Album Review - Dermot Rafferty / The Green Bunch of Joy

The Green Bunch of Joy is an album of music that “connects us with hopes and disappointments, sorrows and joys of those that have gone but who live again when we play their tunes” according to Dermot Rafferty who conceived this album and project some time back.  It is a superb example of what can be achieved these days when you have a reason, a driving vision and most of all a musical statement to make. This is a collection of tunes and airs that were once popular in the counties of Armagh and Down, but with the passing of time fell from the common repertoire.  These counties we know have a rich cultural history and the majority of tunes were passed on from Dermot’s uncles and family when growing up.   It provides a link back several generations.  The collection draws on music he heard locally and from various collections including Patrick McGahon, Luke Donnellan, Edward Bunting and others.

Dermot has somehow achieved a great earthy echo and texture on the recording with the opening McKenna’s, a slow reel on alto flute outstanding for it deep mellow feel.  Dermot is also joined by Seamus Sands, a Newry fiddler that he has known since childhood, renowned for his sensitivity, rhythm and understanding of the music.  This is evident, as is his musical relationship with Dermot.  Some great tracks including Henry Savage’s Barn-dances, Paddy Rafferty’s Jigs, and more commonly known tunes like Scotch Groves/Toss the Feathers/The Dictates of Love.  Toss the Feathers in this set is a strongly piping-influenced version which Dermot says is a welcome change from the standard version The music selection does indeed bring some unknown tunes back into the public eye and the hope is that they come back once again into common usage.   All in all this is a very rewarding album that could get missed in an age when high profile releases seem to dominate.  The Green Bunch of Joy shows that the true heart of the music is still local.  In every village and town there is a history and tradition to the music and if they could all record and present it as good as Dermot Rafferty does on this album we would be awash with fantastic tunes and recordings of local heroes.  

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Comment by Snij on January 15, 2014 at 23:46

A great album demonstrating that rhythmic and punchy sound from the North.  Well done.  Thanks

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