The Spinning Wheel: A Refreshing Acoustic Folk Album!

The Spinning Wheel: A Refreshing Acoustic Folk Album!

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The minimalist approach of Darren Lynch is comparable to a nice breathing room after the madness of the rush hour.  

Dublin born folk musician and writer Darren Lynch is full of surprises. According to his bio, he started off playing music after finishing a successful amateur boxing career with Crumlin Boxing Club. His first instrument was the banjo which progressed to mandolin and then mandola. I became familiar with his music after listening to his first musical project, The Feekers. They released Tarbolten in 2012. When The Feekers parted ways he continued to explore other creative avenues.

His first novel ‘Siltation’ was published in 2013. All the proceeds from this book are donated to The Irish Cancer Society. If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to do so. His prose is astounding, giving you a glimpse of Dublin through his character’s eyes. After the release of Siltation, he started performing around Dublin. The audience took note of his intricate bouzouki work with The Ballyfermot Rakes.

The Spinning Wheel.

Personel:

Darren Lynch: Bouzouki, Vocals

Derek Copley: Banjo, Mandolin

Ais Conway Keogh: Fiddle

Produced by: Darren Lynch

Recording Engineer: Gareth Desmond, Loop Studio’s

Photography: Joe Butler

From the sleeve notes:

This album is a collection of some of the songs I have sang over the past 15 years or more. Groups such as The Fureys, The Dubliners and Sweeney’s Men –  as well as singers like Pecker Dunne and Brendan Behan – did not merely perform these songs, but offered them to listeners as their own story. 

This is testament to the timeless quality of the art of the folk song and the stories of yesterday, which stand the test of time and filter into the future by their ability to resonate with every era. This is an album of my renditions of these timeless stories.

The Spinning Wheel is a testament to the enduring power of folk music. No technology or fad can destroy its spirit as the music of the people. He sings in the tradition of such greats as Luka Bloom, Andy Irvine and Christy Moore.

The bouzouki is an expressive instrument. It evokes that  ‘afternoon sunshine in the woods’ kind of feeling. There is something organic and sonorous about it especially when played with low chords. And of course there’s his vocal delivery which is timeless in its simplicity and its adherence to tradition. Both his voice and instrument deliver unparalleled expressive power.

Other artists  also appeared in the recording session, notably two virtuoso musicians: Banjo/mandolin player Derek Copeley and fiddler Ais Conway. Recording Engineer Gareth Desmond provided the clean and warm palette to the recording. I like his mixing method especially when it comes to the high-end  and low-end of the sonic spectrum. He takes us  to the surface of the sound, achieving this intimate and airy kind of recording  characteristic.

The rendition of The Wind That Shakes The Barley  (written by Robert Dwyer Joyce (1836–1883)is a refreshing take on this popular track already covered by diverse artists as Loreena McKennitt, Lisa Gerrard, Amanda Palmer, The Clancy Brothers among others.

Dance To Your Daddy showcases his eclectic choice of materials. For those unfamiliar, the track is actually a traditional English folk song that originated in North East England. According to Wikipedia, it was popularised as the theme tune to the 1970s BBC drama serial When The Boat Comes In in an arrangement by the composer David Fanshawe.

Overall, The Spinning Wheel is a satisfying album. It has a pace that moves forward regardless of the tempo. And it is a work of art in its simplicity.

The Spinning Wheel is a high achievement for a singer-songwriter  who performs with bloody passion and then, quietly leaving us with our senses on fire.

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Interview with Larry Kirwan about his live show at the Cutting Room NYC, St Paddy’s Day Eve.

Interview with Larry Kirwan about his live show at the Cutting Room NYC, St Paddy’s Day Eve.

Larry Kirwan will be performing live at the Cutting Room NYC St Paddy’s Day Eve. It will be the first since the announcement of doing separate musical projects from Black 47. See the details below:

1. You will be doing  first solo St Paddy’s Day show in NYC! Are you excited?

Sure! Playing on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC is like jumping atop a wild stallion.  You try to guide

it but you usually end up just hanging on and going with the excitement and glow.  I did a solo

show at the Boulton Center in Bay Shore on Saturday and it went really well, so I’m wound up and ready for St. Patrick’s Night.  When I did solo shows during the Black 47 era I usually contrasted the performances – take the solo show down and make it more introspective.  But now I just take the Black 47 fire onstage with me and attack the electric/acoustic Takemine just as I did the Stratocaster for 25 years.

