Sunday 6 June 2010

Jim McKillop & Mary Mulholland - The Wind that Shakes the Barley (1976)

320 kbps

Jim McKillop & Mary Mulholland - The Wind that Shakes the Barley
(Emerald Gem - GES 1151 - 1976)

A straightforward fiddle and piano album from the Antrim fiddler and accordion player Jim McKillop who had, rather surprisingly, only been playing fiddle for around four years when this album was recorded. The playing is calmer and less fiery than that on the recording made with Josephine Keegan on the Outlet label, and his lovely crisp and bouncy style shines through without any of the sometimes excessively-virtuosic fireworks that can be heard on the better-known Outlet album.

1. The Shaskeen/The Pigeon on the Gate [Reels]
2. The Rambling Pitchfork/Jerry's Beaver Hat [Jigs]
3. Across the Fence to the Neighbour's Wife [Hornpipe]/Jimmy McBride's [Reel]
4. The Gold Ring [Jig]
5. Miss McLeod/The First Month of Spring [Reels]
6. The Wind that Shakes the Barley/The Boys of the Lough [Reels]
7. The Sunny Banks/The Flax in Bloom [Reels]
8. Carmel Mahoney Mulhaire [Reel]
9. Rakish Paddy/Jenny's Welcome to Charlie [Reels]
10. The Wise Maid/Farewell to Ireland [Reels]
11. Andy McGann's/Strike the Gay Harp [Jigs]
12. The Salamanca/Providence [Reels]
13. Lord Gordon's [Reel]
14. Byrne's/Murphy's [Hornpipes]
15. The Skylark/The Fisherman's Island [Reels]
16. Miss Monaghan/The New Policeman [Reels]
17. McMahon's/The Flowing Tide [Hornpipes]



  1. Lovely! Good to see you back again

  2. Yeah, been really busy playing music, rather than ripping it... Hope to get some more stuff up before too long.

  3. You're very welcome, as always.

  4. That's a very nice record indeed. Thank You.

    I like the piano and fiddle formation. Most of the people would not take piano as something "correct" to play with irish traditional music (if you read those book guides to irish music, you'll never find piano as an "allowed" instrument - its true that you have the portability "issue" here if you think in a session lol). But, oh well, Michael Coleman, for an instance, recorded several tunes with a pianist (and not with good ones, some say), and I think it still sounds wonderfully well.

  5. That's not really true, whatever you might read in a book. Piano is accepted as a rather old-fashioned and strictly 'traditional' form of accompaniment. The 1930s recordings did play a large part in ensuring the piano's place in ceili music, where it still remains central. It is also used a great deal in recordings these days - the well-known piano and banjo player Brian McGrath springs immediately to mind. It can be quite divisive with a great number of, particularly younger, players frowning upon it as an outdated and restrictive form of accompaniment. For a very modern take on piano accompaniment, listen to Caoimhín Vallely of Buille:

  6. Oh, I see. As a young (or rather young lol) listener and "player" (I try... lol), I am very fond of the piano accompaniment though (In fact I'm very fond of the "classical" records in any case - John Doherty will still stand as my favorite irish fiddler. Not to diminish most recent ones, like Martin Hayes, which are also of great value)

    About the 1930s records: do you that think we can say that the piano is, at its origin in irish traditional music, an american influence?

    Listening to people like Packie Dollan, for an instance, that seems to me to be the case. There's a bit of a 30's vaudeville feel in his music (there is even some vaudevillan kind of humour there). Maybe the piano as accompaniment springs from that specifical source. Or it does not?

    Great music that of the Buille(a very beautiful and innovative take on piano, yes).

    Thank you,


  7. It's not an exclusively American influence, but those 78s from the 1920s and 1930s did have a great impact. Another crucial influence was the Free State legislation which began to regulate the locations in which it was permissible for people to gather and dance to Irish music. The Public Dance Hall Act of 1935 effectively outlawed the unregulated house dances which were the true home of Irish dance music, making it necessary to apply for a licence which had to approved by the local parish priest. Those wishing to host a céilí were required to pay a fee, so public dancing began to become a commercial enterprise. As the music moved out of the country houses and into the regulated dance halls, the piano, an instrument more familiar in middle class houses than the homes of the rural poor, became more and more enmeshed within the music that had until much more recently been played almost exclusively on the traditional melody instruments without accompaniment. As the dance halls were home to other musical influences - English and American particularly - they naturally changed the course of 'traditional' Irish dance music, blending new styles and adding new instruments. You may be surprised to know that saxophone was a very common instrument in céilí bands right up until the 1960s...

