Get Your Stocking Stuffed by The 4 Kings of Kelt

Who’s ready for some Yuletide Music with a Celtic Flair?

Just re-issued — our 1997 A Celtic Christmas album featuring a sweet yet zesty blend of Scots pipes, Irish whistle, Blues guitar, Gospel keyboard – check it out here.

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A CELTIC CHRISTMAS
featuring The 4 Kings of Kelt
29 Yuletide Favorites from Ireland and Scotland

*  PLAYS OF THE SONGS OF CHRISTMAS
12 Plays about the Origins of Classic Holiday Songs

*  STORIES OF THE SONGS OF CHRISTMAS
12 Stories about the Origins of Classic Holiday Songs

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OF ALL THE CREATIVE PROJECTS I’VE worked on over the years, I think these three may be the closest to my heart.

An album of 55 minutes of beautiful Christmas music and two books of plays and stories about how classic Christmas songs came to be.

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Meet The 4 Kings of Kelt: 

* Scots bagpipe virtuoso George Balderose
* Blues/ragtime guitar legend Ernie Hawkins
* Jazz/gospel keyboard ace T.H. Gillespie

 … and yours truly on tinwhistle, harmonica, bodhran and bones.

The result — a warm, gentle garland of Yuletide and Irish & Scots tunes guaranteed to drive the winter chill from your door!

Check the CD out here … and the books of plays and stories here.

Beannachtaí an tSéasúir!

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Pearl River: Where Culture Creates Community

AMERICA’S SUBURBS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN designed as transitory places — stepping-stone communities for a mobile population whose tentative social networks can be dislodged by the slightest economic hiccup or technology shift.

Suburbs are all about newer and faster, tomorrow not yesterday. Pretty much the last location one would expect to find a flourishing enclave of centuries-old music and dance traditions rooted in a distant immigrant past.

Pearl River Student Session

Yet over the last fifteen years, the Rockland County town of Pearl River, New York, has become a cultural epicenter, home to nearly 400 hundred performers of Irish Traditional Music and more than 1,000 active exponents of Irish Traditional Dance.

And that’s just counting kids under 18.

In pure population density, it breaks down to a statistical average of 220 human beings fiddling or jigging within each of Pearl River’s 6.80 square miles … a magical, mysterious Irish Culture Vortex twenty miles northwest of Manhattan containing the most concentrated mass of Irish musicians and dancers in the U.S. today.

It’s partly the result of demographic happenstance. The 2010 U.S. Census cites 46.7% of Pearl River’s 15,876 residents as possessing some degree of Irish ancestry, so right from the get-go almost half the citizenry are inclined to nod heads and tap feet when they hear the opening strains of Garryowen or She Moved through the Fair.

But heritage alone is no guarantee that the current generation will keep the tradition moving forward. There are numerous localities around the country with large Irish-American populations that have minimal representations of Irish music and dance.

In Pearl River, it’s been a collection of dedicated Arts activists who have taken responsibility for making sure the tradition stays alive and healthy — a handful of performers-turned-teachers passing on their knowledge one student, one lesson, one tune at a time.

Margie Mulvihill, Rose Flanagan, Patty Furlong

A prime example is the Pearl River School of Irish Music with around 100 students taught by flute and tinwhistle player Margie Mulvihill, fiddler Rose Flanagan and accordionist/pianist Patty Furlong.

The three first-generation Irish-Americans first met as youngsters attending the celebrated Irish music school operated in New York City by fiddler Martin Mulvihill, an older cousin of Margie’s from Limerick, Ireland. In the mid-1990s, the women re-kindled their personal and musical friendship after each moved to Pearl River with their spouse and children.

Flanagan and Furlong began hosting monthly sessions in their homes, informal parties where friends and family mingled with local Irish traditional musicians, singers and dancers. “It was a way to have something fun to do on a Friday night,” recalls Furlong. “Before long, people started to ask us if we would teach Irish music to their child.”

Despite the profusion in recent years of pedagogical products that include CDs, DVDs, instruction books and online tutorials, Irish music is still largely transmitted to beginners using time-honored methods that are thoroughly and unapologetically “old school”.

A teacher and a student sit down together, and the teacher plays the simplest version of a tune that the student learns and memorizes note-for-note. Once the student has the basic melody down, the teacher introduces variations and embellishments. Then the process starts anew with teacher and student tackling another of the more than 20,000 individual tunes that constitute the Irish traditional music repertoire.

