Author Archives: mhens@mac.com

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Klank magazine publishes article on Irish box playing

vp0Klank magazine (www.klank.nl) is a Dutch magazine catered to accordeon and concertina players in The Netherlands and Belgium. Four times a year they produce a great magazine with various articles ranging from interviews, repair tips, accounts of interesting events and much much more.

In the second issue of 2016 they published an autobiographic article on my first ventures into taking up the Irish button-accordion. In it I write about how I became inspired to take up C#/D button-accordeon playing and how I went to Ireland to obtain my box. I hope it will inspire others who ever had the wish to play the box – but haven’t done so – to start your journey as well!

We hope to organise an Irish button-accordeon workshop in 2017 – if you are interested in this, please contact martin@irishtradmusic.nl!

The magazine ‘Klank’ is a must for any accordeon or concertina player, be sure to check Klank out at Klank’s website.

Stay tuned for more articles on Irish (button)-accordeon players in future editions of Klank!

 

 

 

 

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World Fiddle Day 2016 Celebration in Scartaglen

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Posing at the bust of Padraig O’Keeffe in Scartaglen

On Friday the 20th of May, I travelled together with two friends of mine to Scartaglen (Co. Kerry ) to celebrate World Fiddle Day! My friend Christoph (fiddle) had joined me in last year’s World Fiddle Day celebration in Scartaglen and was more than eager to come with me again! His partner Susanne, who plays the guitar, decided to join us as well in the celebrations!

Although World Fiddle Day is – as the name suggests – a world-wide celebration, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to celebrate it in Scartaglen. During the year, leading up to this event, PJ Teahan and his friends organise the ‘Handed Down’ sessions approximately every month. The Handed Down sessions are a combination of lectures and performances by top class musicians who have a strong connection to the musical heritage of, in particular, Sliabh Luachra.

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Scartaglen Heritage Center

Even though Scartaglen is quite a distance away from Holland, I attended several of these events. One of the last ones I attended featured a lecture by Matt Cranitch on button-accordeon legend Jackie Daly, of which you can read a write-up here.

Friday

The trip on Friday went very smoothly even though we had to get up a bit early to reach our 9:20 AM flight. It is about 1h40m of flying and taking the time difference into account, you’ll be fresh at the airport in Cork at 10am. We hopped in the car and arrived safely in Castleisland a little past noon.

It just so happened that the owner of the B&B had a spare fiddle in the house ( I didn’t bring my own fiddle ) and of course I couldn’t resist giving the fiddle a bit of a run. It was a very nice fiddle so Christoph and I played some tunes together for a while – all in the living room of the B&B. The owner actually encouraged us to pick up the fiddle anytime we want; she was sure the guests wouldn’t mind ( but we didn’t put that theory to the test ).

Friday evening – presentation on Maida Mcquinn

Part of the World Fiddle Day schedule was a presentation by Matt Cranitch on Maida Mcquinn who had personally had fiddle lessons from Padraig O’Keeffe  – the Sliabh Luachra fiddle master – when she was young. This presentation was given in O’Riada’s bar in Ballymacelligot, just a couple of minutes away from Castleisland.

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John Reidy’s documentary on Maida Mcquinn featured in Matt Cranitch presentation

Matt Cranitch gave an interesting exposition of Maida’s life, who was actually born in Ballymacelligot and emigrated to Chicago when she was young. There she came into contact with another well-known musician, Terry ‘Cuz’ Teahan.

In October, during her visit to the Padraig O’Keeffe festival, John Reidy from the Main Valley Post conducted an interview with her and created a short documentary. This documentary was played after Matt’s introduction. It is a very personal portrait where she recounts her memories of Padraig O’Keeffe and Cuz Teahan. The documentary can be seen by following this link.

Friday session

After the presentation, we stayed to listen to the session which started right there in O Riada’s bar. Among the players in the session were family of Maida as well as many other musicians like Matt Cranitch, Jackie Daly, Paul de Grae, Paudie O’Connor and many more. Indeed, the music was so lively that people couldn’t resist and just had to get up and dance!

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Eimhear Flannery (tin whistle), Caoimhe Flannery (fiddle) and Matt Cranitch (fiddle) participating in the sessions

A particularly special moment came later in the evening when two young girls – Caoimhe Flannery (15yo, fiddle) and Eimhear Flannery (12yo,  tin whistle) – were each asked to play a tune by themselves. Both girls have already won several prices in traditional music competitions and we could tell by both the music and the silence… The moment Eimhear started to play the tin whistle, the entire bar and indeed the restaurant became as quiet as a mouse to hear the music. After that, her sister played a gorgeous reel that was played with great passion and had some lovely variations. It was absolutely fantastic to hear these girls play!

At about 23:30 we realised that it we had been up for quite some time and that it was time to go to bed. After all, World Fiddle Day hadn’t even started!!

Saturday – World Fiddle Day opening

World Fiddle Day celebrations officially commenced in Scartaglen on the Saturday at noon. The kick off was in Lyons Bar which has an historic connection to Padraig OKeeffe. Padraig would often frequent this bar and played his fiddle and share his witty humour with the fellow patrons.