  8. Hi Dragut, thank you quite much for the always attentious and generous answers.

    That certainly makes the things clearer.

    I'm just wondering how a ceilidh band with a saxophone would sound like - like a tradition inclined "showband" maybe. ;)

    True enough that Moving Hearts, Christy Moore's rock'n'roll (or rock'n'reel as we might put it lol) group used very skillfully, I think, a soprano saxophone (but that would be another approach).

    All the best,


  9. Showband is exactly right! If I can dig out an old recording I'll put something up - but be warned, it ain't pretty...

  10. Saxophone in Irish music may have sounded something like this:
    or this:

  11. Normally not a big fan of piano accompaniment, mostly because it's so often a plonkety-plonk amateur hour affair. This is actually bearable. For the record, I've only found two piano players whom I actually like, Felix Dolan and Donna Long. Of course, this is just my opinion and my own taste, and I'm no expert, so feel free to enlighten me.

  12. And I completely forgot to say what I came here to say in the first place: thank you again for making these available!

  13. I am fine with accompaniment, but I do not usually pay attention to it as accompaniment can really change the way you appreciate a player's rhythm. I want his rhythm to flow naturally from his playing, so usually I prefer non-acommpanied music, although I'm usually okay with piano accompaniment and not as okay with the bodhran because there are (quite honestly) quite a number of mediocre bodhran players playing for experts. I tend, however to enjoy guitar accompaniment, especially the guitarists who accompanied a few of Tommy Peoples' albums. I show quite a bit of dislike towards bouzouki.

  14. As you can probably tell from the number of unaccompanied albums I've posted here, I am somewhat ambivalent towards accompaniment in Irish traditional music. I prefer string instruments, such as guitar, bouzouki, or mandola, plucked rather than strummed, but there are a number of rather tasteful pianists who add to, rather than detract from, the music they are accompanying. Piano players I like include Carol Cullinane, Geraldine Cotter, Clodagh Buckley, Brian McGrath, Jack Talty, and Caoimhín Vallely. In my opinion these players share a sensitivity and ability to make stylistic adjustments that complement the melody; following rather than forcing the rhythm. Unfortunately this rhythmic insensitivity is quite common, and I know of a number of people whose unswerving opinion is that traditional Irish music is 'destroyed' by the piano...

  15. Ranger, the music on the videos you posted are, actually, quite nice in my opinion. It is John Carty on the banjo. It's more of a comtemporary celtic "fusion" with jazz and bluegrass though.

    I can see what you mean about the "rhythmic bent" of the piano. It is, indeed, something to pay attention. But if you take "irish music is destroyed by the piano" as an undisputable truth, you'll have also to dismiss much of the work of players like Michaal Coleman, Paddy Killoran, James Morrison, Packie Dolan and many others.

    By the way, how about Sean Ó Riada's (or Derek Bell's) harpsichord accompaniments (or even solo playing)? I think they're great.

  16. I have to say that the piano accompaniment on the Coleman recordings is absolutely awful - certainly not sympathetic, and played by somebody who clearly hadn't a notion about Irish music...

    At the Racket are a fun band, but I'm not convinced by the saxophone. Séamus O'Donnell is a fine flute player however...

    A friend was telling me the other day that Josie McDermott once won the All-Ireland on the saxophone!

  17. About the piano on Coleman's records, there is a discussion about that at "the session":

    The bad image of the Coleman's pianists could be credited, maybe, to the fact that his most famous records are with bad pianists.

    I am, of course, not able to judge at that matter. But most of his records sounds fine to me - in part maybe because of my still philistine ears to irish music, in part maybe because not all of his pianists are that awful.

  18. Just discovered your blog and am loving listening to this recording, I much prefer sensitive piano accompaniment to fast and choppy cross beats from DADGAD guitars and the like, used to like it but it is so ubiquitous and boring now days to me, also like harmonic restraint and this pianist has some very nice chord selections