There is an intimacy to Trì's music that opens the door to the emotional landscape that is Cape Breton – a place that is by turns fierce and rough, harsh and lyrical, and often achingly beautiful. Its music reflects the history of what has long been a reality of island living, island displacement. Its music is firmly rooted in a sense of community as well, a community that now extends into the wider world. Trì’s music explores through pipes, fiddle and song a tradition rooted in Gaelic Scotland. While you’ll hear many influences in their music, they won’t include the facile renderings of a tradition muddied by youthful enthusiasm. You won’t hear African drums, or 70s style guitar arrangements, or tunes overshadowed by a rock’n’roll beat. "This is music not frozen in time, but comfortable within its own tradition." - The Inverness Oran
Doug Lamey and Cliff McGann are direct descendants of the Nova Scotia diaspora, with Doug’s grandfather, Bill, prominent in the immigrant scene in the 1950’s and 1960’s, fiddling for weekly Cape Breton dances as well as hosting a Scottish music hour on Boston’s WVOM 1600AM. For Cliff McGann, summers were spent on his grandparent’s farm in Lanark, Nova Scotia listening to his cousins Kendra & Troy MacGillivray evolve into the world renowned fiddlers they have become today.
Cliff and Doug are part of the rich Canadian-American music scene found in the Boston area today and have studied with many fine musicians in Boston and Cape Breton, including Tommy Peoples, Dave MacIssaac, Tony Cuffe and Buddy MacMaster. Matt Phelps, originally from Connecticut, had the serendipitous good fortune of learning his craft from a remarkable Scottish immigrant, Tom Shearer, who set him off on what became a 20-year intensive immersion in the world of the Great Highland Bagpipe. He added a decade of summers tutelage from many piping luminaries at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts in Cape Breton, where he and Lamey first met as kids. Joining Matt, Cliff and Doug on their debut album Among Friends is Kimberly Fraser. Though known primarily as a gifted Cape Breton fiddler, Kimberley, here in the role of piano accompanist, infuses a great lift and brightness to the CD.
Today the members of Trì are known in the Boston Celtic music scene in various capacities: Doug has performed at venues including the ICONS Music and Arts Festival, the Boston Celtic Music Festival, the New Hampshire Highland Games, and in Washington DC at the Washington Irish Festival. McGann, who possesses degrees in Celtic studies and an MA in folklore from Memorial U. in Newfoundland performs regularly with Lamey and most recently toured with legendary uilleann piper, Paddy Keenan. Phelps continues in a busy career as performer, pipe major, and teacher in the Boston area. Trì was recently featured on the WGBH Celtic Sojourn series, and has performed in recent months at Berklee College of Music's Café 939 and Harvard Square's legendary folk music venue Club Passim; the group has also performed at the Long’s Peak Colorado Scottish-Irish Highland Festival and at Celtic Colours International Festival in Nova Scotia.
Their arrangement of sets is fresh and contemporary while still conversant with the interplay between pipes and strings, rhythm and emotion, that has been an important part of Celtic history. "There is a wonderful balance of feeling, intelligence, and scholarship, with individual instruments surfacing and receding, contributing in an organic way to the whole of the listening experience." Tucked into their performances and debut album are toasts to departed friends and important mentors, depictions of the heartsick immigrants and brazen adventurers, and wonderfully spirited tunes by Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton musicians who continue to compose and respond to the world around them.
"They are an incredible group of musicians…” -Brian O’Donovan, WGBH Radio Boston
Doug Lamey - Fiddle
Matthew Phelps - Scottish Smallpipes/Highland Bagpipes
Cliff McGann - Guitar/Vocals/Mandolin/Tin Whistle
Review in Celtic Beat Magazine
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This is Tri's debut CD. It is a delight. Tri's sound is easygoing and natural. There is no striving ...This is Tri's debut CD. It is a delight. Tri's sound is easygoing and natural. There is no striving here for musical eccentricity-simply a deep delight in the tradition itself while being true to oneself. The trio of Cliff McGann with vocals and guitar, Doug Lamey on fiddle, and Matthew Phelps on pipes, aided and abetted most ably by Kimberley Fraser, Keith Murphy and Eric Kilburn have created an album which will make anyone happy who values solid musicianship, respect for the tradition, and also individual skill and vision.
