In this edition: Eve Williams, Clan Suibhne, Dom Duff, Colin Nea, Connie Dover , Mark Harmer and Planxty.
It is 2013. Four years after I officially launched this site. In the past four years, I met a lot of talented musicians and listened to their amazing music. In the past four years I met interesting readers who turned out to be bloggers too. In the past four years I poured my heart out, experienced joy and at some point almost lost my sanity. But I never gave up blogging and maintaining this site. Despite the personal earthquakes I experienced in this life, this one seems to be left unscathed. This is my baby. This is my love. It’s been four years. And here’s The Celtic Music Fan looking forward to more discoveries, more mistakes, more success and more joy! Let the fun begin again.
Eve Williams-Twenty Miles from Home
Think of the soft approach of Cara Dillon and the vocal power of Evanescence.
It is always a great experience when I discover new music. This is only possible without a map. Personal maps obscure our chances of finding something new out there. Especially when we are so used to the formula we created and the comfort zone we find hard to let go. I wondered if this is the same thing that ran inside the mind of Eve Williams when she created Twenty Miles from Home.
It is an eclectic album full of surprises wrapped in a blanket of atmosphere. There are things that are consistently noticeable in the midst of variety. All the twelve tracks are melodic. Her voice is superb and full bodied. She is also a writer which explains her interesting lyrics references to classical literature.
In my other blog friend who is a guest blogger wrote about Music Theory. I think we have to admit that people who make artfully crafted music are those who at least in some part of their musical development, had undergone music studies. The maintaining discipline in creating and also in the performing part is probably hard because music is such an emotional medium. It is easy to get lost and let everything rip through.
Twenty Miles from Home strikes me as a balance of emotion and control. It is also a recording done with minimalist approach to instruments. This gives us a chance to hear how Eve can showcase her vocal talents. I sometimes find it hard to listen to something overly produced because you have a lot of sounds coming from every direction. Which in turn makes it hard to concentrate to the few aspects. But this album proves to be something that even listeners with short attention span can feast in.
I realized that listening to different systems also yield different results. When I listened to this through a computer, it didn’t give me too much probably due to the speakers. Then I put it in a CD player with good speakers. And the experience was something else. The whole album shimmers. The headphones also give you that intimate feel which focuses more on the nuances . I suggest you listen to all types of
players and see which works for you.
Twenty Miles from Home is a beautiful album. Oblivion is one track with full arrangements and soaring vocals along with Tall Dark Stranger. These are orchestrated tracks. But I love the contrast of the spare arrangement on others like Broken Dolls (feat Scarlett Burnside), The Rock (feat. Dominik Boncza-Skrzynecki) and many more. Eve Williams is based in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is probably the beautiful landscapes that shaped her sound and sentiments. It it an album that can appeal to lovers of Sinead O’Connor, Cara Dillon and Evanescence. The combination of folk simplicity and operatic flourishes in her songs makes her one of the rising voices in the Irish music scene.
Clan Suibhne Yank~Irish~Celtic Music Group
Their unique “Roots” music, dubbed “Greengrass,” is a blend of traditional Irish/Celtic meets American Folk/Bluegrass tunes. “This genre existed long before the music we know as bluegrass. We were very surprised, but so honored to win an award for our music,” says Charles (C.W.) Farrell. The three Farrell brothers and cousin John Curran have become well known around the “Irish Riviera” for their signature style. They incorporate traditional instruments, including the mandolin and banjo, into traditional Irish music.
Celtic music is a family affair. You can see this in bands like Clannad, The Corrs, The Rankins among others. It is no surprise when a lot of American Irish bands are consist of family members. Irish and Scottish music have grown into stellar proportions in the United States in the past few years. This is an exciting age to start your own Celtic band because even though you can’t find listeners in your hometown, you know that there is this whole wild world which is the Internet. There will always be listeners for you out there!
Clan Suibhne (pronounced Sweeney)are a band based in New Jersey. They play acoustic music combining their Yank-Irish-Celtic Roots which they fondly mention in their website. Like I mentioned, they are a family group, acoustic and fun. They do solo, duo, trio & quartet arrangements throughout the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York Tristate area.
This St Patrick’s Day 2013, they are scheduled to play at the Historical National Hotel in Frenchtown, NJ…and will be appearing at many other venues throughout the months of February, March and April 2013. Sounds like fun! Do check them out if you are in the area.
Connie Dover and what makes her amazing.
If you’ve been a listener since 1993(her debut album came out in 1991) and now it is 2013..surely there is something about Connie Dover. She is considered as one of the stalwarts in the Celtic genre. I think she is underrated considering the achievements she has. I don’t think I am totally biased when I say that being an American singer, she took such challenging steps in making sure she breaths authenticity in her every recording. Even to the point when she has to sing in Latin of Scots/Irish Gaelic.
Before going solo, Connie Dover fronted this Missouri based bluegrass group. She is one American singer I really respect because her music is based in hard research and she yes she sings in Gaelic.
Si Beag, Si Mhor
This composition by the famous Irish composer O’Carolan landed into facebook discussion with my friend Ralph who plays the tin whistle. I am so glad he raised this discussion up so I was able to do further research about the song. I discovered the other versions. There are many out there but I will just post two of them here. These are fine interpretations. I am crazy for uilleann pipes and that is why the one from Planxty appears in this edition. I am also a big fan of harp music specifically the Celtic harp. So let us get to know a wee bit more of this music.
In English it means: Little hill, big hill. It’s a reference to the fairy kingdoms.
It’s also translated as “it’s little, it’s big.”It’s sometimes titled “Sidhe Bheag, Sidhe Mhor” The tune is by Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738). O’Carolan’s works were published by his son in 1747. According to this timeline “Si Bheag Si Mhor” was the first piece O’Carolan composed upon the completion of his harp apprenticeship (1691).
According to Ralph: “I think a closer translation is ‘big hill, little hill’. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with a war of fairy clans but I’d like to know how the story goes. Wanna know who owned w/c hill and who won in the end.” Here we have two versions. The first one by Planxty and the second one by Celtic harper Mark Harmer:
Note: An in depth research by harpist Scott Hoye suggested a new light to the trivia on top . According to his source, Si Beg Si Mor is in fact a Scottish Tune, The Bonny Cuckoo. O’Carolan used the tune, made popular by the Ulster Scots, and wrote Irish lyrics for it. His poem was about the battle between two Faerie kingdoms. My big thanks to Scott for the info about this classic.
Babel Pow Wow by Dom Duff
Breton musician Dom Duff is working on a new album. He is requesting the help of Breton music enthusiasts to help fund this project. As I
said in a conversation with a musician that music is a community. You get what you give. Dom Duff is very passionate about the culture of Brittany and its people. He was also one of our featured artists way back .
I chatted with him a few days ago. He was trying to put a video project to promote the album. This involves people speaking in their own dialects from all over the world. The video you see below is just one of the many he is trying to create between music session. This man in really busy these days!
Please check this one out:
Wonderful Review of trad album by Colin Nea
Fair play to Colin Nea on a great review from TradConnect-Enda Seery: http://tradconnect.com/profiles/blogs/album-review-colin-nea-between-the-jigs-the-reels
Colin Nea and Enda Seery are cousins. They are also very supportive of each others music projects. The proud Enda was posting and tweeting about this wonderful review of his album Between the Jigs & the Reels with Jack Talty on a piano. I haven’t talked to Colin Nea yet but I have exchanges several pleasant messages with Enda. He is also releasing an album this year and I am sure Colin is going to advertise it too. It is great to see trad music growing. It is composed of family relations jamming together or with other musicians. Like I’ve mentioned before: Irish music is a family affair.