Press stories

Liz Gigs

Reviews

Liz and Sean Óg Graham's concert performance at the 2016 Orkney Folk Festival is reviewed here by The Scotsman. Reviewer Sue Wilson writes "Next up was that most unassuming of legends, Irish-American fiddler Liz Carroll, who’d already treated some local primary kids to a performance that morning, and now proceeded comprehensively to demonstrate why she’s held in such rarefied esteem. Nimbly accompanied by guitarist Sean Óg Graham, she enriched her material with such a wealth of ornamentation, harmonic colour, expressive nuance and rhythmic sensitivity as to sound like two or three fiddlers at work."

Read Liz's interview with Fiona Ritchie of the Thistle & Shamrock radio program.

Praise for Double Play

from PopMatters Magazine
- Double Play was #11 on their BEST WORLD MUSIC of 2009
No fusions, remixes, remakes here, only a simple idea, one woman with an Irish fiddle, one man with an Irish guitar/bouzouki/mandolin, a little percussion and organ, a few instances of singing from Doyle, the owner of a mid-range burr—together they play jigs, reels, you know the drill—and there you are: an album. But on Double Play the simple idea has been burnished ‘til it shines. This album taps a river of clean, clear energy. The sets sweep along, sometimes engaging in ballerina pirouettes (“John Cahill’s Jig”), sometimes darting aside into hiccoughing switchbacks that yank at your brain, sometimes belting ahead into a quick dance, sometimes slowing down into a lament. John Burr plays the organ and Kenny Malone doles out the percussion, but the album belongs to Carroll and Doyle, whose talents are bound together in mutual empathy.

Praise for In Play

Liz Carroll and John Doyle's Stellar Debut as Duo
by Earle Hitchner, Irish Echo
"...a magnificent balance of virtuosity, drive, and finesse is firmly upheld. Carroll's bowing and Doyle's picking represent a kind of soloing in sync, each supporting and inspiring the other without a whiff of self-indulgence... (They) are a duo in every sense of the word here: synaptic in communication, instinctive in reaction, tight in execution, rich in ideas, and unabashedly having a ball. So will everyone else who listens to "In Play," one of the best Irish traditional recordings of the year."

by Rob Weir, The Valley Advocate
"In Play is the latest jewel... (Liz) and guitar wizard John Doyle are in perfect harmony, whether it's a set tinged with whimsy such as "Rolling in the Barrel," one that flashes classical influences under the unlikely title "The Man With One Kidney," or a gorgeous slow air the ilk of "A Long Night On the Misty Moor." Doyle has quietly jigged and reeled himself into the top-accompanist ranks, and Carroll stands among an even loftier pantheon of peers. With clarity and purity of tone rivaled only by Alisdair Fraser, a well-crafted set list, and complete command of her instrument, Liz Carroll recordings induce joy and admiration that exhaust this reviewer's feeble descriptors."


Praise for Lost in the Loop

From the fans! -

- I thought Lament of the First Generation was great on the album. But when you played it at U of C last night, it stirred something deep in me -- and I'm Jewish. A friend I talked to as well said that particular tune spoke to her as well.

-the new CD is absolutely great! I don't think I'll ever tire of listening to this well-thought work. Your maturity as an artist is evident in both the writing and the production.

-I had the pleasure to see Liz Carroll perform at the University of Chicago Folk Festival. From the first song she played I knew I was going to pick up at least one of her CDs. Lost in the Loop is amazing. It's one of those CDs that I will keep handy and listen to often. There is an energy to her playing and it comes through even in the CD. The recording quality does this awesome work justice, and it all comes together to be a fine, fine album!

-I have listened to Liz Carroll's new CD constantly since I got it. It's full of great tunes played as no one else can play them. Her original tunes are more beautiful than ever, and her reinvention of traditional tunes thrills the soul.

-Liz is dynomite! She inspires the rest of us fiddlers to play til our fingers burn.

-Your playing, as usual, makes the few hairs I have left stand up and I feel more confident than ever in referring to you as the Michael Jordan of the Irish fiddle. John Doyle's guitar playing and Seamus Egan's production values seem to have brought out a new level of intensity and excitement. Congratulations on making such an inspired and inspiring record.

