Releases > Releases March 2019

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Botera Records, BOTRCD001, 9 Tracks, 41 Minutes
Arty McGlynn is an iconic guitarist who has consistently raised the bar of excellence in the use of the instrument in Irish traditional music since the release of his solo debut McGlynn’s Fancy in 1979, and his many collaborations with numerous virtuoso musicians, as well as stints with groups such as Patrick Street and Four Men And A Dog, have established him as a living legend. But his virtuosity is not limited to trad; he cut his musical teeth in Showbands before diversifying into country, rock, blues and jazz, including stints with Paul Brady and Van Morrison.
This instrumental album takes him back to early jazz influences from his youth, spent listening to AFN radio in the 1950s, which exposed him to guitarists such as Barney Kessel and Wes Montgomery. In particular, he includes compositions by Jean-Baptiste “Illinois” Jacquet, a tenor saxophonist noted for his crossover style. The stellar house band for this recording consists of brother-in-law Chris Newman (who also engineered) on bass, along with Rod McVey on keys, and Liam Bradley on drums. Arty himself plays all the rhythm guitar parts, as well as most of the lead guitar. His son Jerome also guests on guitar, taking a number of impressive solos on the jazz selections. From the opener Arty’s Blues, the mood is set, and highlights include a lively reading of Flying Home (an old Benny Goodman favourite) and a great version of Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll.
Keeping up the family connections, Arty’s wife Nollaig Casey guests on fiddle and violas for two tracks: Amapola, composed by Joseph M. Lacalle with new adaptation by Arty, and The Cran Man, a jig composed by Arty. As a nod to previous recordings, a nice set of jigs is also included, but this enjoyable CD is primarily an excursion for his wonderfully executed jazz chops.
Mark Lysaght

1131 Ltd Records, ELEV001, 12 Tracks, 44 Minutes
After a decade with the High Kings and several other collaborative, musical projects, Martin Furey has produced a unique and innovative solo album in TED. With unusual arrangements, layering of strings, dramatic percussive elements and technology, TED is a flourishing showcase of his individual, artistic freedom. Furey takes popular and protest songs like 16 Ton, If I Had A Hammer and We shall Overcome and gives them an ultra modern treatment, then segues right back into the traditional with his version of The May Morning Dew, in the Irish folk and ballad style which he is already widely accomplished in.
There is versatility and variety in the album, clever use of reverb, percussion and voice layering, especially in the self-penned London. A song that feels autobiographical, a coming-of-age narrative, the protagonist’s youth and naiveté balanced with disappointment, a modern day version of a past generation tunnel tiger or McAlpine’s hod-carrying Irish man: ‘after a while I became a dishwasher, (great crack),’ a bit of devilment in the lyrics, good use of rhythmic chant, an orchestral feel to the arrangements.
Saro is a tender love song, a reworking of the under recognised ballad, Bunclody. It is set in 1849, a love story rendered in an intimate, conversationalist style: ‘you know I wish I was a poet and could write a fine hand/I would write my love a letter/so she’d understand,’ an evocative retelling of the emigrant, pining lover, a familiar theme that’s well refreshed here.
Martin Furey has produced a genre-defying album in TED. There are shades of rap, performance poetry and Enya, influences of great Irish ballad singers and world music. It is experimental and promising, a complete breakaway in every sense from the material he has previously recorded. TED makes a big musical statement.
Anne Marie Kennedy

The Friendly Visit
Happy Whistle Music, HWCD1972, 15 Tracks, 55 Minutes
Noel Sweeney sits comfortably at the peak of his traditional music, his flute and whistle playing is assured and masterful. He showcased this on his debut release The Whinny Hills of Leitrim in 2007 and now, over a decade later, his musical maturity shines through again on his latest album; The Friendly Visit.
A multi-instrumentalist, specialising in instruments of the wind family, Sweeney exhibits his ability on a variety of flute and whistles in various keys. He adds a sublime nod to his Showband experience through the alto sax. The latter is the focal point on two of the tracks; the first a set of reels: The Smiling Lady with Paddy Fahey’s and the second a three-jig set that ends with a vivid flourish on The Lisnagoon. The album’s title is named for the spry hornpipe that is preceded by a lifting version of The Smoking Chimney; both played on a G Whistle. The key changes to F for a captivating slow air Clondara Harbour, whistles and strings taking up a conversation, soft talk and enchanting phrasing.
It’s the full flowing flute, though, which strikes a chord throughout The Friendly Visit. Utilising a range of legendary Grinter flutes, Noel applies a wealth of breathy tone to The Rookery set where he allows the melody to weave around a defined phrasing structure that gives credence to every note. This style carries through a range of jigs and reels with a standout nod to the E Flat flute on the three slip jigs in the James Byrne’s set.
The Friendly Visit will be welcomed by flute players, many of whom are looking to acquire that same assurance of style and tone that Sweeney displays here. It all comes from the focus on the tune itself, and, in turn, that tune showcases the magic inherent in the musician within. That’s the Sweeney signature and the music is testament to the man.
Eileen McCabe

