Friends of Fiddler's Green

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The fact that the Toronto-based Friends of Fiddler's Green have managed to operate almost entirely under the radar of the folk-music mainstream in the United States is probably equally due to that mainstream's…
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The fact that the Toronto-based Friends of Fiddler's Green have managed to operate almost entirely under the radar of the folk-music mainstream in the United States is probably equally due to that mainstream's obliviousness and to the vagaries of independent record distribution between the two countries. Whatever the explanation, any lover of English folk and music-hall songs, of ribald humor, of rich vocal harmony and deceptively understated instrumental virtuosity will be thrilled if they ever come across the band's two currently-available CDs, Road to Mandalay and This Side of the Ocean (which is augmented, in its CD reissue, by an additional half hour of live material, including the gut-bustingly hilarious and disarmingly beautiful "The Dogs").

The band coalesced during the late 1960s and 1970s as its members became acquainted through their mutual love of a Toronto folk club called Fiddler's Green, and as they shared songs and gradually came to recognize each other's instrumental talents as well. Members have come and gone over the decades, but the core membership eventually coalesced around multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Grit Laskin; singer, songwriter and concertina player Ian Robb; guitarist and banjo player (and Fiddler‘s Green proprietor) Tam Kearney, concertina and accordion player and storyteller David Perry, fiddler Laurence Stevenson, melodeon and harmonica player Alistair Brown and, later, fiddler and pianist Cherie Whelan. The band has never toured and, unfortunately, has recorded very rarely; apart from the two albums currently available on CD, there is reportedly also a live cassette (commemorating David Parry, who died of a heart attack in 1995) available directly from the band by mailorder only. However, Ian Robb has recorded several solo albums for Folk Legacy and on his own Fallen Angle label, and has also recorded two albums with the trio Finest Kind, and Grit Laskin has recorded for the Canadian Borealis label. Scattered solo work by other bandmembers past and present can be found, but few quite live up to the magic that this motley crew generates as an ensemble.