Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Battlefield Band at the M&T

On Friday we were excited to go to the Me and Thee to see the Battlefield Band.  Normally intense trip on 128 to get there, and then absolutely madhouse-level crowds and traffic in Salem.  Here's a hint, don't go anywhere near Salem MA on the Friday before Halloween unless you're wearing a costume and want to wander aimlessly around.  But we got to Gulu-Gulu and got a fine crepe and some fine beers, then got the heck out of town and wound up in Marblehead.

No opener but Battlefield Band gave us two full sets of absolutely superb Scots music (note American use of the word "set," not Celtic).  The church was about 75% full, which was a much better crowd than we expected, but we got good seats in the third row.

Besides Mike Katz, their normal piper, their new member Ewen Henderson picked up the bagpipes off and on during their two sets and this was the highlight for me: hearing a duet of two instruments that I rarely hear and, when played well, are at an apex of the wind instruments.  Alasdair White was extraordinary on fiddle and whistle, but I would have loved to hear him play the bodhran too.  Another wonderful feature for me was Sean O'Donnell's style on guitar.  He had a finger-pick on his thumb but usually strummed with his other fingers and then hit a drone note with the pick.  This was not a rock or bluegrass style at all: his right elbow was at or below the middle of the guitar rather than held up high and he was almost pulling down on the strings rather than pushing them away.  He strums were always below the soundbox and he had just one pick-up, right in the middle of the sound-hole.

Here's a video Sarah took starting with Katz playing a wonderful bouzouki and Henderson on the pipes, then the dual bagpipes effect ... but listen to that goddamn guitar!

They didn't cook any squid on-stage, but they could have:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for reviewing our show at the me&thee. Always trying to bring quality music to the area and glad that you enjoyed it. DEFINITELY avoid Salem during the entire month of October if you're heading to anywhere in the area! There are several ways to skirt around Salem. Feel free to ask for information from us at info@meandthee.org We aim to please.