CD A0330: First Things First

First Things First
Ailie Robertson

CD cover Shattering preconceptions about the fragility of her chosen instrument, Scottish debutante harpist Ailie Robertson basks in a heady excavation of the driving rhythms that lie dormant between the strings. Forget misty images of lovelorn maidens at lattice windows. Instead, step into a world where Robertson's harp jousts (alongside the energising confidence of fellow Scots harpist Catriona McKay) with percussion, bass, guitar and piano. Her opening salvo, The Exploding Bow, sets the tone for a funky excursion around a trio of contemporary jigs, the final one written by Robertson herself. Another of her original compositions, Good Spirits, is paired cannily with a reel, The Humours of Scariff. The tunes revel in the unpredictability of newfound company. Robertson's genius is in straddling the Irish and Scottish traditions with a fresh-faced and utterly bearable lightness of being. Siobhan Long - Irish Times review

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Recordings and Sheet Music from Ailie Robertson

Audio Samples & Track Listings

Track Listing

1. The Exploding Bow / The Lisnagun / Swerving for Bunnies:
(S. Graham / B. Ring / A. Robertson)
2. Micho Russell's / Na Goisidich (The Gossips): (M. Russell / A. MacDonald)
3. Ho ro mo Bhobag an Dram (The Favourite Dram): (Trad.)
4. Donald, Willie and his Dog: (D. Morrison)
5. Spirits: (A. Lyon and D. Lyon)
6. President Garfield's / Marry Me Now: (Trad. / Trad.)
7. The Humours of Scariff / Good Spirits: (Trad. / A. Robertson)
8. The Futterat with the Grey Tail / North Highland Dance / Ray and Kevin's Reel:
(Trad. / Trad. / A. Robertson)
9. The Sands of Hosta: (A. Robertson)
10. Angus Nicholson's Trip to Barra / Port Sean Seosamh (John Joe's) / Would the Minister Not Dance? :
(N. Kennedy / Trad. / Trad.)
11. The Angel's Share / Taureen Derby Polka / O'Connor's Polka: (A. Robertson / Trad. / Trad.)

CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes

The Exploding Bow
The Exploding Bow/ The Lisnagun / Swerving for Bunnies
(S. Graham / B. Ring / A. Robertson)
A set of contemporary jigs - the first two collected while living in Limerick;
the last reflecting rabbit avoidance and a surprise encounter with a road side ditch.

Na Goisidich
Micho Russell's / Na Goisidich (The Gossips):
(M. Russell / A. MacDonald)

Micho Russell was from Doolin and was best known for playing the tin-whistle. The fantastic piper Allan MacDonald wrote the second tune - the extra beat eanding each part imitates the gossips always trying to get the last word.


Ho ro mo Bhobag an Dram (The Favourite Dram) (Trad.)
I learnt this from Patti Seddon and it is one of my favourites. It is normally played as a fast slip jig but, slowed down, is one of the most beautiful melodies in the tradition.

Donald, Willie and his Dog (D. Morrison)
This was written by Donald Morrison from South Uist as a 9/8 slip-jig. Converted into a 7/8 time signature it pushes the limits of the harp, exploring different techniques and effects.

Spirits (A. Lyon and D. Lyon)
One of the most beautiful airs I know, co-written by Abgus Lyon and his father.

Marry Me Now
President Garfield's / Marry Me Now
(Trad. / Trad.)
Two traditional hornpipes, one Irish and one Scottish. President Garfield was the 20th president of the USA. Marry Me Now comes from the Athole Collection.

The Humours of Scariff
The Humours of Scariff / Good Spirits (Trad. / A. Robertson)
A traditional Irish reel to start, followed by a tune written to celebrate the joys of whisky drinking.

The Futterat
The Futterat with the Grey Tail / North Highland Dance / Ray and Kevin's Reel (Trad. / Trad. / A. Robertson)
The Futterat with the Grey Tail is a strathspey from the Skye Collection. North Highland Dance is a reel from the Patrick MacDonald Collection. The last tune was written for one of my pupils and her husband to thank them for their kindness.

The Sands of Hosta (A. Robertson)
I wrote this after a long walk on Hasta Beach when I was on North Uist teaching at the Feis.

Angus Jigs
Angus Nicholson's Trip to Barra / Port Sean Seosamh (John Joe's) / Would the Minister Not Dance? (N. Kennedy / Trad. / Trad.)
The first tune was written by Nuala Kennedy - a great friend and wonderful composer. When thinking about this album I wanted to include one of her tunes. Port Sean Seosamh is a traditional Irish jig I learnt from Mary Bergin. Would the Minister Not Dance? is an old Scottish slip-jig.

The Angel's Share
The Angel's Share / Taureen Derby Polka / O'Connor's Polka (A. Robertson / Trad. / Trad.)
The first tune is part of a larger composition about whisky making. Newly disteilled spirit is matured in oak casks for at least three years, but each year, some evaporates and is lost - the Angels' Share. I learnt the two Polkas from Laoise Kelly while playing at Celtic Connections.

Credits

Ailie Robertson - Harp
Paul Jennings - Cajon and Percussion
Duncan Lyall - Bass
Ewan Robertson - Guitar
James Ross - Piano, Harmonium

All tracks arranged by Ailie Robertson, Paul Jennings, Duncan Lyall, Ewan Robertson and James Ross (MCPS/PRS).

Recorded, mixed and mastered at Watercolour Studios, Ardgour, Scotland
A Watercolour Music production by Mary Ann Kennedy & Nick Turner with Ailie Robertson
Photography by Archie MacFarlane
Design by The 16K Design Works

Album Information

Instruments: Harp + accompaniment
Genre: Celtic / Scottish
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0330
MCPS: LORRCD1
Label: Lorimer Records
Year: 2008
Origin: Scotland