Review of The Cottars' July 27th performance in Lake George, NY
"Young Group Thrills Local Crowd In The Park On The Lake"
By MIKE CURTIN Special to The Post-Star Published on 7/30/2005 Arts & Life, THE POST-STAR
LAKE GEORGE, NY — For many area teens, the streets of Lake George are a magnet, the place to kindle summer romances which may not survive the first ring of the autumn school bell.
But Wednesday, while their peers were meeting and greeting on Canada Street, two sets of teenaged siblings, better known as The Cottars, were engaged in what they do best: enchanting an audience many decades their seniors.
The group's show at Shepard Park was the latest offering in the Lake George Arts Project's always impressive summer concert series. Impossibly young by any standard, the quartet from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, entertained a crowd of about 500 with two sizzling sets of Celtic-infused singing, playing and dancing, on original compositions and traditional pieces that reflected their province's rich musical heritage.
Each was given time to shine in a solo setting. Ciarán MacGillivray showcased his infectious "Right Field", an ode to those less-talented Little Leaguers who somehow manage to survive that often brutal rite of passage. His sister Fiona took a more traditional approach with the haunting "Lament for Lost Books", performed on penny whistle.
Jimmy MacKenzie contributed his rich guitar rendition of the Celtic instrumental "Si Bheg, Si Mhor." Previously performed by the Chieftains, his interpretation owed more to guitar virtuoso Pierre Bensusan, with a leisurely paced, reflective arrangement that highlighted the complexity of the deceptively simple piece.
His sister Roseanne shined the brightest of all on "Tullochgorum", a tour-de-force performance on what's considered one of the most daunting of Celtic fiddle tunes. Introducing the theme with brash, almost abrasive, strokes and closely set trills, she engaged in complex variations that quickened in intensity to a resounding finish, and a standing ovation from the crowd.
More fiddling — this time to the vibrant beat of the "bodhrán," the Irish hand-held drum — set the stage for some Canadian-style step-dancing, done without the rigid hand movements common to the Irish variant.
The Lake George crowd was the latest in a long line of newfound fans that include the Chieftains, "Irish Tenor" John McDermott, and Senator Edward Kennedy. The long lines waiting to buy their recording, both during intermission and at concert's end, was a testament to the talents of this remarkable young ensemble.
Here's a bunch of .PDF documents that may be of interest to fellow fans of The Cottars. Here's a link to their press kit page, where you can download a pic of their stage layout, view their requirements for their dressing room, and see what venues must be contracted for regarding lighting and sound configurations.
Listening to some of The Cottars' music which feature the bodhrán (pronounced bough-rawn)has made me quite interested in purchasing this Celtic musical instrument. I already have a tin whistle that I bought in an Irish shop a while ago. That tin whistle has on it a label of a famous Dublin brewery
There are some very reasonable bodhráns on eBay. Ooh, I might have a look-see at prices for uilleann pipes whist I'm there!