Mohsen Amini, demon concertina player with the multi-award winning Glasgow-based trio Talisk, may have recorded this Scotsman Session using a reproduction of a 120-year-old instrument, but that doesn’t stop him from achieving characteristically hyperdrive speeds.
Amini’s instrument is an accurate reproduction of a much sought-after Jeffries – produced by Charles Jeffries & Son around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and regarded by many as the Holy Grail of concertinas. The 28-year-old actually has an original model – tantamount, some might say, to owning a classic car: “It’s so old and I play quite hard,” he laughs. “It couldn’t really keep up any more, so I tend to use it in the house and sometimes take it out with me. But I’ve also got my German workhorses, my Suttner concertinas, and they keep me going on the touring circuit.”
The famously high-energy trio, comprising Amini with guitarist Graeme Armstrong and recently joined fiddle player Benedict Morris, released their new album, Dawn, on 11 February, and for their Scotsman Session they perform a track called Echo 22. Numerous other Celtic Connections concerts have fallen by the wayside due to Covid restrictions, but at the time of writing their launch concert at Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket, supported by Irish quintet JigJam, was still on course for 29 January and reportedly booked out.
Amini and Morris, however, both Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year winners, were booked to appear in the 21st anniversary celebration of the annual competition, planned for the 30th in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, but which has now been cancelled. “I think it’s being moved over to be more of a show on Radio Scotland’s Traveling Folk,” Amini says.
While lockdown, he agrees, “has obviously been a horrific time, we’ve been able to get back on to things for the last couple of months and managed to avoid most cancellations, so we actually had a pretty good run in November in the UK then France in December.” They could also be seen, bringing in the New Year in characteristically hell-for-leather fashion, on BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay show.
All being well, Talisk will embark on a month-long US tour on 8 February, with a further UK tour planned for May. Their US trip is by no means the trio’s first: “The last thing we did before Covid was in Nashville and we managed to get the last flight out before they were all cancelled.”
Other plans for the near future, he adds, include a collaborative project “still under wraps so I can’t talk about it”, as well as a follow-up album to the new release: “Covid took two years from us. It’s been four years since our last album, so we’re planning on saturating things, recording another one straight afterwards.”
Immediately after our interview, Amini was off to a rehearsal with the other band he plays in, the Scots-Manx-Irish outfit Ímar. For Talisk, however, the main priority is that Fruitmarket gig. “Apart from that, it’s just another album, standard crack and having the best time we can. We’re all systems going at the moment.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.