It’s a labor-intensive process; for Flanagan, Furlong and Mulvihill, teaching Irish music morphed into second careers. A few years back, they merged their individual efforts into one school. “Our students had progressed to the point where they wanted to play in a band with other kids,” says Mulvihill. “Organizing the music in a group context gave them the chance to extend their musicianship beyond their normal competitions.”

Ann Paige Turilli

That would be the numerous competitions during the year which are an important part of the development process for aspiring Irish musicians (fleadh cheoil) and dancers (feis).

In the dance realm, Pearl River-based Inishfree School of Irish Dance sent 26 qualifying dancers to the Irish World Dancing Championships this past spring, including 16-year-old Ann Paige Turilli, a two-time World Championship winner.

The Pearl River School of Irish Music regularly has dozens of winners at American competitions; this year at the annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (All-Ireland Music Competition) held in Cavan, Ireland, the school’s céilí band in the Under 12 Division won 1st place — an honor rarely achieved by non-Irish competitors.

Sarah Buteux

The school also scored with the All-Ireland Under-18 Fiddle Championship won bySarah Buteux, a student of Rose Flanagan. Altogether, seven other area musicians captured prizes at the 2012 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

To date, the school’s greatest musical export has been Girsa, an 8-piece band that came together as the first crop of students entered their late teens and tried their luck at organizing an ensemble geared to perform at festivals, clubs and concert halls. Since 2009, Girsa has released two albums and toured North America and Europe, winning lavish praise for their professionalism and musical vision.

However, teacher knowledge and student talent are only two of the building blocksresponsible for the town’s extraordinary blossoming of Irish music and dance. The Pearl River School of Irish Music interacts with churches, schools, community festivals and the Rockland Center for the Arts in nearby West Nyack; for years the school regularly took part in cultural programs arranged by a librarian at a local elementary school.

“We try to be part of the community year-round, not just on St. Patrick’s Day,” says Rose Flanagan. “It’s important that students see their music is appreciated outside of recitals and competitions.”

Another critical component:  student parents, for whom the lessons, competitions and excursions create an ever-broadening extended family spanning generations. “Traditionally, Irish music and dance was nurtured in private homes,” says Patty Furlong. “Our parents don’t view this as just another kid activity but as something they’ll invest in learning about as well. It makes the experience much more enriching for everyone.”

Here’s a formula explaining The How … How 18th-century Old World performing arts can thrive in a 21st-century American suburb:

Skilled Teachers + Curious Kids x

(Supportive Parents + Community Interest) =

SUCCESSFUL Culture Preservation in Today’s World

But then there’s The Why … certainly these youngsters could learn ballet or “modern music” and have just as much fun acquiring the same basic performance skills … in today’s fast-changing American culturescape, why does it matter at all if there is a heritage haven like Pearl River?

The simple answer is that a young performer acquiring command of a second expressive language via feet, fingers or voice gains a vocational asset as valuable as knowing two or more spoken languages.

In the inter-connected global future that’s already arrived, those who are knowledgeable about and comfortable with different customs and belief systems will be better equipped to navigate the volatile currents of social and business change.

And because fortune favors the bold, and the bold of tomorrow will be energized and empowered by their arsenal of creative skills.

When the world’s performing arts emigrated to America over the last couple of hundred years, they inevitably looked backward, intent on resisting influences from other cultures that would negate the essence of the traditional forms.

Irish traditional music and dance are exceptions; their basic structures have allowed for a sizeable degree of repertoire fusion and stylistic innovation that never substantially altered the tradition’s fundamental “character”. They’ve absorbed change for centuries, and they’re still thriving — educating and entertaining in ways no one could have imagined even a generation ago.

The teachers and performers and appreciators of Irish traditional music and dance in Pearl River aren’t looking backwards. They’re looking ahead.

And having a grand time getting there.

*** An original version of this article appeared at CreatvityPost.com ***

Girsa

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iBAM! Chicago, Nov. 2011

AN INCREDIBLE IRISH-AMERICAN cultural event took place in Chicago last month that too many people outside the Windy City don’t know about yet but should.

It’s called iBAM!Irish Books Art Music! — and it convenes close to 100 authors, actors, visual artists and musicians for a public festival in the spacious halls of the Irish American Heritage Center on the city’s northwestside.

