Celtic Grooves Imports - Newsletter
Issue No. 4, January 2000
Hello and Happy New Year 2000 to all,

Welcome to another issue of CGI News, bringing you lots of reviews of newly or recently released Irish CDs. Yes, I know, the Millenium is not for another year, but if you can't fight 'em...

As usual, if you'd like more information on recordings listed here or other recordings, or if you'd like to order, please contact me using the e-mail address above, or call me at 301-565-0648. If you do not want to receive this newsletter, please let me know.

                               --- RECENT RELEASES ---

*NEW* ALL HANDS AROUND: IRISH MUSIC. Another nice recording of Irish music out of New England. All Hands Around are Roger Burridge (fiddle), Dave Paton (concertina), Michael Shorrock (bouzouki, guitar), and Deirdre Murtha (vocals). Burridge's excellent fiddle playing, which Paton's simple New-England style concertina complements well, and Murtha's singing are the highlights of this album. Nice tunes, good songs--perhaps too simply arranged at times, but better that than the other way around. Rating: *** 1/2 [$15.99]

*NEW* CIAN: PADDY'S GREEN SHAMROCK SHORE. A 3-track CD--the song, plus two instrumentals, jigs and slow reels--by the hot quartet featuring Padraig Rynne on concertina and Brian Duke on flute. Rating: *** 1/2 [$9.99]

*NEW* CRAN: LOVER'S GHOST. Another wonderful recording by this great trio, Sean Corcoran (vocals, bouzouki, guitar), Ronan Browne (pipes, flutes, whistles), and Desi Wilkinson (flutes, whistles, vocals), with notable contributions by Kevin Glackin (fiddle, viola) and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill (keyboards). You will go from track to track and say "wow" each time. With the combination fiddle/pipes/ flute/bouzouki/keyboards on "Micho Russell's Jigs" or "Highlands & Reels" you'd swear the Bothies were back. Corcoran is a fine, fine singer, and he and Wilkinson create some striking vocal harmonies on "Stolen Bride," the ploughing song "Ho Bo," or "Newry Boat Song." This is my first CD bearing the date 2000, and what a way to start! Rating: **** [$21.99]

*NEW* ERRISLANNAN: ALL ABOUT TIME. Errislannan are Mick Conneely (fiddle), Brendan Boyle (button box), Adrian Burns (guitar, vocals), and Svend Kjeldsen (bodhran). Conneely's strong fiddle playing, somewhat reminiscent of Frankie Gavin's, and Boyle steady box (he plays a Briggs, by the way) make a nice pairing on the instrumental selections--apparently these two have been playing together since 1984. The accompanists are quite competent, but I found Burns' singing to be the weak side of the album. Still, this is definitely worth a listen. Rating: *** [$22.99]

*NEW* CATHAL HAYDEN. Former Four-Men-and-a-Dog fiddle and banjo player Cathal Hayden has released his second solo album--it was just announced that the first one also made it to CD, but his fiddle playing has improved quite a bit since that first recording.  If you are familiar with his band work, you won't be surprised to hear that there's quite a bit of fast and furious stuff here. The tracks that sound best to me are the ones where Hayden plays both fiddle and banjo. Excellent accompaniments by Arty McGlynn (guitar) and Brian McGrath (keyboards). Hayden plays some well known tunes as well as some lesser known gems by Brendan McGlinchey and Liz Carroll. John Carty's G Dorian jig "Seanamhach Tubestation"--appropriately a banjo solo--is a lovely tune which I hadn't heard before. Good album. Rating: **** [$23.99]

*NEW* P.J. HERNON. Yes, P.J.'s famous 1978 LP has been reissued on CD! This is a classic, folks. P.J. plays melodeon and B/C box and is joined by brother Marcus on flute. No accompaniment. As good now as it was then. Rating: **** [$18.99]

*NEW* JACQUELINE McCARTHY: THE HIDDEN NOTE. Amateurs of Irish concertina music are in luck. Jacqueline McCarthy, who previously recorded the magnificent "The Wind Among the Reeds" with piper Tommy Keane, has a new CD out and it is as wonderful as you might expect. Although there are solo tracks, with ever perfect bouzouki accompaniments by Alec Finn, this is more of a family affair. In addition to Tommy Keane (pipes, flute, fiddle, bodhran), the whole McCarthy clan, father Tommy Sr. (concertina), brother Tommy Jr. (fiddle), and sisters Marion (pipes) and Bernadette (fiddle, piano) participate in grand style. Excellent "pure drop" music. Well done. Rating: **** [$16.99]

