We have had a first listen to an outstanding new live album taken from The Burren Backroom Series of concerts, and include a track for you below.
"These songs & tunes were recorded between October of 2011 & August of 2014. They represent the diversity of the traditional music performed at the iconic Boston area pub known as The Burren, in the heart of Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts. Founded in 1996 by musicians Tommy McCarthy & Louise Costello, the pub has become a mecca for musicians of many stripes over the past two decades. The Burren is known for its friendly, informal, & invitational sessions that celebrate not just traditional Irish music, but Bluegrass, Country, Appalachian, Blues, Jazz, & Rock.
In collaboration with WGBH, the public media powerhouse in Boston, a new series known as The Burren Backroom Series was launched in 2011. Hosted by Brian O’Donovan, & broadcast on his weekly program, A Celtic Sojourn, the series features traditional & contemporary music from around Ireland & the rest of the Celtic world.
This CD represents just 14 tracks from an already extensive library of recordings that keeps building. That the collection is labeled Volume 1, clearly suggests there is a lot more to come!
We will post a separate article on the following, but for those of you in Ireland there will be a launch in The National Concert hall in Dublin on January 14th with most of the artists below in attendance. All proceeds of that concert will go to St Patricks Mental Health Foundation and their Walk in my Shoes initiative.
ABOUT THE MUSIC
1) DERVISH: The Creggan White Hare (Trad. Arr. Dervish)
The Sligo-based Dervish is one of the premiere traditional bands touring today. They have been thrilling large audiences in Boston for years, but for this recording, decided to forego the usual theatre concert in favor of the intimacy of the Backroom. (Recorded: March 7, 2012)
2) DERMOT BYRNE, FLORIANNE BLANCKE & BRID HARPER: The Monaghan Jig; The Templehouse
A masterful combination of Harp, Accordion & Fiddle featuring Donegal music at its finest. For this appearance at the Burren, this trio were on the way home from the yearly Catskills Irish Arts Week in upstate New York. (Recorded: July 25, 2012)
3) THE TEETOTALERS: Green Fields of Woodford (Jack Coen), The Nightingale (Sean Ryan), The Castle (Sean Ryan)
This was one of the most anticipated concerts of the series. The prospect of hearing Martin Hayes, Kevin Crawford, & John Doyle playing together excited traditional music fans throughout the city. As you can clearly hear on this selection of tunes, they exceeded even those high expectations. (Recorded: May 01, 2013)
4) SEAN KEANE: The Man from Connemara (© 1993 Robbie O'Connell, Slievenamon Music, [BMI])
One of the great traditional singers, Seán Keane is equally at home in old-style unaccompanied songs as he is in Country, Bluegrass, or even Beatles repertoire. This song written by Robbie O’Connell is about Jimmy “Horse” Keane, father of Chicago piano accordion player, Jimmy Keane. It is a powerful tribute to Irish immigrants. For this concert, Seán was accompanied by long-time collaborators Pat Coyne & Fergus Feely. (Recorded: March 19, 2014)
5) LIZ CARROLL with JAKE CHARRON: The Yellow Tinker (trad.); The Yellow Pantsuit (Liz Carroll, Grow Your Own Music/BMI)
Chicago native Liz Carroll’s stature as a fiddler & composer has only grown over the years, & her inspirational approach to spreading the wealth of traditional Irish music has contributed in very significant ways to this next dynamic generation of young fiddlers world-wide. Multi-instrumentalist Jake Charron is from Canada & brings Quebecois & Cape Breton influences to his accompaniments. (Recorded: June 18, 2014)
6) SLIABH NOTES: Polkas - John Collins’ Fancy (trad. arr. Sliabh Notes); Eileen’s Polka (trad. arr. Sliabh Notes); Ned Kelly’s Polka (Ned Kelly)
Matt Cranitch, Donal Murphy and Tommy O’Sullivan brought their unique take on the wonderful music of Sliabh Luachra to the series. And what better way to celebrate this distinct style of traditional Irish music than playing a lively set of polkas. (Recorded: March 07, 2013)
7) ANDY IRVINE: Farewell to Kellswater (trad. arr. Andy Irvine)
Andy is one of the true icons of traditional Irish singing & instrumental music. His recordings with Planxty, Paul Brady, Patrick Street, & more recently Mosaic, are amongst the most important in the history of the genre. As a solo performer, his interpretations of traditional songs like Kellswater, with inventive string accompaniment on bouzouki – an instrument he helped introduce to Irish music – are truly unique. (Recorded: June 04, 2014)
8) JACQUELINE McCARTHY & TOMMY KEANE: The Trip Over the Mountains. (trad. arr.)
