Smithfield Fair’s Burns Night Out!

cover, Burns Night Out!Mike Stiles wrote this review.

Hailing from Louisiana here in the States, Smithfield Fair is an innovative trad-based Scottish trio with an energetic pub style. For this CD they put on their best Broad Scots in homage to the immortal Robbie Burns. They pack 18 of his pieces into three-quarters of an hour, but nothing is rushed or short-changed as they put their unique stamp on the old familiar material.

The group is a husband/wife/nephew trio of the Maclabhruinn (McLaurin) tartan. Jan Smith brings vocals, accordion, guitar, piano, percussion, and recorders. Dudley-Brian Smith also contributes vocals as well as guitar, mandolin, Scottish smallpipes, tin whistle, Great Highland Bagpipes, and recorders. In case of need for further recorders, they have Frang Bladen, who also plays bodhran, doumbek, bones, percussion, and vocals. Special guests on this project are vocalist daughter Margaret Smith and friend Tom Murray, Sr., who recites some memorable excerpts from the repertoire.

We begin with a rendition of “A Man’s a Man for A’ That” that puts the repugnance in the vocals at the right places for those reprehensible gentry who consider themselves above the worker and servant. The play list that then follows is in a canny good sequence.

The instrumental work on the CD is of the quality we’ve come to expect of Smithfield Fair. “Tae the Weavers Gin Ye Go” and “Parcel of Rogues in a Nation” feature some very interesting cross-picking on guitar. “Ye Banks & Braes O’ Bonnie Doon” comes to us on the strains of some fantastic piano playing. There’s not a weak musical moment from beginning to end.

The ladies get together for a show-stopping brace of vocals on “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose.” These are sets of lungs that could call the ewes across moor and mountain! And Tom Murray Sr.’s spoken word excerpts alone are almost worth the price of the CD. I particularly commend “Grace Before Meat” and “I’ll Go An’ Be a Sodger.” “Auld Lang Syne” of course takes us home.

Burns Night Out! is a muckle collection of the Highland Bard’s greatest hits. Break out your finest aged malts for this one!

(Stevenson Productions, 2002)

I’d like to plug Smithfield Fair’s reissue of Highland Call, featuring new artwork and production, and two more songs, “Tears of the World” and “The Carefree Tailor.” Find a’ that and more here.


Gary Whitehouse

A fifth-generation Oregonian, Gary is a retired journalist and government communicator. Since the 1990s he has been covering music, books, food & drink and occasionally films, blogs and podcasts for Green Man Review. His main literary interests for GMR are science fiction, music lore, and food & cooking. A lifelong lover of music, his interests are wide ranging and include folk, folk rock, jazz, Americana, classic country, and roots based music from all over the world. He also enjoys dogs, birding, cooking, craft beer, and coffee.

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