Sun Dogs
TA-LIK Records TA 177, 9 Tracks, 39 Minutes
Here we have a group that have been somewhat under the Irish radar for the past ten years. Surprisingly although they have worked together for a decade this is their debut album. They are a Hiberno-Norse trio of: Nuala Kennedy on flute, whistles and vocals, who represents the Irish leg of the tripod. One of the busiest and most creative Irish musicians on the circuit today, you need a good Sat Nav to keep up with her. Here she is joined by Frode Haltli, who plays accordion, and Vegar Vårdal on fiddle.
All three are world class instrumentalists and are in the premier league of their own traditions. They bring that class to the table and make something much greater than the sum of its parts. The album opens with the traveller song What Will We Do, a song that has become popular over the past couple of years. Nuala learned the song from Cathy Jordan of Dervish when they met in North Carolina. Here it is paired with Fjellvak, a tune Nuala got from Sammy Lind when she met him in the Yukon.
Take the big track, Butterfly, its caterpillar creeps up on us like a moody film noir, almost monochrome, then feint flute phrases, and we realise this is a new take on Tommy Potts’ the Butterfly. Another big number is Vals/Lugumelik, a traditional Norwegian waltz and a halling, the latter tune written for one of the most energetic dances you’ll ever come across. There’s darkness and melancholy in the weaving of the Norwegian lullaby Gjendines with the Scots Gaelic lament Ri Teas Is Fuachd.
A Face for Scuba is as happy and quirky as its title suggests, Nuala and Frode, slipping and sliding the melody like a giggling child on an icy street.
The album closes with Nuala singing the sean-nós Ur Cnoc Chéin Mhic Cáinte, preceded by the Norwegian melody Den Bortkomne Saune (Lament for the Lost Sheep).
The liner booklet is full of fascinating information and great respect for the tradition bearers who were the sources of much of the music on the album. Snowflake’s secret is out of the bag; time to start gossiping about how good they are.
Seán Laffey

The Conifers
Own Label TC001, 11 Tracks, 42 Minutes
The Conifers is the debut album from one of Ireland’s newest traditional bands, a five piece with Cathal Ó Curráin (fiddle, bouzouki, vocals), Felix Morgenstern (bodhrán), Bryan O’Leary (button accordions), Conor O’Loughlin (concertina) and Marty Barry (guitar, vocals). They are based in Limerick with roots as far as Donegal; this is a collection of the finest traditional Irish music and song. The music is energetic, lively and presents a very mature sound for such a young band. Their musical roots are in Clare, Sliabh Luachra and Donegal, with each dance tune tradition explored alongside their inclusion of both Irish and English song on this collection.
The album opens with a selection of three reels showcasing the energetic fiddle playing of the band. It immediately engages you in a true session. Followed by a collection of jigs with accordion and fiddle at the fore. We are then introduced to the first song on the album. Written by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s father Prionsias, Seoltaí Geala (White Sails). All members of the band sing on this and give it that extra poignant feel, the tune to Seoltaí Geala is from the sea shanty Rio Grande so lends itself to ensemble singing. This is quickly followed by a collection of slides, polkas and then a waltz. Each sounding more like a long running developed band than this new contemporary one from former students. It’s fast, then it relaxes, then takes up tempo again. It just keeps giving.
The Kings Shilling is the second song on the album, written by Ian Sinclair from Caithness in Scotland; the band change the lyrics from its original Scots English dialect to a more universally understandable Anglophone. The track is followed by a couple of tunes, including the classic Rosc Catha Na Mumhan (played here at a stately regal pace). The album’s third song is one I was drawn to immediately, The Road to Donegal. No better road could they sing about, the liner notes give some personal recollections of the song, Cathal explaining he first heard his aunt and uncle singing the song in the 1980s. The album is rounded off with a selection of reels, the first sourced from archive recordings of Johnny Doherty in 1952. You won’t be disappointed with this debut album, The Conifers are standing tall.
Graine McCool

