Later, to expand beyond the mountain music of my Appalachian youth, I started searching for traditional Celtic influenced music, I quickly ran into the name Iona Fyfe via some of Dempster’s network. I added her to various music lists and gave a quick Twitter follow. I absorbed some of her music over several months until I noticed that she had a new single dropping on September 3rd. That’s when I saw through her Twitter account that she was doing a tour through part of the U.S.
I figured, surely she’ll play L.A. at some point and it would definitely be worth the trip over to the city. I started searching only to discover that she’d be playing five minutes from my house! Double-Win!! I called immediately and made reservations for the whole family.
For those new to her and her music, Iona is an Aberdeenshire folksinger/songwriter rooted in the musical traditions of the North East of Scotland. In 2021, she became the first singer to win the Musician of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards. She’s incredibly knowledgeable about the folk tradition in both Scotland as well as in the United States. Her music crosses folk, traditional Scottish music, country and bluegrass, with some pop and rock thrown in (most of it translated into Scots, of course.)
Doors opened at 1:30 PM. Show started at 2:00 PM and finished at about 4:15 PM.
1. Scotland Yet (single, 2021)
2. Take Me Out Drinking (from Away from My Window)
3. The Wild Geese
4. Lady Finella
– written on 2021-01-06; released on 2022-09-03
5. Love Story (Scots translation of Taylor Swift song)
– Inspired by Woody Guthrie and Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)
7. Banks of Inverurie (from Away from My Window)
– Craig Duncan Collection; about a girl walking by the river, a man makes a pass at her and it takes 6 verses to get to “no”
8. **Poor Ditching Boy**
– Richard Thompson (Fairport Convention) Sunset Song was the original, but this version has been translated (more appropriately) in Scots
9. Bonnie Lass of Fyvie
– Cecil Sharp / Doric Text; Versions by Dylan (changed city name), Gratful Dead, Joan Baez, and Simon and Garfunkle
10. Guise of Tough (from Away from My Window)
11. The Northern Lights (of Old Aberdeen) by Mary Webb
– Webb apparently never visited Aberdeen
12. The Waters Meet
– written by Iona Fyfe
13. The Ship Song (Scots version)
– cover via Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
14. Dark Turn of Mind (from Dark Turn of Mind)
– via Gillian Welch; Fyfe’s first song in English and it got big play only in English and not in Scots, so she decide only to do Scots thereafter;
my comment: Eat it Patsy Kline!
15. Swing and Turn (from Dark Turn of Mind)
– via Jean Ritchie
– Kentucky based country song
– cover of Sarah Jarosz’ Hometown
17. **Freedom Come All Ye**
cover via Hamish Henderson
18. **Tak’ a Dram Afore Ye Go** (Scots)
I don’t think Queen Elizabeth II had been dead for a full day, so I was quite taken that Fyfe chose to open her performance with Scotland Yet. The only way it may have been better was if we’d had a few drams to toast with while listening.
Sadly while Fyfe had intended to play as a trio on the tour with Alex Sturbaum and Brian Lindsay, the two members of Countercurrent, Bryan had come down with COVID-19 and thus had to miss this particular show. Alex did a spectacular job on acoustic guitar and bouzouki, but I definitely missed what I suspect would have been some excellent fiddle that would have helped round out the trio.
Despite this perceived handicap, the show was truly spectacular. I’ve heard most of Fyfe’s recordings and I have to say that as great as they are, she’s even more transcendent in person. She reminds me of a young Loreena McKennitt or Tori Amos.
I realized I don’t even own a CD player anymore, but to support Iona’s music and her tour, I purchased three of her albums on CD. Hopefully it will help in offsetting the abysmally low returns on streaming music platforms.
Sonia warns Fyfe to watch out for the “Torries” in Modesto which probably isn’t as progressive as a more “granola” Altadena crowd.
Iona Fyfe September 2022 US Tour Dates
If you haven’t seen Iona Fyfe in person yet, it’s definitely a fantastic experience. She’s got a long list of tour dates, primarily on the US West Coast through September.