Holiday Heart Strings - Bowfire

Lenny Solomon Productions

From Celtic Women to Irish Tenors, Priests to High Kings and the Lord Of The Dance; I don’t know why we choose to consume our Celtic as off-Broadway stage productions rather than in the kitchen and pubs where it originates. Nevertheless if it’s ‘show’ that strokes your bow and the Christmas spirit is callin’ for some fancy fiddlin’, check out Holiday Heart Strings from Bowfire. OK, so Bowfire isn’t strictly Celtic. It’s a celebration of the violin featuring prodigious fiddle talents from the Celtic, classical, bluegrass, jazz and global music genres, replete with a full-on backup section of bass, Cello and percussion. I’ve not seen the stage production, but it’s been touring since 2000 and has been broadcast on PBS so I’m sure it’s more talent than tacky. Canadian audiences can even cheer on one of their own, representing the Celtic as part of the razzmatazz. Chatham, Ontario’s April Verch is a celebrated fiddler and step dancer who takes her place among the primary cast of players. Just in time for Christmas (October 2010) comes Holiday Heart Strings, a Bowfire retrospective of holiday classics and kitsches that’s a decent enough choice to add to your jingle mix. The material is truly diverse and some of the arrangements are more than merrily on high. I particularly like the ceilidh set of Let It Snow/Ding Dong Merrily On High and Jingle Bells, the violin and cello chamber feel on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and the thoroughly tongue in cheek improv that mashes Do You Hear What I Hear with Led Zep’s Kashmir. For a live recording, the sound quality is excellent and the performance is convincing enough to reach out to give you a little tug on your own holiday heart strings.