Airs and Graces

By Phil Cunningham

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Eleven comments

Airs and Graces

Phil Cunningham recorded this entirely by himself, with the exception of track 4, which was recorded live with pianist Koos Koos McKafferty.

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Phil has since revealed that Koos Koos McKafferty was, in fact, himself. But, maybe you knew that already, Cos. :-)

Oh. I didn’t know that.

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How is that possible? It was recorded live.

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Live ??

Sam2 - how do you know it was recorded live? Just because it says on the sleeve-notes?Remember this is Phil Cunningham we’re dealing with - a veritable black belt in the practical joke department. I seem to remember the sleeve notes saying it was recorded at the Kyoto Fiddle and Accorion club. Phil also had Archie Fisher of Scotland’s "Travelling Folk" programme fooled with "Koos Koos McCafferty, who was a fictional character Phil created in stories he told his daughter.

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Koos Koos McCafferty can also be heard on Phil’s "The Palimo Waltz album on the fourth track "The four stroke reel etc" which was "recorded live" at the "Mayan Miners Welfare Club", Cozumel, Mexico. Right. :-)

“The Wee Man From Skye”

Phil’s playing of this march solo on accordion, at a Silly Wizard gig in Durham in the ‘80’s, was the most stunning piece of TM solo instrumental playing I’ve ever heard.He put the tune through every conceivable variation in bass and melody treatment, and all manner of emotional nuance: THIS, it seemed to be saying, is what it has been like to be a Highlander down the ages. But the "Wee Man" on this album is simply played as the basic tune, rather plodding in fact (inhibiting effects of the recording process, maybe). For all that, this is one of my favourite albums - three beautiful airs and the evocative reel "The Harsh February" show Phil’s gifts as composer and arranger, and a high point is Finlay McRae’s bagpipe lament "Joey’s Tune" with Phil backing him.

I wonder………….

Sure your memory’s not playing tricks on you, nicholas ? I don’t remember Phil ever playing"TWMFS" as part of a solo in his "Silly Wizard" days - not nearly flashy enough. What he did finish up with, and would match your description, was a finger-busting version of the reel "Sleepy Maggie", and there are similarities in the 2 tunes’ structures. "The Wee Man From Skye" incidentally , was composed as a hornpipe by P.M.Donald McLeod, although it easily transfers to a march.
A lament is usually written after a sad event such as a death. I’m very happy to report that both Finlay and Joey are still very much with us, so it might be more accurate to describe it as a slow-air, which I think is how Phil described it on the album sleeve.

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“The Wee Man From Skye”

No Kenny, I’m not bullsh*tting about Phil playing "The Wee Man" in Durham Town Hall with Wizard in the 1980’s - he really did start a set announcing and playing that tune solo, and I really was impressed. It certainly stayed in my mind longer than the finger-busting reels. Ask him if you’re in his crowd, though he’s probably forgotten. Maybe "The Wee Man" was simply seen as just about good enough to fill a crack in a gig in England when Phil was basically having a nap and the rest of the band was getting the beers in - but it didn’t come across to me that way.
But I did jump to the conclusion that Joey had died: sorry for the mistake, and glad this is not so.

No problem………..

Fair enough, nicholas - just something that crossed my mind.
Cheers.

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