Margeson on the Music June 2015

Do you think the snow is over? I’m not sure. Yet, we face the month of June fortified by the knowledge that the days are getting longer, the nights shorter, and the music better.

First up is an absolutely brilliant album by a group called, The Jeremiahs. They are based out of Ireland covering the entire country from Dublin to Clare, along with one Frenchman! The four lads are wonderful together musically, and their vocal work is nothing short of astounding. This is the sound of real Irish music. And these four young players are pointing a new direction. They are singing brilliant trad-based Irish and English tunes along with a modern vibe. Their instrumental work is superior. The vocals are not like the Clancy Brothers, or any of that. They are the real deal with some really well done harmonies. Of the 10 tunes, one of our favorites is The King of Rome, about a poor man in the west of London who raises racing pigeons. If that doesn’t sound like an uplifting, almost miraculous song—you’re wrong. If there is any justice in a world filled with injustice, The Jeremiahs will be huge. You can see some of their work on YouTube. This is a band to be reckoned with, now and in the future. We hope that major festivals like IrishFest in Milwaukee, and Dublin, Ohio will get ahold of them, pronto. Magic. They will be in America soon, and we can’t wait.

The next stunner is from one of our top favorite harpists, Ailie Robertson. You know her from the group, Outside Track. Here, she is featured in a solo effort, accompanied by Natalie Haas on cello and Tim Edey on guitar and accordion. The name of the album is Little Lights, and it is a slam-bang contender for both Instrumental Album of the Year, and Female Musician of the Year. All Celtic harpists today are busy trying to invent new techniques, fingerings, and chordal work for the harp. Some of these efforts that push the boundary are wonderful. Most are disastrous. They simply try too hard and get too weird. Ailie Robertson is fantastic. Whether she is playing a beautiful air like The Wild Geese, or having creative fun on an uptempo set like The Kilmovee, this is a master musician in complete control- both of her instrument and her music. This fresh solo effort will take her to new heights. She is one of the music’s great figures, and this is a great album.

Her pal, Norah Rendell, (also of Outside Track) is joined by Ailie, Brian Miller, Randy Gosa, Daithi Sproule and Adam Kieslink in a wonderful new cd, Spinning Yarns. Norah is the two-time Female Vocalist of the Year here, and may be headed for a third title with this work. All vocal albums hinge on two basic facts. You either like the songs, or you don’t. You either like the singer’s voice, or you don’t. Everybody I’ve ever met loves Norah’s voice, and the collection of 12 songs here are wonderful. Norah Rendell and these artists are big deals in the music. The real deals. This new cd cements Norah’s place at the top of a very competitive field. It is an album of immediate accessibility and warmth by a wonderful singer.

Forgotten Gems is another album that will be vying for Instrumental Album of the Year. It is from Peter Carberry and Padraig McGovern. Longford’s Peter Carberry plays accordion and Padraig MGovern from Leitrim plays the uilleann pipes. Many of these instrumental diamonds have not been heard in years, while some of them are well-known. It is a lovely mix. They are joined on some of the tunes by Seamus O’ Kane on bodhran, Brian Mooney on bouzouki and Sabina McGovern on harp. It is for the true trad fan. We suspect you are a true trad fan, or you would not be reading this. For that dedicated fan, this is magic of the highest order. These two are both unbelievably respected by other Irish musicians. Easy to hear why. These 18 selections cover the traditional waterfront. Any musician will realize instantly what they are listening to. It must be noted that the drive-by fan will not like this, because it takes a lot of refinement, love and understanding to sit back and let this music wash over you in its perfection. Aficionados will be more than richly rewarded by this brilliance. People who are not trad fans won’t really grasp what they are hearing. This is a must-have album for the true believer, musicians looking to expand their musical libraries and listeners who know and love beautiful music, played perfectly. And yes, this is played perfectly. A stunner. Our pal, Ireland’s best button-box player, Paul Brock, alerted us to this treasure, and we thank him for it! Wow!

The last review is for a tremendous album from Andy Lamy. The name of the new cd is The New Blackthorn Stick. We believe it may be the first-ever traditional clarinet album. There is a full list of wonderful guest star musicians on this cd, including our new treasure on the scene, reviewed here last month, wunderkind fiddler, Haley Richardson. Lamy is classically trained and has been with some of the top concert orchestras in the world. He fell in love with Irish music several years ago and asked himself the inevitable question. Why not clarinet? Why not, indeed? Look, I would not have thought of this and neither did you. But Andy did, and he is to be thanked. These 15 tunes are astonishing in their variety and artistry. Lamy does not blast away, Woody Hermann or Pete Fountain-style. (We adore Woody and Pete!) Rather, he blends the clarinet in perfectly, thereby opening new doors for both his instrument and Irish music. A clarinet? Yes, a clarinet. When you hear this, your question will probably be the same as mine. Why did no one think of this before? Part of the reason must be that his music brings together a musician with the perfect style to the perfect art form. This is a real bank shot of fortune, ability and creativity. There is great imagination at work here, yet it is no gimmick. Drawing support from musicians as great as Tommy Peoples and Gerry O’Sullivan, you know this is no gimmick. It works. It does so beautifully. Yet another door opens for traditional music. Good on you, Andy! A stunning debut.

Author: Bill Margeson

Presenter liveIreland and WDCB Chicago. Irish American News Chicago USA, Irish Music Magazine Dublin, Ireland. Pub Quiz Promoter Chicago. IrishFest Milwaukee patron and reviewer.

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