Friday, 22 October 2010

RIP Peter Horan

Very sad to hear that Peter Horan, the great Sligo flute player, has passed away.

Here he is with the late Fred Finn. And below, a beautiful duet with Gerry Harrington.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Adrian McCarron At Custy's

Time was when whistle albums were thin on the ground, but over the past few years there have been some fine new recordings (Tina McLoughlin, Sean Hernon, Seosamh Mac Grianna, and Angela Deane).

I mentioned the latest, Adrian McCarron's In My Own Style, in an earlier post.

Here he is down in Custy's music shop in Co. Clare playing two lovely tunes from the album, Tell Her I Am and The Banks of Newfoundland.

It's followed by a short interview in which he talks about the influence of Micho Russell, Bobby Casey and other Clare musicians on his playing.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Eistigí:Comb Your Hair And Curl It

Currently listening to this new release from Catherine McEvoy (flute), Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (fiddle), and Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh (concertina).

As you'd expect from these musicians, this is top class stuff: beautifully timed, richly expressive and driven by an unhurried but infectiously rhythmic pulse.

At times the fiddle gets lost in the mix (consequently, some of the best tracks kick off as duets), but that's a small quibble.

This is really great album, soulful, uplifting and possessed of a beguiling and deceptive simplicity.

Although there are some spellbinding sets here, the musicians are completely at ease and make no showy or insistent claims on your attention.

But as you listen, their music draws you in and works its magic. Before long, your feet are tapping, your shoulders and twitching and you have a bloody big smile on your face.

Comb Your Hair And Curl It is as good as ITM gets, and a classic in the making.

Download: the whole thing (it's on iTunes), there isn't a bad track here, but if you have to choose, I'd recommend:

2) Hop Jigs: The Foxhunters - Comb Your Hair & Curl It

3) Reels: Throw It Across the Road - Maid In the Cherry Tree - Jenny Picking Cockles

8) Jigs: Mrs.Galvin's - The Legacy Jig

10) Slides: Cronin's - O'Keeffe's - Dawley's Delight

Here's a video of Catherine and Mícheál playing.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Whistling Army Marches On Achill Island

News reaches the Wake of strange shennanagins out on Achill Island.

On the 31st of July at 12.30pm over 1,000 whistle players assembled on the island's longest beach, Trá Mór, An Caol, to give a collective rendition of the song air Fáinne Geal an Lae - The Dawning of the Day.

Keel Beach, Jo Hopkinson,
via Wikimedia, Creative Commons.

Why would they do this? Were they members of some primitive whistling cult that worships the rising of the sun? Or were they all just fed up with being drowned out in sessions by concertinas, fiddles and flutes?

No, it seems not. The event was organised by Scoil Acla, the oldest summer school in Ireland, as part of their centenary celebrations.

In keeping with the aisling provenance of the song, the 1,000 were joined by bride, Aoife Galvin (nee O’Malley) who had married Paul Galvin the previous day.

John McNamara of Scoil Acla told The Mayo News: “The most significant part of the challenge on Saturday was the reenacting of the theme of the aisling and that was what kept the spirit of the people alive in dark times. We had the aisling on Saturday in the form of a real bride.”

Fair enough. And a great way to mark the centenary. But what, you might wonder, did 1,000 whistlers sound like?  "Hard as it may be to believe ... but absolutely brilliant,” says John McNamara (whistle player).

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

West Limerick Slide

Have been playing these slides a lot lately - the first, I think, is known as the West Limerick Slide and the second, according to Adrian McCarron, who plays them on his whistle album In My Own Style, was written by the Donegal fiddle player Con Cassidy.

Here's a Youtube clip of some people playing them in a field. You don't see enough of that these days. Lovely whistling from Annette O'Sullivan.