Debateable Lands

27 Jan


This recording is from 1999 and is by Kathryn Tickell, a virtuoso on the Northumbrian pipes. It’s on the Park Records label (PRK CD50)

I am listening to it this evening because I’m trying to decide whether or not to go along and watch Ms. Tickell and her band, The Side, play at the Castle Theatre in Wellingborough in  May!

I’m surprised that  I’m undecided because, ever since her first recordings in the mid 1980’s, I’ve been enamoured of the idea of Kathryn Tickell – a young woman championing an under-valued regional instrument and the music of the ‘debateable lands’ on the border of England and Scotland (incidentally, one of my favourite parts of Great Britain).

So why am I hesitating?

Well, to start with, it is the only recording I have of Kathryn Tickell. While this doesn’t mean it is a bad CD in any respect, I have to say that it’s not one I listen to regularly – and clearly I’ve not been moved to buy more of her work.  My difficulty is that while I can listen happily enough to Northumbrian pipes for a couple of tracks, I’m not sure I could sit through an entire evening with them as the featured instrument!

In fact, I’m unsure how much I could enjoy a whole evening with any single featured instrument – even though I rather like fiddles, mandolins, squeezy things, whistly things  – even banjos. In fact, the only instrument I’m sure I could take for a full concert is the guitar! So this is my problem, not Ms Tickell’s. I just prefer band/ensemble mixes – and, on balance, I like songs too (although when it comes to classical music that’s an exception – also jazz).

Since  the blurb for Ms Tickell’s gig promises “a new ensemble – brings together folk and classical worlds with an irresistable combination of players and instruments” my fears should be allayed – but ….

If any reader has caught an earlier date on the tour, please alert me!

So… ‘Debateable Lands’. I don’t love it. I do admire it: Eleven tracks, half written by Ms Tickell, half by others – all rooted, more or less,  in traditional music and some (Alistair Anderson, Phil Cunningham) with an impressive pedigree.

I bought this CD second hand and really wish I liked it more than, to be truthful, I do!  I think I probably will get tickets – and I want to be bowled over!


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