Rise Up, Lorimer Records LORRCD07, 11 Tracks, 54 Minutes
Album number five from this international quartet of Celtic musicians is as good as any the Outside Track has done, and they’ve produced some smashers previously. Driving reels, delicate airs, hard-hitting ballads and a bit of comic relief, all arranged perfectly for fiddle, accordion, flute and harp, with a few guests on guitars and drums. How could it be improved?
Well bagpipes obviously, but apart from that there’s little I would change. Ailie, Mairi, Teresa and Fiona have consciously focused on material by or about women, which to be honest includes most of Scots and Irish music. They’ve also avoided almost all reference to drink, which does cut it down a lot. The opening Dark Reels are three fine new finger-tingling compositions. Sweet Lover of Mine is one of the more bizarre variations on the ballad Scarborough Fair, and The Banks of Sweet Dundee is even more unusual in that the ill-matched lovers are finally united without either of them dying.
The Wahoo combines jigs and reels in a flying medley, but not as swift as Brian Finnegan’s supersonic Queen of Rangoon. In between is another North American ballad, a swing version of The Wife of Usher’s Well, on the edge of Teresa’s vocal sweet spot. You don’t often hear Eleanor Plunkett performed convincingly both as an air and a song, so this recording is a rare treat. Ailie’s harp captures the air beautifully, and the words are delivered in Irish with feeling. Happy Reels are exactly that, more of the band’s own compositions, ending on Mairi’s sparky Happy Opposite Day. Her Cape Breton fiddle leads into a heavyweight strathspey for Silver Bullet, partnered with Fiona’s accordion, a sort of Phyllis & Alyce routine, until the band joins in on a rake of reels.
Rise Up ends with a proper murder misery ballad, going all the way back to Chaucer’s time, arranged with Moorish musical references. Album number five certainly won’t hurt the Outside Track’s reputation, and their live act this past summer was magnificent, so look out for them at a venue near you.
Alex Monaghan

Midnight & Closedown, Reveal Records 076CD, 8 Tracks, 45 Minutes
Distinctive yet with deep roots in the tradition, this trio breaks all the rules brilliantly. Lau makes the complex simple, and the simple complex: the power of three can sound like a full orchestra, or cut back to a stark melody line. Kris Drever’s mournful Orcadian vocals are modern folk incarnate, yet there are echoes of Nick Jones on I Don’t Want to Die Here, of ELP on It’s Hard To Seem To Be OK When You’re Not, and even of Kate Bush on Toy Tigers. Martin Green’s mechanical magic produces genius arrangements of songs and instrumentals, while Aidan O’Rourke’s fiddle adds that beauty and purity so essential to the Lau sound. The combination is nothing short of alchemy, fusing to create an evergreen procession of tones and textures around the acoustic folk core.
Eight tracks of their own material mix hard-hitting lyrics of the perennial need to leave home for work, percussion and fancy effects on Return to Portland, synthetic keyboard and sawing fiddle on the enigmatic Riad. Next thing you know, the keyboard is acoustic as Martin switches to accordion, and the fiddle is delicately stroking a sweet melody. To quote from their own song, Lau seem to have “saved the world by turning it upside down” once again. Nothing is fixed, everything is in motion. If it wasn’t for the persistent bittersweet feel of Midnight & Closedown you might even doubt that you are listening to these three masters of the maudlin and melancholic in contemporary folk music. Lau’s growing fanbase will be delighted with a new album in the same vein, and many of us will marvel at how this trio continues to combine the innovative with the instantly recognisable.
Alex Monaghan

