Ken Perlman

Island Boy

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With Devil in the Kitchen, Ken Perlman proved that you can play Celtic music very effectively on the clawhammer banjo. With Island Boy, he shows that the same is true of the music of Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island. The results are every bit as lovely this time out, and may be a bit more accessible to the average listener, since the texture of the music is enriched by the addition of accompanying guitar and piano. Most of the tunes themselves come from Irish, Scottish and French-Canadian sources; what makes them regionally distinctive is the playing style, which tends to be a bit less frenetic and more deliberate than is the norm for traditional Celtic music, though with the piano pounding out the backbeats it's all you can do to keep from dancing around the room while you listen. There are particularly nice arrangements of "Inverness Jig" and the "Upper Denton Hornpipe" here, and Perlman trades in banjo for guitar on the stately "Glenfiddich Strathspey"/"Homeward Bound" set. Although the piano could have been a bit more clearly recorded, all of this is thoroughly delightful listening. And for the benefit of his fellow musicians, he courteously indicates the banjo tuning used on each number. Excellent.