Ashfield Community Hall
September 24, 2010
The intimate setting meant that the band didn’t need to crank up the amps. If you can’t imagine how the bagpipes can be intimate, you’ve not heard them in the hands of Cantrip’s front man, Dan Houghton. Houghton now resides in southern Vermont, thus a reuniting with band mate and long time friend Jon Bews added to the evening’s festivities and the two kept things basic as their regular guitarist Zan McLeod couldn’t make the trip and they were working with a guest performer.
Houghton and Bews are ice and fire. Houghton is a multi-instrumentalist who plays flute, guitar, tin whistle, bouzouki, and three types of bagpipes (Highland, Northumbrian, and small pipes). He’s an intense man with a steely gaze and outwardly serious demeanor. Even his small jokes feel a bit measured. But he sure does wield his instruments with skill—particularly the small pipes, whose pips sound positively sweet when he plays them. Houghton’s notes don’t roll over you in waves like those of some pipers—they’re more like pulses that enter your head and zing about like caffeinated electrons.
Bews is the polar opposite. He’s a puckish wit whose feet are in such perpetual motion he could be declared an honorary Quebecois. Bews fiddles with the passion of one who figures that there’s just no sense in playing the music unless you intend to have some fun with it. He adds syncopation to Houghton’s precision and imbues a bit of wildness into the sets.