Green Monkey Records, 10 Tracks, 46 Minutes
A young band from the USA, two sets of brothers and a bag full of talent: River Scheurell (fiddle, mandolin and bouzouki), Sage Scheurell (guitar), Eros Faulk (fiddle and shruti box) and Dante Faulk (cello and bodhrán). They play acoustic instruments, and they are exploring three distinct styles of music: Celtic, Scandinavian and American Old Timey. Their influences include Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. The album opens with Lus na mBanrion, learned from a Lúnasa recording; here the cello opens the action with a moody prelude before the ensemble shifts into top gear. This approach is repeated on the Celtic numbers, a slow burn beginning, before bursting into flames as the melodies progress. Irish tunes such as Dick Cosgroves and Tuttles have a raw edge to them, the fiddle is organic and honest, on Sporting Paddy we get the un-planed timber of the raw bar, the tune stripped down to its fundamentals.
The Scandinavian material is another kind of fiddling altogether. It has an accent all of its own, even on Engelska fran Korpo, which began life as an English country dance. There’s much trilling on the fiddle in Trettondedagsmarschen, written by Anders Olsson and learned from Alasdair Fraser, the set rounded off with a Shetland tune they had from Natalie Haas.
Then there are American tunes; these are lively, optimistic sunny pieces, such as Little Mert named in honour of a cactus is full of choppy mandolin licks. The lads close out the album with a three tune selection of Salt Spring, Le Persuadeur and the Highlander’s Farewell. It’s fast, furious and full of invention, the old timey mandolin shines and the Quebecois tune is perfect for dancing. A young band looking in three musical directions and the view from each is certainly interesting.
Seán Laffey

An Tobar Séimh
All Media M.P.O. ALM17208, 14 Tracks, 57 Minutes
Apart from the fact that one gets great pleasure listening to a new recording, sometimes one gets to learn something new, as well. For example, in the notes by Dr. Stiofán Ó Cadhla that accompany Cárthach Mac Craith’s new CD, An Tobar Séimh, we learn that one of the first people to record Irish traditional singers was Risteard de Hindeberg in 1905 in County Waterford. And who was he?
He was Rev. Dr Richard Henebry (Risteárd de Hindeberg, 1863–1916) a traditional musician from an Irish-speaking and musical farming family in County Waterford, a Roman Catholic priest, an academic with a doctorate in Celtic studies awarded in Germany, and an early field recorder in Ireland of Irish music on cylinder. When one listens to the singers from the Waterford Gaeltacht on those early recordings, what impresses one is the fact Cárthach, from An Rinn, County Waterford, with his powerful singing voice, is indeed the inheritor of that distinctive sean nós style.
Although this is his first solo album, Cárthach is no stranger in singing circles. He was the original singer with Danú and is a member of the renowned singers Cór Fear na nDéise. Almost all of the fourteen songs on this album are from the Déise area of Waterford and Tipperary and include, Spailpín a Rún, Éamonn a’ Chnoic, Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna, and Mar Mheath Uaim Mo Chairde.
Cárthach’s favourite song on the CD is Sliabh na mBan that commemorates the rising that unfolded on Slievenamon mountain in south Tipperary during the 1798 Rebellion. The song is particularly associated with Na Déise area of County Waterford. Cárthach’s presentation is very much in keeping with the old-style singing of that area, a style that was exemplified in the singing of the late Nioclás Tóibín of Ring, whose Gael Linn recording of the song made such a stir in the latter half of the 20th century.
Another of the area’s great singers who sang that song was Labhrás Dráipéar, a nephew of Cárthach’s grandmother, and it was she who stirred his interest in traditional song. Cárthach is accompanied on this CD by Seán Ó Fearghail (fiddle), Caoimhín Ó Fearghail (guitar), Éimear Uí Ghealbháin (harp), Méin Nic Craith (concertina) and Dónal Clancy (guitar).
Aidan O’Hara

Far From Shore
Own Label No Cat No, 12 Tracks, 42 Minutes
A Canadian band launched in 2012, Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost have accumulated a loyal following both at home and abroad through playing live, and from the commercial and digital media response accorded their recordings. From their first album Sociable they have proved themselves one of the bands to watch from over the pond. Now comes their second album Far from Shore and it shows how much they have developed and moved musically.
Their front man is songwriter Steve Lamb whose impassioned vocals and socially conscious songs are framed by thoughtful lyricism and raucous balladry by turn. This is an asset most bands of this type struggle to have on board. His finely wrought songs The Man and Hart of Ten provide strong vehicles for imaginative arrangements as does the winsome Last Ballad with its evocative male/female vocals. The band is full blooded on A Hell of a Party and the instrumental Irish Set with all guns blazing in a sub Pogues/Great Big Sea blast out while Before they Fall combines an ecological message of preservation and Wandering Free is a freewheeling rollicking Irish Rovers style rouser. Musical dexterity, a sense of humour and increased maturity are the hallmarks embossed on Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost and Far From Shore has thrills by the bucket load to revel in and enjoy.
John O’Regan

