Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Music from the Atlantic Fringe

Music from the Atlantic Fringe

The Atlantic fringe is what it sounds like - the landscapes, coasts and waters to the west and to the east of the north Atlantic sea. That’s a wide sea, as anyone who has traveled between Ireland and North America knows. That distance is perhaps not the first thing that Cathy Jordan, Seamie O’Dowd, and Rick Epping had in mind when deciding on the music they’d include on this album, but it’s a subtle presence nonetheless, from the opening track Out on the Western Plains, a cowboy blues song of the American west, to the closing cut, Eileen a Ruin, which Jordan first heard sung in the far northwest on Ireland, at a pub in Donegal.

It’s an unusual and creative selection of songs, both melodically and in where the music comes from . Out on the Western Plains -- known also as When I Was a Cowboy --is from bluesman Leadbelly, and yet treats of the far west, and here it is paired with the reel Jenny’s Welcome to Charlie. Jordan then takes the lead on what is a cross between folk and formal song, Becky at the Loom, said to have been composed by a soldier in the American War Between the States, a Confederate far from home. There’s a set of Sligo reels, followed by a song from a contemporary Sligo writer whose title, It’s Cool to Be Green, gives a clue to its content. The Diamantia Drover finds its protagonist reflecting on ties that bind and lives that separate. There are several more songs and reels, well connected in both idea and musicality, with the three musicians putting of folk spin on The Rolling Stones classic No Expectations before winding home with a slip jig given a touch of blue, and then quiet longing found in the song Eileen a Ruin.

O’Dowd, who plays guitar, fiddle, and harmonica, grew up in Sligo in the west of Ireland and is known for his work with accordion player Mairtin O'Connor among others. Jordan, from Roscommon, is perhaps best known as lead singer with the top traditional band Dervish, and plays tenor guitar and bodhran. Epping, who is from California, has been moving back and forth between Ireland and America for three decades and has played banjo and concertina with the likes of Bill Monroe and Joe Cooley. Each is a gifted singer as well as instrumentalist.

This recording is much like a session with three very creative song selectors, and gifted players as well. How much O’Dowd, Jordan and Epping enjoyed sharing with music with each other comes across clearly in their playing and singing, and is in turn shared with those who listen, and there’s more to hear with each time it is is played.

you may also like to see

Gretchen Peters: One to the Heart, One to the Head

Crooked Still: Still Crooked

Cathie Ryan: Songwriter

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Blogger Alexandra Grabbe said...

I love listening to music when you can tell the musicians are really having fun together, like the ambiance in the E Street Band. It gives an added dimension, I agree with you.

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for turning me on to new music I would never have found on my own. You ROCK, my friend!

11:06 PM  

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