2. Can you share with us your set list? 

I won’t even decide on that until just before going onstage, and even then I’ll change that set list around while onstage.  I have a lot of Black 47 songs to choose from and will re-imagine them, oftentimes adding a bit more of the back story before the actual song; so it’s somewhat a different experience.  People will hear more of the lyrics and perhaps get deeper into the soul of the original song.  I’ll also be doing some songs from my musical Hard Times, and setting the scene back in July 1863.  I’ll probably do a couple of covers.  And there’s a Yeats poem that I set to music about 10 years ago that I’ve never really performed.  We’ll see… but whatever, it will all be fresh.

3. What can we expect from you this year, in terms of live shows and also solo projects?

I’m developing Hard Times for a bigger production up in Toronto so will be up there quite a bit.  I’m also doing a solo show of Foster in the Five Points out in Bergen Community College Theatre in Paramus, NJ on April 16th.  I was commissioned to do that by the Lincoln Library and will probably do more of those shows.  I have a new book coming out in April, A History of Irish Music – and will do some readings from that over the next six months.  I’m also working on a new musical about Iraq that will incorporate a number of the songs from Black 47’s IRAQ CD.  But I will do some strictly solo music shows – I’ve really gotten back into guitar playing again.  I miss the Fender Strat – it was like a part of my body for all the years of Black 47 – but I’m enjoying the acoustic again.  So, onwards and upwards, as the bishop said to the actress!

4. Message to your fans?

“Treat every day as if it’s your last – and one day you’ll be right.”  That’s actually from my friend, Malachy McCourt.  But it’s so true.  On a more personal basis, thank you so much for all your love and support down the years.  Even though Black 47 will no longer play, the spirit of the band will go on.  The songs are still there and I’ll be playing them.

It’s going to be an exciting event. Go to his website for more details: http://www.black47.com

Michael Mc Cague and Donal Mc Cague , Cuisle – Irish Music Reels

Michael Mc Cague and Donal Mc Cague , Cuisle – Irish Music Reels

I am blogging from work today. Yay, I am the first person to arrive so I am taking this opportunity to blog about the music video I saw very early this morning. It is called “Cuisle” (Irish for pulse). According to the info I gathered, they (Michael Mc Cague and Donal Mc Cague) both recorded as the final track on Donal’s debut album “Bits N Pieces.” This was filmed in An Culturlann in Belfast on 17th July 2012 and publicly aired around Feb 2013.

For those who don’t have copies of Waylaid Man, it is time to look for that album. IT’s fantastic and many notable Irish musicians contributed their talents to record that album really one of a kind. Looking forward to more trad releases this year and beyond. You all have a great day.

More here: http://www.michaelmccague.com/

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James Law’s Neknomination (Fiddle Version)

James Law’s Neknomination (Fiddle Version)

 

As the extraordinary fiddler of the Canadian Celtic trio NUA, his projects don’t go unnoticed. As in the case of this Neknomination, where he shows his amazing instrumental excellence through guitar and fiddle. I did a brief message exchange with him and came up with interesting facts, including a forthcoming new album from NUA!

1. Can you tell us more about this project?

This isn’t so much my project as it is an interpretation or a reinvention of the original Facebook game called neknominate. Neknominations was originally when people consumed an alcoholic beverage in one gulp and posted the video of them drinking on facebook. You then nominated two other people to do the same within the next 24 hours and post it. More detail at this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neknominate

2. What is this tune you are playing?

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James M Law

The tune I am playing is one that I wrote in the last week or so as I was working on new material for an upcoming NUA album. It doesn’t have a name yet but I’m sure one will soon enough. Graeme McGillivray (guitar player from NUA) also assisted on composing this composition.

3. This is a musical side of you I haven’t seen before and I am impressed . Is there a solo project you are working on as of the moment?

I am not working on a solo project at the moment. This video came about because Kerry and Julie Fitzgerald nominated me to play a fiddle tune. The reason I picked the tune was because it was something new that I had just written and was inspired to try and put some chords to it and work on some of my DADGAD guitar playing. Before this video, I have never done a solo video of this nature with me playing all the parts. I enjoyed the new experience and think there might be a few more videos to come in the future.

