Jim Fidler and the Gypsies
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Jim Fidler and the Gypsies

| INDIE | AFM

| INDIE | AFM
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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Fidler on fire in eclectic second release By Mark Vaughan-Jackson
Review of Friendly Fire

Jim Fidler has done it again. With the release of his CD Gypsy five years ago, Fidler introduced me to an almost entirely new genre of music.

Then his music was drawing on musical influences from around the globe and blending them seamlessly into something new and enticing.

That blending continues in Friendly Fire, but on a larger scale.

The musical textures of half a dozen different cultures are all here to one degree or another.

From the plaint of a Celtic whistle to the drubbing of Middle Eastern drums, the driving pulse of a reggae beat to the wail of the bagpipe.

To these and other ingredients Fidler has added his own flair, blending in ethereal keyboard lines and effects, layering the percussion, and plying his voice in a variety of styles.

The songs range from the heartbreaking to the whimsical.

The title track, Friendly Fire, speaks to a history of Newfoundland where the victors were the authors of the history books - a tale of loss at what might have been had not certain decisions been made in 1949.

Balancing the somber note of a song like that comes a tune like Number 1 (Hospitality’s Pavilion), a charming drinking ditty in praise of the best spot in which to “lubricate your throat”.

This back and forth continues throughout the album, light notes to more serious ones.

And throughout it all, Fidler is there performing on his usual multitude of instruments and welcoming guest musicians to add Gaelic words, Arabic chants, smooth sax lines, skirling pipes and more.

This is a more eclectic recording than Gypsy, which had a tad more of the acoustic traditional sound in its pedigree.

With Friendly Fire we have a broader electronic soundscape, club-style drum effects and the judicious application of distortion effects to add a few pleasantly jagged edges.

This is a rich, diverse recording that deserves considerable attention.

The musical styles, the moods it inspires and the sheer compelling nature of the recording can - if you let it - possess you utterly and leave you pleasantly wrung out, exhausted and exhilarated all at once.
- The Evening Telegram


Folk Roots/ Rock 'N' Reel / The Living Tradition / Magazines
By John O'Regan
A Newfoundlander Jim Fidler's music covers a whole gamut of styles both traditional and contemporary. The nearest comparisons would be musically Robin Williamson and vocally Christy Moore in his Planxty prime. "Gypsy"'s musical canvas covers celtic balladry in "Rhythm of the Goat" and "In Through the Narrows", where his instrumental virtuosity shines. "Rising of the Moon" borrows part of the patriotic ballad and comes up with a cross between Irish folksong and Bob Marley's "Redemption Song".

A multi-instrumentalist and blind since the age of 9, Jim Fidler is a true discovery. The resulting music on "Gypsy" is Newfoundland contemporary folk par excellence.

John O'Regan
Broadcaster - Freelance Journalist
32 Singland Crescent
Garryowen
Limerick
Ireland

- The Living Tradition Magazine


Discography

Jim Fidler - Gypsy - released 1995
Jim Fidler - Friendly Fire - released 2000
Musaik - In this World - released 2004

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

A born musician, singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist, Jim Fidler lives on the north atlantic island of Newfoundland. From a complete loss of sight at the age of nine, Jim has exhibited much musical insight in the years since. In his childhood, he studied classical piano and music theory at the Maritime Conservatory of Music in Halifax, Nova Scotia as an honours student and later, went on to various musical projects playing and producing everything from bluegrass to reggae, but, his main passion has always been Newfoundland and Labrador; her people and her culture.
As an independent recording artist, his first completely self-written,self-produced solo effort, "GYPSY", on which Jim sings and plays twelve different instruments, has won awards for "ALBUM OF THE YEAR" and "INDEPENDENT ALBUM OF THE YEAR" in Newfoundland And Labrador, a nomination for an East Coast Music award in the category "roots/traditional", and CBC Radio's national program "ROOTS AND WINGS" selected "GYPSY" as one of the top 25 albums from around the world in the fall of 1996.

In November, 1997, Jim signed a European record deal with Iona Records of Scotland. While Europe's Iona Records President Ronnie Simpson signed the contract in Scotland, Fidler signed in St. John's, at the two ends of a transatlantic video conference. "We expect a lot from musician-songwriter Jim Fidler and his knockout CD, Gypsy. We're putting Europe on notice that Newfoundland is the new home of the best in Celtic music," Simpson said.

"Jim is the first individual Newfoundland performer to sign an international record contract throughout Europe," said the Honourable Sandra Kelly, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. "We are very proud of Jim and his ability to combine the traditional music of Newfoundland and Labrador with other styles to produce a unique and beautiful sound", she added.

Jim was featured as one of the star performers in the highly successful maiden run of Mirvish Productions' "NEEDFIRE" at Toronto's Princess of Wales theatre in the summer of 1998. In the show’s second advent at the Royal Alexandra theatre in Toronto in the winter of 2000, Jim is even more prominently featured.

Jim is also known for his work as producer/arranger with such acts as: "THE MASTERLESS MEN", "GREAT BIG SEA", "THE CELTIC CONNECTION" and Gayle Tapper. Additionally, Jim's percussion work is predominantly featured on the highly critically acclaimed solo album, "NA KEEN AFFAIR", by Bothy Band uilleann pipe great Paddy Keenan. Jim also produced an album for Eamonn Dillon, fellow Needfire performer and multiple all-Ireland uilleann pipe champion. Jim's most recent production is Atlantic Union, a talented group hailing from the UK and the US.