Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some Tunes

I don't know if this is great reading or not, but here are some tunes I'm learning right now and the recordings I'm using as references:

  • Trip to Athlone (track 4 of Colm O'Donnell's Farewell to Evening Dances). O'Donnell plays it together with The Blackthorn Stick; the two sound great together. This one is hard for me to play on the flute since it goes from first-octave A to low D to second-octave E, necessitating changes in embouchure.
  • I Buried My Wife... (Tara Bingham's recording from An Gaoth Aduaidh) Matt Molloy performs this on Heathery Breeze as Frieze Britches (where it's incorrectly identified as a slip jig in the liner notes, which confused me for some time when I first bought the album!), but his version is too fast/complicated for me to keep up with, though very nice for pure listening! Bingham's recording is slower and less heavily improvised. Liam O'Flynn plays it on Come West Along the Road.
  • Rolling In the Ryegrass (June McCormack's recording from the CDs which accompany her tutor Fliúit). CCÉ's Foinn Seisiún 1 CDs have a recording of this (as Shannon Breeze), which you can download for free from their site, but I find McCormack's tone and performance inspiring.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Come West Along the Road

Are you (if you're a U.S. resident) a Netflix member? If so, you might be interested to know that Netflix has Come West Along the Road, one of RTÉ's DVD compilations of music recordings from its archives.

Like a lot of compilations, it's a mixed bag. But there's some brilliant material on the DVD. There is (brief, unfortunately) footage of Frankie Kennedy, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, and other Ó Maonaigh family members playing in a pub in Gaoth Dobhair. There's footage of Joe Cooley, Denis O'Brien (Donncha Ó Briain), Tommy Peoples, and Matt Molloy.

While I was watching one of the segments — it must have been Planxty or The Bothy Band — my wife came into the room and said, "They look like hippies!" I laughed and replied, "They are hippies; this was taped in 1973!"

Sure, most of this has been pirated onto YouTube, but the DVD quality beats the heck out of Flash video. I'm not sure I'd pay $30 for it, but getting it "for free" (as a Netflix subscriber) is a great deal!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Granville Irish Festival

Seems there's another Irish festival in town, somewhat smaller than that other one in Dublin. The Granville Irish Festival will feature local bands The Drowsy Lads (trad) and Homeland (rock), plus dancers from Scoil Rince Ní Chiara.

Monday, May 21, 2007

2007 Dublin Irish Festival

I've just had a look at the 2007 Dublin Irish Festival entertainment lineup. Tucked in amongst the "Celtic rock," I found some pretty good reasons to attend, including the following out-of-town acts:

There are also some local bands I like. My teacher's band, The Kells, who played a great house concert in April will be performing. Occasionally-local Changeling is a husband-and-wife duo featuring the fiddle playing of Deborah Clark Colón. Aisling reformed last year after significant personnel changes; I haven't heard them in their current incarnation, but they were quite good in the past.

An intriguing-sounding group I'm unfamiliar with is the Armagh Rhymers, from, of course, Co. Armagh, who do folk theatre from the mummer tradition.

There's also a great deal of utter dreck on the bill. I'll elect to follow the "if you can't say anything nice about someone, say nothing at all" rule here, and simply write this off as the price of having a festival which can bring good acts in from overseas.

But since the festival generally has at least four stages running concurrently, plus session tents and other stuff, you can generally find something good to hear or see.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Chris Norman

Nova Scotian flute player Chris Norman came to the Ohio State University this past April as part of the Johnstone Woodwind Master Series in conjunction with the Central Ohio Flute Association. He and guitar player Andy Thurston played a rather unusual show on the night of 21 April. The first half was an informal concert featuring mostly traditional Scottish tunes, with some Irish, Cape Breton, and original compositions as well. He was joined, at times, by Robert Aitken on piccolo and a local woman named Casey (I didn't catch her last name) on piano. Chris said that he had met Casey at a Kinko's the day before. The concert became even less formal in the second half of the show as he invited the conference attendees to get out their instruments and play along with some tunes. There were perhaps 50 or so Boehm system flute players, a couple guitarists, a pianist, one other simple-system flute player besides Chris and myself, and one bassoonist!

The photo above shows Chris playing the Scottish smallpipes. Although they're fingered like the GHBs, Chris said they originate in the music of the Scottish Travellers rather than the mainstream Scottish music tradition.

Here's Chris, Andy, Casey, and Robert playing a tune together.

The photo above is from the second half of the show. Chris projected the scores for the tunes, played them through a couple times, had everyone play along, and then gave some feedback to the audience, mostly on rhythm.

The show wasn't particularly well-publicized outside of OSU. I was lucky to hear about it, because it was a great concert.