The opening of World Fiddle Day was done by the unveiling of some rare colour photographs of Padraig O’Keeffe that had recently been discovered by pure chance. These colour photographs were taken by Jim Griffith of Tucson, Arizona  in August 1957, when he visited Lyons Bar with Seamus Ennis to meet Padraig. It is by coincidence that these photographs returned to Clare where Jackie Daly recognised Padraig on them. You can read some more about the unveiling of the photographs and the history behind them at the Main Valley Post.

The unveiling of the photographs, hanging prominently on the wall of Lyons Bar, World Fiddle Day was officially opened and a big session started in the pub itself. The session was made up predominantly of fiddle players but also featured the button-accordeon playing of Jackie Daly and Aidan Coffey.

Exhibition

At 2 PM, a small exhibition of historic memorabilia and posters relating to the old Scartaglen Fleadh Ceoil was opened in the Heritage centre. It was opened by Bryan O’Leary (box) and Niamh McSweeney (concertina) who are the grandschildren of  Johnny O’Leary and Mikey Duggan – two well-known Sliabh Luachra musicians who played an integral part in the musical history.

Panorama photo of the exhibition

Panorama photo of the exhibition

Afternoon program

In the afternoon one had the choice of going to a recital by American fiddler Skip Gorman and singer Connie Dover or head into town to enjoy some of the spontaneous sessions throughout the 3 bars in Scartaglen. I chose to go to have a listen at the various sessions where many fiddle players could be heard.

Each year, a photograph of all fiddlers who travelled to Scartaglen is made by the statue of Padraig O’Keeffe… as one can imagine in Ireland, timing had to be just right to have all the fiddlers pose at the statue in between two rain showers! While we were all at the statue, we collectively played two sets of tunes; the first, a set of slides and the second set the Ballydesmond polka’s. Hearing the music come from so many fiddlers at once was a great experience! And we all succeeded in staying dry during our photoshoot!

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Fiddlers pose and play a tune at the Padraig O’Keeffe statue in Scartaglen.

Jullia Clifford tribute

Next up on the program was a tribute to the Sliabh Luachra fiddle-icon Julia Clifford, which was presented by Máire O’Keeffe. Special guest of honor at this tribute was her son Billy Clifford who is a distinguished flute player himself. After having recounted some stories of his mother and her fiddle playing, all fiddle players joined in playing a great selection of tunes associated with Julia’s playing.

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Billy Clifford (centre) honoring his mother between 20+ fiddle players

Evening program

The evening program was split in two: in the first part Peter Browne from the RTE music radio program ‘The Rolling Wave‘ gave a presentation on Padraig O’Keeffe in combination with archive recordings. It was great to be able to hear Padraig’s voice on one of these recordings: deep and dark, unlike anything I had expected. Apart from Padraig O’Keeffe himself, archive footage contained interviews and clips from people who knew him like Paddy Cronin.

After the talk, we went straight into the highlight of the evening, which was an all-fiddle concert! No less than 16 fiddle players in various combinations (duet, trio, quartet) played a variety of tunes for the audience. There was a fantastic turnout for this event as there was no seat left in the theatre! I really do think that this is one of the best type of concerts for World Fiddle Day: all fiddles and no accompaniment so that the beauty of the fiddles can be appreciated to its fullest extend!

The night ended with all fiddle-players playing  a set of reels together on stage to end the evening with a blast!

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Big finale with 16 fiddle players!

Epilogue

It is probably no surprise that all the fiddle-players and the audience quickly dispersed to the neighbouring bars to continue the music into the wee hours of dawn! For us, the events of the day had taken its toll and we quietly headed back to our B&B for some good night sleep.

The next morning at breakfast, we noticed that some of the fiddle players who performed during the concert were staying in our B&B. No surprise then that after breakfast, fiddle music could be heard coming from several rooms: yes, life is good in Ireland!

After having said goodbye to some friends in the Sunday session, we went back to Cork Airport to go back home.

All in all we had a superb weekend in Scartaglen and our thanks go to all people who made this event possible! We are looking forward to next years celebration!

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Happy fiddle heads!

 

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Klank magazine publishes on Jackie Daly

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 07.51.36Klank magazine (www.klank.nl) is a Dutch magazine catered to accordeon and concertina players in The Netherlands and Belgium. Four times a year they produce a great magazine with various articles ranging from interviews, repair tips, accounts of interesting events and much much more.

In the first issue of 2016 they published an article I wrote on Jackie Daly, which was created after visiting the lecture on him in Scartaglen. This article has some interesting facts about ‘The Man From Kanturk’ as he is known to many!

A must for any accordeon or concertina player, be sure to check Klank out at Klank’s website!

 

 

 

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Masterclass Irish fiddle playing announced!

We are happy to announce that Matt Cranitch will be giving a fiddle masterclass aimed at experienced, adult violin players who might not have an extensive knowledge of Irish fiddle-playing but wish to extend their musical horizon. This masterclass would be ideal for e.g. classical, jazz or other world music violin players.