-Dear Liz, I love your music for many years and I am a little shy (despite my 50 passed) to write you this mail. I love your music because it gives me a source of dreaming especially as I am watching the mountains surrounding my home. Your last record is sounding daily in my home for one week now and if it follows the previous one, I think it is for many years.I love very much the Lost in the Loop tune and your performing and arrangement of the Drunken Sailor and .... all the recording. Sorry for my strong writting french accent. Amicalement!

-you're the best fiddler I've heard and one of my favorite composer. I like the "G reel" above all. As John Doyle is my favorite backing guitar player you can imagine how excited I was about getting your last CD. French are very fond of irish music and can be good players. You've got an audience around here, can we hope to have you playing here one of these days? (France is not that far from Ireland...) Thanks for your playing.


From the reviewers!

Q - Exquisite performance - a set of real class.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram - This Chicago fiddler is one of the greatest Irish musicians to come out of this country and this, her first solo CD in a decade, is a charmer. Carroll sails through a well-chosen selection of jigs and reels, and her fiddle finds just the right mixture of fire and sweetness. If you love Irish music, you really should get this.

CMJ Music Monthly - Carroll is a master - the energy and lyricism of Irish music at its best.

Cleveland Free Times - Her lively sense of rhythm sends the notes bouncing off of each other like popcorn and her phrasing sets up an irresistibly sweeping flow. LOST IN THE LOOP is a rare gem from one of Celtic music's treasures, well worth the ten year wait. Grade A+!

The Irish Times - There's some pure magic communicated here through the sweet, energising fiddling of this well respected Irish-American colleen, her urbanised clarity impregnated by plenty of flavours, from Donegal to Cajun to Cape Breton, at a pell-mell pace and with a gypsyesque, Paganini, bluegrass tilt. Try the endless drift of her own slow reel, See it There, or another tune, Letter to Peter Pan; the slam-lilt of the traditional Drunken Sailor or the stuttering rhythms of her The Ugly Duckling - another of the fiddler's dozen of her own playful, lyrically stimulating compositions. Backed propulsively by guitar, bass, bouzouki and percussion and low-key synth, this would be great material to tour.
Mic Moroney

Roots World - Within moments of the opening notes of this album, you can almost see Liz Carroll's mind working as she feels her way into the possibilities the tunes and rhythms offer. A tune is a tune, but for someone who really feels the music, there are many diversions on the road.

Her fiddle provides the melody while a quartet of accompanists provide the foundation for the set of driving reels which introduce the album. Strong playing and excellent production keeps the track on an even keel, never allowing one element to overpower the other as the musicians race along with grace and style. The second track is a highly melodic collection of jigs featuring lead fiddle and accompanying guitar, linked warmly by a piano that bridges the two by echoing the melody while paralleling chord progressions. This is all followed by a set of slow reels in which all the instruments are put through their paces at a speed that allows even an untrained ear to begin to understand the stylistic intricacies.

Liz is a very emotional player. The tunes have much to say and in her fiddling, she draws out the dancing qualities, while allowing the melodies to flow. Every tune seems to tell a story, and her technique (especially her use of the bow) enables her to recount the tales with life.

Accompanying her is a small group of exceptional musicians. John Doyle provides much of the guitar backup, showing that he is capable of far more than the devastating rhythm playing for which he is best known. Daithi Sproule also adds a little guitar, while Zan McLeod's bouzouki playing is strongly featured throughout the album. Jackie Moran, John Anthony and producer Seamus Egan add percussion, Chico Huff bass and Michael Aharon keyboards. Winifred Horan also joins in on fiddle here and there adding new textures to the sound.

Even though most of the tunes are written by Liz (included are her first ever composition and her latest), the album has a traditional feel. It is no wonder so many of her tunes have passed into session repertoires.
Jamie O'Brien

Neil Tesser, Chicago Reader, Critic's Choice:
Liz Carroll, who made her reputation by capturing the All-Ireland Fiddle Championship in 1975, has since cemented it with an exhaustive repertoire and an exhausting tour schedule. She has always managed to balance exquisitely the contradictory pressures of Irish fiddling: the need for precise fingering and the more primal pull of roots. In recent years her sizable body of original compositions has achieved a stature nearly equal to that of her playing, giving her already forceful performances an extra dimension.

