Last weekend I spent an afternoon with a friend at the Potomac Celtic Festival in Leesburg VA. Liz Carroll and John Doyle played the most awesome sets and met my high expectations.
Here’s a video of this great duo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtH4aGb04Og
Doyle is one of the best acoustic guitar players in any style, and he has really drawn the map for me in guitar picking over the past few years. Carroll plays the fiddle with such sweet energy and such a vocal expression, and she writes more tunes than anyone else I can think of. And the tunes are all great.
At the festival there were other musicians that were good and very good. The crowds seemed a bit sparse, which is too bad. As the day wen on, I was so struck by the difference in the sound and emotion from Carroll + Doyle versus just about everyone else. It really stuck with me that their music was that much more inventive, fiery, and daring. I hate to sound like I might be putting down other performers. Like I said, everyone else was pretty good. But Doyle was the only guitarist that day who was going beyond the three-chord trick. He plays with a complete jazz mind, just painting colors with imagination, chords and rhythms that jump out spontaneously and dance. They had drive and groove going for miles. And that’s the whole point of fiddle-based music for me–to create great energy, emotion, and rhythm, to create smiling faces and tapping feet.