30 June 2021
If you don’t wish to read through the notes below, you can go straight to playlist M on YouTube here.
Derek Monahan joins Aidan Crossey to help create another of our collaborative playlists of Irish traditional music.
Derek was an early follower of my Twitter feed and it was clear from the word “go” that here was someone who knew his music. His passion, intelligence, his “ear” and his wicked sense of humour shone through… Derek’s notes below give an insight into his musical life, so I’ll leave the intro at this for the moment.
M is for ANDY McGANN AND PAUL BRADY. Derek says: 2017: I knew I wanted to go play sessions but I didn’t know any tunes yet. Luckily one of the local sessions kept a lengthy, if not frequently updated, tune list on their website, complete with links to sheet music. I’m a reader, so this suited me just fine, and I scrambled for a few months learning tunes so I wouldn’t be sitting there cold in my first session (which of course happened anyway). One reel, “Crooked Road To Dublin,” stood out to my sophomoric mind, because it started with two quarter notes, instead of the usual eighth notes or quarter and two eighths. How should this sound? Is there an ornament I’m not thinking of? I looked up a recording and found this one on YouTube. I was instantly hooked on Andy McGann’s playing. The tempo was brisk without sounding forcedly fast, the tone was the perfect mix of warmth with a bit of scratchy fiddleness. Paul Brady’s playing is of course, understated yet essential. He even inspired me to try a little fiddle (I should note I was playing tunes on guitar at this time. I didn’t yet know that a guitar playing tunes in a session is inaudible). Andy McGann and Paul Brady – The Crooked Road To Dublin/The Merry Harriers
M is for MICK MULVEY. Aidan says: a good many years ago – so many that I can’t quite remember the exact circumstances! – I was introduced to a session at a pub in Bethnal Green in East London called The White Horse. I made many good friends there, some of whom have been pretty much constant (if irregular – if that makes any sort of sense at all!) musical companions ever since. One of the regulars at the session was a flute player by the name of Mick Mulvey. I was immediately impressed (and indeed somewhat overawed) by the quality of his playing – and indeed that of the others who attended the session. But just as impressive was the fact that although by any measure I was in nowhere near the same league as Mick, he never let that stand in the way of us having a tune. It came as no surprise to listen to his debut album, Within A Mile O’ Jamestown, which appeared shortly after we first met and to discover that it was a sheer cracker! Mick Mulvey – Kiss The Maid Behind The Barrel/Lucky In Love/The Bloom Of Youth
M is for ANGELINA CARBERRY AND MARTIN QUINN. Derek says: After realizing guitar is not very useful to play tunes in a session, I flirted with mandolin before settling on banjo. Somewhere I read to listen to Angelina Carberry, and I think this was the first thing I heard. I love the sound of banjo with box. Even today I still don’t love the sound of banjo by itself; I prefer it mixed with sustaining instruments. I especially loved this second tune, probably because of my fascination with Andy McGann. As far as I can tell nobody else calls that tune that, and there’s an interesting discussion on The Session as to how they may have come to use that name. Angelina Carberry and Martin Quinn – McCarthy’s/Andy McGann’s
M is for MICK O’BRIEN AND CAOIMHÍN Ó RAGHALLAIGH. Aidan says: The first album which Mick (pipes and whistle) and Caoimhín (fiddle and whistle) made together – “Kitty Lie Over” – remains one of my favourite listens of all time. There’s an ease about it which belies the sheer effort which both must have put into their respective musicality. This set of reels bears all of the hallmarks of their style of playing. Mick O’Brien and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh – Teampall an Ghleanntáin/Hickey’s
M is for PADDY KEENAN AND ARTY McGLYNN. Derek says: Ok I now realize that I’ve got three “opening track on the album” in a row. I promise I listen past the first track! Anyway years before I got into Irish trad my wife dabbled a bit on whistle. She printed out a bunch of tunes whose titles contained names of people we know, so naturally we had a bunch of Monaghan tunes (it should be noted that most of these are named for the place Monaghan, which is completely unrelated to the surname Monaghan). Anyway “Monaghan Twig’ was among those, so I kind of knew about that tune already. When I got into ITM almost ten years later, I found the Paddy Keenan recording. PK is, of course, amazing, but I think what struck me the most was Arty McGlynn’s playing. He mostly just pedals an A while occasionally accenting certain offbeats with chords. It’s so creative but he makes it feel so obvious. From AC/DC to Arty McGlynn, never underestimate the effect of a good pedal tone. Paddy Keenan and Arty McGlynn – The Monaghan Twig/The Colliers’ Reel
M is for MAZURKAS. Aidan says: I’m a big fan of “cinderella” tune forms – barndances, marches and the like – which are overshadowed by the more common forms of jigs and reels. Mazurkas strike a particular chord. A Christmas cracker joke for you. “When is a mazurka not a mazurka?” “When it’s a redowa.” I mention that because – apparently; allegedly – my next selection is a redowa (another 3/4 dance from from middle/eastern Europe) and it’s more commonly known as “The Barnacle”. But I’ll stick with Jill’s label for the tune because – mazurka, redowa, whatever; it’s a bloody grand tune and one which had me putting on my learning hat the instant I first heard it! Jill McAuley – Fowley’s Mazurka
M is for ARTY McGLYNN. Derek says: So, speaking of Arty McGlynn (see my previous selection)… I started out trying to play tunes on guitar, so the record “McGlynn’s Fancy” was big for me. I never learned this first jig, but “Creeping Docken” really caught me. I love the modal change up: at first it feel like A dorian but then it settles in D mixolydian. There’s something to be said for the fact that the guitar can pull off more left hand ornaments than can banjo or mandolin, which totally adds to the charm of Arty McGlynn’s playing. Arty McGlynn – Peter Byrne’s Fancy/Creeping Docken
M is for MICHAEL KERRY. Aidan says: One of the most remarkable mandolin-centric albums that I’ve come across is Michael Kerry’s “The Rocky Road”. In this selection Michael elects not to play a set but to focus on just one tune – The Sligo Maid – which he takes off in numerous directions. His variations show that not only does he have tremendous control over his left and right hands, his sheer musical intelligence is a match for both. (And his mandolin itself has such a GORGEOUS tone!) Inspiring stuff… Michael Kerry – The Sligo Maid
M is for LORETTA EGAN MURPHY. Derek says: Another Monaghan tune, this the third in a set of Ed Reavy tunes recorded by one of our local session leaders, Loretta Egan Murphy on box. Pretty common set around here (Connecticut, USA) because of her, but decidedly NOT like riding a bike. At least for me. I have to play these tunes constantly if I’m gonna be able to play them at all. I can’t just pull them out after not having played them a while. The whole set of tunes is a bear, but so fulfilling when you nail it. Reavy did not make it easy on us! Loretta Egan Murphy – Leddy From Cavan/Reilly Of The White Hill/The Starry Lane To Monaghan
M is for THE MORNING DEW. Aidan says: This set of reels is taken from a recording imaginatively(!) titled “An Historic Recording Of Irish Traditional Music From County Clare and East Galway” featuring Paddy Canny, PJ Hayes, Bridie Lafferty on fiddles and Peadar O’Loughlin on flute. Tying with Derek’s suggestion above, they pair The Morning Dew with another of Ed Reavy’s tunes – arguably his best known – Hunters’ House. Paddy Canny, PJ Hayes, Bridie Laffety and Peadar O’Loughlin – The Morning Dew/Hunters’ House
Many thanks to Derek for his suggestions. Much appreciated, Derek. There’s eatin’ and drinkin’ in those selections!
Listen to the full “M” playlist here.
All playlists on my channel here.
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