Niamh Ní Charra

Cuz - a tribute to Terry 'Cuz' Teahan

Imeartas Records IMCD004

1) The Lonesome Road To Dingle / Dave Kennedy's Gift / Cuz Teahan's Favourite / The Nuns' Cuttings (Slides);  2) Tadhg and Biddy's / Denis Murphy's #2 / Mary Shea's Promise to her Dog / Dust on the Bible (Waltz / Slides);  3) Johnny I do Miss You / The Galway Belle / Ballyhoura Mountains (Polkas);  4) Frank Thornton's / The Glountane Highland / The Road to Glountane (Highlands);  5) Is Ar Éirinn Ni Neosfáinn Cé hí (Song);  6) The Dolly Varden / Moll Roe (Barndance / Slip Jig);  7) Anne Sheehy McAuliffe's / Mickey Chewing Bubblegum / Newmarket (Polkas);  8) The Peeler and the Goat / Paul's Departure / The Chieftains Are Coming (Slide / Reels);  9) Kerry Mills / Gaelic Park / Tumble The Tinker (Barndance / Jigs);  10) The Man From Glountane / Tom Dayhill's Fiddle (Hornpipes);  11) I Made it to Winona / The Day I Spent with Mick / The Rogues' Gallery (Polkas);  12) Ann Heymann's / Glountane School 1862 (Waltz / Reel);  13) The Big Furze Bush / The Hair Fell Off My Coconut / Minnie Looney's (Slides).
In order to put this delightful CD into its proper context, I'll here quote extensively from Niamh Ní Charra's Introduction: In her hand-written note to me along with the review copy of the CD, Niamh describes this as a 'labour of love' - and indeed, love shines through the entire work.  And short clips from the abovementioned tape recording - a verse of a song, once through a tune - from Cuz, appear at regular intervals through the record.  It really is a lovely thing, and it's hard to keep an emotional tear from the eye whilst listening to it.

Unless Niamh's selection of tunes is untypical of the Teahan repertoire, the CD also shows quite dramatically how the music played in rural Ireland in the early part of the last century differed from the choices made by musicians in the latter half.  It's all slides, polkas, hornpipes and highlands ... only three reels are found amongst the 35 tunes played here.

The 24-page booklet and 8-face Digipak give a huge amount of information about Terry Teahan and the music on the CD, and the special guests, Seamus Begley, Liz Carroll, Donogh Hennessy, Jimmy Keane, Anne and Micky Mcauliffe, Mick Moloney, Donal Murphy and Tommy 0 Sullivan, who contributed so willingly to this project.  Of Cuz himself, we learn that he got his nickname because, whenever he encountered a newly emigrated Irishman in Chicago, he'd tell them where to find accommodation, work, sessions, friends ... "Tell them I'm your cousin" he'd say!  Similarly, the embroidered CD sleeve is explained by the fact that during and after the Depression, when work was hard to find, Terry took up embroidery and ended up eking out a meagre living by selling his pieces.

OK - so what of the music?  As might be expected, it's all beautifully played and recorded, the accompanyists do just that - but also make a very tight band when required.  Some favourite tracks?  Well, here's a bit of track 1, and a couple of Cuz's own compositions, the slides Dave Kennedy's Gift / Cuz Teahan's Favourite.  On track 7 are the polkas Anne Sheehy McAuliffe's / Mickey Chewing Bubblegum - apparently, not many people realise he wrote the second one.  On track 9 is a barndance not written by Kerry Mills (although he actually did write one) followed by one Cuz wrote for the opening of the Celtic Park in Chicago in 1985, so probably one of his last compositions; Kerry Mills / Gaelic Park.

To make a bit of a change, here's Niamh with a song, Is Ar Éirinn Ni Neosfáinn Cé hí, which was Cuz's mother's favourite song, and one of the few she sang in Irish.  And to make an even more complete change, here's a bit of the final track; some more slides, the first traditional, the second probably a Teahan composition - though he was never quite sure if he'd written it or not!  The Hair Fell Off My Coconut / Minnie Looney's.

As you've just heard, a truly wonderful record, made with love and care by an enthusiast ... who could ask for more?

Rod Stradling - 18.3.13

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