To break up the monotony of fife and drum during our Swiss concert we mixed in some Celtic music. We performed three sets of tunes. Here is the middle and slowest set that we played, which is a well known hornpipe called The Rights of Man. Evidently this was a real treat for the Swiss audience since this is not a style of music they typically hear. At one point, although not in this set, we had the entire audience clapping along with us. It was great fun. The other interesting point is that half the guys playing this set were Swiss including Sam the bouzouki player. The first time we ever played this tune with them was two days before the show. That being said, I think it went quite nicely.
I had a great time playing tunes with Skip Healy this weekend at a benefit concert for the Juniors Fife and Drum Camp. I was hoping to get a good recording hot off the soundboard, but for a variety of reasons was not able to set it up. Instead I had to settle with recording with a single room mic. This is far from a perfect recording but I think it captures the energy. I had to fade the track out because there was some serious feedback in the later part of the track.
The whole gig was lots of fun and well received. I had never performed with Skip before and, therefore, had no idea where any of it was going, which of course, adds to the excitement. In addition, Skip’s style is to play the tune reasonably straight the first time through, but then begin to use the tune as a skeletal structure and move around it. Sometimes it can get way out there, which is really cool. This track stays relatively close to home but you will here some of the improvisational nature toward the end of the track.
In addition to Skip on flute, Mark Bachand on bodhran and myself on guitar, we invited Roger Hunnewell up to play some additional bodhran. Roger starts the track with a bodhran solo, unsure of where Skip will come in. You will hear rattling behind some of the first beats that Roger plays. The rattling is from the twenty, or so, rope tension snare drums sitting behind us on the stage. They were sympathetically playing along. Also, every so often you’ll here Skip pause for a note and call out a key change. Nothing like having a plan.
After my last post it occurred to me that in addition to recording Paddy Clancy’s on my own, I recorded it with my old band Amadán back in 1999. The two versions are quite different. This one, being the second tune in the set, is quite lively with a bit of impromptu harmony the second time through by Damon our fiddle player. The set starts with a nice jig called The Scotsman Over the Border.
Here is Amadán, during our Vermont tour, mugging for a shot in the foundation of an old abandoned farmhouse somewhere near Grafton. That is me in the upper left.
The track below, as well as four others, came from a CD that we recorded as a demo album. The cover artwork, as I recall, was actually a close-up picture of a pig’s belly inverted and then colorized. I don’t believe I ever told the band where the image came from.
We were not very well organized and would typically sort out what we were going to record the night before the session. Then, once in the studio, we would inevitably record something that we had not planned. It was lots of fun. Incidentally Amadán is the Gaelic word for ‘fool’, which, given the high cost of studio time and our general lack of preparation, was probably apropos.