4. What are the things you want to accomplish this year?

I am looking forward to the summer this year as I have a lot of exciting gigs coming up. I will be teaching the Trad Band at the Sunshine Coast School of Celtic Music during the first week of July. NUA is playing at Mill Race Festival for our second year in a row this August. We are also playing at Goderich Celtic Roots Festival this August which is very exciting. NUA is expecting a new album to be released early 2015. The other big project I am a part of is The Marwills. The Marwills have a tour coming up in late July out to the East Coast in Halifax. The Marwills are planing gigs in Barrie ON, Toronto ON, Ottawa ON, Montreal QC, Fredericton NB, Halifax NS and Tay Creek NB where they will be playing at the Tay Creek Music Festival. Other than that I am concentrating on my music / instruments as well as my production skills as I record other artists.

5. Thanks for the time James!

Thanks Baxter, let let me know if you want more info. Here are some links to things I talked about in the questions. I will upload the video to youtube just now and send you the link when its done uploading.

http://www.millracefolksociety.com/Festival.html

http://www.celticfestival.ca

http://www.themarwills.ca

http://www.trionua.com

 

Robert Doyle: Life in Shadows Takes the Light (Interview)

I made the decision to not use any other instrumentation at the beginning. There is a sound you can only get when you play solo and this is what I was after. In the past, especially when I worked as an electronic music producer, I was using arrangements full of different layers with various instruments but for this album I wanted to work with only guitar and voice.

Robert Doyle’s guitar takes a bigger shape in “Life in Shadows’ making it seems like you are inside its body. You can feel this when you listen using headsets. This recording is able to capture every nuance in the tracks making it an intimate and almost a spiritual experience. His mellow voice is the perfect partner to his solo guitar – spare,  minimalist approach-no other instruments, just the two. The cover also expresses that simplicity being black and white, uncluttered by other designs. Taking this recording home is like taking a friend with you for a quiet night over coffee talking about life’s realizations and woes.

I suggest you listen to this in different situations and settings until you find that atmosphere that works. I found mine in the workplace during break at 5 AM(since I work at night) with hushed voices and a big table in front. Next time I will bring this recording while riding home or by the beach. I might get another ‘flavour’ out of it. In the bedroom all alone, I find it speaking to me in ways I have never known before. Every recording takes a different character depending on the situations you are exposed to while listening to it.

Life in Shadows is elegance and honesty in one. Robert’s way of playing is getting  to be addictive.He adds depth to his vocals. He has a way of expression, going from a breathy crooning state one moment to a passionate rendition but never losing that nice warm baritone.  Here he opens up to CMF about this albums and all things musical.

For the complete information on the album tracks, please see this link: http://www.robertdoyle.net/album.html

How long did it take you to record Life in Shadows?

The album was recorded over seven months. There were five recording sessions in JMR Studios and three in the D1 Recordings studio here in Dublin. The sessions were usually quite short, around four hours each, and I spent about a month getting ready for each of them. I worked with an engineer on the sessions in JMR and recorded the D1 sessions myself. In general I prefer to work with an engineer but for some of the sessions I wanted to work alone.
The album was mixed and mastered over two days in Suite Studios and Summit Studios in Dublin

I love how this record combines spare arrangement, good acoustics and a balanced emphasis on vocal and instrumental music. One can simply close his eyes and imagine you playing in this white room because of its amazing clarity.Was this intentional?

Before starting to record I did spend a lot of time deciding on the recording techniques that would be used. This was my first time recording with the Frank Tate guitar which I’ve been playing for two years now. I wanted to try to capture the unique acoustics of that instrument in so far as possible. Also, since recording the Trasna na Slí EP in 2008 I’ve been working on my voice and hopefully that lends to the clarity on the album too.
I made the decision to not use any other instrumentation at the beginning. There is a sound you can only get when you play solo and this is what I was after. In the past, especially when I worked as an electronic music producer, I was using arrangements full of different layers with various instruments but for this album I wanted to work with only guitar and voice.

    Fingerstyle guitar, others have played it but you gave it a name and recognition in this release. Tell me more about you French-Algerian teacher Pierre Bensusan.

Fingerstyle is a very general definition for an approach to playing the guitar. There are many variations to the style but broadly speaking it is a mix of classical and flamenco technique. I’ve been influenced by many fingerstyle players over the years – Robert Johnson, James Taylor, Djelimady Tounkara and many more. Pierre Bensusan is one of the all time greatest exponents of the style and he has pushed steel-string acoustic fingerstyle guitar further musically than anyone else in the last thirty years. I’ve been lucky enough to spend time as a student of his and also worked as road manager for two of his recent Irish tours.
I think it is important though to not get too caught up in the style of guitar playing. Hopefully it’s the music which people will be listening for.

