Margeson on the Music October 2014
Margeson on the Music October 2014
It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. Plagiarism 101. However, in trad, the thought is true. As usual, technology continues to allow more and more cd’s to be produced, at a lower cost with most of them of highly dubious quality. With services online such as Kickstarter, groups and solos can get early help in funding a new cd. That is great. It is also bad, in that it allows lots more goop to get released on an innocent public. This is why we only review the best here, and this month we have four.
One of my favorites is by a terrific flute player named Nancy Costello from the Connemara in Ireland. The title: The Magic of the Flute on Clo Iar-Chonnacht. There are 21 cuts of fab fluting. Good heavens, this girl can play. I’m going to suggest that you get to the Clo Iar-Chonnacht website or Alan O’Leary at Copperplate Distribution in London to get this. Why? For some reason, this cd has the title, “Draiocht Na Feadoige” by Neansai Ni Choisdealbha. Good God. That translates to Magic of the Flute by Nancy Costello. The title cannot possibly help sales, and that is a shame. All 21 tunes here are played impeccably in a gorgeous style. Nancy is a master musician. We will be playing this a lot on our LiveIreland show to help introduce this wonderful talent. Part of the fun will be to try to pronounce it. We can hear the purists calling in now. This is a terrific album, and qualifies Nancy for serious consideration as Female Musician of the Year.
Next is a terrific new cd from Dan Possumato and is entitled, Tunes Inside. This is a wonderful button box player with a ton of musicians joining him, including three of our favorites—Kevin Burke, Brian McGrath, and Cal Scott. Dan is one of those button box players and musicians who has consistently gotten better and better over the years. He had another album out a few years ago, and it was good. Not as good as this. The cd package on Old Box Records is beautifully designed, and the engineering/production is wonderful. This is trad music at its most enjoyable and accessible. Put it on and tap your foot. Smile. Ain’t life grand?
The wonderful fiddle player, Randal Bays, has a new album. A Rake of Tunes. It is a family project with Randal joined by his family – Susan, Owen, and Willie. This is Irish music at its most traditional and best. Brace yourself. There are 23 cuts. You hear a lot about different styles of playing Irish music in the old days. East Galway for fiddles. Roscommon for flutes. Sliabh luachra. Tons of them. Most of them have disappeared or been greatly modified due to technology and a wider distribution of the music. It is quite arguable that there never was an “east Galway style of fiddling” or “sliabh luachra style” of playing a tune. Rather it would be more accurate to say that these styles of music were not geographical but familial. There were definitive styles in which these musical families of Ireland played their music, and from that amalgam came a certain shared approach that would be given a name, such as sliabh luachra. The roots are in those magical families, and not the geography, per se. Which is why it is so lovely to hear this album from Randal and his family. This is not some international, high-powered group of young musicians bursting forth onto the festival and tour scene. No, this is Irish music the way it was born. It’s a wonderfully gifted family sitting together playing wonderful music. We don’t know how many cd’s A Rake of Tunes is going to sell, but that doesn’t seem to be the point. The point is the music—and on a deeper level, the point is the Bays family. This is what it is all about. Or supposed to be. Go to randalbays.com and get a copy of this. This is Irish music at its highest and deepest level.
Last up is Hanz Araki with his new offering, Foreign Shore. Hanz is no longer with the wonderful Kathryn Claire, but his flute playing and singing is as wonderful as ever. Being an internationally recognized Japanese-style flute master, and wonderful Irish trad player has its advantages. He and Kathryn won the Best Vocal/Instrumental Album here a couple years ago with an epic and iconic release of four wonderful cd’s in, like, 15 months, as we recall. Foreign Shores is his newest, and it is a lovely piece of business which will not disappoint his growing number of fans.
If you love Irish Trad music—and let’s remember, you are reading this column—then tune in to LiveIreland.com every Sunday at 12 noon Chicago time and 18:00 Dublin time. Produced out of Dublin every week, Imelda Bhroga and I offer a blend of the best traditional music, both brand new and classic. The show is two hours, and you are invited.