Official "Online Album Launch" - Josie Nugent & Brian Stafford / The Caves of Cong

Welcome to the Tradconnect Official Album Launch series.  For members and readers this series of articles will introduce you to a new traditional album for the first time. We are working with artists to bring a little bit more excitement to the “online launch”.  The first time you share a track from a new recording with your fans and audience is important and we are delighted to bring new exclusive tracks to you.

The Caves of Cong is the debut album from Josie Nugent and Brian Stafford.  Josie is a Clare native and Brian originally comes from Derry.  He comes from the great piping tradition that centered around the uilleann piper Finbarr McLaughlin who taught him and also made his concert set of pipes. Both now live in Belfast.

In the notes to the album they state that “the album pays homage to music from the collections, much of which dates from before the Great Famine. Some of the melodies are unusual versions of commonly known tunes, many may not have been heard in living memory. B♭ pipes blend with the evocative sound of the Stroh fiddle in the unusual air Ó! mo ċailín d'imṫiġ sí! Elsewhere they feature with fiddle and octave violin in lively jigs from the Petrie manuscripts”.  This combination of instruments, and in particular the Stroh fiddle give the album a unique sound.  The range of tunes include “Quadrilles and Barn Dances, Hop Jigs and Set Dances, Airs and the unique Old Foxhunters' Jigg from the second volume of Tunes of the Munster Pipers".  

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Joining Josie and Brian on the album are Edel McLaughlin on piano and piano accordion,  Alan Burke on guitar and Mary Nugent on flute.  With these launches we include an exclusive track from the album and included below is The Green Pidgeon/Fair Maids of Ireland both of which are are taken from the Goodman Manuscripts.

For this recording Josie and Brian have come up with a great selection of new tunes from the collections of Goodman, Petrie and others.  We recently spoke to Josie and Brian about how this came about.

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“We have both had an interest in the music to be found in the 19th and early 20th century collections for some time” Brian says. “Recently, there has been a lot of interest in music collected by the Rev James Goodman, especially among uilleann pipers. There are quite a few intriguing settings of well known tunes among the more unusual ones there, which piqued our interest. However, rather than producing another album of Goodman tunes we started going through our other collections, especially Petrie. We weren't looking so much for unusual versions of tunes as ones which could be put together to create a "musical journey" through the album."

"I think we spent about 5 or 6 weeks of evenings towards the end of last year going through our collections. We got quite familiar with them, leafing through pages of music and spotting shapes of melodies we liked. Once we had found tunes for a few key moments through the set list, the rest came quickly enough.  The set list for the album had reached its final form some time about January. Then it was down to learning and rehearsing.”

The use of a Stroh fiddle is another nice touch on the recording adding variety and texture to a couple of the sets. “There were a few factors at play in this decision” Josie says. “Once we had worked out what material we wanted to put on the album, we decided that there was scope to add colour and variety to the music using the instruments we had available. When we came to arranging Ó! mo chailín d'imthigh sí! I felt the melancholic character of the air played on Bb pipes would suit the Stroh fiddle. The Stroh fiddle has been used before in traditional music, Julia Clifford notably used one and Michael Coleman used one on his early recordings.” The influence for getting one came from the work of Tom Waits, as Josie is a big fan!  “We tried out a test recording and decided the resulting sound effect had potential” she says.

The Caves of Cong is now available to purchase at Josie & Brian’s website : www.josiebrianmusic.info

Musicians

Josie Nugent : Fiddle, Octave Violin, Stroh Fiddle

Brian Stafford : Uilleann pipes

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Guest Musicians

Edel McLaughlin : Piano, Piano Accordion

Alan Burke : Guitar

Mary Nugent : Flute

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Produced : Josie Nugent & Brian Stafford

Recorded & Mastered : John Blake at The Lion’s Den Studio, Dublin

Mixed : John, Josie & Brian

Artwork : Susan Hughes

Photography & Sleeve Design : Leona Gallen

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