|Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain|
This highly structured and seamless format see a core band of twelve musicians led by the near-symmetrical arrangement of Aly Bain co-ordinating three top class UK musicians and Jerry Douglas doing the same for his fellow stateside compatriots, all very fine exponents of a variety of string-based instruments. Four further backing musicians complete the sound set on keyboards, bass, drums and support guitar, leaving five guest vocalists to accept the invitation and honour to deliver their own songs in such prestigious surroundings.This year’s version of the sessions saw a slight tilt towards our stateside visitors with long term almost Anglo-performer Mary Chapin Carpenter being joined by Crooked Still vocalist Aoife O’Donovan and Eric Bibb offering his take on the blues. Each artist stepped forward for a trio of synchronised songs either side of the interval. Carpenter like a true seasoned singer-songwriter offered three recent self penned compositions ‘Chasing What’s Already Gone’ and ‘Transcendental Reunion’ from her latest album and ‘ I Have a Need For Solitude’ from the recording before. Amongst Eric Bibb’s selections were an old John Cephas blues number ‘Going Down the Road Feeling Bad’ and his popular own song ‘Champagne Habit’. Aoife O’Donovan sang a Dock Boggs Civil War song titled ‘Calvary’ as well as one of the highlights of the evening, a superb tune titled ‘Oh Mama’
The three contrasting American singers were matched in their diversity by the two home grown artists. Scottish folk singer and soon-to-be mother Emily Smith included an interpretation of the work of Rabbie Burns as well as ‘A Day Like Today’ and the folk sing-a-long number ‘Final Trawl’ on the occasions she was invited to step into the limelight. Teddy Thompson has a number of different guises and on this evening there was a definite country leaning towards his style. Following on from performing ‘Delilah’ (not that one) and ‘Dear Mary’ in his first set, he delivered a version of the George Jones song ‘ She Thinks I Still Care’ when presented with the opportunity to perform in the second half.
|All five vocalists colloborate on the finale|
Another popular feature of the evening is the impressive instrumentals that liberally complement the songs. Aly Bain and John McCusker as per usual leave the audience in no doubt as to why they are acclaimed as two of Scotland’s finest fiddle players as do the pipes and whistles from Mike McGoldrick and the accordion playing from Phil Cunningham. The acoustics of the Symphony Hall really do justice to the sounds emanating from these world class musicians.
|Mary Chapin Carpenter|
Another TV recording of the Transatlantic Sessions is already planned and on the evidence of this magnificent evening, it is only a matter of time before the sold out signs are once again raised in the nation’s concert halls. Aly Blain and Jerry Douglas have created something very special and quality vocalists should be knocking their door down to perform in the future.