 This album has been getting good reviews from all around. I believe that music and the how the album has been artfully crafted go hand in hand.I see this combination in Life in Shadows. We can give credit to your being a music producer in the past. What have you learned so far in terms of music production? Can you give us a glimpse to this world that is seldom seen but is the biggest influence in how music is made?

When I was producing music in the past I was working solely with electronic sounds and making dancefloor records. A lot of what I learnt then wasn’t transferable to working with this style of music and I reluctantly took on the role of producer on this album.
As a producer you need to be able to stand back and listen to the music very objectively. When you’re writing, arranging and performing the music you become very close to it and it can be difficult to get that objective viewpoint from yourself. Of course if you’re a musical genius like Stevie Wonder then you can do everything yourself! For me it was more difficult.

What is the process of creating music? Do you get inspired by a particular season…the time of the day? Or the muse just comes unexpectedly?

The inspiration is from everywhere and is always there. After the initial idea the process of writing and arranging can be long and drawn out and often you might end up with something completely different to what you started with. That is definitely true for some of the music on this album. I had been working on some of it for years and then other pieces came together over a few days. The arrangements are continually changing and some of what I recorded on the album I’ve already changed.

What’s your next goal musically?

There is some music I was working on that I didn’t get finished. This was partly because I ran out of time and then also because my technique wasn’t good enough to play some of the arrangements I had written. So I have to spend some time working on technique so I’ll be ready to play this music.
I’m also looking to start work on the writing and arranging for the second album. I know this will take a long time, probably two or three years, but I’m looking forward to getting into it.

 How do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I want to still be playing the music!

 What’s on your tour schedule before this year ends?
The next concerts will be in Scotland next Spring and then hopefully there’ll be some European shows next summer. All the dates will be announced soon on www.robertdoyle.net.

 Looking back, tell me about that moment where you had this epiphany that music’s gonna be a big part of your life?
There wasn’t one moment. When I was very young there was always music being played in my house and especially a lot of reggae. Bands like Steel Pulse, Black Uhuru and of course Bob Marley & The Wailers. Hearing this music made me want to get involved and I started to play guitar when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I kept going and have never wanted to stop since.

 Are there artists you wish to collaborate in future projects? And who are they?
There are traditional and jazz players here in Dublin that I want to begin to work with. Hopefully some of these collaborations will make it on to the next album.

 Last: message to your listeners and how are they going to get their copies of Life in Shadows?
The CD is being distributed by Claddagh Records and is available on their website and from shops all over Ireland. The album is also available to download from iTunes, Amazon and eMusic. I want to thank everyone out there who has been supporting me and this music and hopefully they’ll be able to come to see one of the next shows.

Lantern Centre, Dublin

Lantern Centre, Dublin

Acoustically Electrifying:The Bombadils (Interview)

“I even played bass for a while. Besides playing electric guitar, I’d also get asked to play some acoustic stuff. But, since I didn’t have an acoustic guitar at the time, I used to borrow one from a friend so I could play folk joints.
-Mark Knopfler

The  Bombadils from Montréal, Québec captured my attention with their energetic playing, catchy melodies and interesting combination of styles. From Classical, Jazz, Bluegrass and Celtic; the mix will keep listeners engaged until the last track is played. This interview started out with Luke Fraser and then everyone got involved in answering the questions.

Listening to Ally Bally is quite an experience. There are tender as well as frenetic moments that can be found in one track alone. The Jazz and folk influences are unmistakable but you guys are able to make everything sound controlled. How is it possible to come up with such distinct mix?

It’s a result of our various backgrounds and influences and the fact that first and foremost we are close friends, secondly band members. We all have classical training which Luke, Sarah, and Noam are currently furthering, while Anh and Evan have branched off to jazz. We wanted to start a folk music group and it was only natural for these influences to come through. The accessibility of music in the digital age makes it easy to be influenced by a variety of styles, but it’s the live exposure to music that really gives us a reason to play it. Montreal is a very culturally rich city so it allows us to experience the styles we love in a live setting, be it listening, jamming, or performing.

I noticed that Luke’s guitar playing in Galway Girl(A Steve Earle original) is very clear together with beautiful lead vocals and harmony. I love the unique percussion here. What’s the inspiration for this arrangement?And what made you guys decide to record this track?