Jacqueline grew up in the musical richness of the Clare-connected McCarthy family, had that moved to London in the 1950s. Her dad Tommy was a piper who helped his son Tommy create the Burren pub back in the mid 1990s. Having Jacqueline & her husband Tommy from Waterford – a well-known uilleann piper - on the Backroom stage had a magical symmetry to it. This particular piece was a favorite of Tommy senior’s. (Recorded: April 23, 2014)
9) BATTLEFIELD BAND: Mrs MacDougall's; The Swallow's Tail; The Scholar (trad. arr. Battlefield Band. pub. Kinmor Music); Lord McConnell Of Lough Erne & Lochend (Allan MacDonald, pub. Allan MacDonald)
Batttlefield Band was originally formed in 1969. Since then its members have changed many times but the quartet who played the Backroom for this concert continue with a unique approach to Scottish music showing a zest for adventure. Sean O'Donnell, Ewen Henderson, Alasdair White, & Mike Katz certainly packed a punch as evidenced by this, their final set of tunes in the concert. (Recorded: April 03, 2013)
10) TEADA with SEAMUS BEGLEY: Cill Mhuire
When Kerryman Seamus Begley joined Teada a number of years ago, it was a blending of one of the most dynamic youthful traditional Irish bands & a seasoned singer from the Gaeltacht whose gravitas, repertoire, & approach were matched by a wild sense of humor! The beauty of this song in Gaelic, in praise of the townland of Cill Mhuire, indicates that the combination was very successful indeed. (Recorded: July 30, 2014)
11) SHARON SHANNON, TOMMY McCARTHY, LOUISE COSTELLO & JIM MURRAY: The Abbey Reel Touch Me If You Dare
The musical relationship between Sharon Shannon & Tommy & Louise goes back a long time. In August of 2014, when Sharon eschewed playing a big Boston Theatre opting instead like many others for the intimacy of the Backroom Series, Tommy & Louise decided to record this piece before the crowds arrived! This set of reels, accompanied by the brilliant guitarist Jim Murray, is the result. (Recorded: August 06, 2014)
12) CARLOS NUNEZ: Aires De Pontevedra (Trad. arr. Carlos Núñez)
This was a night to remember for the sold out crowd. For Carlos who often plays to tens of thousands of fans in Europe, choosing to play to an audience of 100 is a testament to the attraction of the series. Joined by brother Xurxo, & Pancho Álvarez as well as guesting fiddlers Hanneke Cassel & Katie McNally, this was the closing tune. On this recording, you can hear the excitement in the room. (Recorded: October 08, 2012)
13) ROBBIE O’CONNELL: Farewell Until Tomorrow (© 2011 Robbie O'Connell, Slievenamon Music, [BMI])
Robbie has been a stalwart of the singing scene here in New England since moving to Boston in the 1970s. For many years, he was a centerpiece of the Clancy Brothers, his uncles. His solo work features a warm blend of original & traditional songs, storytelling, & sing-alongs. This is an original song of Robbie’s but written in the traditional form of a “goodnight” or “farewell” song. A great way to say goodbye after a very special concert. (Recorded: April 04, 2013)
14) LUNASA: The Minor Bee Set: Minor Slip; Ronde de Loudeac (each of these tracks trad. arr. Trevor Hutchinson/Donogh Hennessy/Sean Smyth/Kevin Crawford /Cillian Vallely) SGO Music Publishing Ltd; The Red Bee (Joe Liddy) IMRO
What a way to end this first CD with a rousing performance by a group clearly on top of their game. Magic tunes, the exuberance of Lunasa, a great and warmed up crowd, & the intimacy of The Burren, What a combination. Kevin Crawford, Cillian Vallely, Trevor Hutchinson, Ed Boyd, & Seán Smyth. (Recorded: August 1, 2012)