Irish music was already dominant in the life Andrew Finn Magill while growing up and spending every summer at the Swannanoa Gathering Folk Arts Workshops. He learned to play the fiddle with the help from some of the finest folk musicians in the world.
By age 16, he already accomplished the following:
-As a two-time finalist at the All-Ireland Championships.
-He has toured France with the popular Celtic music & dance revue, Celtic Dances( under the musical direction of Liz Knowles & Kieran O’Hare).
-Produced a Fulbright-MtvU- funded concept album, Mau a Malawi( about those affected by AIDS with Malawian Afro-vibes artist Peter Mawanga).
I am currently enjoying his first in the series of concept albums. This one is called Roots. Why the title Roots? Well, I noticed that it is perhaps the most Traditional Irish I got my hands on this year. The tracks are familiar and they are rendered in a way they are supposed to-with emphasis on the style of music itself.
I once had this conversation with a friend while listening to traditional tunes. I just got my hands on a bodhran courtesy of my friend in England. So I was trying to learn my ear and these are songs from Lunasa, Chieftains and other bands who are into hardcore trad music. This is also the time when exploring the technical aspect of the music can be an enjoyable experience. And this love for traditional music gave way to many blog posts in this site.
?So what’s the story behind Roots? According to his press release:
Roots is the first disc in a concept album series which charts Magill’s musical progression in Irish music, featuring the tunes and players that defined his earliest years playing the fiddle: John Doyle, Cillian Vallely (Lúnasa), Sean Earnest (The Yanks), Duncan Wickel and Vincent Fogarty (The Red Wellies). Recorded in three studios on two continents, the music is ‘pure drop’ Irish with sparse instrumentation and innovative arrangements.
From the lively set of reels that opens the album, the listener is treated to brilliant and respectful renditions of much-loved jigs, hornpipes & reels, as well as some rarely-heard gems such as a beautiful setting of the set dance, “The Blackbird” the slow air, “Roisin Dubh,” and Carolan’s “Maurice O’Connor’s Third Air.” The album ends with a rolling, powerhouse set of reels sure to get any Irish music fan’s blood pumping.
In fall 2016, Magill will release Branches, the sequel to Roots, which integrates Finn’s traditional Irish musical foundations with his many other influences in ten original compositions.
Looking forward to the release Branches and that will showcase how flexible and colorful Traditional Irish music has grown through the years.
Roots the album has ten tunes featuring jigs, reels and hornpipes. I love his precision and perfect pitch. The album features John Doyle, Cillian Vallely & Colin Farrell of Lúnasa, among others. There’s also Duncan Wickel whose work I am familiar with. It also features the 10-string bouzouki of Vincent Forgarty. Now DAGAD fanatics will hear the strumming of Sean Ernest.
So what track is closest to my heart? It’s got to be The Green Fields of Glentown as part of the medley in the 10th track. If you meet someone asking about Traditional tunes then let him or her listen to this CD as it will ‘teach’ everything there is to know about the music. And hopefully it will influence younger audience to learn the style for future musical generations to come.
I really enjoy Roots. I take it with me when I ride the bike. I listen to it when I am stressed and I want to keep focused. But most of all I just listen to it for its musical richness. And it should be part of your growing collection.