Patrick Street – All in Good Time
No post last week due to a weekend away at the capital of the Sussex Riviera – Bognor Regis.
And a short post this week – at the time of my life when I should be slowing down, I seem to be increasingly busy at home and at work. Still it could be worse, I could be out of work with nothing to get me out of bed of a morning at home.
So, enough cod philosophising, on with the music. This week we’ve got Patrick Street – The Girls Along the Road, from the album All In Good Time which has featured here before.
Patrick Street – The Girls Along the Road
Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill – The Lonesome Touch
11, 12, 13 – Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill – The Lonesome Touch. Good choice, Mr Thirteen! I’ve posted from this album before and also from the Live album but have no problem if fate tells me to give another puff to Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill.
For those of you who don’t know, Martin Hayes is Irish but lives in America, while Dennis Cahill is an American citizen. They tour regularly in the US and periodically overseas. I really must try to get to one gigs next time they are in England – I imagine that they are terrific live.
Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill – Tell Her I Am / Gallagher’s Frolics
Banana Boat feat. Eleanor McEvoy – A Little A Cappella
After a very short South American season, I’ve exhausted my South American collection – or at least the tracks I feel like posting. And this week I have no news / gigs / new purchases / BBC 4 programmes watched that I can link a post to. So, I’m going to crib an idea from Joe Boyd and saunter through my record collection selecting every 13th CD – Lucky 13 in Joe’s terminology. I’m not sure what it is going to throw up – we’ll all just have to wait and see.
The first CD in my filing system is the French Canadian groups Ad Vielle Que Pourra‘s CD Ménage à Quatre. And 13 albums along is Banana Boat featuring Eleanor McEvoy – A Little A Cappella: Irish-Polish harmony. I am the proud owner of three Banana Boat albums – all donated to me by the group after I wrote to them to let them know that Andy Kershaw was playing their music on his Radio 3 programme. The group specialise in singing sea shanties – all well and good when you think of the long maritime history of Poland – until you learn that they live as far south in Poland as you can get i.e. about 600km from the sea.
The track I’m posting is not a sea shanty, rather it is a folk-pop song written by Eleanor McEvoy in which she sings the lead and they provide harmonies. I’m not sure how easy it would be to find CDs or even mp3 downloads by Banana Boat but if you find them – snap them up!
Banana Boat feat. Eleanor McEvoy – Little Look
Various Artists – fRoots #4
Today I’m posting a track called Ecological Tourist by The Connacht Ramblers taken from the fRoots magazine’s freebie fRoots #4. It is twee, has uncomfortable rhymes and I love it!
I was inspired to post this after watching the second half of Attenborough’s Egg Hunt on BBC tv. In the programme, David Attenborough returned to Madagascar to find out how the island has changed since he visited in 1960 to film one of his first ever wildlife series, Zoo Quest. The half hour of the show I saw was both depressing (so much of the rainforest has been destroyed) and uplifting (the creatures that remain are both weird and wonderful, and there are some brilliant projects going on to re-forest large tracts of land).
The most compelling moment of the show for me was an encounter between Attenborough and an indri, a beautiful black and white lemur. An enthralled David Attenborough stared wide-eyed at an indri while the indri stared wide-eyed back – that is what indri do.
(The programme had some beautiful Malagasy music on the soundtrack – don’t you wish that, on such shows, when the credits roll they give you a listing of the music used or better still a link to a website so you can discover the more about the music?)
The Connacht Ramblers – Ecological Tourist
Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill – Live in Seattle
I’m on a roll, I’ve done (nearly) all of my weekend chores, this afternoon I’m off to poke my nose – and possibly camera – into other peoples gardens, and I’ve still time to post to Furious Music. Woo-hoo!
Last night, for want of anything better to watch, we revisited Folk Hibernia – a BBC programme about, you guessed it – Irish folk music. I enjoyed it the first time round in 2007, and I enjoyed it again last night. Great music, great characters and interesting historic clips.
Amongst loads of great music I particularly enjoyed the playing of Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill. Martin Hayes is the son of PJ Hayes, who by reputation is one of the best fiddle players ever. His son is no slouch either and in the programme is most articulate when discussing the permanence of traditional music in Ireland.
My favourite celtic music CD in my collection is Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill – Live in Seattle. I thought that I had posted a track from it but apparently not. So here is Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill playing Martin Rochford’s / Green Gowned Lass.
Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill – Martin Rochford’s / Green Gowned Lass
Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill – The Lonesome Touch
Enough of politics and social commentary; today it’s just music for music’s sake. And fabulous music too. I would never claim to be an expert on Irish music but if I were to asked for a starting point, a way into traditional Irish music, I would always recommend Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. The music is beautiful, the tunes well chosen and the playing is, needless to say, exquisite.
The music on their albums is traditional but the way they present the music brings it right up to date without straying from the history of the music and the culture from which it has sprung. Martin Hayes has written eloquently about the approach he and Dennis Cahill take to make the music live today. In the liner notes to The Lonesome touch he writes, “In Irish music today there is much debate and division on the issues of continuity versus change and tradition versus innovation. I think it is a mistake to divide these issues as the music is capable of containing all of these parts at once. The real battle is between artistic integrity and the forces that impede creative expression. Traditional Irish music has always experienced change and been enriched by innovation, while at the same time maintaining continuity. The issue that is of utmost importance is that innovation, change, tradition and continuity all be tempered by integrity, humility and understanding.”
