for Pink Martini).

"Across the Black River" dips into both Burke's and Scott's musical backgrounds. The album includes Irish jigs, reels and hornpipes, Scottish airs and bluegrass tunes, along with new compositions. There is a French musette-style waltz by Scott with Connolly on accordion; a swingy arrangement of Bill Monroe's "Evening Prayer Blues" that features multi-tracks of Burke's fiddle and Scott's mandolin; and a melody written by Scottish folk musician Phil Cunningham.

Burke's ongoing interest in American music has led to work with Arlo Guthrie, Tim O'Brien, The Dillards and his own group, Open House. He was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 2002 by the National Endowment of the Arts for his contributions to traditional music.

Along with his recordings with The Trail Band and other folk, rock and jazz ensembles and work as a film composer over the past 30 years, Scott's sound track album for the film "Scotland's Lighthouses" earned fourth place in the Celtic Instrumental Album of the Year category in the Just Plain Folks Music Awards.

For more about the duo, visit www.kevinburke.com and www.calscottmusic.com.

No comments: