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Watkin Lees

Biography

This is good piping with an easy style that makes you want to dance; and not many modern pipers do that. Wattie Lees started on the Highland pipes at an early age, then moved towards the uilleann pipes. There's no obvious influence here, just good music with the right mix of close and open piping to ensure that you can hear the tune as well as the ornamentation.

There's a good balance of tunes; only two reel sets (what's the world coming to?). His version of An Bonnán Buí is not the one I've been singing for decades; probably a piper's version? He has a fine jig of his own in here, that's well worth learning. There's a Breton set (almost obligatory at one time) that's goes well on the pipes. For the record, the mazurka that's becoming known as "Shoe the Donkey" is still "The Versevienna" to us old ones. Collection sources are given for most of the tunes, for those who want to look them up.

The only reservation I have is that some of the accompaniment is a bit overpowering, especially from Jim Byrne's guitar on the first track. Jim Sutherland plays the odd bit of bodhrán; OK with the whistle but not with the pipes. It's a personal thing, but I won't do it myself. Like pickles and good malts, they just don't agree with each other. Apart from that, this is good piping; no fireworks but honest straightforward piping that's a treat to listen to.

Mick Furey




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