Journal Of Music

‘Old Dog Long Road, Volume 1’ – Journal of Music Review [2019-11-28]

Where It All Began

Andy Irvine

Where It All Began

Andy Irvine has recently released ‘Old Dog Long Road, Volume 1’, a two-disc retrospective containing live and private recordings dating from 1961 to 2012. Adrian Scahill reviews.

At this time of resurgence of interest and activity in folk music, with many young singers and bands carving out new identities within the genre, how fitting it is to hear a new collection from one of the true originators and provocateurs of the 1960s folk revival, the evergreen singer Andy Irvine. This double CD set comprises mainly solo live and demo recordings, spanning more than fifty years of music making. Some of the demos are home recordings made in preparation for more complex studio versions with other musicians; these are something akin to the artist’s sketchbook, and in a sense are more unmediated, intimate representations of Irvine’s art. The album and recording still arguably endures as the essential artistic statement of musicians in most genres, and any access to these embryonic stages in the creative process is welcome. The live tracks chart Irvine’s career as a performer, and include songs from the folk clubs of the 1970s, more recent material from the Lobby Bar in Cork, and recordings from his many tours abroad.

There is a certain homage here to one of Irvine’s oft-cited germinal influences, the American folk singer Woody Guthrie, in the imagery of the road; the sense of devotion to music and to the life of the folk singer; a cover photo that foregrounds Irvine as a live performer, and the prominence of the harmonica within that image. And indeed spread across the album are a set of songs that mine this heritage (songs of labour being a core part of this repertoire) and hark back to Irvine’s early experiences as a guitarist in skiffle, blues and American folk. These include the earliest recording here, ‘Truckin’ Little Baby’ (1961), a ragtime blues song learnt from Blind Boy Fuller, and Irvine’s youthful singing and guitar picking works hard at emulating the original. This was around the inception of the blues revival in Britain, but Irvine never swayed from the path broken by Guthrie, as attested to by the cover of Guthrie’s harmonica piece ‘Lost Train Blues’ (1971), and his song ‘Seamen Three’ (1981), with its characteristically political lines: ‘Shipped out to beat the fascists, Across the land and sea.’ Indeed Irvine has long championed the cause of the worker and others involved in struggles against the establishment, as also evidenced in the opening song, Si Kahn’s ‘Goodbye Monday Blues’, which documents the hardships endured by cotton mill workers in North Carolina.

Old-Dog-Long-Road

Close detail
But Irvine’s work has also been more than about just ‘singing the news’, and a second group of songs show off his skill in reinterpreting folksongs. A number of these have been imaginatively recreated from printed sources: the ill-fated ‘Lady Leroy’ comes from a 1910 folk music journal, and the ‘Kilgrain Hare’ and others come from the pages of the Sam Henry Collection. Others were learnt from some of the main sources for the singers of the folk revival period: ