January 28, 2008 at 8:37 AM
At the start of the concert, each fiddler and partner/accompanist played solos with pyrotechniques galore. I have a CD with Alasdair Fraser on fiddle and Natalie Haas on cello, in which the two musicians play duets as musical equals, not as fiddler with accompanist, as they did at this concert. I also have CDs, and have even heard a concert with Martin Hayes on fiddle and Dennis Cahill on guitar. With this duo, the guitarist serves as accompanist. Bruce Molsky didn’t have another player with him, but he sang.
For the last part of the concert, all the musicians played together. I’m sure they practiced some of the songs before the show, but this part of the performance certainly looked and sounded like a jam. Alasdair Fraser started one tune and Martin Hayes obviously knew it, so he jumped in right away. Bruce Molsky simply listened to the others play the tune once, and then he played it along with them, not missing a single note. The Irish and Scottish have strong traditions of fiddle competitions, and each fiddler at this concert seemed to compete with the others. One aspect of competing is playing faster (and correctly) than the others. I’m sure I knew some of the tunes they played, but I couldn’t identify them because they were played so fast.
I went to this concert with a friend who is not a musician, and I think she loved it as much as I did. It was the kind of concert that gave listeners feeling energized and high for a long time after the concert.