Traditional Irish Music
After a seventeen year hiatus, Connemara melodeon player, Mícheál Darby Ó Fátharta, is back on the music scene with a new album, An Rithim Réidh. The title, roughly translated as ‘the steady rhythm’ is an apt description of Mícheál’s distinctive melodeon playing: an unassuming, mellow, easy going style that underscores a deep respect and understanding of the instrument.
In the liner notes Mícheál says that like many households in Connemara, the Darby family had an accordion and this instrument facilitated his first forays into music. The melodeon, he says was also very common in Connemara, brought home perhaps by returning emigrants, and it appealed to musicians and dancers alike because of its accessibility' and robust melodic volume.
“The melodeon became my instrument of choice, and although, I can't quite recall where I first heard it, the playing of PJ Hernon and Bobby Gardiner certainly sparked my interest and I was very taken by the melodeon's distinctive, sweet sound. However, Johnny Connolly’s seminal recording, An tOileán Aerach, had a profound effect on me and Johnny, as a musician and as a person, has constantly inspired me. The melodeon is regarded by many as a constrictive instrument, having only one row of buttons and seven diatonic notes, but Johnny's innovative playing managed to overcome these restraints and showed us new possibilities regarding the melodeon.”
It was around this time Mícheál bought his first melodeon from Brendan Mulhaire in Galway. “I spent many nights picking up tunes from Johnny's sessions in An Crúiscín Lán and Tigh Hughes with Micheál Ó hEidhin and Liam O'Hara and I also listened to many Connemara players including John Gannon from An Droim, Leitir Móir, now living in Boston; Páidí Tom Bán Breathnach from Leitir Mór na Coille; Michael Phat Thomáis from Carna and Inis Boffin's own Johnny O'Halloran. It heartens me to see the younger players still opting for the melodeon and may they increase and multiply in Connemara and all over Ireland! “
This is Track 1 from the album featuring the jigs The Furze in Bloom and Joe Cooley’s. The Furze in Bloom, composed by fiddle player Gerry Harrington, featured on the 1996 album The Smoky Chimney, recorded with Eoghan O’Sullivan and Paul de Grae. The second jig was a favourite of the legendary box player, Joe Cooley, and he learned it from the wonderful 1985 recording I gCnoc na Graí with Noel Hill and Tony Mac Mahon. It is also known as The Castle Jig and Seán Ryan’s Jig.
Reels and jigs are to the fore in this compilation which also includes a selection of waltzes barn dances, hornpipes and a slow air, all of which have a personal resonance for Ó Fátharta, having heard and assimilated them over the years. Not surprisingly, Ireland’s greatest melodeon and box players, many of whom are mentioned above, are among Mícheál’s main sources of inspiration.
Tracks were recorded and produced last summer by Donogh Hennessy and Mícheál in Studio Mhic an Daill in Dingle, Co. Kerry. Donogh’s guitar work features on most tracks and Mícheál is also joined by guest musicians Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh on flute, Trevor Hutchinson on double base and Dessie Kelleher on banjo.
The melodeon is given pride of place on the album’s attractive cover together with a rather cheeky seagull! Mícheál collaborated with artist Dara McGee to create an image that gives a sense of place together with deference to an instrument that has long been associated with Mícheál’s native Cois Fharraige.
Musician Róisín Nic Dhonncha will launch An Rithim Réidh in Tigh Chualáin, Indreabhán at 7.30 pm on March 11th and all are welcome. Mícheál will perform a selection from the album and he will be joined by guest musicians, singers and dancers. Performers will include Ceoltóirí Óga Chonamara.
An Rithim Réidh is available in all good record shops and can be downloaded from www.cdbaby.com
The album is also available as a free download for broadcasters that are part of our Digital Download Centre.
Recording and mixing: Donogh Hennessy, Studio Mhic an
Daill, An Daingean, Co. Chiarrai. ,
Produced: Donogh Hennessy agus Mícheál Darby
Mastering: Jim Salamone, Cambridge Sound Studios, Philadelphia.
Donogh Hennessy - guitars
Trevor Hutchinson - double bass
Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh - flute
Dessie Kelleher - banjo
Artwork: Dara McGee
Printing: All Write Media Ltd
Photography: Seán Ó Mainnín
Tradconnect's Worldwide Launch Articles are commercial articles that mark the addition of an album to our Download Centre, where broadcasters can access the album and download it for free to play on their various radio stations. Content for these articles is sourced from the artists press release and liner notes, supplemented with additional content from the artist as required. If you would like to find out more about this initiative please contact us.
Add a Comment