Issue 23 09/2002
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Rig The Jig "Stormy Brew"
Label: CMR Records; CMCD 1088; 2001; Playing
time: 58.55 min
Roscommon (Town) is not that big on the Irish traditional map. Of course, there
is Alan Kelly, and there's Rig
The Jig. The folk `n' traditional group was formed as a session
outfit in Harlow's pub in 1997, and this is already album number three. Pipes,
whistle, button accordion, banjo, and the odd accompaniment of course, are cooking
up a stormy brew. Not the hastily poured one, but of matured delicacy. We are
treated to the usual jigs and reels, spiced up with the slow air "Sean
O Duibhir a' Gleanna" on the pipes. Try another recipe, the "Morning
Dew" reel, played rather slowly, followed by the "Apples
in Winter" jig. The songs are of the American cousine (no not the McDonald's
sort of things), yet Country&Irish-like: Andy
M. Stewart's "Take
Her in Your Arms", Stephen
Foster's "Hard Times",
Wild Bill Watkins's "The
Errant Apprentice", the "Groves
of Kilteevan". Search out Rig The Jig's weekly session at Harlow's in Roscommon
Town and see what brew is served on either side of the bar.
Rig The Jig; CMR Records: firstname.lastname@example.org
Linnet; GLCD 3138; 2002; Playing time: 55.05 min
Cúig (i.e. Five) - Four letters, five
musicians, fifteen instruments and more tunes than you can tap your feet to.
The band formed in 1999, when after a solo CD Martin Matthews (banjo, cittern,
guitars, dobro, mandolin, vocals) was looking for an outfit to do live performances
throughout Britain. The debut album shows that there is a lot of talent in the
Irish community of Northeast England: Deirdre Ruane (accordeon, melodeon, whistles
and occasional fiddle), Paul Ruane (fiddle and keyboards; his parents made
sure he was `put to the Accordion', in his case the piano variety, at a very
young age, but he rebelled and at the ripe old age of thirteen, took up the
fiddle. For that teenage rebellion we are more than grateful.), Mike Kelly
(drums and percussion), and Sean Taylor (bass, percussion and drum programming).
Excellent tunes, tight playing, with some reggae rhythm and old-time here, and
some sort of "Balkanization" there. "The Bachelor Song" has been learned by
Pat Kilbride (see review below) and
is mingled with "St. Kilda's Wedding March": the lucky couple must have
sprinted down the aisle if accompanied at this tempo. Magnificent prospects
Green Linnet; German distribution:
Sliabh Notes "Along Blackwater's Banks"
OSS CD 130; 2002; Playing time: 53.23 min
Scattered across its rolling hills, crisscrossed by mountain streams, lives
a hardy, gregarious people who pay hommage to the polka and slide. (C.
Piggot -> FW#14) Sliabh
Luachra (ir. rushy mountain) is the wet upland region on the borders of Irish
counties Cork, Kerry and Limerick. Draw a line starting from Killarney, to Castleisland,
Abbeyfeale, Newmarket, and the Paps Mountains, and you find in its centre the
townlands in question. Irish dispossessed during the "Plantation" fled south
to the bogs and mountains to made it their new home. Traditional music has
tended to thrive in areas like Sliabh Luachra, where holdings are modest and
the land unyielding, bad land produces good music. (D. Hickey) Though no
longer a "Gaeltacht" (Irish speaking) area, it can boast of the famous Irish
Ó Rathaille and Eoghan
Rua Ó Suilleabháin. Fiddle and accordeon are most common, and the names
of Pádraig O'Keeffe,
Johnny O'Leary, Denis
Murphy, and Julia
Clifford are held in high esteem in traditional circles.
Sliabh Luachra music is full of lightness, liquidity, rhythmic, warmth
(P. Browne), and there's a southern swing to the music. (M. Cranitch)
Such are the polkas and slides and jigs and reels and hornpipes of Sliabh
Notes, consisting of fiddle player Matt
Cranitch (Na Fili, Any Old Time), Dónal Murphy (Four
Men and a Dog) on accordion, and vocalist and guitar player Tommy O'Sullivan
(see also review of Paddy Keenan below). The River Blackwater meanders along
the Cork-Kerry border and "Along Blackwater's Banks" is a line from the song
"Sweet Kingwilliamstown" written by Danny Buckley (Kingwilliamstown has been
renamed Ballydesmond meanwhile). Buckley survived the Titanic disaster; it is
said a woman did hide him in a lifeboat by throwing a shawl over him. After
the Senate hearings later, he was known as Danny Buckley the girl.
