Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Music from Ireland and Scotland: sitting in on the session

One of the great things about a music session, whether it takes place at the pub, in the family kitchen, or translated to a more formal setting on a stage, is the sense of sharing tunes, songs, and stories that is always a part of things. An album from Ireland and one from Scotland translate this sense of connection into recording

ireland begley mac diarmadaFiddle player Oisin Mac Diarmada and singer and accordion player Seamus Begley have that sense of fellowship and sharing music with each other and with their hearer to the jigs, reels, hornpipes, slides and songs on their recording Together. Begley brings a family heritage of music in the Kerry Gaeltacht to the collaboration; Mac Diarmada is respected as both a player and a scholar of music, and is the founder of the top traditional band Teada. The two men have worked together these last years on Teada’s well respected irish Christmas in America tours, and like that experience so well they decided on this project.

Things kick off with The Scartaglen, which begins a set of lively slides, heading in to a set of reels, which leads into Begley singing a song An tSeanbhean Bhocht, a song with poetic images of Ireland forged out of the uprisings of 1798 which has long stood the test of time as a session favorite. Other notable tracks include Begley’s take on a song in English, The Banks of the Bann, and Mac Diarmada’s fiddle solo on the set which includes King of the Clans and Woman of the House. Thanks to the fine collaboration and excellent music choices of the two men, and the spot on recording skills of Donogh Hennessey, it will seems as though you are right in the room with them as you listen.

Another recording which will put you in the midst of music comes from Scotland, as the band Rura offers a varied gathering of song and tune on Break It Up.

The fast paced Intro set makes way for quieter pieces, as contemporary and traditional music flow together in natural progression. Noteworthy tracks include Mary, by Rura guitarist and singer Adam Holmes, a fine cover of Nuala Kennedy’s The New Yorker, a set of jigs which begins with John McSherry’s tune Skipping Through the Bogs, and Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon, which brings the music to a close.

Each of the musicians -- Steven Blake on pipes and whistles, Jack Smedley on fiddle and vocals, David Foley on bodhran and flute, Chris Waite on guitars and Holmes on guitar and vocals, along with guest James Lindsay on bass -- knows how to contribute well to the ensemble nature of the band as well as when to lead when that is called for. Rura is a young band , well worth your listening.

you may also wish to see
aidan o'rourke: sirius Aidan O’Rourke produced Rura’s album
Irish Christmas in America tour
from Scotland: Joy Dunlop & Twelfth Day

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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