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Tom McConville

Tom's first solo album since Fiddlers Fancy in 1993 is now available. Tune for Michael is dedicated to the memory of Mick Johnson who was one of the world's finest violin makers. The album includes a mix of new and old tunes and songs and features some very special guests.
    Tune for Michael
Tom McConville Fiddles, vocals
Frank Kilkelly Guitars
Christine Hanson Cello
Aaron Jones Cittern
Bob Fox Harmony Vocals
Norman Holmes Flute
Dave Wood Guitar

1 Tune for Michael U
2 The Holy Ground U
3 Rocky Road
4 Rod McNeil
5 Splendid Isolation
6 Young and Foolish
7 The Auctioneer
8 The Boys of the Lough / Andy McGann's
9 Sailor by his Right U
10 Roseville Fair
11 Peter Tickell / Cousellor Cato
12 The Dear Irish Boy

 Review - Tune for Michael
Stirrings Magazine, Issue No 121

In which the fiesty Geordy fiddle-fondler takes a holiday from the music of the North-East of England and turns his talents towards Ireland and America. Not only that, but he steps out from behind the fiddle bow and reveals himself as a very tasty singer. In fact he could have called this album Another Side of Tom McConville if Bob Dylan hadn't beaten him to the punch forty or so years ago.

Listeners familiar with Tom's high energy work with piper Pauline Cato might also be suprised by the laid-back feel of this CD. The cover depicts the sun setting mistily behind a row of fiddles, and its that mellow, end-of-season vibe that predominates. Even when Tom kicks his slippers off on a few tune sets, the unhurried accompaniments by Frank Kilkelly maintain the sense of sleepy intimacy.

The CD opens with Tom's titular composition, a lyrical Texan-style waltz dedicated to the late Mick Johnson, who died tragically in a motoring accident a couple of years back. 'One of the world's greatest violin makers' Tom avers, pointing out that all the fiddles played on the album are of Mick's manufacture. Its warm langour sets the tone for the rest of the programme. There follows the old Clancy Brothers staple The Holy Ground, played at half the speed and with twice the feeling. No 'fine girl y'are' shenanigans here...

And so it goes. Tom saunters through a selection of trad songs and compositions by Steve Tilston, Tim O'Brien and Bill Staines. The gently swinging Rocky Road and Roseville Fair (Tilston and Staines respectively) are the nearest we get to up-tempo. There's a brief crackle of Celtic wildfire on the Boys of the Lough / Andy McGann's reel set - thrill to the blistering triplets on Boys... - but the album ends pretty much as it began, with the wistful air The Dear Irish Boy. (Tom's North-Eastern roots are briefly visible on the self composed jig set Peter Tickell / Counsellor Cato).

As I've said elsewhere, there's more to traditional music - particularly of the Celtic sort - than hell-for-leather tempos. Tune for Michael proves the point; the speedometer barely flickers, but it's as nice a ride as you could ask for.

Raymond Greenoaken.