Later he signed up (because of that?) in World War I and was reportedly the
last American soldier killed.
If Sliabh Luachra was looking for ambassadors for the new millennium, she
couldn't have founded a better trio. (S. Long) I agree. Local poet Con
Houlihan described Sliabh Luachra as a cultural enclave or moveable feast,
and not so much a physical territory. With Sliabh Notes, you can take it
to your place.
Neil Mulligan "Barr na Cúille"
Label: Spring Records; SD 1022; Playing time:
When I heard the sound of the pipes, everything left my body - all that
remained was my soul and my ears to hear the music. Your music is wings to a
human soul. (Tarmo Urb of Estonia) Born in Phibsborough, Dublin, in 1955,
Neil Mulligan (see also www.uilleann.nl/homepages/neillidhMulligan/),
carries on the piping tradition of Co. Leitrim. Neil was first taught by his
father Tom (1915-84), and later by Leo
Rowsome (-> FW#21).
His childhood home has been dubbed the Rotary Club by Séamus
Ennis since it was perpetually frequented by musicians.
Neil's debut solo album "Barr na Cúille" has been originally released in 1991,
its original compositions are dedicated to his father's home at Currycramp,
Bornacoola, Co. Leitrim, as a tribute to the home place and its legacy. It has
been already described as one of the definitive recordings of uilleann piping.
Neil plays Ennis's Brogan pipes in concert pitch, and a flat set in B which
gives a gentler tone and sound level. His piping is fluid, the regulators tastefully
used. Exceptionally, there are six slow airs included. "Port na h-eala air an
tráigh" (The Song of the Swan on the Beach) has been adapted from Ennis's singing.
Neil has learned the golden rule, as Liam
O'Flynn once described it: I listened to [Ennis] playing slow airs,
and I couldn't make out what he was up to. Then he told me the stories behind
the tunes and, through him, I discovered the words to the airs and his piping
began make perfect sense. That's where his genius was - in bringing the words
into the music.
Neil remembers well the early days of the traditional music revival and sighs:
There's nowhere like Slattery's
today. And music is all speeded up - everybody seems to have a bouzouki or guitar
player in tow. Nowadays, his brother Tom runs the Cobblestone
pub in Dublin's Smithfield area, where you may find Neil as well, certainly
not in the neon lights of traditional music PR, nor is it associated with
the buzzwords of commercialism. (F. Vallely) But everywhere else where
the pure drop is appreciated.
Spring Records, 50 Shore Road, Rostrevor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland; www.neilmulligan.com,
Boys of the Lough "Lonesome Blues and Dancing
008CD; 2002; Playing time: 47.47 min
From the very beginning in 1967, the Boys
of the Lough were crossing between the Celtic fringe of Ireland, Scotland
and Northern England, long before the concept of inter-Celtic kinship became
the voguish selling point it is today. (Wallis) The group's name, a reel
made famous by Michael Coleman,
was picked as it was one of the first tunes flutist Cathal
MacConnell from Co. Fermanagh, Northern Irleand, and Shetland fiddler Aly
Bain had in common. Several line-up changes later the band consists of Cathal,
long-time member Dave Richardson
from Northumerland (concertina, mandolin), and new recruits Brendan
Begley from Co. Kerry, Ireland (accordion, vocals), and Malcolm
Stitt from the Scottish Highlands (guitar, bouzouki -> FW#10,
FW#22). Guesting fiddlers
Kevin Henderson of Fiddler's Bid
(-> FW#8, FW#18,
FW#21) and Paul
O'Shaughnessy (ex-Altan) fill the void
that Aly Bain left behind.
The recorded dancing tunes are divided into two moods. One expresses the
lonesome blues of being apart. The other calls you to dance. Finally, in a beautiful
Swedish waltz [Favoritwaltzen from the repertoire of Dalarna fiddler Wilhelm
Hedlund (1868-1946)] they seem to be one. I get the lonesome feeling for
most of the time. Dave's famous jig "Calliope
House", originally in E major, is re-recorded. Dave remarks discontented:
Many musicians all over the world have picked up the tune and it now features
on numerous recordings, including the one made by two leather-clad ladies in
the `Lord of the Dance' video. It
is regrettable that Ronan Hardiman,
who wrote the score of this show, seems to have passed off `Calliope House'
as his own work by using it without credit. (Fortunatly, I gave due credits
when I recorded that tune some time ago -> FW#11.)