The program and participant list is still up ahttp://www.ibamchicago.com. Prepare to be amazed at the diversity and scope of traditional and contemporary expression of Irish culture.

I was, and I’ve been on this Hibernian beat for a good long time.

A book fair, plays, panels, lectures, literary readings, live music, dance, photography, poetry, cooking, folklore, spirituality, award-winning exhibits like The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats” direct from National Library in Dublin — iBAM! is a non-stop two days of activity.

The theme of iBAM! 2011 was “Handing Down the Tradition” and that’s where my contribution came in.

I was booked to give a presentation titled “Irish Traditional Music:  Where It’s Been, Where It’s Going” and also moderated a panel looking at trends in preservation and collection of Irish traditional music with Dr. Matt Cranitch and Paul deGrae (we got accordionist Jackie Daly to chime in on Chief O’Neill’s Hornpipe for a musical coda).

Among the local musicians, Handing Down the Tradition was evidenced by a host of family-based units — The Dooleys; Patrick and Karen Canady; Gerry and Kevin Carey; Joe O’Shea and Mike O’Shea; Sheila Doorly-Bracken, Frank Quinn and Pat Quinn; the ensemble led by Noel Rice, Cathleen Rice-Halliburton and Kevin Rice; the world renowned sean-nos dancers The Cunninghams — along with local stalwarts Pat Finnegan, Aislinn Gagliardi, Cormac McCarthy, Chicago Reel, Broken Pledge Ceili Band, Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill and more.

However, iBAM! isn’t an academic event but more of a focused ongoing discussion exploring the evolving nature of Irish culture and its place in today’s world. And that covers a lot of territory.

I ended up hanging out a lot with the authors, who seemed to be in the majority, as befitting Ireland’s centuries-long love of The Word spoken, written, acted and sung — which pretty much describes the totality of Castlebar, Mayo’s  John Hoban, who combines music, tales, song, poetry and more.

Anyone who thinks the “Golden Age” of Irish and Irish-American literature has passed should re-consider.

Another highlight was a panel chaired by American Public Radio host Bill Margeson that included Chicago musicians Liz Carroll, Jimmy Keane and Sean Cleland and Milwaukee Irish Fest founder Ed Ward chatting about Irish music in Chicago over the last few decades.

Jimmy shared a newly rediscovered wire cylinder recording of 19th-century Tipperary/Chicago fiddler Edward Cronin – a major source of repertoire for the vital Francis O’Neill tune collections.

Hearing the sound of pure drop fiddling summoned into our present from its brief flickering long ago was a striking reminder of the music’s power to persevere across the decades.

The weekend kicked off with a Friday night awards dinner honoring five distinguished exponents of Irish and Irish-American culture:  Leitrim fiddler Maurice Lennon, Dublin fiction writer Maeve Binchy and three Chicagoans — choreographer Mark Howard, sculptor John David Mooney and author/sociologist Fr. Andrew Greeley. All five have spent a lifetime not just passing on their art but redefining it to include ever more inventive ways to express that cultural core.

At the dinner I was reminded of the many forms the handing-down can take. Up through the 1970s, when Irish traditional music in America was confined to Irish-only enclaves in a few cities, the Irish import store was a key source of information about local musicians, upcoming music events, new recordings from Ireland (along with the occasional longlost trad disc from the 1950s or beyond).

My initial gateway into the wonderland of Chicago Irish music was Shamrock Irish Imports on North Laramie Street operated by Maureen O’Looney.

One chilly March day in 1973, I wandered into the store and inquired where one could find Irish traditional music locally.

She told me that a fiddler named John McGreevy and a piper/flute player named Kevin Henry would be performing at a St. Patrick’s event that very afternoon at Ford City Mall on Cicero Avenue.

The rest, as they say, is history. To my delight, Mrs. O’Looney was at the awards dinner where I was able to again express my gratitude in person for that “good steer”. Her shop is moving into the Irish American Heritage Center this month.

Another prime Irish music knowledge base in the Paleo-Internet Era of Human Existence was the physical, hand-held, press-printed newspaper. In tracing Chicago Irish music history, I found papers from the 1800s like the Irish Republic, Chicago Citizen and Irish News invaluable for details about the Irish cultural milieu of the time.