This CD starts out strong with "In Praise of Maureen MacKenzie." Along with this opening combination of tunes in the same vein and in great strength as well are "The E Set" and "Donald MacLean's Farewell." I found all three both great traditional work, and a showcase for how Doug's fiddle and Cliff's guitar provide such a strong infrastructure for these pieces. Matthew Phelps is excellent on the cauld wind pipes in the CD cuts, but he is superb in the wonderful "Pipe Marches," and the dramatic "Everlasting Peace." Cliff McGann supplies vocals in the Downeast "When I First Went To Caledonia," and in the Gaelic "S'Truagh Nach Do Dhi fhuirich Mi Tioram Air Tir." I have heard both of these from other artists and Cliff adds his own take here, with the ease of a storyteller on the first, and with a relaxed almost conversational pace on the second, which fit well with the rest of the album.
You can find Tri in their natural habitat, that is at ceilidhs and other events where they are understandably much in demand, for to the northeast they are local. Tri proves that you don't need to go very far, but to the wilds of Metro Boston West, Massachusetts, to hear great Celtic music.
Review in Celtic Life Magazine
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Among Friends is a collection of music in the Cape Breton tradition; sets of tunes from Scotland, Ir...Among Friends is a collection of music in the Cape Breton tradition; sets of tunes from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton arranged nicely for the fiddle, pipes, piano and guitar. The band has stuck to a policy of good honest music with some contemporary aspects while continuing the tradition they have studied and admire. All three are good players and this CD should open some doors for their career as a trio. Their playing has some reminiscences of older dance hall sounds with dust in the air and sweat on the brow. A couple of songs also add a gentler touch to the album. "When First I Went To Caledonia" is an old song from Cape Breton that I remember as a boy. It was given new life by the late Tony Cuffe and the version here is a fine one and should help bring it around again to new ears. The Gaelic song, "What a Pity I Never Stayed on Dry Land" hails from the Scottish Gaelic tradition and is given a nice touch by Tri...
... Tri play good, down-to-earth music in a respectful and caring manner.
WGBH Radio Boston
They are an incredible group of musicians.
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This is music not frozen in time, but comfortable within its own tradition. There is a wonderful ...This is music not frozen in time, but comfortable within its own tradition.
There is a wonderful balance of feeling, intelligence, and scholarship, with individual instruments surfacing and receding, contributing in an organic way to the whole of the listening experience.
Producer's Notes on Album
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What makes this a successful CD is its ability to showcase their individual talents while conveying ...What makes this a successful CD is its ability to showcase their individual talents while conveying a true sense of togetherness as musicians.
This CD includes a great show of material and blends Doug's amazing raw fiddle energy with Matt's classic and precise style, while Cliff provides the integral balance between them and pours a lot of heart into his guitar playing and singing.
ICONS Music and Arts Festival
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Trì deftly shows the connections between the Scottish and Cape Breton music traditions, as well as t...Trì deftly shows the connections between the Scottish and Cape Breton music traditions, as well as the elements that are unique to both.
1)Donald MacLean’s Jig Set
- Donald MacLean of Lewis (1X)
- Old Hag at the Churn (2X)
- Donald MacLean (1X)
2)Oddball Reel Set
- Portobello (2X)
- Pressed For Time (2X)
3)Pipe Marches (Cliff, Matt)
- Horsbrugh Castle(1X)
- Thomas Sander(1X)
4)Fire Drill Set (All)
- The Fire Drill(1X)
- Nelson Mandela’s Welcome to Glasgow(1X)
- Merrily Kissed the Quaker’s Wife(2X)
5)Song - (Cliff)
6)Fiddle Set (Cliff and Doug)
7)Highland Bagpipe Set (Matt)
8)Donald MacLean's Farewell MSR (All)
- Bu Deonach Leam Tilleadh(2X)
- Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban(1X)
- Dusky Meadow(2X)
- Old Copperplate(2X)
- Sandy Cameron’s(2X)
1) Reels in D - All (2X)
- Jenny Dang
- MacArthur Road
- Stone Frigate
2)Bag of Bombardes Set
- The Little Bag(2X)
- Les Bombardes(2X)
3)D & B minor Jig Set
- Manahan Street(2X)
- Dan Collins Father’s(2X)
- The Butlers of Glen Avenue(2X)
4)Hector the Hero - 2X
5)Fiddle Set (Doug and Cliff)
7)Highland Bagpipe Set (Matt)
8)Maureen MacKenzie MSR (All)
- In Praise of Maureen MacKenzie(1X)
- Roderick MacDonald’s Strathespey(2X)
- Charms of Whiskey(2X)
- Piobaireachd of Donald Dubh(3X if needed)
Kennedy Street MSR (All)
- Kennedy Street March(1X)
- Devil in the Kitchen(2X)
- Brenda Stubberts(2X)
- Jack Daniels(3X if needed)
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