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San Diego Celtic

Live in San Diego
Live in San Diego
By Highland Way

Self-released: 2007

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This review first appeared in the January 3, 2008 issue of the North County Times.

North County's own Highland Way is one of the more active Celtic bands in the area. With Brian Caldwell's thick Scots accent leading the band through a set of mostly traditional Scottish and Irish tunes on its new CD, Highland Way has a more authentic feel than most Celtic bands on this side of the pond.

This is their second CD, and the lineup is Caldwell, plus Heloise Love on vocals and guitar, Richard Gordon Heinz on bass and vocals, and Paul Castellanos on fiddle, mandolin and bass. Caldwell and Castellanos also play out as the Clachan Boys, with much the same repertoire as Highland Way.

Unlike a lot of stateside Celtic bands, Highland Way includes some contemporary Celtic music in its repertoire rather than falling into the expatriate's trap of viewing the old country as it used to be. A lively cover of The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" and Dougie McLean's "Ready for the Storm" bring modern touches to the set, yet exist comfortably around trad stuff such as "Danny Boy," "Flowers of Edinburgh" and "The Rocky Road to Dublin."

It's a crack band, each member a virtuoso on his or her instrument, and they feed off each other well. Caldwell's voice is rich and sonorous, and even if Yank ears can't always make out what he's saying in that Glaswegian accent of his, it's a joy to listen to.

The only knock is that the mix on this live set (the liner notes don't mention where it was recorded) is a bit muddy. But that's a small kvetch.