Recorded in Scotland in Autumn 2012, Storymap is Éamonn Coyne & Kris Drever’s recent duo recording mixing trad folk songs with a selection of tunes both original and acquired. The uniquely talented Éamonn Coyne dazzles on both the banjo and tenor guitar, while Kris Drever arranges the songs, adding his voice to three and playing both guitar and mandolin.
It’s their second recording together and features a number of friends including Eliza Carthy, Simon Bradley, Megan Henderson, Calum McIntyre, Nico Bruce, Eamonn Nugent and Alan Kelly of the Eddi Reader Band.
Neil McFayden reviewed the CD on Folk Radio UK in February (read it here) and summed up, “The work as a whole comes across as friends gathered in celebration of the music, without egos or agendas. The result is a collection that reaches out warmly to the listener and extends an irresistible call to join in the fun.”
Éamonn describes the way he and Kris play together as, “Often quite symbiotic, as is the way we go about choosing and arranging the music in the first place. Often traditional in origin we make the tunes our own and we hop from idea to idea, which often arrive almost fully formed, with relative ease. It is not complicated music or arranging of course but we love its simplicity and that is one of the attractions.”
He explains the thinking behind the title, “One source of Storymap comes from the different ideas and origins of the tunes; like having an idea and then filling in the pieces – “lets play a couple of Marches with a couple of Reels” etc. It also comes from (without trying to be over analytical or prosaic) the continuing journey Kris and I are on in our music together. We have an idea what the album should sound like based on the music and arrangements and then go for it and see if it still fits that idea. Storymap is a continuation of the loose vibe we created and enjoyed on Honk Toot Suite. The next story is always just around the corner and that is also what the title and the music of Storymap is also saying – it is just another album in the bigger picture. We don’t intend to stop there.”
The good news for those north of Hadrian’s Wall is that the duo are embarking on a short tour, starting tomorrow night at The Old bridge Inn in Aviemore. Folk Radio UK also caught up with Kris to get some idea of what the duo have planned…
You have a short Scottish tour imminent. Will it be just the two of you or are there any guests or collaborators?
KD: “It will just be the two of us, we’re very much looking forward to it. Although there are other musicians involved in the new album the core sound remains the duo. We are looking at some point in the future to bring the bigger band sound on the road but the timing for that to happen remains to be seen.”
Presumably the new album will feature predominantly, but did this give you a chance to revisit Honk Toot Suite?
KD: “Honk Toot Suite has never really left us touring wise, we have been revisiting some material that we were touring pre that album though. It’s been very good to keep as much of the music that we’ve played live up to scratch as possible. It means that we don’t have to rely too much on a pre-written set list which keeps things interesting for both us and the audiences. Having a potential set list of more than three hours of material carries a certain amount of security, not to mention a frisson of excitement when the call is made to play something that mightn’t have been played for a couple of years.”
Did the new record simply capitalising on a mutual window of opportunity?
KD: “It had been in the pipeline conversationally for at least three years before we had time to make it but we knew it was going to happen. We’ve played such a lot together socially and professionally and it’s at this point that the material selection process happens very naturally and quickly. We know a lot of music between us. If we’d had time we could have easily made a double album.”
The music is so vibrant, but there also seems to be a bit of a back to your roots approach.
KD: “I’m delighted that you think so. It’s a reflection of the approach we’ve chosen to take, we have a number of other commitments so rehearsal time is at a premium, which has turned out to be to our advantage. There is an ethos to playing this music out socially which involves energy and unpredictability. That’s something that can easily be compromised in the arrangement process, but we know each others playing very well. As a result we can keep the recorded music as close to the development stage as possible, which gives it (hopefully) a little bit of the excitement of the raw version you’d hear in a session.”
South of the border, we’ll have to wait until September and there’s a big show booked for Edinburgh, anything special planned?
KD: “We’re simply gonna head out on the road and do our thing. We love it and we hope the audience will too.”
Interview by: Simon Holland
Tour Dates: April 2013
10th The Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore
11th The Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh
12th CCA Glasgow
13th Jura Hall, Craighouse, Isle of Jura
Isle of France
“We love this song and the many versions of it that exist. It’s set in what is now known as Mauritius.”
“Two reels: “Ceapaval” (also known as “The Harris Dance”) & Liz Carroll’s “The Leading Role”. Kris got the first one from the marvellous fiddler Anna Wendy Stevenson. The second one we both know but we know not from where”.