Reviews 2005

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Joe O'Donnell's Shkayla
Bryn Phillips 13 May 2005
Shkayla, or as described in their promotional fliers, “Joe O’Donnell’s Shkayla” comprise Joe O’Donnell on fiddle and mandolin, Martin Barter on guitar and Dave Perry on keyboards. Shkayla perform a mixture of music and songs, most of which are sung in Gaelic. We get a lot of different acts at the Woodman and it’s interesting to pick out the old pros – Joe O’ Donnell has been around a while - he's played with some heavyweights and it shows. 

The fiddle playing was out of this world; complex and articulate with a tonal quality not usually associated with amplified fiddles. Now, the sound quality could be attributed to Joe’s ceramic fiddle, but that wasn’t the whole story. There was a fourth member of the band, Anja Rudi, who was their sound engineer. She was working for them tirelessly throughout the evening, making sure the balance was just right, and adding subtle sound effects which gave that atmospheric unearthly quality. Martin Barter’s guitar work was precise and complimented Joe’s fiddle playing perfectly. The keyboards (yes, there were two!) filled in the music to give a complete musical experience. 

As well as the music, they performed a few songs, with Joe treating us to some accomplished vocals. Most of their songs were were in Gaelic, although they did throw in a couple of standards; “Star of the County Down” and “Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore”. I was particularly taken by a couple of the songs; “Ag Sugra Lies An Ghaoit” and “Sullivan’s John”

I would like to see this band in the wider folk festival environement – I think this is where they would really shine. I’m not sure if they are booked anywhere local, but if you get the chance to see them in a big marquee, don’t miss them!