July 19, 2024

John McCusker – Hello Goodbye


You’ll know as soon as you hear the first track, Calendar Boys, whether you’re going to like the album. Slapped small drum (something like a table) and waltzing bass welcome in a wheeling fiddle and colour, as if it were needed, is added by a mandolin. Like many of the tracks, the piece is made up of smaller sections and moves into a couple of reels to set your feet tapping.

Acoustic, traditional instruments are well-recorded and a band of superb musicians play with elan. John McCusker began his career with The Battlefield Band before moving into solo work, session work and production with anyone and everyone (Mark Knopfler and Eddie Reader to Kris Dreever, Roddy Woomble and Teenage Fanclub). His band includes luminaries such as legendary accordion player Phil Cunningham, flute and whistle player Michael McGoldrick, Grammy winner Bluegrass star Tim O’Brien and Irish singer Heidi Talbot (John’s wife). A number of names will be familiar to the revolving-door superstar assemblage, The Transatlantic Sessions. It’s no surprise that the album is well-recorded; it’s on his own label and recorded in his own studio in the Borders, where he’ll continue to produce albums for fellow travellers.

Like I said; that first track will tell you all you need to know – here are lilting instrumental ballads, keening laments, jigs, reels, waltzes and living, breathing tradition, kept alive by never disappearing, being renewed by each generation of new musicians. Here, the addition of guitar and sonorous bass makes the music instantly accessible and memorable. The depth and complexity of the multiple instruments give a filmic texture whilst keeping a clear melodic core through the hour-plus set.

This band is touring in April and May 2016:

Apr 26 Cambridge – Junction

Apr 27 London – Royal Albert Hall – BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

Apr 28 London – Cecil Sharp House

Apr 29 Shoreham-by-Sea – The Ropetackle Arts Centre

Apr 30 Worcester – Huntingdon Hall

May 01 Lincoln – Drill Hall

May 03 York – NCEM

May 04 Liverpool – The Music Room

May 05 Saltaire – Victoria Hall

May 06 Kendal – Brewery Arts Centre

May 07 Stirling – Tolbooth

May 09 Paisley  – Arts Centre

May 10 Birnam – Birnam Arts

May 11  Findhorn – Universal Hall

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