Traditional Irish Music
Irish folk singer and San Francisco resident Cormac Gannon has just released his new solo album called ‘Different’. One of the founding member of the San Francisco based Irish band The Gas Men, Cormac was born in County Mayo in the West of Ireland and moved to San Francisco in 1991. With the lively Irish music scene at The Plough and Stars Pub in San Francisco, he met up with other musicians and quickly developed his repertoire of folk ballads. Cormac starting out playing bodhrán and singing and later took up playing guitar and uilleann pipes and can still be heard playing concerts, sessions and at house parties around The San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
Regarding the album Cormac said: "After years of playing gigs with the San Francisco based Irish band The Gas Men, playing at sessions and house parties, guesting on other musicians CD's and playing with the band The Toast Inspectors, it was time to do some recording of my own. With my computer and a couple of good microphones I decided to record some songs that I like to sing and play. Thanks to the amazing singer-songwriters, Vince Keehan, John Hoban, Padraig Stevens and John Spillane who gave me permission to record their songs. I have included a few other favorites including some Irish traditional songs and songs by Jimmy McCarthy, Townes Van Zant and Steve Earle. As well as Irish music, I am a huge fan of the music of the 1970's, the music that I heard on the radio while growing up in Ireland and I have included a couple on this recording by the English folk rock bands, Lindisfarne and Splinter. I am delighted to be accompanied on fiddle on "I'm Going To Set You Free" by Catherine John. Sound engineer and co-producer of this album, Burke Trieschmann sings backing vocals on "Brave Bold Donnelly", "I Got To Dance With The Rose Of Tralee" and "If I Needed You". Burke also plays harmonica on "If I Needed You" and guitar on"I Got To dance with Rose Of Tralee". I play guitar, bodhrán (Irish drum) and uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes) on this album. I hope you enjoy the recording."
Here is a sample track from the album.
Music writer Jamie Robash covers this new release in a recent article from Divide and Conquer Music: “For many Americans the extent of their idea about Irish culture is one day a year when they douse themselves in green garb and spend the day traveling like a horde of drunken Ulysses around town and getting themselves drunk on Guinness and shots of Jameson or some cheap, watered down Pilsner that has been dyed green for the day. Then they stumble home, puke and forget about it until the next March.
During these sojourns however one is likely to hear a fair amount of tunes from the Pogues and Flogging Molly, et al, and likely thousands of covers of “Whiskey in the Jar.” Though if one is lucky enough one might also run into a live set of musicians playing traditional Irish folk tunes, which drunk or sober are among the most heartfelt and endearing songs you will ever hear anywhere. Irish culture has given to the arts perhaps more than any other culture, some of its greatest treasures. I am thinking here of Yeats, Joyce and Beckett, just to name some heavy hitters. There is a lot of pain in Ireland’s history, which is well documented in song, but also so much happiness. It is this mix of pain and pleasure that makes traditional Irish folk songs so endearing and lasting.
Irish folk singer Cormac Gannon was born in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland and moved to San Francisco in 1991. It was here with like-minded musicians that Gannon formed the group Orla and The Gas Men, and played traditional Irish folk ballads, himself singing and playing bodhrán, guitar, and eventually uilleann pipes.
Gannon decided to put together an album of traditional Irish folk songs along with an original and a tune by Townes Van Zant and Steve Earle. It’s called Different and it is an impressionable album no matter what time of year it is.
Opening with “I'm Going To Set You Free” Gannon begins to lay down the traditional tones and sounds for which Irish music is known. He takes some twists and turns though like the mellow and sparse “Up Mayo” and then the beautiful and episodic “I Got to Dance with the Rose of Tralee” and then the Neil Young-esque “Ride On.”
If you’re not a fan of Irish folk music for 364 days out of the year then Different will likely be lost on you. However if you approach it from the standpoint of an open mind you will find Gannon’s vocals to be a lovely siren song and his musicianship and attention to detail to be inspiring.”
The album is also available as a free download for broadcasters that are part of our Download Centre.
Catherine John: (fiddle on 'I'm Going To Set You Free').
Burke Trieschmann: (backing vocal on 'Bold Donnelly' - guitar, banjo and backing vocal on 'I Got To Dance With The Rose Of Tralee' and harmonica and backing vocals on 'If I Needed You').
Spencer and Teresa Gannon: (backing vocals on 'Run For Home').
Cover Photo and disc photo by Spencer Cannon. All other images by Cormac Gannon
Thank you to the wonderful singers/songwriters, John Spillane, John Hoban, Padráig Stevens and Vince Keehan for giving me their kind permission to record their wonderful songs.
Thank you Kyle AIden for sharing your knowledge and for all your support and lending your ear.
Thank you Larry Donlon for your friendship and all the great music and encouragement over the years.
Thanks to all the wonderful musicians whom I have had the privilege of playing with over the years - to the venues that support live Irish music including. The Plough & Stars, San Francisco (Sean, Eoin and all the staff) and the United Irish Cultural Center, San Francisco.
Special thanks to my loving family, Ella, Spencer and Teresa, for all their patience and support. © Cormac Gannon - Heartbeat Music 2017
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