NoCrows on the Moon, a Sligo Musical Milestone

SLIGO 05/10/2010: Set for a Halloween release, NoCrows on the Moon is the third release from the eclectic Sligo based acoustic music group NoCrows. With more original material than their previous records and no less than twenty musical guests from ten nationalities, including Sharon Shannon, French star Cali, Donegal maestros Fidil, Mallorcan songstress Miquela Lladó and jazz drummer David Lyttle amongst others, NoCrows on the Moon represents a collaborative and creative milestone for the group.

NoCrows embody the vibrant, multicultural Sligo arts scene. The legendary Shoot the Crows Wednesday pub session that gave birth to this group continues to this day, with Swiss mandolinist/cellist Anna Houston, Mallorcan guitarist/vocalist Felip Carbonell joining Dublin born, Sligo based Steve Wickham on fiddle and vocals, and  the group’s only Sligoman, Eddie Lee on double bass .

Their friend and colleague, Russian violin virtuoso Oleg Ponomarev, who has played many concerts and festivals with the band as special guest in recent years, plays a leading role on this album, contributing two original tunes –Smelka and Crows Hora– and his virtuosic violin on these and several other tracks, specially on the Hungarian Wedding Dances.

The collaborative process was the key to the creation of NoCrows on the Moon, and as a result of musical collaborations in several countries the album is more eclectic than ever. Original tunes abound, many to be heard for the first time, such as the album’s opening tune, Anna Houston’s anthemic Cormac’s Fancy.  This features Donegal piper Doimnic McGiolla Bhride, Sligo bodhrán legend Junior Davey and a recording debut by Anna’s 15 year old son Darragh Houston on piano. October Snow set features Anna’s sister Karin Widmer on bouzouki and the lads from Fidil (Aidan O Donnell, Cíarán Ó Maonaigh & Damien McGeehan) as special guests. Some, such as Steve Wickham’s Pascal, have been fan favourites for some time. In keeping with the song’s plaintive French theme, Steve’s friend, French rock star Bruno ‘Cali’ Caliciuri translated the song into French (L’Appel de la Lune), flew in and performed it at Urs Lanz’s Doocastle studio, over a backing track featuring the other two members of Eddie’s Sligo based trio The Odd Couple (Kieran Quinn, piano and Ken McDonald, drums). Sharon Shannon, who has been on tours with both Steve and Eddie in the past, played accordion on another Wickham original, The Magician. Armenian oud player Haig Yazdjian and Greek percussionist Vangelis Karipis make a breathtaking cameo on Eddie’s Troy, a tune inspired by their performance in Sligo a year previous. Jazz drummer/percussionist David Lyttle features on several tracks including Eddie’s other original, Dolmen Dance and Steve’s bebop-v-Irish trad romp Charlie Parker’s Trip to Doolin.  Felip Carbonell’s Mallorcan connection brought NoCrows to the sunny island once again in 2010 and they took the opportunity to visit a studio and record the Mallorcan traditional Jota des Bellveure with Balearic singing legend Miquela Lladó. Back in Sligo, Felip’s friend Miquel Barceló added some traditional Mallorcan guitarró and whistle. Sligo based flute player Collette Sheerin gave her tune, a Shoot the Crows favourite called Marianne’s Demise, to NoCrows for this CD and also guests on the track. There is but one cover version on NoCrows on the Moon, a stirring version of Radiohead’s Exit Music (For a Film), featuring Aminah Hughes on vocal. Finally Steve’s colleague from The Waterboys, Mike Scott, contributed some effects and treatments as well as the album’s title! NoCrows On the Moon closes with Packie Bell. Recorded in a church in Sligo, this variation on Johann Pachelbel Canon in D Major is the only track in the album which features the four original members of the band on their own.

The official CD launch concert has been confirmed at The Model in Sligo on November 26th at 8 pm, when the band will be joined by several of the album’s guests.

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