Carlos Núñez is one of those names that is thrown about as some kind of badge of honour or mark of authenticity.
If you browse through programmes for festivals, especially folk festivals you’ll see some sort of mention to him from someone who performed or recorded or collaborated with him.
I have even worked with an artist that had a photo of the pair of them performing together.
Yet until now I’ve never had the opportunity to see him. And to be honest didn’t really know what it was that he did.
Much of his performance here was taken from a piece of work that he was commissioned to write for a European ferry operator. A very clever piece of marketing if you ask me. But not so clever that we’re namechecking them.
This work charts the history of Celtic music, explains some technical things about it and takes us on a tour around the Atlantic coasts of Europe. “I believe that Celtic music is a legitimate musical genre and I support it in all of its forms,” Núñez states as he narrates the story.
The band plays and guests come and go as we stop at various locations. Each location has a tune and for many he reaches into a box and pulls out a different instrument – all of the whistle, pipes variety. Other members play different instruments too, from a simple lyre to harp and accordion.
There are a lot of guests. Glen Hansard, Brendan Begley, Natalie McMaster, and the band each have their moment in the spotlight – sometimes heading off into the crowd as box player Itsaso Elizagoien did.
There’s the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland hidden in the wings of the concert hall There was even tap dancing courtesy of Tim Edey. It was constantly surprising. It’s only taken about 27 years and a Galician piper to put on the show that actually joins all the dots and makes all the connections of Celtic music.
Support for this gig was Hannah Rarity. Always with Innes White by her side on guitar and joined later with other band members.
She’s the one that got away from previous festivals. Either she cancelled or I did. I know her mostly from her work with Niteworks. Tonight she was singing some traditional songs and some of her own compositions – I don’t know if this was intentional but the choice of songs seemed, to me, to contrast the modern world with more simpler times.