LITTLE TOWN OF SPIRALS - Cynthia Mayti

Today that community chronicling task is ably filled by Chicago’s Irish American News, which co-produced iBAM! with the Irish American Heritage Center.

I still have an issue from the paper’s inaugural year of 1977 with the headline “August 15 Named ‘Irish Day’ by Mayor”.

The bottom of Page 1 features an editorial titled “Why Support an Irish American Center”, and the pages are filled with features on local Irish music, theatre, fine arts and dance (with results of the summer’s Chicago Feis including mention of a young Mark Howard in the Boys Junior category).

I recall a remark I heard flutist Noel Rice make nearly 40 years ago:  “To help Irish culture survive in the future, we have to make sure it grows by design, not accident.”

iBAM! is a fundamental part of that design. 

For anyone seeking blissful immersion in the Past-Present-Future of Irish culture, iBAM! 2011 had it all.

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Diddy-Wah-Diddy

A QUICK Independence Day Week post paying tribute to the Spirit of American Music — and the willingness of musicians everywhere to cross borders, b(l)end genres, venture into the metaphorical musical wilderness a-lookin for the elephant guided only by those inner voices whispering “Over here… come on over here, pilgrim…”

Cronin’s HornpipeDiddy Wah DiddyGlen AllenMama’s Getting Younger

— from the 1984 album Late Bloomer by L.E. McCullough (Kicking Mule Records).

Ernie Hawkins – guitar (Cronin’s, Diddy-Wah-Diddy), vocal (Diddy-Wah-Diddy); Doug Anthony – guitar (Glen Allen, Mama’s Getting Younger); Larry Edelman – mandolin; Sam Waterkotte – acoustic bass; L.E. McCullough – vocal (Mama’s Getting Younger), harmonica, tinwhistle, clarinet, bones

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The Man from Bunclody

A birthday celebration was held this past Sunday for button accordionist/fiddler Tom Dunne at the weekly Irish music session he and fiddler Tony Horswill have been co-hosting for several years at St. James Gate Publick House in Maplewood, New Jersey. A great time was had by all. Exceptional carrot cake. Flowing beverages. Appreciative listeners. It should happen every week!

The only thing I could think to bring to the festivities was a newly composed tune, a hornpipe. Tom has a very deft touch with hornpipes, and I’m hoping the tune sits well on his box or even the fiddle.

I called it “The Man from Bunclody”, this being the habitation in County Wexford from which Tom originally hails. Maybe if enough people play it here and there, it’ll someday meld into the tradition as “Tom Dunne’s Hornpipe”.

Tom Dunne is one of those traditional musicians you encounter who, within five seconds after they start playing — you know it’s the Real Deal. Because it just sounds right.

I realize that’s a shockingly non-objective way to describe his style. But it just is. Because he just does.

What I enjoy best about playing with Tom Dunne is knowing that whenever he plays, I’m hearing some part of the music I’ve never heard before … in a way I’ll likely never hear it again.

When we play a tune I’ve played a thousand times, I know his version is coming out through a convection of musical roots that twist down into the deepest, richest core of the tradition. A musical culture so far distant from our modern aural universe that the only way it can ever be heard even faintly is as an occasional echo through a player like Tom Dunne.

You can judge for yourself by listening to his two CDs to date:  Musical Memories with the late Joe Banjo Burke and A Fiddle Tribute To Paddy Cronin. There are rumours of a third CD in the works produced by Hearts Content, Tom’s trio with Iris Nevins (guitar/harp) and Linda Hickman (flute/whistle).

Encourage these rumours and spur them into digital reality… Tom turned 65 yesterday, and with the shape he’s in, he might only be around for another 50 years.

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Fleadh Season Is Upon Us

The Mid-Atlantic U.S. Fleadh Cheoil took place last weekend at the spacious Hilton Hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey. And it was superb.

This was a qualifying competition for performers of Irish traditional instrumental and vocal music. The first- and second-place winners in each category are entitled to compete in the annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann — the All-Ireland traditional music championships that bring thousands of musicians and a quarter million onlookers from around the world to a small town in Ireland each August.

Beyond the competitive aspect showcasing the talents of some astonishing young musicians, a local fleadh serves as a barometer of the music’s overall health. The polished, recital-level performances testify to the skill and dedication of teachers and students; competitors and visiting players from possibly anywhere on the planet commingle in impromptu sessions throughout the hotel all weekend.

