18 July 2021
If you don’t wish to read through the notes below, you can go straight to playlist W on YouTube here.
This playlist is brought to you in collaboration with Nathan W, who many people who visit the session.org will know as NfldWhistler; Nathan has asked that his surname be quoted as an initial only in an effort to maintain some distance between his “musical” online presence and his online presence reflecting other aspects of his personal and professional life. Happy to oblige!
Nathan has been playing traditional music for the past 6 years or so. Nathan’s from Canada, of Newfoundland heritage. Nathan has been fortunate to be taught by Loretto Reid. At his suggestion I’ve included a version of a recording of Loretto playing alongside one of my favourite mandolinists, Brian Taheny, on the set The Coleraine Jig/Jackson’s Jig (better known as Pay The Reckoning).
His interests vary quite a bit (Newfoundland, Irish, Scottish, Quebecois, French, some Finnish, etc.), tending more towards the edge of what is popular and what is lesser known. Nathan has shared a lot of his interests in music at thesession.org where he is a prolific poster of transcriptions of tunes from a range of trad genres. He first started learning to transcribe for the sake of learning tunes and to improve his sense of timing. He figured other people could also benefit from his efforts, hence, the submissions on thesession.org . Transcribing eventually became a sort of hobby in itself.
Unsurprisingly, given all of the above, Nathan’s contributions to this playlist are Newfoundland-centric. I have attempted to weave Irish traditional tunes around Nathan’s suggestions which – I hope! – complement his picks. (NB stick with this page until the very end – there are some additional notes which some of us, players in particular, will find very useful.)
W is for The Captain And His Whiskers. Nathan says: A very popular Newfoundland ‘single’, aka, an Irish polka-like tune, which are sometimes a bit ‘crooked’, and, are played for Newfoundland square dances. This particular ‘single’ has double the number of bars than most have, and, is often paired with another popular Newfoundland single, namely, I Rowed Up In A Dory. One could say that this tune pairing captures part of Newfoundland’s culture in more ways than one, with its musical flavour, use of accordion, and, fishing related tune names (i.e., a ‘dory’ is another name for a small boat in Newfoundland). Romano Di Nillo & Company – The Kissing Dance/The Captain And His Whiskers/I Rowed Up In A Dory
W is for WILLIE CLANCY Aidan says: One of the leading figures in Irish traditional music during the middle years of the 20th Century was Clare’s piping legend, Willie Clancy (1918-1973). This selection is a great example of his lively and highly ornamented style of playing, making good use of the pipes’ many opportunities to personalise the tunes. Willie Clancy – Fraher’s/An Phis Fhliuch
W is for Me Mother Won’t Let Me Marry. Nathan says: This is a catchy Newfoundland slide, and the following lyrics are sometimes sung along to it: “Me Mother Won’t Let Me Marry, Oh What Am I Going To Do? Me Mother Won’t Let Me Marry, Until I’m Twenty Two … (continued) …”. To hear all of the lyrics, check out the Bristol’s Hope and Minnie White recordings. Ray & Greg Walsh – Me Mother Won’t Let Me Marry/The Muckin’ Of Geordie’s Byre
W is for WALTZ. Aidan says: One of the “cinderella” rhythms in Irish traditional music. This is one of my favourites, played by an outstanding group of musicians… Teada – The Trip Over The Mountain
W is for WHO STOLE THE MINER’S HAT?. Nathan says: This is one of the first Newfoundland tunes I recall spending a great deal of time listening to. It is another common Newfoundland single, and, is one which I partially derived my first single/polka composition from (i.e. Seals In The Town). The Fables – A Bonnet Trimmed With Blue/Who Stole The Miner’s Hat?/Stan Pickett’s/Herb Reid’s
W is for Jimmy WARD’S Aidan says: Jimmy Ward’s is one of the most commonly-played jigs in sessions and on recordings. Here, Paddy Keenan partners it with two other session “warhorses” and gives it a little personal twist in one of the repeats… Paddy Keenan & Tommy O’Sullivan – Sliabh Russell/The Blarney Pilgrim/Jimmy Ward’s
W is for GRAHAM WELLS. Nathan says: The button accordion is the most popular instrument in Newfoundland, and, Graham certainly plays it well. I particularly enjoy his playing of one of my favourite lesser known Newfoundland tunes, The Cribbies, set with another popular Newfoundland tune, Ryan’s Fancy Arriving. Graham Wells – The Cribbies/Sam Sinnick’s Tune/Ryan’s Fancy Arriving
W is for AGGIE WHYTE’S Aidan says: Aggie Whyte was a renowned fiddler with the seminal Ballinakill Ceili Band. The first reel in this set – a gorgeous tune! – has long been associated with her. Jason O’Rourke – Aggie Whyte’s/Aggie’s Wedding
W is for WESTERN NEWFOUNDLAND Nathan says: The small city of Corner Brook is where I first picked up a whistle and decided to give it a go at learning to play music. At the end of each of the local sessions, it was the tradition for everyone to sing ‘Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her’, as we packed up our instruments, put on our coats, and did whatever else was necessary to ‘leave’. It’s rather fitting that my contribution to this playlist would end with that song. Tarahan – Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her
W is for FAREWELL TO WHISKEY. Aidan says: And my final contribution is a “farewell”, too. For many years, I was under the impression that this tune – written by the Scotsman Nathaniel (Niel) Gow – referred to someone making the hard decision to stop drinking (to “take the pledge” as we say in Ireland in reference to the Pioneer movement). However I’m told that it was originally written to lament the failure of that year’s barley crop. When the tune cross the water to Ireland, its plaintive qualities were lost and it’s been adopted here as a lively polka. John Blake – Farewell To Whiskey/Gan Ainm
BONUS SELECTION: BRIAN TAHENY AND LORETTO REID – The Coleraine Jig/Pay The Reckoning
Additional notes by Nathan:
For reference sake, here are the Newfoundland tunes above (with links to TheSession pages, and, a few from other sites when not available on TheSession):
– The Kissing Dance (https://nltrad.ca/tunes/221 , from Allan Farrell’s website)
– The Captain And His Whiskers (https://thesession.org/tunes/10813)
– I Rowed Up In A Dory (https://thesession.org/tunes/15348)
– Me Mother Won’t Let Me Marry (https://thesession.org/tunes/11798)
– Who Stole The Miner’s Hat? (https://thesession.org/tunes/12483)
– Stan Pickett’s (https://thesession.org/tunes/18065)
– Herb Reid’s (https://thesession.org/tunes/18319)
– Seals In The Town (https://thesession.org/tunes/17654#setting37409 , this is the setting we typically play … referenced in one of the descriptions above)
– The Cribbies (https://thesession.org/tunes/18099)
– Sam Sinnick’s Tune (https://fmnl1.nltrad.ca/tune/1243 , from Kelly Russell’s website)
– Ryan’s Fancy Arriving (https://thesession.org/tunes/19331)
It only remains for me to thank Nathan for the time and the trouble he has taken to share his passion and his knowledge. It is very much appreciated, Nathan. Go raibh maith agat!
Listen to playlist W here.
All playlists on my channel here.
Return to the “A to Z” home page here.