Traditional Irish Music
As i told earlier, I started my "life" in irish trad almost exclusively on "the Dubs" and the Corries. "t Was only some years ago that I discovered "Transatlantic Sessions" and "the Highland Sessions" which were a real eye-opener to me. How blind had I been....there's so much out there!! But however true that may be, the Dubs and the Corries have always been, and still are, a true joy to me. The Dubs after all these years can still make me smile, and Roy Williamson can still bring a tear to my eye....
My "Founding Fathers and Mothers" are quite a few!!! My first exposure to "Celtic Music" was The Pentangle, out of England (back in my young hippie days). Many of their songs had that likable flavour that drew me to learn and perform them. Later, I heard the lovely voice and music of Loreena McKennitt, out of Canada. Her early CDs were mostly of Irish Music, though presently she is considered more of a performer of "World/Celtic Music". As far as "Irish Music"??? I have to begin with Planxty and The Bothy Band. Andy Irvine (Sally Brown, Kellswater, Plains of Kildare), Christy Moore (Only Our Rivers Run Free, As I Roved Out, Well Below The Valley), Triona ni Dhomhniall/Bothy Band (Maid of Coolmore), The Dubliners (Dicey Reilly, Go To Sea No More, Foggy Dew, Muirsheen Durkin), Martin McCarthy (John Barleycorn, Hog Eye Man), Dick Gaughan, out of Scotland (Wind That Shakes The Barley) are some of the artists and songs that I learned first when I truly immersed myself into performing and singing Irish ballads, sea chanties, & pub songs.
I think the very first song I ever learned was "the Shores of Loch Bran" by de Dannann, over all the Dubliners stuff I learned later on....I think Dolores Keane was the singer back then. I still utterly love to sing that song :-)
Well, for me it has to have been the Clancey Brothers, The Chieftains and Planxty. I'm about to speak heresy now when I say that The Dubliners were never actually particular favourites of mine. Sure, I used to enjoy them, but I never bought many of their albums. And now I will compound the heresy by admitting that I was just about the right age when The Fureys brought out "When you were Sweet Sixteen" with that wonderfully eclectic banjo solo in the middle of it. It was about the time that it came out when I started playing a bit myself. I'll also cheerfully admit that I loved Mary Black and Clannad.
Of course, being English, I've come across lots of stuff on the Folk circuit, much of it probably best forgotten. Having said that there is something vital about the work of The Copper Family that has a special place in my heart. They were responsible for bringing a great deal of trad English song into the spotlight. For those of you not familiar with them here is a clip. I'm sure there will be some parallels to be drawn between them and the Irish ballad tradition.
There was also the work of a certain Peter Bellamy. Another English singer who was renowned fot setting the poetry of Rudyard Kippling to music. Here's a performance of one such song in the style of Bellamy but being done here by Jon Boden. Sadly Bellamy died in 1991.
There you go.....thats some of the reason why I turned out the way I did !!!
For me...it was the Clancy's and Tommy Makem and the Irish Rovers....I was raised on that stuff. In fact, I was named after Liam Clancy (as per my original birth certificate, my middle name was Clancy for 30 days, until my mother changed it to her grandmother's maiden name, Cleary)....My father would sing me to sleep with ballads and rebel songs, rather than your standard lallabies.
As a teen, I bought a guitar and strayed into the world of Rock, Blues, Punk & Metal...
It wasn't until I was a bit older, in my early twenties that I found the Dubs...I was blown away!!! It's the Dubliners who rekindled my love relatioinship with the ballad tradition...its also the Dubliners that gave me my first exposure to trad tunes! The Dubs were a true traditional cross-over band and the model on which I base my band (ie mostly ballads with a healthy dose of tunes thrown in the mix for good measure).
Within a few years I then discovered Planxty and Christy Moore and Andy Irvine...I haven't looked back since.
If you ever encounter it, Liam Clancy has written his memoirs, "the Mountain of the Women" which were also published as an audio-book, read by Liam himself. Great stuff that I heartily recommend....
I went to see Cara Dillon last month, here in Rotterdam. Wonderfull concert. And a great lady. We spoke for a while after the concert, really great meeting her :-) She did a really great version of Garden Valley. God, do I love that song...
Yah, I thought it pretty cool too :-)