Cathal sings "The
Curragh of Kildare", however, using an air from a cylinder recording by
Kerry piper and fiddler William Hanafin (1875-1924). Brendan gives the local
Kerry air "Dá Bhfaighinn Mo Rogha Do Thriúr Acu" (If I Got My Choice of the
Three of Them) about a young girl trying to make up her mind about who to
marry. She won't marry the blacksmith because he is always black in the forge,
nor the fisherman who is always wet to the waist, nor the tailor who is always
suffering from pins and needles from bending over his sewing machine. Her choice
is the fiddle player. No mention is made of Brendan. Unfortunatly, no lyrics
Scott Miller & The Commonwealth "Thus Always
Hill; SUG-CD-1066; 2001; Playing time: 41.08 min
Scott Miller only recently left the
alt-country roots rock band V-Roys
(which had been signed to Steve Earle's
E-Squared label). The acoustic label
Sugar Hill is renowned as a haven
for folkies and traditionalists, yet Scott's solodebut recalls both the
rock energy of Neil Young and the Appalachian
lonesomeness of Ralph Stanley.
Scott was born in the Shenandoah Valley in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where
the state motto is Sic Semper Tyrannis (Thus Always to Tyrants). These
are also the words fellow Virginian John
Wilkes Boothe spoke when he assassinated Abraham
Lincoln. In the early 1990s, Scott moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. I
kind of wanted to make a record about leaving Virginia and coming to Tennessee,
on that kind of basic level, but also a record about just trying to move on
and how hard that is. Delivered in a rootsy rock 'n' twang style: Left
my home in the valley, put the mountains to my back; there's nothing wrong with
where I come from, sometimes it's meant to be just that. Incisive lyrics:
Now this beer is colder than the shoulder you would give me if I were to
tell you the truth. Inbetween we get an acoustic break, with the assistance
of Tim O'Brien (-> FW#11)
on fiddle. "Dear Sarah" is based upon letters by his great-great grandfather
to his great-great grandmother during the Civil War, and merges into the traditional
folk song "Barbara
Allen": And the nights are long but I write you every day; and I hum
a song that you used to sing; the one of Sweet William, his love Barbara Allen,
and how she was always a long ways away. The "Highland Boy" is left home
while his brothers all joined the cause: Too old to hold in Mama's
arms and much too frail to fight; the spark of plow to rock is now the only
fight I've known, and the songs of victory that they sang don't help the seeds
I've sewn. The psychedelic "Miracle Man" by 1960s rockers The
Brogues brings us back into the rockier mode. Scott Miller closes the album
with a hymn, backed only by piano, the first slacker spiritual: If
this world in which we live is exactly what it is: Is there room on the cross
for me? If the only chosen few are chosen all by you: Is there room on the cross
for me? Not yet. You should make another mess of this town.
Sugar Hill Records
David Rovics "Live at Club Passim"
label; 2000; Playing time: 63.19 min
David Rovics "Living in These Times"
label; 2001; Playing time: 67.52 min
Phil Ochs's not dead. He's reincarnated
in the body of David Rovics, who already
has been called Pete Seeger of his
time or the musical version of Democracy
Now! David's recent CDs "Live at Club Passim" and "Living In These
Times" were recorded live, the latter immediately in the aftermath of the September
11th tragedy in New York City and the US retaliation (-> FW#21,
FW#22): This recording
is dedicated to the good people of Afghanistan, who, as I write, are being indiscriminately
slaughtered by the world's biggest terrorist organization, known as the United
States Air Force. He adds about those "International
Terrorists" in song: The IMF is the name of their cartel and CNN's their
propaganda arm. David celebrates the "Dying
Firefighter": people may call me a brave man and this may very well
be, but the firefighters of Kabul are just as brave men as me. His America
is shaped by journalists are getting fired when they write about reality,
not a fluff piece for Fanta. You can find all the song lyrics and information
on David's website www.davidrovics.com,
with the approbriate link to activist groups attached. Don't let anyone
tell you that there's something wrong with you if you find yourself sobbing
with the empathy you feel for the malnourished, dying children of Basra. Don't
let anyone tell you that the pain you feel at the felling of an old-growth redwood
is somehow misplaced or not a real emotion. Don't let anyone tell you that you're
just one person and you can't save the world. Aim high and throw hard.
