Simon Thoumire & Ian Carr
Edinburgh Folk Club
IT IS tempting to imagine where Simon Thoumire might be had he concentrated on his own concertina-playing career, and particularly his partnership with guitarist Ian Carr, instead of devoting so much time to the promotion of Scottish folk music via his Scots Trad Music Awards, Young Scottish Traditional Musician of the Year competition and other projects.
As anyone who heard Thoumire and Carr when they themselves were young traditional musicians to watch will recall, they were very much on the same wavelength from first meeting. The nonchalant virtuosity they shared then remains and in terms of creativity and inventiveness only Scandinavians Dreamers’ Circus on the current scene come to mind as rivals, and they’re heading off in a quite different direction.
As both interpreters and composers Thoumire and Carr are daring and possibly borderline bonkers. Two tunes from the Scottish dance band repertoires of Bobby Crowe and Ian Powrie ventured left-field and then some. Yet through the restless exploration of melodic possibilities and the brilliantly pulled off detail of arrangement that can suggest the influence of variously Steve Reich, Bon Jovi, Gentle Giant, Chic, and Django Reinhardt, there’s a genuine feeling for the music on both players’ part and extraordinary harmonic-rhythmic awareness and nous in Carr’s empathic six string orchestrations.
Each set of tunes brought its own adventure. One tied a hint of Weather Report’s Birdland together with beautiful descending unison lines and a slightly odd Carr vocal. Another was a march but at its very own winsome pace, and another danced a reel at approximately mach one tempo while still retaining bags of character. They’re touring Scotland now. Go see.