Review by Steven Stone
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CD Stock Number: Compass Records
Most bands have a tough time putting out one record a year, but Dervish finds
it hard to only put out one CD per annum. Their music is so infectious that they can’t help but want to spread it around. Dervish have been around
awhile, eleven years to be exact. For those of us who haven’t been Dervish
fans all this time, they have released the album Decade, a “best of” release
that culls through their first five albums for the cuts most likely to capture their listener’s fancy. Once you’re up to date on their ancient
history, Midsummer's Night will show you what Dervish has been up to lately.
Dervish is a seven-piece band from the Irish county of Sligo (not to be confused with Slugo where the denizens are far more hostile). Five musicians
(Liam Kelly, Shane Mitchell, Martin McGinley, Brian McDonagh, and Michael Holmes) founded the group in 1989. Since then they’ve toured the world
bringing Irish roots music to the masses. In 1991 they added singer Cathy Jordan, and All-Ireland champion Shane
McAleer. By 1998 Shane needed a break,
so he was replaced by Seamus O’Dowd (they wanted someone with a more Irish-sounding name). This is the line-up for their current release
Midsummer's Night. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more dreamy Celtic CD.
From the opening set of “Midsummer Night” reels to the final strains of “Red
Haired Mary,” here’s authentic Celtic music at its exuberant best. Dervish
doesn’t need no stinking feets on fire to be exciting.
Like many other indigenous musical forms, at first listen Irish music can sound like one ongoing song, just constant
didddle-diddling. But after some
listening you soon discover that what at first sounds like endless repetition
is actually continually evolving and changing variations. The sheer rhythmic
and melodic inventiveness of Celtic music within the musical forms of reels,
jigs, slides, and songs is a tribute to human creativity. Dervish mines these
fields as deeply as any Celtic group. Listen to the intricate variations of the jig “Tenpenny Bit” to see just how complex and interesting Irish music
The beauty of “folk music” is that it can be adopted and expanded by new
generations as they embrace older musical forms and melodies. Dervish does for Celtic music what young bands like Nickel Creek are doing for bluegrass
music; pushing it vibrantly into the 21st century. Give Dervish a spin, it is
a delightfully dizzying musical diversion.
Sound Quality: 90