Galway Girl is a song Luke used to sing with Tristan Legg in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The first few months of The Bombadils were actually before we met Luke. We finally met him at a party and Galway Girl was one of the songs we jammed. One of the many great things Luke brought to the band was this song, and since then it has gone over well around the campfire and on stage. It’s one of those songs that doesn’t seem to get old no matter how much we play it.
All credit for the percussion goes to Noam. In this group he plays a South American instrument called the cajon– basically a drum-kit in a box.

Would you please tell us the story behind the instrumental track The Scholar?

Sarah and Luke had to learn some Irish sets for a wedding they played with Jean Duval, a notable flute player from Quebec, and this set was in his repertoire. It’s also a set that Sarah has been working on with the renowned Irish fiddler, James Kelly.

The Bombadils:Luke Fraser,Evan Peter Hodgson Stewart, Noam Bierstone, Sarah Frank and Anh Phung . Photo by Marshall Gayman

The Bombadils:Luke Fraser,Evan Peter Hodgson Stewart, Noam Bierstone, Sarah Frank and Anh Phung . Photo by Marshall Gayman

Sarah Frank’s vocals are beautiful! And her violin playing is always jaw dropping. Angeline Baker is a very old song which dates back to 1850. I see a reference here. What made you guys decide to sweep off the dust form this old tune and make it new?

This is a popular tune in the bluegrass and old time world. We were mostly inspired by two arrangements: by Chris Thile and by Crooked Still. The High Reel and Mountain Road are a couple fiddle tunes we threw in to put a Celtic stamp on it.

Tullochgorum is a popular piece done by the likes of Dougie MacLean, Natalie Macmaster and Ashley McIsaac among others.Are there traditional pieces you wish made it to the recording?

The tracks we have are only the beginning of  what we would like to record. We will be working on a full-length CD this fall and would definitely like to include a variety of traditional tunes. Montreal inspires us put in some Quebecois and Irish tunes, and being so close to the United States, we’re able to travel and get a taste of bluegrass and old time styles.

You guys came from McGill Univeristy. How was it possible for you all to sit down together to form band? I am sure there are musician cliques out there but how was this decided-and even the name Bombadils. Who made this up?

Again, it starts with friendship. That’s what this music is about, it’s about socializing and sharing music. Evan and Sarah have known each other since high school and they moved to Montreal at the same time. Sarah and Anh became fast friends within the first week of school, and met Noam shortly after. As far as we knew, he was a percussion player like any of the others. Lucky for us, he’s one of the best!

Tom Bombadil is a character in The Fellowship of the Ring (first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy). He speaks in seven beat metre which is our guess to why Nickel Creek used 7/4 time to write a tune called “In the House of Tom Bombadil.” We’re all very inspired by Nickel Creek’s virtuoso mandolinist Chris Thile.

How do you describe each member’s personality in a few words?

We could try to answer this question properly but it’s really just an opportunity for us to make fun of each other…

Links:

http://www.thebombadils.com/

http://www.myspace.com/thebombadils

http://www.reverbnation.com/thebombadils

 

Soundtrack for the Rain:Luka Bloom

In this kind of weather, It make one yearn for something intimate and bare. You know, something that could accompany you over a cup of warm coffee. That is why,Luka Bloom’s music is very appropriate .

 

  Born Kevin Barry Moore, May 23 1955 ,he is the younger brother of Christy Moore. He had to change his name to Luka Bloom in order to avoid the pressure of being related to  his already successful older brother. The name “Luka” is taken from a Suzanne Vega song about ‘child abuse’ while Bloom is from the character in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

 

  His music is defined as ‘electro-acoustic’  . Problems with his fingers(tendinitis) made him give up  finger picking style and opted for a frenetic strumming which he is now known for. The first time I heard him was through a ‘Celtic Season” compilation album. The track is called ‘Listen to the River”.

 

  From then on I knew I have to look for his albums. Right now I have his 1990 album called Riverside. Comprised of 12 tracks, this album promises warm acoustic tracks that are either slow or simply rock and roll. The preference in  using  all acoustic guitars on each track makes the whole album lively without being noisy. It also showcases his husky baritone. I think the most humorous track is “An Irishman in Chinatown’ .

 

1. Delirious
2. Dreams In America
3. Over The Moon
4. Gone To Pablo
5. The Man Is Alive
6. An Irishman In Chinatown
7. Rescue Mission
8. The One
9. Hudson Lady
10. This Is For Life
11. You Couldn’t Have Come…
12. The Hill Of Allen Instrumental

Visit the official website and grab your own copy now 😉