Patrick Ourceau: fiddle
Eamon O'Leary: guitar, banjo, vocals
Dana Lyn: fiddle
Mick Moloney: banjo
Cillian Vallely, Ivan Goff: uilleann pipes
Brian Holleran, Chris Layer: flutes
Susan McKeown, Steve Johnson, Jeff Owens: vocals
Brendan Dolan: piano

I have written on several occasion that I often find live recordings of Irish traditional music to have the most immediate appeal, because of their being so palpably genuine and engaging. This brand new CD, recorded at Mona's, an Irish pub on the lower east side of New York City, is no exception. In his introductory essay, Mick Moloney does not hesitate to describe the Monday night session there as one of the very best in the world. Indeed, the album not only contains lovely music but also conveys a sense of the conviviality and informality which shaped the performances. This is a true "live" recording, where crowd and pub noises and aside commentaries are very present. But far from being distracting these help draw you in, as do Moloney's excellent essay and the artwork, starting with that gorgeous cover photo. You can almost smell the place... In that respect, the album as a whole is very successful at not being just a "container" for music, but instead a vehicle to bring across a whole experience, a sense of being there. And this is not to say that the music itself is negligible, for it isn't. Ourceau--"the other French Irish fiddle player in the US" as I like to call him--is a lovely player, whose considerable talents have gotten attention before with the wonderful CD "Tracin'" he recorded with concertina player Gearoid O'hAllmhurain. His duets on this album with Dana Lyn, Cillian Vallely, and Ivan Goff, the latter playing a set of pipes pitched in B, all have their special sound. While the overall character of the music leans towards understatement and subtlety, there are moments of quiet brilliance, like Brendan Dolan choice of chords for "The Bunch of Green Rushes," or Aidan Brennan's perfect guitar work behind his own singing of "Madam I'm a Darlin'." Hmmm, if I leave right now, and drive straight up, I might make it for the last few tunes...

Rating: ****

Price: $16.99
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    Gearoid O'hAllmhurain & Patrick Ourceau: Tracin'
1. Reels: Miss Thornton's / My Love is in America
2. Jigs: The Goat on the Green / The Pipe on the Hob
3. Reels: The Bunch of Green Rushes / Cloone Reel
4. Song: Maidin Fhomhair
5. Reels: The Chattering Magpie / The Flax in Bloom
6. Reels: The Jug of Punch / McDonagh's
7. Jigs: Tobin's Favourite / Jackson's Bottle of Brandy
8. Song: Madam I'm a Darlin'
9. Reels: The New Road / Lady's Pantalettes
10. Waltz: Waiting for Emilie
11. Jigs: I Buried my Wife & Danced on Her Grave / Will You Come with Me?
12. Song: Craigie Hills
13. Reels: The Mountain Lark / The Heathery Breeze / The Connaught Heifers
14. Reels: The Black Haired Lass / Aggie White's Chattering Magpie / Crowley's
15. Reels: The Thrush in the Storm / The Maids of Tulla
16. Song: I Was a Young Man
17. Reels: The Hare's Paw / Knocknagow / The Templehouse