Billy & Bryn Bright "Billy & Bryn Bright"
Corn Music; BCM 0201; 2000; Playing time: 38.29 min
The musical partnership of Billy & Bryn
Bright means mandolin and double bass. Texas born Billy has written some
stunning bluegrass instrumentals. Not the stricly traditional sort of bluegrass,
but influenced by a variety of styles. I think what we have to offer this
genre of music is new songs with a somewhat distinctive sound, says Billy.
There are lots of people out there playing really great bluegrass. There
are also a lot of people breaking the boundaries. We are somewhere in the middle.
Of course, there's the little help of some friends, or call it legends, namely
fiddlers Vassar Clements and Eamon
McLoughlin, banjo player Danny Barnes,
guitarist Tony Rice, and guitar and mandola
player Peter Rowan. That ensemble altogether
is even better than the sum of its parts, and an energetic vehicle with Billy
and Bryn at the steering wheel. Excellent!
Blue Corn Music
Mary Rafferty "Hand-Me-Downs"
label; TR 1103; 2002; Playing time: 45.42 min
Mike Rafferty is an Irish flute player
from Ballinakill, Co. Galway. He is a champion of the East Galway style and
got his music handed down from his father Tom `Barrell' Rafferty (Barrell being
his nickname because he got such a great tone from the flute, the locals reckoned
that he could fill a barrell with his breath), and so he passed it on to own
his daughter Mary, who grew up in New Jersey and plays with the all female group
Cherish The Ladies (-> FW#4,
Over the years Mary collected dozens of cassettes that Mike had recorded and
labelled Learn these tunes, Mary! Being a dutiful daughter, she did.
Both Mike and Mary already recorded three albums together, "The Old Fireside
Music", "The Dangerous Reel", and "The Road from Ballinakill". Here's another
set of offerings, featuring Mary on B/C accordion, tin whistle, flute and concertina.
Mike joins her on a few tracks, so did Cherish the Ladies members Joanie Madden
(flute, whistle), Marie Reilly (fiddle), Donna Long (piano), and Deirdre Connolly
(vocals). She is backed up by Donal Clancy on guitar, who recently joined Solas
(-> FW#22). The instrumentation
and selection of tunes is as varied as can be. There is a number of O'Neill
tunes I've never heard recorded before. (There is still a lot to uncover in
the Irish musician's bible.) But it is brought to the point by Claddagh:
It's homely, beautiful music played with good taste at a respectable pace,
and it still carries its local identity, even though an ocean lies between the
musicians and its place of origin. A taste of East Galway in urban America.
Mike & Mary Rafferty
3sticks "Crosssing Currents"
label; GHCD 003; 2001; Playing time: 42.08 min
The year 2000 saw the release of Milton Keynes fiddler Jenny Newman's debut
album "Tom's Fiddle" (no, it's not mine). Two years later, she joined forces
with guitar and bouzouki player Andy Glass (he is the one who played with the
group that eventually became Marillion
and who subsequently formed Solstice)
and drummer/percussionist Pete Hemsley. The band's name 3sticks
changed from "Jenny's Chickens", a popular reel,
because the boys complaining about itchy feathers in uncomfortable places
and the yellow rubber feet being difficult to control on stage. But I guess
there is more than just one band with that name. "Crosssing Currents" kicks
off with some tunes of Donegal fiddler Johnny
Doherty (didn't he die in 1980, not 1977?), and there is a Donegal bias
throughout the recording. But there are also some bourées, English jigs, and
a slow reel as well. Traditional Irish fiddling at its best with some awesome
contemporary backing. Stick to it!
