Tommy Peoples, Waiting For A Call

Thomas Bartlett

By Thomas Bartlett

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Waiting For A Call

Tommy Peoples
One of Irish music’s greats at two ends of a 17-year span.

As the fiddler on the first record by legendary innovators the Bothy Band, the Beatles of Irish music, Tommy Peoples 'place within the pantheon of Irish music greats was already assured, but among aficionados it's his virtuosic solo work that inspires the most respect. His third album of Celtic traditional instrumentals Waiting for the Call was recorded in two different sessions, 17 years apart, which makes it a fascinating document of Peoples 'evolving style, but also leaves it far from a cohesive musical statement. The bulk of the record is from a 1985 session, with Peoples accompanied by De Danann's Alec Finn on bouzouki, joined on a few tunes by Sean Potts on uilleann pipes and Donal Lunny on bodhran. Although Peoples hails from Donegal, he has no real regional style, just an idiosyncratic approach all his own, with brittle, stuttering ornamentation and subtle melodic elaborations. The 1985 tracks are vintage Peoples, but more intriguing are the five interspersed tracks from 2002, recorded with former Solas guitarist John Doyle — here, everything that was already distinctive about Peoples 'style, especially the almost violently disruptive triplets and strangely jagged, staggered rhythmic sense, has been exaggerated to the point of true, glorious eccentricity.