New Road

Stone Walls & Street Lights

New Road Music WHRL 018

1. Road to Lisdoonvarna / Keep the Old Ark Rolling / The Blackbird;  2. Greasy Coat;  3. Ben's Brogues / The Whinny Hills of Leitrim / The Leitrim Quickstep / Jig for Johnny;  4. Errigal Braes / Cam Ye by Atholl;  5. Galway Shawl / Farwell to Erin / Lady Birr / O'Donnell's Sligo Maid;  6. McCaigue's Waltz / The Orphan;  7. I'd Rather Be Married Then Left Alone / Willie Reidy's Favourite / Padraig O'Keefe's Slide;  8. Saturday Night My Wife Died;  9. Tommie Pott's Hop Jig / The Rocky Road to Dublin / John Kelly's Hop Jig;  10. The Cat That Ate the Candle / Butter and Peas / The Scolding Wife;  11. Now Westlin Winds;  12. Boatsman / Garfield's Blackberry Blossom;  13. Down in the Old Hometown.
By God - this is fun!  I wasn't expecting to particularly enjoy this CD, coming as it does from three Irishmen whose names didn't mean a great deal to me, and an American.  I've seldom been a fan of 'fusion' attempts - so I was glad to find that this isn't exactly that, but simply four really good musicians playing their music together, and seeming equally happy with both Irish and American tunes and songs.

The three Irishmen are Leonard Barry (pipe, whistles) from Kerry, Andy Morrow (fiddle) from Leitrim, and Seamie O'Dowd (guitar, mandolin, fiddle and vocals) from Sligo.  The American is Rick Epping (harmonica, concertina, banjo, jew's harp and vocals) from California.  While I knew very little about them, it seems that they've all played with other performers and bands that I do know about - and like.

They seem to enjoy playing rather different versions of tunes and singing rather different versions of songs.  Here's a bit of the first track, Keep the Old Ark Rolling / The Blackbird - the first has a good deal of Vinny Kilduff's Boys of Bluehill in it, and the second is not a version I'd heard before.

As to the songs, I hugely enjoy Seamie O'Dowd's take on Now Westlin Winds, Burns's Ode to Autumn - showing that playing around with time and line lengths can produce something quite wonderful!  Even Irishmen playing American tunes works out beautifully here; try a bit of Boatsman / Garfield's Blackberry Blossom and see if you don't agree.

OK - maybe not 'traditional music' as we know it, Jim - but great fun all the same!

Rod Stradling - 28.7.16

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