Pat Kilbride "Nightingale Lane"
COMD2089; 2002; Playing time: 43.38 min
In the ruins of Castledermot's Franciscan Friary, Co. Kildare, a granite high
cross pictures King David strumming an Irish harp. Castledermot born singer/songwriter,
guitar and cittern player Pat Kilbride
plays no harp, but he is a souvereign on a number of stringed instruments. (Funny
how, the name Kilbride is derived from Mac Giolla Bhride of Ulster, son
of the follower of St. Bridget, the famous Kildare abbess; so Pat's back
on the right spot.) Pat started performing with Luka
Bloom (then Barry Moore), Paddy Keenan
and Davy Spillane. In 1978, when Pat
was "student entertainment officer" at the Bolton College of Arts, Lancashire,
he hired the Battlefield Band
(-> FW#5, FW#12,
FW#19). When they
arrived one member short, he grabbed his guitar and... His term with the Batties
lasted 18 months. Afterwards Pat formed New York's Kips
Bay Céilí Band. Now he is back on this side of the Atlantic again, where
he even rejoined the Battlefield Band.
But "Nightingale Lane" is Pat's latest solo offering. He displays an outstanding
talent picking dance tunes, his own and traditional, and a bunch of O'Carolan
tunes on guitar and cittern. Originally the metal strung Irish harp would
have been used for the job. Maybe the jangle of the steel strung cittern is
close to what O'Carolan had in mind. He also demonstrates his vocal talents
on four songs: "The
Kinsale Herring", "Henry
My Son", Gerry Rafferty's "Rickrack",
and Nanci Griffith's "Hard
Life". Pat is joined by his Battie comrades Alan Reid, Mike Katz, and Alasdair
White, as well as banjo player Tommy McManamon (The
Popes), fiddler Miriam Kavanagh, and Gino Lupari (Four
Men and a Dog). Look out for the forthcoming Battie performances, according
to his band members Pat has that element of doing the unexpected, it's
going to be the hell of a row.
Temple Records; German distribution:
Mary Jane "To The Prettiest One"
Wave; 7W002CD; 2002; Playing time: 64.44 min
Mary Jane: With a name like that, you
might be inspired to take a whiff and enjoy the music. Maybe it helps, it's
also okay if you stay sober. But the group's name, taken from a Nick
Drake song, is fitting, since playing psychedelic folk rock with
a strong 60's feel The Band was already formed in Southampton way back
in 1993, but seemingly struggled to assemble a steady line-up, which now comprises
Jo Quinn (vocals, flute, whistle), Gillie Leach (violin), Paul Alan Taylor (electric
and acoustic guitar, bouzouki), Steve Bayley (bass), and Andrew Pidgeon (drums).
Mary Jane clearly stands in the tradition of 1960/70's English folk rock. Their
material is a mix of traditional and original. The album opens with the Gaelic-Latin
hymn "Deus Meus". There's
the traditionals ballads "Bruton
Denny tried their luck before) and "Three Maidens". Jo's vocals are ethereal,
the guitar riffs kicking. The instrumental skills are displayed on traditional
Irish reels "Morning
Dew/Lads of Laois"
and "Return to Milltown". Mary Jane is no newcomer on the scene, but still relatively
unknown, they certainly deserve some wider recognition.
Seventh Wave Records
Paddy Keenan & Tommy O'Sullivan "The Long Grazing
Conya Records; HCR03; 2001; Playing time: 51.20 min
In Irish music there are legends and legends and then there's Paddy Keenan.
(J. O'Regan) "The Long Grazing Acre" is a reference to the strip of grass on
the side of the road where the travelling people of Ireland are allowed to park
their horse and wagon. Today large signs warn No Overnight Parking Allowed
and Temporary Dwellings Prohibited, and it is not the tourists who
are targeted. Many excellent uilleann pipers came from itinerant families: the
Dorans, the Fureys,
the Ennis's. Last
but not least, Paddy Keenan, who has
been hailed as Johnny Doran incarnate, piper's piper, the
best of the best, Jimi Hendrix or John Coltrane of
Radio 116 Oranmore Road, Ballyfermot, the neighbours called the Keenan
home. One morning his father John gave him a bag, bellows and chanter: If
you can play a tune when I come back tonight, I'll see what I can do about getting
you the full set of pipes. That evening he is able to play, nomen est omen,
the reel "Rakish
Paddy". Paddy played his first concert at a travellers' benefit in the Gaiety
Theatre when he was 14. He went busking with his banjo playing brother Johnny
(-> FW#22) to put
bread on the table, and formed a band with his father and singers Liam
Weldon and Johnny
Flood in 1966. The Pavees Club, "pavee" is the traveller's own tribal clan
title, became the house band in Slattery's
pub of Capel Street. When 17, Paddy gave up traditional music and started
playing guitar with a blues and skiffle band in London. Paddy reportedly refused
to meet the Beatles when they were looking out for new instrumental sounds.
