25 September 2023

Mad Kelpie Playdate

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Mad Kelpie Playdate, Independent 2018.

I was fortunate enough to see this group of young and talented musicians performing at The Canberra Irish Club recently and I was very impressed by their musical prowess.

Mad Kelpie Playdate is a five piece group comprised of two sets of siblings with the odd man out being guitarist Cameron Lyon.

They are local Canberra residents and they’re developing quite a strong reputation and following amongst the folk and Celtic communities in and around the national capital.

The line up consists of Sean Hodgman playing the Uilleann pipes, Mitchell Hodgman playing Bodhran and percussion, Jess Hutchison on the small pipes and spoons, Anna Hutchison on flute and the aforementioned Cameron Lyon on guitar.

It’s unusual to see a band including the Uilleann pipes amongst their instruments.

They are rather thin on the ground because they are devilishly hard to play but in the hands (and elbow – for these pipes are not inflated with the mouth but rather by pumping the bag with the elbow) of Sean Hodgman they are made to seem almost easy as he coaxed out the most delightful melodies.

It’s also not usual to see the small pipes, a smaller and more melodious version of the classic Scottish grand pipes, so to have two pipers playing such beautifully intricate and overlapping melodies together was a real joy.

The eight tracks on their self-titled CD give a good indication of their music.

They specialise in playing a mix of traditional and contemporary tunes that are mainly sourced from Scottish and Irish songbooks.

With the guitar and bodhran providing the rhythmic underpinnings the two pipers and flute weave their way through a set that includes marches, reels, strathspeys, polkas, Jigs, and even two tunes that have been introduced to pipers via the French ‘bagad band’ tradition.

The album also includes a waltz written by Sean Hodgman for a competition.

It goes by the unusual and amusing title 50K Donkeys and the story goes that the rest of the band believed that if it won the competition it would be titled 50,000 Donkeys. The name stuck so it was rather fortuitous that it didn’t win.

I recommend this CD to lovers of all folk and traditional music.

You can find Mad Kelpie Playdate on Facebook and on YouTube.

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