Live Review : The New Leitrim Equation is a Breath of Fresh Air by Shane Meehan

The new Leitrim Equation is a breath of fresh air. What makes this Leitrim Equation residency stand out is that the four members are all from Leitrim. Each member – Eleanor Shanley, John McCartin, Padraig McGovern and Dave Sheridan – possess great personality. At the launch last Wednesday in the Dock, Carrick on Shannon, it was evident that these were four old friends who love music, and who love to play and share it. Their passion for Leitrim music was infectious.

Although over the last few weeks they have been meeting up to arrange and research material that is solely from Leitrim, their sound has been honed over many years. There is that Leitrim drive and pulsating rhythm, but there is also a synergy of personalities which is very much at play. Sheridan’s highly ornamental flute style with its playfulness and boldness weaved in and out of McGovern’s steady melodic subtleness on pipes, and his palpable rhythm ricocheted off the others. McCartin, on guitar, held together this dialogue between the two melody instruments, and created a groove propelling them on yet refraining from pushing them over the edge. It was a musical conversation full of mischief and fun.

McGovern’s rendition of the slow air Cath Cheim an Fhia which was followed by a march called the Fairy Trooper, was particularly memorable. The air was a nice diversion from the fast paced reels and jigs – contemplative and sweetly executed. McGovern’s expressive qualities then gave way to the excitement of the march which demonstrated the absolute control he has over the pipes. The melody was accompanied by his deft regulator work which provided an amazing counterpoint to the melody. There was no shortage of songs from Eleanor Shanley. She sang in between sets of tunes which added great variety to the concert. At the end of the night she sang her mother’s favourite song Hard Times which roused the audience into a choir on the chorus.

The great excitement of the night makes it clear that Leitrim has something to offer musically. Leitrim Equation 4 has set out firm footedly to showcase the often overlooked musicians and rich tradition of Leitrim, and also to make its people more aware of what is on their doorstep. Dave Sheridan said: “for years and years people would ask where you’re from and you’d say Leitrim and they’d say ‘oh, I won’t hold that against ya’. So, they don’t really know that there’s a fortune of very good music down here, so our aim is to push that out there.”

For more information on the Leitrim Equation, contact Leitrim County Council Arts Office on 071 9621694

Review by Shane Meehan

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