Read all about this masterclass on the masterclass information page!

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Dates for Concertina Workshop 2016 announced

We are happy to announce that concertina masters Cormac Begley and Jack Talty will return to The Netherlands in 2016 for concerts and workshops! The dates for the workshop are in the weekend of 24th and 25th of September and the concerts will take place close before that date.

Details for this event will be available soon, in the mean time, if you would like to be kept informed or sign up, please send an email to martin@irishtradmusic.nl.

You can also read about last year’s concertina workshop here!

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Trip to Scartaglen for lecture about Jackie Daly

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Jackie Daly and Matt Cranitch at the beginning of the evening.

In the weekend of the 23rd of January, I travelled all the way to Scartaglen, Co. Kerry, to attend an unique event! As part of the excellent “Handed Down“-series, fiddle player Matt Cranitch presented something what can best be described as “part-lecture, part-interview and part-concert” about the esteemed button-accordeon player Jackie Daly.

Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly have been playing together for many years now – they were part of an irishtradmusic concert series in 2014 – culminating in two CDs: ‘The Living Stream’ in 2010 and ‘Rolling On’ in 2014. Their musical experience and friendship together made Matt a great candidate to honour Jackie’s place in the history of Irish traditional music!


TV material available: IRISHTV.ie has made a TV programme about the music of Scartaglen which also reports on this event. It can be access at http://www.irishtv.ie/kerry-matters-70 and starts in ‘part 2’.

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The format for the Handed Down sessions is usually part live music performances from musicians both in and outside the region combined with an invited speaker who dives deeper into an aspect of the music from the region. This session was started by the two very young musicians Caoimhe Flannery (fiddle) and Eimhear Flannery (concertina and tin whistle), who are award winners of the Sligo Fleadh Ceoil.  They decided to play a wonderful rendition of two slides, the Brosna slide and the appropriately named Scartaglen slide, which captivated the audience immediately

After the initial tune, they both played a lovely solo on their respective instruments, including a slow air played on the tin whistle!

The lecture

After that, Matt and Jackie took the stage. Whereas Matt was armed with a laptop, a fiddle and a beamer for the presentation, Jackie brought several different instruments with him. What followed were two hours of very unique material, from never-before-seen photographs to rare recordings of Jackies work. Much to everyone’s delight, Jackie was not just the passive subject of the night – instead, he often took the microphone in order to tell the stories about the photos or recordings.

10419642_10203166258929816_5117917901063193327_nThe audience got to hear the story from the start of Jackie’s musical career – playing for dancers at the ‘Dance platforms’ – his various travels, group formations and many other life events. For Dutch people it was nice to hear that Jackie used to live in The Netherlands for a short while in the 60s/70s while working in the shipping industry. Rumour has it that he still speaks a word or two in that language as well!

In between the historical journey, Jackie and Matt played several sets of tunes that had a connection with a particular event or anecdote. Occasionally they were joined by other musicians like Paul de Grae, Geraldine O’Callaghan and Tim Browne.

Of special interest to the audience was the amount of technical knowledge Jackie has about the instrument. It turns out that he is not only an exceptional player, but also learned how to tune, adjust, improve and create button-accordeons! Highlight was his display of an accordeon that he had built himself from scratch which mimicked the sound of the ’20s accordeons. It can be heard on one of De Dannan’s CDs, but for this occasion he played it for the audience live! It turned out that it not only sounded great, but it looked fantastic as well as he did all the carvings and inlays himself!

Collaboration

It was also impressive to see Jackies long list of collaborations with various musicians and bands. Of course his collaborations with fiddle players Seamus Creagh, Kevin Burke and Matt Cranitch are well known and highly regarded. He was also part of many bands including De Dannan, Patrick Street and Buttons & Bows, the last of which released a new album last year after decades since their last album.

That Matt is quite the archeologist when it comes to Irish traditional music, proved his finding of this track from Thin Lizzy called ‘Beat of the Drum’. Scoring highly in the ranks of ‘places least likely to find traditional Irish music’, you will discover a recognisable snippet of music playing at the 1:20 mark:

 

Conclusion

The whole evening went by so fast and the audience, including myself, was amazed by the amount of information that had been displayed during the evening. Everybody concluded that Jackie Daly indeed deserved this tribute as he is undoubtedly a great influencer and idol for many musicians – especially the C#/D players!

I would like to acknowledge the following people:

Matt Cranitch for his permission on writing this article based on some of his work.

PJ Teahan & the team of Handed Down for organising these events.

Liz Galwey for the photographs of the night.

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Klank magazine reports on workshop and concerts!

Klank magazine (www.klank.nl) is a Dutch magazine catered to accordeon and concertina players in The Netherlands and Belgium. Four times a year they produce a great magazine with various articles ranging from interviews, repair tips, accounts of interesting events and much much more.

In the December 2015 issue they ran two articles about www.irishtradmusic.nl; one article on the Cormac Begley and Jack Talty’s concertina workshop and one on their concerts.

Get all the information on Klank’s website!

 

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