A good local fleadh can get you feeling pretty optimistic about the future of Irish Traditional Music.

I remember my first:  May 5, 1974 … a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon in Chicago at Hubbard High School on the southwest side. I competed in the Over-18 Tinwhistle category and was awarded 1st Place.

A miracle of sorts, considering I’d been playing the music just under two years. In addition to qualifying for that summer’s All-Ireland contest, I received a trophy (pictured right) — a true modern marvel of Neo-Constructivist Kitsch Deco styling that, sadly, has not survived the decades.

But I have retained my participant copy of the Official Adjudication Sheet with scoring filled out by the Official Music Adjudicator. Who on that particular day was the even-then legendary Clare fiddler Seamus Connolly, now the distinguished Sullivan Artist-in-Residence at Boston College.

1) Jig:  good traditional style; make sure to end tune properly.

2) Slow Air:  nicely played; phrasing not at all times correct.

3) Reel:  nicely played; watch the rhythm & phrasing when ornamenting!!

4) Hornpipe:  very well played; best tune; lovely ornamentation.

I still look at these comments from time to time. Because they’re as good advice now as they were then, no matter how long you’ve been playing.

And because I vainly wish to believe I can still render a hornpipe as well as I did 37 years ago.

Of course, when I’d started playing ITM, competing was the furthest thing from my mind. Hadn’t thought much about performing the music in public beyond learning enough tunes to credibly participate in a general session and have something to offer musicians kind enough to share their time and knowledge.

I was, after all, merely a budding ethnomusicologist whose mission was to analyze and describe this unique musical culture to the non-Hibernian world. The idea of putting myself forward as a musical equal to established players from the roots tradition was inconceivable.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the fleadh … restrained academicism got banjaxed by unfettered passion.

During the previous few months, I’d been privileged to meet half a hundred veteran players in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. All had graciously shared books, tapes, records, stories – whatever might help an outsider better understand the music that occupied such a central role in their lives.

Yet it became clear that fact-founded analysis alone would never suffice to tell the full story of this tradition. To convey even an iota of what it might mean emotionally to its exponents, I would need to become as passionate and devoted a player as the musicians I was chronicling.

Total objectivity could only be attained from total subjective immersion.

After a few weeks of intense woodshedding, I entered that first fleadh just to see how far I was off the beam. Winning wouldn’t mean I was a real Irish traditional musician; on that one day playing those particular tunes, my performance had simply sounded okay enough to translate into points along a sliding grade matrix. Like weighing a stack of lunchmeat on a scale … visible quantity but no clue to the intangibles of taste or quality.

What it really did mean wouldn’t sink in until the post-fleadh céilí at Hibernian Hall on W. 63rd Street. The weekly Irish Hour radio broadcast hosted by Martin Fahey, Sr. on WOPA-AM had just concluded, and dancers were gathering on the floor.

“Larry McCullough!”

Through the crowd noise, someone called my name. I turned and saw Seamus Connolly approaching.

My first thought was:  Yikes! They realized they made a scoring mistake, and I have to give back my beloved Neo-Constructivist Kitsch Deco Over-18 Tinwhistle Trophy.

He shook my hand and spoke in a serious but friendly tone. “You played well. You’ve got a good traditional feel.”

I stammered out a surprised thank-you. Then, awkward, congealing silence. “Umm… is there anything else I should do?”

He smiled and beckoned toward the bandstand. “Play some tunes for the céilí.”

Probably the best ITM wisdom I ever received.

Some might think a local fleadh is an ordinary thing. This committee does that, that committee does this, etc., just a mundane myriad of details to grind out the task of processing a few dozen musicians to the next level of competition.

But when I walk through a local fleadh, it tells me the music is Alive in a Big Way. Because of all the people who care about it enough to make it happen — competitors, organizers, adjudicators, volunteers and especially the audience.

People who realize the seeds of tradition don’t get planted by themselves. Who show their respect for heritage by making it possible for neophytes to excel and grow into master musicians. Who understand the power these humble melodies have in making our world a more joy-filled, more humane place.

Because of you mighty fleadh-mongers, the 2011 Mid-Atlantic U.S. Fleadh Cheoil is History.

And a vital part of the Future.