To date, I’ve never managed to see Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill play live. It is one of my musical ambitions. The gig I fancied was one they did at the Irish Embassy in Paris a few years ago. I did not even get to see them when they played in London last month. They appeared at the London Irish Centre – possible a more apposite venue than the Paris Embassy! One day I’ll catch them, one day soon, I hope.
I’ve now come to the end of my Irish season. Next week I’ve planned a seasonal track and then I’ve got a mini series of tracks lined up for January. Watch this space.
Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill – Paddy Fahy’s Reel
Various Artists – A Woman's Heart
This week I’m posting a track by Frances Black from the compilation album A Woman’s Heart. After the Ball – it seems to sum up Ireland today. The good times have come and gone and now it’s the morning after the night before. Last week Ireland passed it’s budget aimed at bringing its economy back into balance and meeting the terms of Ireland’s €85bn bailout agreed two weeks ago with the IMF and the EU.
The Guardian reported that: “Ireland reluctantly began four years of tax rises and brutal cuts to social welfare after its parliament narrowly passed the harshest budget in the Republic’s history.” GDP in Ireland dropped 7.6% last year but is now predicted to rise by 1.7% in 2011 – time will tell. I don’t suppose there’ll be many dancing in the streets if this growth is achieved!
Next week I plan to forget economics / politics and all those other –ics that get me lathered up. I’m just going to post some joyous Irish folk music. It will be an opportunity to celebrate musicianship and the joy that musical excellence can bring.
Frances Black – After the Ball
Matt Molloy, Seán Keane & Liam O'Flynn – The Fire Aflame
Another mournful tune from Ireland this week. The tune is Éire, “one of the great aisling songs from the Ring of Waterford Déise” (Gaelic speaking part of County Waterford).
A quick google search taught me that an aisling “or vision poem, is a poetic genre that developed during the late 17th and 18th centuries in Irish language poetry. In an aisling, Ireland appears to the poet in a vision in the form of a woman, sometimes young and beautiful, sometimes old and haggard.” The woman “laments the current state of the Irish people and predicts an imminent revival of their fortunes, usually linked to the return of a Stuart pretender to the English throne.”
You have to wonder how many Irish citizens are penning aislings today, predicting an imminent revival of their fortunes and linking this to the European Central Bank / EU’s “rescue package”.
Nick Cohen has an interesting article in today’s Observer questioning whether it is right that the people of Ireland should pay such a heavy price for the laxity of their politicians and bankers.
In another article in the paper we learn that Ireland’s “ unemployment rate is 13.5%. It fell by a tenth of a percentage point last month, but only because people are leaving the country to find work. Britain’s rate, in contrast, is 7.7% and Europe’s average rate is 9.6%.”
With the planned austerity measures and the young and enterprising leaving the country to build their futures elsewhere, it is difficult not to be pessimistic about Ireland’s chance of avoiding a debt-deflation spiral.
Matt Molloy, Seán Keane & Liam O’Flynn – Éire
Planxty – Cold Blow and the Rainy Night
Another tune (or rather set of tunes) from Ireland this week. I’ve chosen as set of reels from the 1974 Planxty album Cold Blow and the Rainy Night. The reels in question are: The Old Torn Petticoat, The Dublin Reel and The Wind that Shakes the Barley.
Planxty was a legendary, if short lived, Irish group whose members are amongst the most respected of folk musicians. Together or in partnership with other musicians, they have been in the forefront of the Celtic music revival since the early 1970s. The original ban consisted of Christy Moore, Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine and Liam O’Flynn. Prior to this recording, Lunny left the group to be replaced by Johnny Moynihan, though he does play on many of the tracks on the album.
As I write this piece, EU ministers are meeting in Brussels to finalise an €85bn bail-out of the Irish economy. This comes a day after a massive demonstration in Dublin against the Irish government’s deficit reduction plan a.k.a. austerity measures. It certainly is a mess in Ireland with the prospect of worse to come. Japan had a “Lost Decade” and you cannot see how Ireland can possibly avoid having its own “Lost Decade”. I hope I am wrong but fear that I am not.
Planxty – Reels: The Old Torn Petticoat / The Dublin Reel / The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Various Artists – Lament
Last week I was busy and for some reason could not find a track to post – even without much in the way of commentary. This week is different. For the next few weeks I am going to post tracks of Irish music. What has motivated me has been the number of articles I have read / radio programmes I have heard describing the consequences of the meltdown of the Irish economy. These commentaries have been coming thicker and faster in light of the imminent IMF / European Central Bank bailout.
There is of course much debate about who should shoulder the blame for the problem – and rightly so. But the human stories, the effects of the crash on people’s lives today and will for decades to come, are just as important.
On Thursday Joseph O’Connor wrote a perceptive piece in the Guardian describing the fear and uncertainty felt in Irish society.
“Far from the gloomy headlines and crushing statistics lies the full truth of what we face now. We tuck our children into bed not knowing if they have a future in our country. In every home in the land, there has been private anxiety and panic. Our government has no moral authority to remain in power. People feel frightened, alone and unled.”
And he concluded with some cold comfort.
“It isn’t rhetoric to say that this can still be a wonderful and special country, a republic as unique for its successes as for its shames and ducked responsibilities – but this has been a dreadful and agonised awakening, and we have a thousand miles of hard road before us.”
The Irish are famously melancholic, often with just cause. So I’ll begin this series of Irish tracks with a tune from the 1992 album Lament from RealWorld Records. For this album, various artists were “asked to record their saddest air as a memory for the loss of innocent life in the Troubles.” They somehow seem appropriate as a lament for the consequences of financial innocence.
Michael O’Suilleabhain – Plunkett