Thursday, August 04, 2011

Blue fiddle, and Ireland's northwest

Lunasa has been a powerhouse band in the Irish music scene for going on fifteen years, with high energy, crisp musicianship, and musical connections which make every recording and each convert an adventure in both tradition and creativity. It has been reported that President Obama includes tunes from Lunasa as part of his music when he works out.

But before there was Lunasa, founding member and fiddle player Sean Smyth released his debut album. called Blue Fiddle. It quickly gained notice in Ireland, marking him as a player of sure tone and touch, and one who was not afraid to take his fiddle playing a bit beyond the blue fiddle album covertradition while staying anchored in it. You might figure that from title of just a few of the tunes he includes, Soweto Slides, Welcome to Shetland, and Jamaica Jam alongside Tulla Moondance and Tommy Peeples Reel, a tune he dedicates to his Granny and Granda.

It’s a well chosen set that marked Smyth’s future interests. The Mayo native chose his guests well too, among them his sisters Cora and Breda, who have themselves made professional careers in music, ace box player Martin O’Connor, and Steve Cooney, who wrote the title tune.

listen to samples from The Blue Fiddle here

Blue Fiddle is one of the recordings I’ve come across recently which had fallen to the back of the shelves. Finding it not only reminds me of the times I’ve seen Smyth play, but also of the shop in Letterkenny, County Donegal, where I bought this recording years ago. Letterkenny isn’t really a tourist destination, but rather more of a work a day Irish town, up close along the border between the north and the republic. I’ve spent a good bit of time there over the years, but I’m thinking it’s been far too long since I’ve been back.

letterkenny donegal ireland copyright kerry dexter
letterkenny donegal ireland copyright kerry dexter

photographs are from Saint Eunan’s Cathedral, and from the main street in Letterkenny, and are copyrighted. thank you for respecting this.

you may also wish to see
Music Road: Irish landscape: Davy Spillane's A Place Among the Stones
Music Road: from Donegal: T with the Maggies
Music Road: Three Fiddle CDs for Fall


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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Kris @ Attainable Sustainable said...

How lucky for you to have seen Smyth play in person! You should definitely plan a trip soon. ;)

3:21 AM  
Anonymous Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

Isn't there usually a way to listen to a sample on Amazon? I cannot find it for this album.

6:40 PM  
Blogger kerry dexter said...

good point, Roxanne -- I've added a link in the post above which will take you to samples of the music. hope you enjoy!

5:33 AM  
Anonymous Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

Thanks so much, Kerry.

10:56 AM  

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