The Tarbolton Club cast a spell with ravishing rhythms
Martine Robertson reports on the first concert of a new band

Friday the 3rd of May saw the Scottish Story Telling Centre in Edinburgh provide a lovely intimate venue for the debut of the 'Tarbolton Club', namely: Mairi Campbell on fiddle/ vocals, Hamish Moore on small pipes/ percussion, Fiona Moore on fiddle/ piano and Will Lamb on bouzouki. A great wee band, playing a lovely accoustic set, joyfully unhampered by the clutter of a modern day sound system. So sweet was the blend that it was hard to tell where the notes were falling from; fiddles or pipes, and  throughout, the solid support  and strength of  Will Lamb's bouzouki playing formed a rhythmic rock for the band.
The collective pedigree assured that excellent playing was a given. The delight lay in the way  the shared musical sensibilities of the players lit the stage and sparked off into the auditorium, igniting the audience until there was barely a still foot in the place.
The  music stepped off lightly with a fine set of pipe jigs; rhythm is what this band is all about and it fairly danced out, sweet and tight, flowing from the fingers and bows of relaxed performers, sitting in behind the tunes, confident in their own beautifully synchronised timing, a band with a vision of how they wanted to serve a tune.
There was chat from band members; who and what inspired them or made them tick musically. Hamish Moore fell in love with the sound of the name Tarbolton Club, after a visit to the Bachelors club of that name, and famously frequented by Robert Burns. The beauty of it's wooden floored room, intriguingly serving as both debating chamber and dance hall stayed with him, and became the inspiration for the  the band's name.
The sets continued; fiddle reels, with Hamish taking a surprise turn on snare drums, Mairi rendering a slow and beautiful version of Burns 'Slaves Lament', followed by a set of marches that took the audience back into helpless foot tapping. The professional feet were also “rocking, stamping or flapping the boards”  Mairi Campbell informed us, “and who knew what Hamish's feet were doing!”
The chat was by turns; informative, warm, cheesy, sometimes earnest and enjoyed a bit of a ramble, although Fiona Moore's firm finger across the throat gesture to her Dad made me think she has the matter in hand.
 The Cape Breton influence really came to the fore with a magical set from Fiona Moore, simply called 'The C Set' her deft and ageless style transported her listeners and caused us to listen with our hearts.
Throughout, we heard stories from each of the players about the Cape Breton influence on their music. Experienced almost as a kind of moving into the musical light,  its style brought  focus and passion to their own understanding and interpretations of traditional Scots music. They were linked to a past tradition where fiddles, pipes and dancing feet skipped, clattered and stamped in joyful sync. Or, in the words of Hamish Moore on first hearing it, “Holy ****, that's it, from the heart!”
The evening continued to yield up its wee jewels: A fine song about Mairi Campbell’s missionary grandfather (?) from Rhynie written by Dave Francis and Mairi Campbell, led Fiona Moore to spirit us into a Gaelic kitchen with a Puirt; 'Open the door' in English, and from there opening appropriately into a lively set of reels. To the delight of the audience, who leaned forward as one to better see him, Fin Moore hit the stage and added his percussive steps to the jigs flying from the bows of Mairi Campbell, his dad and sister. Hamish on small pipes played the aire to Burns  'Now Westlin Winds', soaring and fading to bring in Dave Francis, speaking the words of the poem with sensitivity and power… it was hard not to be moved. Then into the fiddle Strathspey and reels; Lucy Campbell’s, Wedding Reels, and Sandy McIntyre’s that proved to be the last set of the night, accompanied once more by Fin on feet. The audience clapped and cheered their approval bringing the band on for a curtain call, and of course hoping for an encore. “We've no more tunes”, came from a grinning Mairi Campbell, they had given us their best,  magic had been about, they left the stage waving, we left wanting more. A jewel for our memories.