It was only fitting that I was driving through particularly dense fog across the Casco Bay Bridge, over the cobblestones of the Old Port, then up Munjoy Hill and down to the waters of the East End boat launch as I listened to the new CD from Hope Hoffman and Jeff Trippe.

There’s something ancient and transcendent about fog that hovers above the salty sea, so an 11-song soundtrack of tunes with mostly traditional Celtic, Irish, American and Scottish influences was the perfect choice.

Fiddler Hoffman has been a full-time professional musician for almost 10 years, with performances, workshops and festivals all over New England. She released “Infinite Winter Squash,” a CD of original fiddle tunes, in 2007, and she teaches music, sings and plays with several bands in New England, as well as doing solo shows.

Trippe has been playing bluegrass, blues, Celtic and rock with bands for 30 years, and since 2005 has released the CDs “Windhover” and “The Big Wood.” His instruments are the guitar and octave mandolin, and he also provides vocals on “Ireland’s Green Shores.” (In fact, I think he sings so well that I wish I’d heard him on more than one song, though I appreciate that most of these songs are best played instrumentally so as to better emphasize Hoffman’s and Trippe’s playing.)

The CD, simply titled “Hoffman & Trippe,” begins with “The Little Beggerman,” a frisky tune that packs a lot of musical punch into just over two minutes. Both Hoffman and Trippe are dazzling. “Ships are Sailing,” another short one, is a sublime melding of instruments, and its spirit is both melancholy and hopeful — as traditional Celtic tunes can be.

“Longview” is a Trippe original, and Hoffman’s fiddle on it is captivatingly playful. The medley of “Julia Delaney/Star of Munster/The Merry Bastard” combines two traditionals with a Hoffman original (“The Merry Bastard”), and it’s one of my favorites as fiddle and guitar dance their way through the arrangements.

For something familiar, the pair has included “Rattlin’ Bog/Galway Belles.” “Rattlin’ Bog” is a spirited song that many of us learned versions of at summer camp or have heard in a rogue pub from time to time.

Another shining star of this CD is also its longest song at a hair under five minutes. “Star of the County Down/Rights of Man” leads you across the water and through the green fields of Ireland, and it takes its time getting there to afford the listener time to take it all in. Trippe’s guitar is at its best when the “Rights of Man” part comes in at the song’s midpoint.

For both their playing and the arrangements of these songs, Hoffman and Trippe are to be applauded for what they’ve accomplished on this CD. It’s available through most online CD retailers, including and, or by e-mailing Hoffman through her Web site,


Aimsel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer.


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