*NEW* DARA BA/N MAC DONNCHADHA: ROGHA AMHRA/N. Fifteen songs in Gaelic by this great sean-nos singer from Connemara, a former neighbor of Joe Heaney. Full lyrics and English translations in the booklet. Rating: *** 1/2 [$19.99]

*NEW* DANNY O'DONNELL: ON TSEAN - AM ANALL. The legendary Donegal fiddle player captured 22 years ago on field recordings. This is a must-have for Donegal music fans. Although the quality of the recordings may not be quite as good as what could be achieved in a modern recording studio, the slightly muffled sound actually gives the recordings a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, a bit like the surface noise of 78s, which can transport you back in time. The old-fashioned guitar accompaniments contribute to that perception as well. O'Donnell's playing is crisp and clean on a combination of Donegal repertoire and tunes from other sources, Sligo classics and Reavy compositions. The notes are entirely in Gaelic, so grab your "foclo/ir." Rating: *** 1/2 [$23.99]

*NEW* JOHN O'HALLORAN: BUT WHY JOHNNY?. One of the most "fun" albums I have heard lately. John O'Halloran (who does look like a fun guy), originally from the island of Inishbofin and now a regular of the Galway session scene, plays the one-row melodeon with great lift and humor. He is surrounded by a host of talented musicians, Tommy McCarthy (fiddle), Louise Costello (banjo), Brendan Larrissey (fiddle), Dermot Byrne (accordion), Alec Finn (bouzouki), Martin Murray (banjo, mandolin, viola), and Jimmy Higgins (piano, bodhran). In various combinations, they bring nice variety to the tracks. But O'Halloran's melodeon sound and unique tune settings are definitely the stars of the show. Rating: **** 1/2 [$21.99]

*NEW* BRIAN ROONEY: THE GODFATHER. This is the album Finbar at Claddagh has been raving about. I love Rooney's playing, which indeed sounds a bit like Tommy Peoples' at times, mainly I think because of the syncopations, and which has a very earthy, rough-at-the-edges quality. However, I wasn't quite as blown away by the album as Finbar was. I thought the accompaniment, although very well played by Brian McGrath (piano), was a bit loud; and when Alec Finn's bouzouki is added on, it's frankly a waste. I also found Frankie Gavin's alleged "brilliant" contributions on the flute very disappointing, sounding mostly at odds with the fiddle--fortunately, he appears on only 3 of the 13 tracks (I can't believe I'm saying this...). John Carty's banjo is a better match for Rooney's fiddle. Still I think this is a recording which fiddle players and amateurs of Irish fiddle music will want to hear. Rating: *** 1/2 [$19.99]

*NEW* DEIRDRE SCANLON: SPEAK SOFTLY. Traditional and self-penned songs in English and Irish by this fine singer, originally from Nenagh, Co. Tipperary--and now a member of Solas I believe (?). Even with songs heard many times like "The Parting Glass," Scanlon's voice will make you pay attention. Rating: *** 1/2 [$21.99]

*NEW* NIOCLA/S TO/IBI/N: RINN NA NGAEL. Field recordings of the well-known Waterford Gaeltacht sean-nos singer. Nineteen songs in Gaelic, with full lyrics and English translations in the booklet. Rating: *** 1/2 [$19.99]

*NEW* VARIOUS: THE COUNTY BOUNDS. A nice new collection released by Ossian of live recordings made at the 1998 Sean O'Riada Conference, University College, Cork, and featuring music and song from the Cork-Kerry border. The instrumentalists include no less than Matt Cranitch, Jackie Daly, Maire O'Keeffe, Maurice O'Keeffe, Johnny O'Leary, Connie O'Connell, and quite a few more. There are also some fine sean-nos vocal contributions as well by Eilis Ni Suilleabhain, Eoini and Danny Maidhci O'Suilleabhain, and Cormac O'hAodha. Rating: *** 1/2 [$22.99]


PADDY KEENAN: PADDY KEENAN. Yes, Paddy's famous first LP is now on CD.

