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What a concert!

What a success last Sunday’s Cowal Music Club concert  with Joy Dunlop and her band turned out to be!

With a very large audience, the hall had a real buzz about it, not least because the group  were still carrying out sound/amplification tests until minutes before the starting time at 2.30pm.

Well known as a television presenter, singer, dancer, journalist, and educator, Joy is a passionate ambassador of Gaelic language and culture, and is a fluent Gaelic speaker. Her ability to introduce every item with ease both in Gaelic and English was quite remarkable, as were her flawless singing – all by memory, and, in one item, her dancing. And she showed off to advantage so many different songs and styles, - all in Gaelic,  with her beautiful natural soprano voice.

During the afternoon she always set the scene for each item, with the programme imaginatively planned to include Walking Songs, Ballads, Medleys with Reels Strathspeys & Jigs, a Corn-Cutting song, and even an especially atmospheric song about the Highland Clearances.  The one song with audience participation in Gaelic was also remarkably successful, being otherwise unaccompanied, and was definitely atmospheric – a great choice for the programme


 Another memorable item was the Jasmine Flower Song,  in a pseudo-Chinese style, (with melodic echoes like Puccini’s  ‘Turandot’),  and sung partly in Chinese, and partly Gaelic, which the group had performed during a tour of China.  

Joy claimed to feel very much at home in Argyll, having grown up in Connel, and also expressed her enthusiasm for Gaelic choirs. The audience appeared very enthusiastic, including the youngsters, some of whom were frequently seen dancing spontaneously, and some who were from Sandbank Primary School.  

Joy was eminently well supported by her band, with guitarist and arranger Ron Jappy,  bass guitarist Gus Stirrat,  drummer Scott Jamieson,  and fiddler Mhairi Marwick from Fochabers.   Mhairi’s conspicuously well-projected contributions on her fiddle played a major part in the group’s arrangements, with real Highland fiddle solos and counter melodies as well as energetic rhythms, which  greatly enhanced  the group’s Celtic musical style.

Look out for Cowal Music Club’s next concert on May 26th at 7.30pm in St John’s Church hall, when the Gaia Duo (violin & cello) will perform.


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