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and featureless. Initially this sound blends well There is a ‘bootleg’ recording of The Middle it was an inspired decision that started the
with the other instruments, but after a while I English (and Welsh) Pie from the wonderful week-long summer school named after him in
find it rather tiring on the ear. Don’t let these storytelling Festival at the Edge which at the his home town of Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare.
quibbles put you off, this really is a beautiful same time demonstrates a masterly facility with That it’s still a cherished event in the calendar
and enjoyable piece of work. the English language and a joyous sense of is a tribute to those who founded it shortly after
words as a source of fun and play. A virtuoso his death. Some object to the accepted title of
Paul Burgess
performance indeed. Tom gets admirable ‘Willie Week’ for the school as undignified but
help from the likes of Alex Birch (sax), Chris general agreement is that Willie himself would
Parkinson (accordion) and others including have loved it. It’s a personal loss to me that
JANE & AMANDA young newcomer Ned Darlington on guitar, but events always seemed to get in the way of my
there is no doubt that the songs themselves are own attendance. This double CD proves to me
the most important features of this CD. It would just how much I’ve missed over the years. It
not surprise me to see other artists cover some wasn’t intended for release but as an archive
Beehive Music W0BCD003
of these songs in the future. I look forward to record of the final concert of the 2007 event.
hearing what they make of them. The mix was intended for the audience but you
wouldn’t know any difference. If anything, it
I wondered on receiving this CD just what
Phil Thomas sounds more alive than a studio recording.
was being ‘Revisited’. The booklet notes tell
me that the recording came about in answer
Seventeen tracks on each CD give more than
to requests for a further album after two
two hours of music. Most of the groups play
previous ones had been deleted. Somehow
only two sets because of the sheer number
I had missed both of those earlier albums so
Bridging The Gap
of musicians. From 65 musicians, singers
this ‘revisit’ is my first visit to the music of the Vertical Records VERTCD088
and dancers, names like Joe Burke, Martin
Threlfall Sisters, and a most welcome one it is.
Another live recording from this year’s Celtic
Hayes, Mary Bergin, Vincent Griffin and Tommy
Peoples should give you an idea of the talent
They sing with a sweet and gentle, but not Connections, this time “a dramatic and
on show that night.
twee, blend of voices, and accompany their inspiring journey integrates classical and
songs fittingly on a selection from guitar, traditional Scottish music, seamlessly marrying
CD1: Bríd Ó Donohue from Miltown Malbay
bouzouki, mandola, fiddle and viola. The the two genres as one”. Well after the PR
and five of her own children plus members of
excellent Roger Edwards, who works with the person at Vertical has finished their Exciting
two other families do a great job in opening
sisters under the name ‘Trio Threlfall, joins in juice let’s see. The group of musicians
with Molly Bán and George White’s Favourite.
on Anglo concertina and guitar to great effect, involved: Soloist (Patsy Reid of course), 4
Bríd plays whistle in duets with Séamus Ó
blending skilfully with the ladies and fronting fiddles, 2 violas, cello, d-bass, guitar, piano,
Rocháin’s uillenn pipes on the next two tracks.
up with verve on instrumentals such as Double percussion are of the highest calibre and
Excellence carries on throughout this CD.
Lead Through,a hugely enjoyable track. ensure that the music is played as well as it
ever will be - the live recording is a bit close-
Conamara-woman Nan Tom Teamín sings a
great version of Cuachín Gleann Néifin; that
In truth I find all the tracks on this CD hugely miked, but really of extraordinary quality.
achingly beautiful love song from Co. Mayo.
enjoyable. The Threlfall’s controlled but “Structurally the work takes the form of a violin
Martin Burke sings his own song, Along the
heartfelt singing brings out the beauty of their concerto”, containing nine traditional-style
Clogher Road; an example of a particularly
songs so clearly, and although some of the tunes utilising each of the modern modes.
Irish tradition of songs about your own locality.
titles seem very familiar this is no handicap. I Many of these are beautiful little pieces which
On the two sets from the John Kelly group,
can listen to songs like Bushes and Briars, and would easily stand on their own two feet - the
Siobháin Ní Chonaráin weaves her flute
Claudy Banks over and over again when sung group accompany mainly homophonically, with
so well and in such variants. It’s been years a lot of ostinato and chordal work which acts
between six fiddles, concertina and guitar like
since I heard On the Banks of Allan Water, as a nice support for the soloist to float over.
a cool breeze on a summer’s day. Tommy
and here it is, with a superb concertina/viola However, there appears little relating to sonata
Peoples is here in his usual outstanding form,
accompaniment, another delight in an album form in the first movement, and the binary
as are the Mulcahy Family and Mary Bergin’s
full of irresistible charm, to which I happily format of the tunes results in little meaningful
distinctive whistle style.
succumb. counterpoint or development. So, once the
breathless PR is ignored, the piece becomes a
CD2 has Joe Burke, Brendan McGlinchy,
Roy Harris
rather fine Suite for violin and chamber group
Connie Ó Connell, Noel Hill and Martin Hayes
- with little “classical” about it other than using
in with other cracking musicians. Hayes has
strings to provide the sort of accompaniments
only one track but it’s over ten minutes long, so
one might expect from many of the best
his fans won’t be disappointed. A nice touch
The Whisper
Scottish bands. As with anything this length
for me is Margaret Stewart from Lewis singing
there are longeurs but these are outweighed by
Griogal Cridhe, the lament for MacGregor of
beautiful touches. Well worth investigating.
Glenstrae who was killed by the Campbells

in the 16th century. I’ve had the air for a long
Regular readers will recall the recent series
Paul Burgess
time; so it’s good to hear the words. And
of articles by Tom Bliss on the craft of song
dancing does work on record; I was battering
writing. This CD gives evidence (if any were
away during the Clare Half Set on track 8.
needed) that Tom knows how to put into ROGHA ScOIL SAM-
This is hell-for-leather playing of the Bucks of
practice the skills about which he writes so
Oranmore and Fred Finn’s Reel, tailored to
eloquently. With one exception the fifteen
HRAIDH WILLIE cLANcY the tyrannical demands for speed by the set-
tracks on this album are either Bliss originals or
Selected Recordings from the
what he refers to as ‘Bliss from Trad Sources’.
Here’s the clue, I think. In all cases it seems
Willie Clancy Summer School If I can have just one tiny niggle, it’s that CD2
that the story is the driver of the song... whether
doesn’t finish with the bang it merits. Two
from Tom’s own imagination or research of
harmonicas and concertina are good but
traditional or contemporary sources. There
The late Willie Clancy gave the lie to the
maybe something like Martin Hayes’ set would
are highs and lows, as you might expect. The
old saying about uilleann pipers being
have been better. Having said that, you can
Bristol Lady is a traditional song that Tom
‘temperamental’ (cranky to you and me). He
always play CD2 first and finish with Edel Fox,
felt was deficient in chorus and plot… so he
wasn’t just a great piper; he was a singer, a
Ronan Ó Flaherty and Jack Talty on The Duke
added both to excellent effect. The Mighty
storyteller and a committed teacher. Above
of Leinster, The New Mown Meadow and The
Montague is an amusing enough acapella ditty
all he was a very gentle man, as shown by the
Silver Spear.
about a skipper lacking navigation skills but it
quote: ‘Even a poor musician plays good notes
feels lightweight in comparison to some of the
sometimes.’ His untimely death in early 1973
All in all, this is a cracking first release by the
material here.
was a great loss to Irish traditional music. So
Clare College for Traditional Studies. It makes
The Living Tradition - Page 40 Sponsored by BIrnam CD
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