Own Label, 14 Tracks, 48 Minutes
Based in Michigan, USA, CrossBow has been in existence for over seven years, originating when dual fiddlers Steve Lesko and Carly Meloche formed a trio at Grand Valley State University with Clare McMillan. Nurtured and developed at GVSU, the band expanded organically into its current 7-piece line-up, playing traditional Irish music and related genres with a characteristic high energy, where percussion is a key element of the overall sound.
The CD has strong links to the city of Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan and a natural hub for Irish music, and recording was done at Solid Sound Studios. Material is strongly based on well-known Irish traditional tunes, played fast with unison fiddles to the fore, underpinned by electric bass guitar and drums which adds more than a frisson of folk-rock sensibility to the overall sound, without losing the overall roots bedrock.
Tracks such as the opener Drowsy Beer Dreams (featuring the Drowsy Maggie reel), Kiss Of The Green and Roscommon/Gravel Walks set the tone, and you can easily picture these sets being sure-fire winners at a live gig. Musical director Clare McMillan is also an accomplished singer, and is given a chance to shine on Barton Hollow, Ocean Avenue, and MacPherson’s Lament, while Little Talks works well as a vocal duet with her husband Adam. An undoubted highlight is the title track, written by bassist Mark Pierce, an impressive instrumental showcasing the band’s tight ensemble playing, acting as an authentic manifesto for their musical philosophy.
Mark Lysaght

Crimson Moon Gealach Dhearg, Errigal Records SCD025,
15 Tracks, 59 Minutes
Seoirse Ó Dochartaigh, composer, singer, painter and authority on Irish music says of his new CD, Crimson Moon – Gealach Dhearg: “Lots of Inishowen in this collection – the sea, the stories, the legends, the history, told in newly-composed songs… with a couple of ‘oldies’ thrown in for good measure!” He lives in Inishowen, that beautiful peninsula whose location ’Twixt Foyle and Swilly was used by historian, Harry P. Swan, as the title of one of his books.
Seoirse himself describes very well the pleasures he has for us when he says that “Weaving through this tapestry of sound are delightful pieces by Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Tchaikovsky” and all this in what is a production of Irish language songs, some his own compositions, and others from the tradition. He’s right when he adds that it proves just how versatile the accompanying musicians really are “When not only can they play good trad music but feel equally comfortable and confident with classical music”.
In acknowledging Seoirse as the creative genius in this magnificent production, he will readily agree that those accompanying him make no small contribution to this CD that is in my estimation the most outstanding trad recording of 2018. Among the musicians on the album are Inishowen’s best, and they include the famous Henry Girls, Lorna McLaughlin (vocal harmonies), Joleen McLaughlin (piano, harp), Karen McLaughlin (violin), Jim Woods (bodhran), Laurence Doherty (percussion), Thérèse McKenna (flute), Aidan McLaughlin (upright bass), and Tom Byrne (harmonica, accordion).
Seoirse’s CD notes are comprehensive and enlightening, as in what he says of Samhradh! Samhradh! (Summer! Summer!). He provides fascinating historical notes on the song: it was sung by children in 1662 to welcome the Duke of Ormond to Dublin, and again in 1689 when King James landed at Kinsale. He adds, “The idea of interpolating Tchaikovsky into the arrangement came about when I realised that several melodic phrases in the introductory part of the Andantino Simplice in his 1st piano concerto were almost identical to phrases in the song.” Intriguing, isn’t it? Yes, and well worth your while investigating for this and much more besides.
Seoirse Ó Dochartaigh has been praised for his musical talents in past editions of Irish Music Magazine, and I am pleased to say that he has surpassed himself in this superb album, which I heartily recommend. Tá sé thar barr!
Aidan O’Hara