And Paddy Glackin and Micheal O'Domhnaill are hard at work on a new album. Stay tuned.

Wew... and it's only January 4!... And just in case you didn't get around to them, this is the cream of the cream from recent months:

                       --- OTHER CURRENT FAVORITES ---

BOB ABRAMS: A FOOL'S ADVICE. A delightful album featuring Abrams on box and other New England musicians playing Irish traditional music in most convincing manner. Rating: *** [$15.99]

TURLACH BOYLAN: THE TIDY COTTAGE. Excellent flute playing from this Co. Derry native and now Houston, Texas, resident. Turlach is joined by his sister Sheila (fiddle) and brother Ruari (flute), as well as Gerry O'Beirne on guitars and a few others. Nicely played and a good variety of tunes, not all Irish. Rating: ***1/2 [$16.99]

THE BRIDGE CEILI BAND: SPARKS ON FLAGS. A recent recording by the several-time and current All-Ireland champion, one of the
better recordings in this genre. Rating: *** [$19.99]

PHIL CALLERY: FROM THE EDGE OF MEMORY. For those who may not know, Phil Callery is a member of The Voice Squad, the trio whose gorgeous harmonies were a revelation a few years ago. Although some of the accompaniments are not to my taste, Callery's singing is superb. The supporting cast includes Niall O'Callanain (bouzouki), Dermot Byrne (accordion), Gay McKeon (uilleann pipes), and a host of singers who contribute lovely vocal harmonies. Rating: ***1/2 [$19.99]

THE CEILI BANDITS: HANGIN' AT THE CROSSROADS. Nice Clare music by Yvonne Casey (fiddle) and guest Kevin Griffin (banjo), with Eoin O'Neill (bouzouki) and Quentin Cooper (mandolin, guitar). My kind of hangin'... Rating: ***1/2 [$21.99]

CIAN: THREE SHOUTS FROM A HILL. High-powered playing on concertina and flute, with guitar and bodhran accompaniment. Rating: **** [$21.99]

SEAMUS CREAGH & AIDAN COFFEY. Seamus Creagh, of Daly and Creagh (1977) fame, has found another worthy accomplice in Aidan Coffey,
previously the box player with De Dannan. Lovely stuff. Rating: ***1/2 [$21.99]

DERVISH: MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT. Not the best Dervish album out there, but not a disaster by any means, these guys are too good. A
transitional album by one of the best Irish bands today, still well worth a listen. Rating: *** [$21.99]

LIZ DOHERTY: LAST ORDERS. Impressive fiddling, foot-stomping music, and lots of obscure tunes for the repertoire hungry from the young fiddle player from Buncrana, Co. Donegal, and founding member of the group Nomos who now performs with the all-woman band the
Bumblebees. Rating: *** [$21.99]

MICK FLYNN: A SINGER'S DOZEN. Amateurs of traditional singing should be interested in this recording of West Clare sean-nos singer Mick Flynn. While all the songs are in English and some of them, like "My Lagan Love," are from the drawing room tradition, Flynn's unique vocal style --which has been compared to the sound of the uilleann pipes--and strong delivery have the unmistakable sound of sean-nos singing.
Rating: ***1/2 [$19.99]

PATTY FURLONG: TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC ON BUTTON ACCORDION. A nice debut CD by this  New York box player who was one of the original 1985 "Cherish the Ladies." She is joined by no less than Benedict Koehler (pipes), Brendan Dolan (flute, piano), Fiona Doherty (fiddle), etc. Rating: ***1/2 [$15.99]

SEAMUS GLACKIN & AL.: CROSSROADS CEILI. You'll have to look hard for the names of the performers: Seamus Glackin (fiddle), Brendan Begley (accordion), Michael O'Brien (flute), Mary Corcoran (piano), and Mick Gaynor (drums). No wonder it sounds so good, somewhere between the Templehouse Ceili Band (without banjo) and Beginish. Nice sets of tunes too. Rating: ***1/2 [$21.99]

GRAINNE HAMBLY: BETWEEN THE SHOWERS. Grainne, a former student of the Janet Harbison (Belfast Harp Orchestra), is an excellent harp player who has been touring in the US not too long ago. Grainne plays a few O'Carolan tunes here, but mostly dance tunes and slow airs, nicely arranged for harp solo. Rating: ***1/2 [$16.99]

