Patrick Street in Albuquerque, NM
November 13, 1997 By Rick Boyle
I was lucky enough to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico last Thursday, Nov. 13 and caught Patrick Street on tour. I had a pretty good seat in the second row. They played for about two hours, with one break. The band (Andy Irvine on bouzouki, mandola, harmonica, and vocals; Ged Foley on guitar and vocals; Jackie Daly on accordion; Kevin Burke on fiddle) is touring for the release of their new CD “Made in Cork.” It was a very enjoyable show–good pacing, lots of energy especially in the second set, peerless playing. If you have a chance to catch them, I’d recommend it.
Irvine played a big, deep-bodied, four-course flattop bouzouki, the name of which I couldn’t read on the headstock. Later he told me it was made in Germany for him (and here’s where I’m slapping myself on the forehead) and I forgot to ask by whom. Sorry about that, folks. But it had a good, full sound and Irvine was all over that thing. The only quibble I had is when he used an effects pedal (on only two songs or so) it didn’t do much for the sound in that hall–too thin and reedy-sounding. The bouzouki had a very white spruce top, and what looked to be mahogany sides and back, but I’m not positive. He used the capo frequently, and even up on the 12th fret for one tune. I won’t bother with writing down the tunes and songs they did, but the majority of them were from the current CD. Particularly impressive from that recording was Her Mantle So Green and some slides and polkas that featured Jackie Daly.
Two things especially I wanted to share with the list. Irvine’s not a big guy, and I was struck by his hands looking slightly smaller than average size, from my vantage point. From listening to him for years on recordings, I guess I expected someone playing like that–all over the neck in GDAD–to have monstrously long fingers. He doesn’t, which was a pleasant surprise. I mean, there’s hope for all of us with whelmingly-sized hands.
The other thing was that I chatted briefly with him after the show about instruction. He said he plans to work on a technique book for the bouzouki, but not an audiotape or videotape. He said he’s been meaning to do it for years, but he just hasn’t got round to it. He also said he was thinking about starting it in February. So, I don’t know how serious that is, but maybe there’ll be something from him in a while. BTW, he was a very friendly guy.
Those of you who also play guitar on the list might want to know that Ged Foley, who played a Sobell guitar, was tuned in (low to high) DADADE the whole night. He capoed very infrequently, which was pretty impressive. After the show, he was talking with a few guitarists and basically saying we all ought to try that tuning, that DADGAD wore his frets out in the lower positions and that’s why he switched. I think a few of us went away convinced to give it a try, after watching him. He flatpicked leads, fingerpicked pattern picking behind Irvine, and did dynamite rhythm the whole show. What was really interesting to me was listening to the slightly different sound that his tuning lent to some of the old Patrick Street songs I knew, like Gerry O’Beirne’s “The Holy Ground,” where I believe Arty McGlynn was playing in DADGAD. The sound of him and Irvine working together, introing some tunes and songs, playing off each other’s rhythm, was one of the sweetest sounds this side of the Pecos River.