Flower and McLaren
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Flower and McLaren

Oakland, California, United States

Oakland, California, United States
Band Americana Celtic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"'Local Legends', N. Seltenich"

Flower and McLaren, Twenty Years Twenty Rivers. You don't have to be a big fan of Celtic music to enjoy the work of Robin Flower (guitar, mandolin, fiddle) and Libby McLaren (piano, accordion). But it won't hurt...The local legends' take on the genre is smart and varied; fans will be aptly thrilled.
-Nate Seltenrich

- East Bay Express

"Celtic Music & Fly Fishing, T. Clancy"

"What happens when two musical crafts people with a long-standing interest in fishing and Irish music take a vacation in Ireland? Robin Flower and Libby McLaren made a trip a couple of years ago. They don't say how good the flyfishing was but they certainly caught the best of the music and filtered it through a deep musical sensibility to produce this little gem of an album.
Flower and McLaren are mainstays of the vibrant Northern California roots music scene. They play a multitude of instruments but this recording has a focus on fiddle, accordion, piano and mandolin with twelve rich and varied selections. On Cedar Waxwings at the Winter Window/Tom McLaren's Reel, the interplay of piano and fiddle is particularly delightful. It's a piece that could have been ripped right out of Michael O'Suilleabhain's composition book. It builds to a crescendo crowned by some scat singing from McLaren on the reel dedicated to her father.
Molly's Step Dance/Jig for Judith/Rosemary's Real Jig and Mellie's Mandolin are tunes that march along nicely. Skip and Buzz's Wild Goose Chase is another sweetly conceived melody that trips along on a pairing of piano and mandolin. Andrei's First Waltz in America swings in a sweet country and Western Isles style. Another excellent medley, book-ended by two trad favorites, starts our gently with Over the Moor to Maggie, flies through Gleeson's Pub, and ends up sauntering through Morning Dew. Bill Bender's/The Bank of Ireland/Piper's Despair is a set driven along by a percussive guitar backing with consummate accordion work by McLaren. The album closes with The Mouth of Dillon Creek, a marvelous extended piece that wouldn't be out of place on a Kila record. It features a shape-shifting tempo with a fiddle, piano, and bass merging into a powerful pattern.
This album can be paired beautifully with a record such as A Fool's Dream by Pat Crowley and Johnny McCarty. Each shares a solid, Irish traditional-based musicality and pairs a collection of new compositions with a few old ones thrown in as reminders of the source of the continuing inspiration."
Tom Clancy

- Irish Music Magazine

"'Searing Virtuosity', K. Breitinger"

"Robin Flower and Libby McLaren bring wit, searing virtuosity and warm humanity to Steelhead in the Riffles, their fourth collaboration. The CD offers 24 original tunes and 4 Irish songs arranged into 12 brilliantly constructed sets, covering a wide range of material. But the bottom line is that these women are having the time of their lives, and it shows. Roaring from delicate to powerhouse, their music is moving, fun, and dazzlingly imaginative.
This is not a genre that I know well. Sometimes a lack of knowledge can be an impediment to full enjoyment, but that is definitely not the case with Steelhead. Plain and simple, it's a good time. Flower plays mandolin, guitar and fiddle, McLaren covers the piano, and accordion; both handle their axes with equal amounts of passion and agility. Flower's sizzling strings grab your attention right out of the gate but it is the second track, "Billy Tave's Hornpipe," that turned my head around. The intricate interplay between piano and bright mandolin is joyful perfection. Their years of playing together have gained them a musical intimacy that is extraordinary. As they anticipate each other's direction, their playing becomes a brilliant dance of unity and harmony, adding a unique and enriching element of excitement to each piece.
A favorite track is "Luna's Slip Jig," opening with Flower's sweetly yearning fiddle, slowly joined by McLaren's rolling piano, the two dancing together with a delicate passion that is both exciting and moving. But the closing "Mouth of Dillon Creek" is nothing short of perfection. This exquisite composition drives piano and fiddle to an exciting crescendo; drive is the operative word here, and I mean drive 'em hard. At song's end, you realize you've been holding your breath in wonder.
Nope, not knowing much about Celtic Americana isn't going to hurt you on Steelhead in the Riffles. You don't need to know what a riffle is to know wildly imaginative music when you hear it."
Kevan Breitinger

- Indie-Music.com


20 Years - 20 Rivers (2009)
Steelhead in the Riffles (2004)
A Kiss from the Angel of Change (2002) a compilation
30 Second Kiss (2000)
Angel of Change (1994)



Robin Flower and Libby McLaren have a remarkable musical partnership as composers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, singers, recording artists, concert performers, contra dance musicians, workshop leaders, and as writers and performers of children’s shows. Their high energy performances include driving, soulful playing on fiddle, piano, accordion, guitar, mandolin. Add in their richly textured, 22 year vocal blend and you have a duo of extraordinary creativity, heart, power, and joy.

Robin and Libby have just released their 5th CD, Twenty Years · Twenty Rivers. Added to their previous recordings, this recording continues their extraordinary journey together as musicians, composers and singers. (“It is a musical marriage made in heaven.” -Ronnie Gilbert.) With their trademark tight arrangements and joix de vivre, these two women obviously and thoroughly love what they do. Listeners do, too.

Robin and Libby have crisscrossed the United States and Canada, as well as New Zealand, performing at folk venues, universities, and festivals. They have appeared on radio and TV programs, with a highlight being a shared show with Pete Seeger who afterwards wrote them a note saying, “It was a real pleasure to hear you sing. You keep singing!”

Both musicians had successful musical careers when they met; Robin as a band leader (The Robin Flower Band, recording with Flying Fish Records) and Libby, a member in many bands in New York City, including a long stint with The Roches. While Robin was recording her acclaimed album, Babies with Glasses, she was looking for a vocal arranger. Famed photographer, Irene Young, recommended Libby McLaren, who had recently returned to her native Bay Area. Robin and Libby immediately found they had something musical to say together and have been saying some very musical things ever since.

After a trip to Ireland, Robin and Libby returned and immediately wrote a CD’s worth of instrumental music and with the release of Steelhead in the Riffles, the style Celtic Americana was born. Steelhead garnered excellent reviews, including one from the Irish Music Magazine’s Tom Clancy “...they certainly caught the best of the music and filtered it through a deep musical sensibility to create a gem of an album.” And from SING OUT! “...a gorgeous collection of original tunes.” Steelhead received an abundance of radio play, thrilling many DJs. “We love Steelhead in the Riffles and have been playing it on all our programs.” Roz Larman, Folk Scene, syndicated. And from Paul Stamler, KDHK radio in St. Louis, “Very fine playing on this CD.”

Robin and Libby are in the planning stages of their next CD.