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The Rough Guide To Scottish Folk
World Music Network (

cd cover It's the wonder of geography that makes this growing Rough Guide series such an adventure. Place-bound music lets you alter your spatial and cultural point of view. My own Scotland pilgrimage will focus on places like Troon, Inverness, and St. Andrews. Scottish Folk hints at what is available for the nights and bad-weather days, times when I can't enjoy that other great Scottish gift to the world, golf.

"The Swallow-Tailed Coat/Turf Lodge"
A country-wide folk roots revival is almost a century old and is thriving. Scotland's dramatic history includes invasions, clan warfare and a location at a North Sea shipping crossroads between Ireland and Scandinavia. Its musical repertoire includes heroic themes, land-based work songs, and the travelling bards' songs. Highland pipers are well-known, but dance tunes and the songlore of the Gaelic and Scots language are richer and more varied than that stereotypical instrument suggests.

Much of Scottish Folk represents the living traditions of revival music, looking to the vast catalog of the past, while creating a distinctly modern folk culture. These 17 recordings highlight a rich variety of contemporary performers and bounce you enjoyably around such artists as Wolfstone, Whirligig, and Alasdair Fraser. You'll get hooked on a medley by Battlefield Band ("Clan Coco/The Road to Benderloch/Fifteen Stubbies to Warragul"), find yourself amazed by Karen Matheson ("Rithill Aill"), and grin to The Tannahill Weavers ("Good Drying Set"). Before long, you'll understand why samplers are compiled. After hearing Ewan Maccoll's "Dirty Old Town" again, I'm ready to go shopping. Same, too, with the likes of Silly Wizard ("The Queen of Argyll"), or John D. Burgess, the "King of Highland Pipers" ("The Swallow-Tailed Coat/Turf Lodge"). This Rough Guide is one that will get frequent replaying; it really does reflect the "healthy state of Scottish music at the beginning of the twenty-first century" described in the liner notes. - Richard Dorsett

Song: "The Swallow-Tailed Coat/Turf Lodge" ©1999 Temple Records, used by permission

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