Ian Croft of R2 Insight Article
reviews Maid on the Shore by Niamh BoadleWith a year still to go on her Folk and Traditional Music degree at Newcastle University, Niamh Boadle has found time to make an excellent new CD, Maid On '> he Shore I interrupted Niarnh as she wrestled with four essays and a recital due the following week.
Born in England, Niamh picked up most of her musical influence from her Irish father. "My parents don't sing or play, but they always listened to a lot of Irish music round the house. I started Irish dancing when I was about four, copying my older sister. She had decided early on to start playing the whistle and other Instruments, and when I was old enough I did the same. We were encouraged to play, and I carried on with it."
Age six, Martin had learned whistle from her sister, and bodhran mostly through Comhaltas Ceoltoirf Eireann (in Preston), where they would "bang along to a tape". The next year, dancing at Fylde Folk Festival, she met a guitar teacher and "she started me singing, too". Her parents were always very supportive. "Dad said, 'If you're going to do It, you might as well do It to your fullest potential.' I learned classical violin and guitar up to grade eight which is really great for technique."
Niamh performed with her sister's band Trasna, aged twelve. "I was really annoying and hung around a lot, and they roped me in to do a bit of bodhran and dancing, and then I did a couple of songs " Developing as a soloist, Niamh appeared at fleadhs, won a couple of folk festival singing competitions, and released a sehproduced album, Wild Rose and she was still only fifteen.
Around that time she was in the band Tri with Neal Pointon and Ciaran Algar, which reached the semi final of
the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, but stopped playing in 2012 because of changing priorities Niamh was off to university, while Ciaran was having success in his duo with Greg Russell.
At university, Niamh "...carried on doing a few gigs here and there. The course wants you to do stuff but doesn't actively push you. But if I was going to start playing more, I definitely needed a new CD and a label to help me out I contacted VVildGoose and they invited me down to record It was meant to take a week but I had the most awful cold ever, and had to do just the instrumental tracks. I came down three weeks later for the vocals, but It worked out all right."
Apart from a bit of help from Paul Sartin, Niamh plays all the instruments guitar; fiddle, bodhran, whistles and mandolin. "If you can play the instrument, it makes it easier because you know how you like It." On the CD are three of Niamh's own songs. "Songwriting is always going to be there but I find it Incredibly difficult so It will never take over. I still love traditional songs, and picking up stuff from the likes of Anthony John Clarke and Kate Fagan."
Another three tracks are unaccompanied. "Singing unaccompanied was the first thing I did, specifically on Irish songs. I always try to get one or more Into each set."
As for the dancing that started her off, "I still do some Irish dancing but it's difficult to find anywhere here. I thought of clogging but a friend took me along to a rapper practice and I tried that instead " (Niamh is row part of the Star And Shadow rapper dance team.) She will be appearing at several festivals and gigs this summer before returning to finish off her degree.