Early on, I bought a few album of my own, Made in America and Golden, Golden, performed by the band Silly Wizard. I didn't follow Andy Stewart's album history any more closely. I loved the albums, but I don't think it ever occurred to me to seek out his current albums. In way, I can blame that on his music-writing talents. He has written many of the classics of modern Scottish folk music, covered by innumerable bands. One of his pieces was performed by the cealidh band at the wedding I went to at the beginning of August. I learned to sing many of the pieces he'd written on the albums I had. I always did love the titular "Golden, Golden" song, for example.
Several weeks ago, pittenweem sent out a query, wondering if any of us would like to go to this concert by a performer recommended by DJ siusiadh. Andy Stewart was playing at Hugh's Room! Hugh's Room is the best venue in the city: an intimate, comfortable space, serving decent food and with all-good views in a multi-tiered space. And Andy Stewart, whose old work I knew so well, at least from two albums, was performing. Of course I wanted to go!
And it was a really good concert. The moment he opened his mouth to sing, his voice was familiar to me, as only listening to albums so often will do. He performed with Gerry O'Beirne, a guitarist. Intellectually, I knew that the world must contain guitarists on par with symphonic pianists, but I'd certainly never encountered one before. The complexity and beauty of the music he picked and strummed out from his twelve string guitar was phenomenal. I had no idea the instrument had such range and versatility. He had speed and accuracy and beauty, and it all came out of that one instrument. (That said, some of his accompaniament was on a six-string.)
I knew a good portion of the songs Andy Stewart performed, but not always for expected reasons. He did a good portion of the songs I knew from the albums I had, but also other songs he'd written which I only knew from other artists' covers - and had never realized who had written them. For several of the most familiar, he invited the audience to sing along (Rambling Rover, Queen of Argyle, Valley of Strathmore, The Fisherman's Song). He sang all sorts of songs I'd never heard before, but he sings so articulately, that it's easy to follow the lyrics. He was convivial and full of anecdotes. I bought three albums, one of which was a Gerry O'Beirne album, during intermission.
And for an encore, he sang "Golden, Golden".