Front Porch serves up what might be best described as "a world music smoothie" on Friday with the presentation of Four Shillings Short, a musical duo at the forefront of a current creative genre that blends Celtic, East Indian and American Folk music with Medieval and Renaissance styles.
With seven albums now to their credit, Four Shillings Short first formed in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-'80s when Aodh Og O’Tuama began making music with an ever evolving cast of Northern California’s Irish, Folk, Jazz and Classical musicians. The project finally solidified when O’Tuama - born in Cork, Ireland and plays Medieval and Renaissance woodwinds, tinwhistles, recorders, bowed psaltery, dumbek, spoons and sings in English and Gaelic - met up with Christy Martin in 1995. Martin has remained his creative partner in Four Shillings Short ever since.
O’Tuama comes from a family of poets, writers, musicians and teachers and studied music at University College Cork in Ireland and Stanford University in California, where his path crossed with native Californian Martin. Martin grew up in a family of musicians and dancers and began studying the Sitar at age 16 with a protégé of famed sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.
Martin later mastered the hammered dulcimer and mandolin while performing in the folk band Your Mother Should Know and has since taken up playing a variety of other instruments, including the bouzouki, banjo, guitar, charango, bowed psaltery, bodhran and bones.
In a single night, Four Shillings Short perform a broad gamut of musical styles, including traditional Irish tunes and airs, Indian Ragas, folk ballads, old-time songs, Medieval and Renaissance instrumentals and acappella numbers, as well as contemporary folk and original compositions. The group's sound has been described as "alternative neo-Celtic folk," a term the duo embrace. Visit frontporchmusic.com.
• Fans of the late Johnny Winter take note! Chicago's Alligator Records has announced it will release a vinyl-only album titled, "It’s My Life, Baby – The Best Of The Alligator Records Years," a collection of eight tracks from Winter's three albums for the imprint.
Upon signing with Alligator in 1984, Winter said he wanted to record nothing but authentic, deep blues and that is exactly what the label allowed him to do. His Alligator debut, "Guitar Slinger" was widely hailed as Winter's bluesiest album ever and earned the Texas legend a Grammy nomination. It was followed by a second nomination for his sophomore release, "Serious Business." Winter's final Alligator release came in 1986 with "3rd Degree."
• Just got word from my friends in STYX, that Eagle Rock Entertainment will release "STYX: Live At The Orleans Arena Las Vegas" on CD, DVD and Blu-ray in late May. Filmed last July 25, this show features a set list packed with hit songs, classic tracks, and fan favorites plus a special surprise guest appearance by Don Felder – former Eagles guitarist – on “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” and interview segments with each Styx member.