ANDREW MACNAMARA: DAWN. A lovely album by the accordion player from Tulla, Co. Clare, formerly a member of the Tulla Ceili Band, then of Skylark. MacNamara has a nice way with the tunes, finding lots of nice twists without falling into gimmickry. Rating: *** [$19.99]

COLIN NEA: THE PURE BOX. For amateurs of B/C accordion playing at its best. Colin Nea is from Co. Westmeath and has two All-Ireland Senior titles to his credit (1993-4). It should be no surprise that Nea cites the late Paddy O'Brien of Co. Tipperary as a major influence, and you'll hear it too. Rating: **** [$19.99]

JIMMY NOONAN & FRIENDS: THE CLARE CONNECTION. Lovely playing on flute and whistle, with help from his friends from the Boston Irish music scene. Nice selection of familiar and not-so-familiar tunes, and a few good songs too. Rating: *** [$16.99]

NORTH CREGG: ... AND THEY DANCED ALL NIGHT. This band plays some very energetic dance music, mixed in with contemporary songs which sound a bit out of place. Still these guys can make tunes move. Rating: ***1/2 [$21.99]

FINOLA O'SIOCHRU: SEARC MO CHLEIBH - LOVE OF MY HEART. One of the most impressive vocal albums (sean-nos singing in Gaelic) of the past year. Five of the 10 tracks have instrumental accompaniment (Steve Cooney, Maire Breatnach, Brendan Begley), quite successful for the most part. O'Siochru's voice deserves to be heard. Full Gaelic texts are included. Rating: **** [$24.99]

MIKE & MARY RAFFERTY: THE OLD FIRESIDE MUSIC. A most enjoyable recording of traditional music from East Co. Galway, by two of its best contemporary representatives. Rating: **** [$16.99]

JOHN REGAN: LET DOWN THE BLADE. Sligo B/C box player John Regan plays at a leisurely pace and is joined by fiddle player Paddy Glackin on 5 of the 19 tracks--there are echoes there of other famous duets, O'Brien and Connolly, Burke and McGann... Many classic tunes, and quite a few lesser known ones that one always rediscovers with pleasure. Solid piano accompaniment by Mary Corcoran. Rating: **** [$21.99]

KEVIN ROWSOME: THE ROWSOME TRADITION. Grandson of Leo (the King of the Pipers) and son of Leon, Kevin Rowsome is a past Oireachtas winner (1991) and a masterful piper in his own right. The CD consists of 12 tracks by Kevin followed by 6 additional tracks of archive recordings by Leo and Liam. Kevin Rowsome plays pipes pitched in C, C#, and D, and is joined by Lorraine Hickey (fiddle), Pat Marsh (bouzouki), and others.
Rating: **** [$23.99]

MICHAEL TUBRIDY: THE EAGLE'S WHISTLE. Classic "pure drop" 1978 album by the Clare flute, whistle, and concertina player, recently reissued on CD. Rating: ***1/2 [$19.99]

VARIOUS: THE MOUNTAIN ROAD - TUNES POPULAR IN SOUTH SLIGO. A great new production from the Coleman Heritage Center in Gurteen, Co. Sligo. Pure drop music by such renowned "Coleman Country" players as Peter Horan, Philip Duffy, P.J. Hernon, Deirdre Collis, Paddy Ryan, Seamus Quinn, Colm O'Donnell (see also his solo album), and many more. Thirty tracks of great Sligo music, with occasional piano accompaniments. A companion book is also available and I will be selling either the CD or the book & CD set. Rating: **** [CD $19.99, book + CD $38.95]

VARIOUS: A NEW DAWN - UILLEANN PIPING, ANOTHER GENERATION. A collection of recordings by brilliant young pipers, including Baltimore sensation Eliot Grasso. The playing, unaccompanied throughout, is of the highest caliber, and the diversity of styles and timbres is sure to keep the listener's attention. An outstanding new CD for lovers of Irish piping. Rating: **** [$21.99]

JOHN VESEY: SLIGO FIDDLER. A treasure of a 2-CD set, compiled from private recordings of the great Ballincurry fiddle player who lived in Philadelphia
and made an LP for Shanachie in the 1970s. Rating: ***1/2 [$26.99]

Copyright Philippe Varlet 2002