The Bloom of Youth with special guest Karan Casey
Childsplay Records, 13 Tracks, 61 Minutes
Singer Karan Casey has never sounded so pert, perfect and lively as she does with the string orchestra put together by fiddlemaker Bob Childs. Childsplay, named for Bob Childs, has long been one of the great if somewhat hidden gems of Irish/Scottish music. I’m constantly baffled that they don’t routinely sell out large arenas.
The musicians are names you’ll know: Hanneke Cassel. Shannon Heaton. Sheila Falls-Keohane. Sam Amidon. Bonnie Bewick. Liz Carroll (not on this CD, but represented by her tunes). The orchestra is made up of 12 fiddles, one each of the following: viola, bass, flute, guitar, banjo, bouzouki, bodhrán, harp, piano, and singer. With two cellos and two whistles; what has always marked Childsplay is that all the musicians in it are traditional musicians first. So when they play together it’s like a grand and disciplined session from Heaven. A session: because it sounds like they are having way too much fun.
One of the standout tracks is the jaunty, exciting Buddy’s Strathspey, by Hanneke Cassel, which then goes into The Wooden Whale by Alasdair Fraser, and the traditional The Farmer’s Daughter.
Casey’s voice on the famine song Sailing Off to Yankeeland is clear and fine, and the upbeat tempo makes the song sadder. There’s also an insertion of gypsy jazz with Turka by Oleg Ponomarev, arranged by Bewick, who solos. It’s hard to keep still while listening as she and the others zoom up and down the scales. That’s followed by the stately tempo of Bonnie Bewick’s arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s (yes, you read that right) antiwar lament for America, The Fiddle and the Drum.
The CD ends with the swaying, One to One waltz by Tommie Cunniffe. The generous booklet includes essays by Childs, Casey and dancer Kieran Jordan. “Childsplay,” Casey writes, “makes the world a better place.” They do, and so does this album.
Gwen Orel

String Theory
Own Label, 14 Tracks, 53 Minutes
No, not astrophysics: Iris Nevins is an apostle of the harp, covering ground from New York and New Jersey up to the Catskills. She plays harp, both wire-strung and gut/nylon and finger-style guitar and she does do so with brilliant fluency. There are O’Carolan numbers, which is pretty much a default setting for Irish harp albums, but she adds innovation with a couple of tracks taken from live sessions. That’s not including the Coolin and Limerick’s Lament. And for sake of variety she has a couple of tracks with whistle/ flute (Linda Hickman) and others with concertina and accordion from the live sessions. Plus, doughty woman, she has a clip of her 60th birthday session posted on YouTube.
You may be surprised with some of the pacing in the pieces. Carolan’s Fight with the Landlady is genteely done whilst Carolan’s Draught is a swiftly poured pint. Track 9 is a live performance, Iris on guitar, backing Linda Hickman’s flute for the set Eddie Moloney’s/ My First Night in America. The duo also play a modal version of The Tara Reel on track 6. Iris’s March of the Ling of Laois is an accomplished work on fingerstyle guitar. She closes the album with her personal favourite The Lovely Sweet Banks of the Moy and Sporting Paddy accompanying box player Tom Dunne on the harp.
There is no doubt that we have here a very fine musician well rooted in a vibrant culture. The interest in restoring the wire-strung harp has been a feature of US musicians. Iris has even built her own instrument and here on this CD the two kinds of harp are happily living side by side; for proof Iris plays Carolan’s Captain O’Kane on both. Iris is offering a new range of possibilities. A Celtic multiverse is beckoning.
John Brophy

The Schoolmaster’s House
Traditional Irish Music
A Teach Ceol Recording, MKM7590, 15 Tracks, 37 Minutes
The Schoolmaster’s House was originally released in 2000, by Roscommon born flute player Mike McHale, accompanied by Cherish the Ladies’ guitarist Mary Coogan. Mick’s father Bill, an accordion player, was a schoolmaster and many musicians came to play at their family home.
Mike who emigrated from Ireland to the US has been a teacher too, a regular at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, where a music scholarship is named the “Mike and Kathy McHale student scholarship”, named for him and his wife. Mike is now titled Music Consultant, and can be seen at concerts and sessions during CIAW. Mike is definitely part of that living tradition: he won the All-Ireland Tin Whistle competition in 1958, winning the second in flute Slow Airs 37 years later.
The CD itself can almost be used as a primer: here are real traditional tunes, classic session tunes, played simply. When you come to think of it, it’s actually not all that easy to find straightforward, beautifully played good old tunes like The Green Mountain and The Skylark Reels, which open the CD. There’s also Coleman’s/Morrison’s, some would say they are essential if you have a grá for the music.
The slow airs are particular standouts, perhaps no surprise given McHale’s awards. They are played expressively, with no self-indulgence or showiness, and there are four on the CD. Roisin Dubh on the tin whistle has a plaintive yearning in it.
The classic tunes will be instructive, there’s that school thing again! The Kilmaley/Ah, Surely reels exemplify the CD: simple, almost humble, and for all that, outstanding.
Gwen Orel