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p.s.:  check the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest fleadh websites for details on how to become a volunteer… or for information on how to join one of your local Irish traditional music clubs.

Check here for info on other North American regions:  U.S. Northeast, U.S. Southern, U.S. Western, Canada East, Canada West.

** The 2011 All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil is in Cavan, Aug. 13-22.

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Drift Away

On a chilled, rain-sotted evening a couple weeks back, I saw Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely backed by guitarist Ted Davis perform a concert at the gracious home of Mike and Rose Flanagan in Pearl River, New York – a town just across the New Jersey border that’s become a veritable whirling nexus of Irish traditional music activity the last few years.

Through some sort of cultural kismet, Pearl River and its environs have attracted an ever-expanding core of adult ITM players and a half dozen music and dance schools nurturing Irish folkways among a new generation of super-talented youngsters.

The local Shoprite even has a special Irish section in the “International Foods” aisle.

And this is a Good Thing.

I’d seen Kevin and Cillian before with their sensational regular group Lúnasa, of course. The two sets this night were largely drawn from their 2009 album of flute-pipes-whistle blendings, On Common Ground (BallyO Records).

It might be assumed that because I play the music, and even several of those tunes, that I’d have spent the evening mentally comparing my versions to theirs. Studying their technique. Focusing on minutiae of phrasing, embellishment, variation, etc. Every musician does this subconsciously. Can’t help it. It’s how our minds are wired.

But this night was different, and not just because of the intimacy of the Flanagan parlor or superb accompaniment by Ted Davis. I wanted to let the music take me to a SUB-subconscious level. No analysis. No scrutiny. Just seeing if the sounds could burrow down and strike a level of deep, heretofore unfathomed Ur-Craic.

When the first tune kicked off, I leaned against the rear wall, closed my eyes and sank into tantric breathing mode … breathing to relax, relax and detach … relax to where just one brain synapse pushed artfully ajar would be enough to let the music travel along a whole new path to a mental part of Me I’d never been before.

I can’t say for certain at what point in the set (possibly the twin-whistled Man from Moyasta medley) that I felt the music changing … not changing speed or timbre or texture … but changing dimension … mass … volume even … like the way you hear sound when your head is under water, the sonic waves altering in location and amplitude as they pass from one medium into another (air into water) to be perceived wholly anew in every aspect by your sensory field — in this case translating audio stimuli into visual and tactile form.

Only the music wasn’t muddled; it was voiced with searing clarity and infinite nuance, phrase after phrase after deftly-framed phrase rippling out agile, pulsing note swells that merged seamlessly with the drumming raindrops outside. It was music that allowed my mind to wander into a borderless, timeless aural space where I could feel Everything and Nothing at once. And not worry either way.

[This is where I need to mention that the only pre-concert substances I had imbibed were tap water and a slice of Charlie Sporn’s tasty homemade soda bread, spiked moderately with sugar and butter.]

What’s most remarkable is realizing I’ve been playing Irish traditional music for nearly forty years, and it still has the power at any given moment to seize hold of my internal gearbox and torque me straight into a riveting out-of-body in-body experience words can never really describe.

But that’s all in the music’s DNA, most likely. A gift from the ancients to us stressed, frettish, anxious moderns.

Chroniclers say that the ancient Irish had three classes of music: one with the ability to inspire sadness, the second for sparking joy, a third for inducing sleep.

Listening to the Kevin-Cillian-Ted trio this night, I’d be tempted to add a fourth category:  music to let yourself just drift away to wherever it is you need to be.

And that is truly a Good Thing.

*  *  *

DRIFT AWAY — vocal by Dobie Gray
(author/composer:  Mentor Williams)

Day after day I’m more confused
So I look for the light through the pouring rain
You know that’s a game that I hate to lose
And I’m feelin’ the strain, ain’t it a shame

Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away

Beginning to think that I’m wastin’ time
I don’t understand the things I do
The world outside looks so unkind
I’m countin’ on you to carry me through

Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away

And when my mind is free
You know a melody can move me
And when I’m feelin’ blue
The guitar’s comin’ through to soothe me
Thanks for the joy that you’ve given me
I want you to know I believe in your song
Rhythm and rhyme and harmony
You help me along, makin’ me strong

Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaPnOASOWIU
Dobie Gray himself, 1974 with some English cats on BBC

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