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This review was written by journalist Mr. John Watts and published in his regular feature in the Chronicle Newspaper, Northern Ireland on September 15th 2004.

The Floating BowHand - a great video from the fiddle master' from the Glens.

I was delighted during the week to review a present of a great musical video that a friend of mine secured for me whilst holidaying in Dublin. The friend in question was of course well aware of the fact that that I would be delighted with the gift, knowing that I was a great admirer of the subject of the tape- Jim McKillop, the fiddle-player supreme, a native of Cushendall in the Antrim Glens who now lives near Dundalk. The tape lasting 105 minutes in total, isn't yet on sale on this side of The Border, I understand, but no doubt when it reaches the video stores here it will be a big seller. Jim McKillop has indeed a remarkable talent-as a fiddle player he is in the premier division and as a violin maker he is very highly regarded, not only around these shores but in many countries across the world as well.

My knowledge of Jim's music goes back several decades to when we were both very young- he was playing a guitar at the time and I was trying to learn the banjo. And I can well recall that as a singer back in those early days, the McKillop boy from the G'lens could have walked on to any stage in the country and captured any audience with a singing voice that had a tone all of its own and would have compared with any of the big showband vocalists that were riding high in the popularity charts at the time. Even then Jim wasn't interested in fame or hugging the limelight, he only played music for his own enjoyment. And although he now sits comfortably at the top of the musical tree as a fiddle player, he still shows no craving for any great fame and uses no gimmicks on stage to put his music across.

At an early age Jim joined the Merchant Navy where he eventually reached the rank of Chief Engineer, and he tells the story about introducing himself to the fiddle whilst on board a ship sailing around the other side of the world. A shipmate had purchased a violin at a port where the vessel had visited, and being aware of the fact that Jim was a guitar player, the sailor wondered if he could tune the instrument. That stroke of fate changed life for Jim for ever more, for from that point in time he took up fiddle playing seriously. And on returning home to The Glens he joined in sessions with his dad, John McKillop, who sadly departed this life some years ago and was a skilled banjo player, specialising in Irish and Scottish traditional music. Jim was 26 at that time and within four years from starting to play the instrument he collected every major traditional fiddle competition that could be won in Ireland.

His reputation for fiddle making soon equalled the skills that he had acquired for playing the instrument and these days violins from the McKillop mould are the treasured possessions of fiddle players right around the world.

As well as including plenty of music, 58 different tunes in total, ranging from styles right across the board from Irish traditional, Scottish, Shetland, Canadian, Bluegrass and Slow Waltzes, the video also looks in detail at Jim's violin making business. Most of the music was filmed at a "Music Giants' concert in Waterford City, but there is also footage included from pub sessions, All Ireland Fleadhs and from recording studios. One very interesting feature comes form a clip of a BBC television documentary programme that was made on Jim McKillop back in 1980 and features him playing the fiddle along with his dad on the banjo.

The video is very well filmed and produced and makes great viewing. It is a product of The Online Music School Ltd. 8 Ballymun Road, Dublin 9 and I can include a telephone number for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the tape. It is 353-1 8376125

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