Returning to Ireland, he subsequently helped forming the legendary Bothy
Band, the most influential traditional Irish group to this day, aptly described
as being in a jet when its whipped into full throttle along the runway.
Paddy rejected to join Moving
Hearts and is based in Massachusetts since 1991, where he plays festivals
and the coffee-house circuit.
Paddy plays in the open-fingered legato traveller's style, which is
irrepressible and grooving. Original tunes include "The Pavee Jig". "Mary Bravender"
and "Brother John" are dedicated for, respectively, his banjo and accordion
playing mother and brother John. It is tempting to compare "O'Rourke's" and
"Cahir's Kitchen" (the first a pipe reel, the second a tune on the low whistle)
from 1983's solo debut "Poirt
an Phíobaire" with the re-recording.
Paddy hasn't lost any wildness, but he leans into every note to get the best
out of it. Tommy O'Sullivan (Sliabh Notes, see review above) accompanies Paddy
on guitar, sings the traditional "Maids of
to Himself", Rolly Salley's "Killing
the Blues", and introduces the lovely air "Jutland". (Tommy lived in Copenhagen
for some time, where he performed with Ashplant
and subsequently met Paddy at the Copenhagen Irish Festival in 1987, since then
touring annually together.)
Wherever these travellers cross path and settle, be prepared for a furious night
of music never to forget.
Hot Conya Records/Paddy Keenan;
distributed by Windjam Records
Jimmy Noonan & Chris McGrath "The Maple Leaf"
WJ20130; 2001; Playing time: 51.51 min
Boston, Massachusetts, is sometimes called the capital of Irish America because
of its thriving Irish community, which dates back to the earliest colonial times.
Uilleann piper Patsy
Touhey from East Galway emigrated to Boston when he was only three. Boston
was also the first American stop of Sligo fiddler Michael
Coleman. Accordion player Paddy Cronin from Sliabh Luachra spent forty years
hanging wallpapers for a living. When broadcaster Ciarán Mac Mathúna visited
the US in the 1960s, he also recorded in the city for the series which became
known as American Journeywork. In 1990 Micheál
O'Súilleabháin was visiting professor at Boston College and founded an archive
of Irish traditional music in America. Today there is the annual Gaelic
Roots Festival in June and a number of splendid pubs (-> FROG).
Boston is where also Jimmy Noonan (flute) and Chris McGrath (fiddle, concertina)
settled down to continue the tradition. Both got together with Michael Shorrock
(bouzouki, that he learned from Eoin
O'Neill of Doolin's Ceili Bandits) and Ted Davis (guitar) for an Irish music
session. The session (-> FW#12)
is certainly the simplest art form, yet it's most effective. It allows the simple
pleasure of playing one's favourite tunes, straight from the heart without any
pretension. But if the players are great, and Jimmy and Chris are, the tunes
go down well. Of course, the "Maple Leaf" reel is included. which is sometimes
attributed to whistle player Darach de Brún of the 1970's group Oisín. Meet
Jimmy Noonan at his Irish Music
Shop at 848 Washington Street in the Boston suburb of Norwood, where he
sells Irish items and teaches flute, or at the boys' regular Thursday night
gig in Kitty O'Shea's pub
in downtown Boston.
Bill Jones "Turn To Me"
7 4338 2; 2002; Playing time: 51.12 min
Englishwoman Bellinda "Bill" Jones has fresh and stunning vocals at her command.
Her choice of English and Irish folk songs is only sparsely accompanied on piano
and accordion (early Kate Rusby
Cabin Boy", "Brisk
Young Sailor", "Jug
of This", an English translation of the Irish "Táimse
im Chodladh" (I am asleep, don't wake me). Folk music actually means
something. It has stories that move me, whereas most other music doesn't.
Buffy St. Marie's anti-war classic
Soldier" is set to the tune "Birmingham Boys" (which is not too distant
from the original tune anyway) and married with Andy
& Gold". If you are pleased with Deirdre Scanlan (of Solas
-> FW#17, FW#22),
Bill's voice and selection of songs will suit you as well. So turn to her!
