This month we have another five gems for you. Are you keeping up?
1. Freewheel is just out, ink on the CD cover is still wet. It features the ubiquitous and musically peripatetic youth, Fergal Scahill on guitar, fiddle, and bodhran, joined by The Full Set’s Sean McCarthy on uillean pipes and low whistles and David Howley bringing along some lovely vocals to join his guitar and banjo work. Except for the song, Dublin Blues, this is deeply traditional stuff. Ranging from classics like The Corner House to Micho Russell’s, the group hits a lot of treasures, most notably our favorite, Mayor Harrison’s Fedora, as the second in a set of three reels on the closing cut of the album. You can also be looking for David Howley as a part of Enda Scahill’s new group, We Banjo Three. This album is highly, highly recommended. With all three of these young musicians as busy as they are, we can all be pleased that they found the time to record this tasty treat. A winner, front to back.
2. Outside Track has just this very second released their winner of a new album, Flash Company. You know Outside Track features this year’s winner of Female Vocalist of the Year, Norah Rendell, and their last album won Vocal/Instrumental Album of the Year. We find Outside Track totally modern and deeply traditional at the same time. That is real artistry. We have had them on our Chicago radio program twice, live in-studio. They are as sensational in live performance as they are in-studio. We have a lot of favorites from the 11 cuts of Flash Company. Perhaps, the biggie is Mountain Road. It turns out that they have cut this and brought it out separately through all the digital download sites as a fundraiser for two important charities. Harpist Ailie Robertson is leading the support for Scottish Mountain Rescue. The other charity being supported is an Irish-based group fighting child abuse. Find the cut, Mountain Road on all the widely known digital download sites such as iTunes, but better yet, just visit the group’s website and make your purchase there. It is only 99 cents on its own. Every penny is going to the charities. You and the charities can bank on it. This is another top album from one of the music’s elite and top groups, Outside Track.
3. Next up is Rachel Hair with the Rachel Hair Trio and their album, No More Wings. The album includes Rachel herself on harp, Jenn Butterworth on guitar and vocals, joined by Euan Burton on double bass. Keeping it simple, they are joined by some guest musicians on a few tracks, playing tenor saxophone, percussion and accordion. While this fills out the style and sound nicely, it is not fulfilling for the real trad fan. A bit avant-garde. But on the traditional tunes, and trad stylings on the album, the results are wonderful and mark both Rachel and this group as ones to watch in the future. There will probably be as many who like the modern stuff even more than the trad, but we suspect not. It is a lovely album, nevertheless, and definitely recommended. It is always fab to see great new talent arriving on the scene.
4. Speaking of that, here’s Dan Gurney, a lovely button box player with a new album, self-titled. He is joined by pianist Brian McGrath. Dan was born in upstate New York and is 23 years old. He has had incredible teachers like Father Charlie Coen, Mick Conneely, Sr., and Joe Derrane. This has led to his musicianship exceeding the confines of this album. The album itself is a must-have for those of you who like to keep up with new and important musicians entering the scene. Here comes Dan Gurney. The album is a bit repetitive with an identical instrumentation and ambience on each of the 15 selections. It all begins to blend a bit too much. Nevertheless, he is a musician of real promise and depth for one so young. Get up, ya’boyo!
5. Finally, and perhaps best of all, (tied with Flash Company) is Fool’s Dream featuring Pat Crowley and Johnny McCarthy. This album is not new. We are unbelievably late to it, embarrassingly so. Nevertheless, our mission is to let you know about fantastic stuff we have not discussed before. This album is one of those. It features Pat on piano and Johnny on fiddle. Then Johnny plays piano, and Pat plays accordion. You get the drift. They change off instruments here and are masters of each. Produced by Steve Cooney, this stuff is magic. Johnny is father of one of our local piano heroes, Cormack McCarthy. This shows that Daddy has many tricks up his sleeve and even this many years later, Cormack can still pick up a move or two. The 12 cuts on this album showed these two musicians at the top of their form and enshrined them forever in a cocoon of musical perfection. Master work.
Do you know that our Chicago radio show producer, Imelda Bhroga and I have a weekly radio program on each week at noon on Sundays for LiveIreland? That’s right. It is all directed out of Dublin, Ireland--live to the world. The live program on Sundays is repeated three or four times each week and we are told that the audience is rapidly approaching 40,000 each week. This makes it one of the network’s most popular shows. Why? Because we play all trad, all the time. Imelda’s outrageous chat in the show’s live chat room with listeners from around the world does not hurt, either. Be it Sergio in Italy or Paz in Israel, joined by Grant in Indianapolis and John in Holland, it is ALL GOOD. The Humble King and Magic Man check in each week also. You can, too. Just go to LiveIreland.com and you will hear great music and great craic, every Sunday at noon!