Neil Tesser, Chicago Reader, Critic's Choice, June 11, 1993:
Liz Carroll has been called "the best American fiddler going" - by musicians in Ireland. So how did a Chicago girl make a name for herself in the world of Irish violin playing? Well, winning the prestigious all-Ireland fiddle contest - as she did in 1975, at the age of 18, beating Ireland's best in her first year of eligibility - can't hurt. Carroll plays with a guileless concentration that makes her cunningly constructed ornamentation stand out all the more, and her quicksilver lines can captivate violin admirers way beyond the bounds of Hibernia. But Carroll has titled her weekend concert "This is not a violin. It's a fiddle," and the distinction has everything to do with the nature of Irish music. Despite the virtuosic demands the idiom places on its practitioners, Irish fiddle playing also requires a certain rough-hewn, even rustic element: therein lies its power. Let the instrument's tone get too classically polished and it loses the yearning lilt so characteristic of authentic reels and jigs; make the fingering as precise as Barenboim wants it and you forsake the slurs and slides so essential to the form. Carroll manages this balancing act as well as any and better than most. She'll display all this - as well as her widely renowned and inexhaustible repertoire - at a benefit for Theater By Design.

Michael Austin, North Shore Magazine, March, 1999
Generally acknowledged to be America's greatest Irish fiddler, Liz Carroll of Round Lake plays so precisely with so little obvious effort that it is easy to underestimate the years of practice and dedication such skill requires. In 1974, at age 17, Chicago-born Carroll won the All-Ireland junior fiddle championship. A year later, the first year she was eligible for the senior title, she won that, too. In 1988, her album "Liz Carroll" was named a select record of American folk music by the Library of Congress. In 1994, Hillary Rodham Clinton presented her with the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Award Fellowship. Despite her tours and recordings - a new CD is due out this year - her full-time job has been as a spouse and a mom of two children, ages 10 and 12. But as the kids get older, mom is devoting more time to her music. "In the past, almost every gig that I've done has come to me, so I haven't really been pursuing anything and I hope to turn that around and do more of the things that I want to do. In other words, get choosy."



Quotes:


"Next up was that most unassuming of legends, Irish-American fiddler Liz Carroll... she enriched her material with such a wealth of ornamentation, harmonic colour, expressive nuance and rhythmic sensitivity as to sound like two or three fiddlers at work." Sue Wilson, The Scotsman, May 30, 2016

"Few performers can single-handedly silence a crowded, noisy bar, but internationally renowned violinist Liz Carroll brought all Martyrs conversation to a halt with a haunting solo as she headlined an evening of Irish music by a stellar line-up of Chicago musicians." Chicago Tribune

"Liz Carroll is the most exciting fiddler I've heard over here [in the U.S.]." Johnny Cunningham

"Is she the best fiddler in the world? Many would say 'Yes!' and receive little argument here or elsewhere." The Irish American News

"Brilliant...She does more than run through her fingertwisting reels and sustained slow airs. She - and her listeners - continually rediscover each melody." The New York Times

"A superb instrumentalist for whom the overused 'virtuoso' is not at all an exaggeration." The Irish Voice

"If you're looking for great Irish music, then head for the great Midwest. Since Chicago fiddler Liz Carroll's last solo album, she's written a slew of new tunes and become an even more expressive and exceptional musician. Her bowing is gutsy and flowing, her fingering nimble and precise." The Boston Globe

"Extraordinary." The Washington Post

"Liz has never sounded better... fluid and forceful, excitingly improvisational. No wonder the Cork audiences back in February refused to let her go when she finished a solo." The Irish Echo

"Dazzling...her inventiveness and creativity are astonishing. And her playing is impeccably clean, intense, and altogether brilliant." Sing Out

"One of the greatest of contemporary Irish fiddlers." The Chicago Tribune