The Sligo-connected group, NoCrows, are next up on the Steeple Sessions roster, playing this Friday, 26 September, in the Catholic University Church on St Stephen’s Green. Tickets are available here >>
NoCrows may or may not like to be classified, as per Steeple Sessions description, “Irish acoustic world music”, but it is truly a “multicultural melting pot” of music. They recently added Russian Gypsy violin virtuoso Oleg Ponomarev and singer songwriter Ray Coen to the line-up of Mallorcan, Swiss and Sligo musicians so they music features rhythms of Catalunia and South America, original Irish and American folk songs, Irish tunes, a “hint of Gypsy swing” and an occasional “exotic eastern influence”.
Waiting for the Tide, their recently released fourth album, represents the new shape of the group. The first release since 2010’s “NoCrows on the Moon”, it has more vocals than the others. It’s also purely a “band” album with no guest musicians and mostly original material. As Siobhán Long put it recently in the Irish Times, “Swing rarely felt this good”, and it has been getting good airplay on Irish radio over the last few weeks.
The music came together on two trips to Sligo’s Coney Island. As Sligo-based Mallorcan guitarist Felip Carbonell calls it, “La Isla de Los Conejos”, the island of the rabbits, Coney is a tiny island with just a few human inhabitants, in the middle of Sligo Bay, halfway between Rosses Point and Strandhill. It is accessible by car at low tide, hence the title of the album, I suppose, which suggests on the one hand the need to wait for the tide to go out to get away to the island, and the need to wait for the tide to come in to get the feeling of isolation that it then gives.
The full line-up of the band is now:
- Anna Houston: mandolin, cello, dulcitone & vocals
- Steve Wickham: fiddle, guitar, mandolin & vocals
- Oleg Ponomarev: fiddle
- Ray Coen: guitar, fiddle & vocals
- Felip Carbonell: guitar & vocals
- Eddie Lee: double bass, flute & percussion
Sligo singer songwriter Ray Coen had been drafted in on occasion over the past number of years as a guest, and has now joined fully. Likewise, violinist & composer Oleg Ponomarev, of Loyko, Yurodny and Koshka fame, has toured and recorded as a guest of NoCrows for some years. Ponomarev’s Eastern European Gypsy influence in the group has grown over time and this recording features two of his compositions as well as original material from his five bandmates. The sound is driven by Swiss cellist/mandolinist Anna Houston, Carbonell’s manouche guitar stylings and bassist Eddie Lee’s driving lines. Waterboys fiddler and long time Sligo resident, Steve Wickham, is a founder member of the group and makes a particularly poignant vocal tribute to his beloved Sligo’s beauty on his song Rainbow over Sligo. As the website says, “This is truly a Sligo album, written and recorded in Sligo, inspired by the place, its people and its beauty.”
If you miss them at the Steeple Sessions, they have more dates coming up >> http://nocrows.net/gigs/
Here they perform ‘Hey Joe’ in the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre, The Naul, about which they say: “Lately this song has been a fun encore piece and this particular night in the Naul was quite special as it was a rare appearance by our six piece line up, and Steve and Oleg were doing some fine duelling on fiddles so forgive us if we all got a little carried away. Its got to be our favourite gig in Ireland.”