Compass Records; email@example.com
Mike McClure "Twelve Pieces"
2002; Playing time: 37.33 min
I'm getting older and my hair is turning grey... Mike
McClure from Tecumseh, Oklahoma, is best known as the frontman of alt-country
band The Great Divide. "Twelve
Pieces", the title speaks for itself, is his solo effort to get his surplus
songs to the people. You've kinda got to leave something to come back to
it. The band's been together for 10 years. When I want to do something different
and come back to the band, it's kinda new again. I'm ready to rock after playing
acoustic. And after rocking with the band, it's cool to strum the acoustic and
have a real intimate evening. The more contemplative songs explore his
inner personality. Every mile that we walk down brings me closer to the
truth. Mostly acoustic, though he rocks on a few pieces as well. There
are rough edges on the CD, but I kinda like that. A lot of music is too polished
these days. Mike is finishing off with a gentle piano piece, "Between Two
Thieves": In a crown of thorns they hung my lord, they pierced his body
with a soldiers sword, but he forgave them and that spirit brings me to my knees,
for the one that they hung between two thieves. Twelve simple pieces.
V/A "Poet - A Tribute to Townes Van Zandt"
Falls/Catfish; FFE 7019
2/KATCD221FP; 2001; Playing time: 59.17 min
Sometimes I don't know where this dirty road is taking me, sometimes I can't
even see the reason why, I guess I'll keep on gamblin', lots of booze and lots
of ramblin', it's easier than just a waitin' 'round to die. Townes
Van Zandt (1944-97) is regarded as one of the, if not THE, greatest songwriter
from Texas. Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the world, and I'll
stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my
cowboy boots and say that. (Earle)
Van Zandt's songs are full of sadness and pain, but inwardly beauty. Strange
enough that he is regarded as the funniest guy I ever met in my life.
was incredibly funny, until he picked up a guitar, and once that guitar was
in his hands, it plugged him into the deepest, darkest part of his soul.
(Ely) A tribute album was long overdue, featuring
the who's who of American music: Guy
Clark, Nanci Griffith, Billy
Joe Shaver, Emmylou Harris, Ray
Benson, John Prine, The
Flatlanders, Robert Earl Keen,
Willie Nelson, Delbert
McClinton, and John T. Van Zandt. Worth mentioning in particular, I think,
are "Highway Kind"
(Cowboy Junkies), "Nothin'"
(Lucinda Williams), "Waitin'
Round to Die" (Pat Haney), and his
most unusual and almost a pop song, "Two
Girls" (Steve Earle). Presence,
mysteriously is something you either have or you don't have. Townes Van Zandt,
for example, has presence. (Brennan) Is he America's national poet? At
least the bard of the Lone Star state of Texas.
US: Free Falls; UK: Catfish
Michael O'Shea "Michael O'Shea"
wmo 12cd; 2001; Playing time: 60.45 min
Michael Oliver O'Shea (1947-1991) hails from Carlingford, Co. Louth. Driven
by wanderlust, he did voluntary work in a refugee camp in Bangladesh where he
soon came about to buy a sitar. In 1978 he met Algerian musician Kris Hoslyan
Harpo and his `Zelochord.' After we had tuned up and played together the
music helped to provide a mutual communication since we did not have each other's
language. I knew there was something special in music and this I call `magic',
which I discovered all over the world. In Munich, Germany, Michael sold
his sitar to afford a trip to Turkey. Afterwards he conceived of the idea of
what he called `Mo Chara' (ir. my friend), a rough mix of hammered dulcimer
(-> FW#22), zelochord and
sitar. He added a black hole space echo box, i.e. a box with strings
to have amplification and phasers. Another one was constructed from an old wooden
box over which he had stretched 17 strings and 6 strings underneath the main
ones to create an eerie sound. It was played using chop-sticks, amplified and
played through various foot-pedals. You could often find Michael busking for
a living in London's underground and Covent Garden, playing mostly improvised
music of his own, characterized by Indian classical forms and Irish melodic
influences. I had never heard sounds like this before. It appeared to be
a mixture of Ravi Shankar, traditional Irish music, crossed with Japanese Koto
music. (W. Sproule) Apart from that exotic music, he was an eccentric character
as well, stuffing ping-pong balls in bis cheeks and going to perform, or walking
with a dead salmon under his arm and frightening young girls. Michael O'Shea
was killed by a post office van while stepping off a bus, leaving a legacy that
K.S. Eden characterised: Allied with his own compositions and the use of
amplification and effects it is no exaggaeration to say that Michael was probably
Ireland's first World musician.
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