Thursday 9 September 2010

Artist Index & Video Vault

Artist Index & Video Vault

I've added an alphabetic artist index to the blog, allowing for easy browsing among the albums that I've uploaded. It can be found on the right hand side of the screen under the Navigation heading.

The Artist Index also features a growing number of links to Youtube videos of performances by traditional Irish musicians. I've tried to include only those videos which are of a high quality - both in terms of musicianship and sound reproduction - but the sound quality of a number of videos which have both musical and historical significance can be less than perfect.

Any suggestions regarding videos of traditional Irish musicians you think worthy of inclusion will be gratefully received...

Monday 6 September 2010

Father Charles Coen - Father Charlie (1979)

128 kbps

Father Charles Coen - Father Charlie (Green Linnet - CSIF 1021 -1979)

A slightly strange album in that it features two songs in Irish sung by a childrens' choir and directed by Father Charles Coen. Apart from that the music is sparse and unaccompanied, with the exception of the final tune, an unusual and particularly pretty 6/8 march on which Father Coen's concertina is joined by Mick Moloney on guitar. Father Charles also plays whistle and flute on several tracks. It's not in the same league as the brilliant album 'The Branch Line' recorded two years previously by brothers Jack and Father Charles Coen, but it features some lovely playing and some interesting tunes nonetheless.

'The Branch Line', featuring Father Charles Coen on concertina and Jack Coen on flute, can be purchased in CD form from Compass Records, and downloaded via Topic Records from Thinkindie. You will have to enter it into the search function to locate it. You can also download it from EMusic, Amazon and iTunes.

1. Tommy Meara's/Swinging on the Gate [Reels]
2. Gallagher's Frolics/The Templehouse [Jigs]
3. The Echoo/The Wonder [Hornpipes]
4. Ag Seoladh Na Gamhna [Air]
5. Paddy Fahey's/The Tynagh [Jigs]
6. An Londubh is an Chéirseach (The Blackbird and the Thrush) [Song]
7. Mike Coen's/Mike Coen's 2/The Flour Bag [Polkas]
8. Kitty Jones/Castlekelly [Reels]
9. Madeline's Frolics/The Foxhunter's [Slip Jigs]
10. Feach a Phádraig [Song]
11. Ambrose Maloney's/Richard Dwyer's [Reels
12. Tim Kelly's/John McMahon's [Reels]
13. An Cailín Rua [Song]
14. Parnell's [March]


Sunday 5 September 2010

Johnny Doherty - Fiddler on the Road (1972)

Fiddler on the Road (UTV - 1972)

A lovely documentary made by Ulster Television in 1972 about the legendary fiddler and tinsmith from Ardara in County Donegal, Johnny Doherty.

The film is a real gem, describing the lives of the traveling families of Donegal in the early part of the century, their trade, their music, and particularly the Doherty family's place in the musical traditions of the countryside. It describes Doherty's life as a young man earning money playing traditional Irish music and American jazz until forced to return to his occupation of tinsmith as the music of the big bands grew in popularity. Not only does the film shine a welcome spotlight on a great fiddler and fascinating character, but offers a glimpse into a world that has all but disappeared in the four decades since it was made, and shows aspects of Donegal life that are all but memories. We see Doherty at his trade, working a sheet of tin as he talks of his occupation and his music; there are great sc of old-style dancing - even by Doherty as he plays - and of course, there is an abundance of priceless footage of the great man's brilliant playing, which has made him such a legendary figure in the world of Irish music.


The full-length version of this film is provided by Donegal Daily.

You can read about Johnny Doherty and other Donegal fiddlers, and listen to sound files, at the Donegal Fiddle Music website, which is well worth a visit.

You can also see some great footage of Johnny Doherty playing for Pete Seeger and Peter Kennedy following an impromptu visit on their field recording tour back in 1964. Despite the poor quality of the film and the variable quality of the sound recording, the playing is exceptional and it really does make for great viewing.

Part 1
Part 2

Friday 3 September 2010

Bobby Casey - Casey in the Cowhouse (1992)

320 kbps

Bobby Casey - Casey in the Cowhouse: The Unique Music of Bobby Casey (Bellbridge - 001 - 1992)

Recorded on a Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder in a converted shed behind Junior Crehan's house in 1959, this is in my opinion the finest example of Bobby Casey's playing to be made available commercially. Four of the tracks were recorded by Bill Leader in 1971, and they will be familiar to anyone who owns the wonderful Bow Hand Records album 'The Spirit of West Clare', but the greater part of the album was made when Casey was in his early-thirties, playing for friends in a relaxed, informal setting. 'Taking Flight' is surely one of the finest unaccompanied fiddle albums recorded, but the spontaneity, freedom, and immediacy in Casey's playing makes 'Casey in the Cowhouse' stand out from every other recording of this great fiddler that I have heard.

Ciarán Carson writes wonderfully of Casey's playing, and particularly of the music which can be heard on this unpretentious and deeply personal recording: "There is a lonesome note in Bobby’s music, but also devilment and wit, a razor-sharp awareness of the possibilities of a tune, of how a subtle twist to a conventional run of notes can transform what until then seemed mournful into something wry and funny. The humour is deadpan and sometimes wicked." Carson's evocative description of the personality which pours out in Casey's playing is taken from a short essay which can be read here.

Casey is joined by Tommy McCarthy on concertina for two tracks, and by his son Seán Casey, who plays mandolin on the final track of the recording. 'Casey in the Cowhouse' was only released on cassette, and although the recording offered here is a composite of the best parts of two separate copies, there are still a number of artefacts which severely affect the quality of the sound reproduction.

Many thanks to JS and JC for providing the two copies from which this has been put together.

Those who would like to hear Bobby Casey's playing free from the artefacts associated with low-quality reproduction can buy the excellently-restored and professionally-mastered Bow Hand Records album 'The Spirit of West Clare' from a number of retailers including Copperplate Distribution, Celtic Grooves and, oddly-enough, Asda...

There is also a nice clip of Bobby Casey playing with uilleann piper Tommy Keane which you can view here.

1. The Glen of Aherlow/Rolling in the Barrel [Reels]
2. Jenny's Welcome to Charlie [Reel]
3. My Love is Fair and Handsome [Reel]
4. The Musical Priest [Reel]
5. The Shores of Lough Rea/Clancy's Dream/Scully Casey's/The Banks of Lough Gowna/Brian O'Lynn [Jigs]
6. Paddy Ryan's Dream [Reel]
7. Toss the Feathers [Reel]
8. Poll Ha'penny/Murphy's [Hornpipes]
9. The Yellow Tinker/The Bunch of Keys [Reels]
10. The College Groves/Toss the Feathers [Reels]
11. Hurry the Jug [Set Dance]
12. Gerry Daly's/Scully Casey's/The Cuckoo/The Western [Hornpipes]
13. Banish Misfortune/Kitty's Rambles [Jigs]
14. The Old Wheels of the World/The Green Fields of America [Reels]
15. Connemara Stockings/The Ships are Sailing [Reels]
16. The Gallowglass/The Legacy [Jigs]
17. Miss McDonald [Reel]
18/ Farewell to Miltown/The Star of Munster [Reels]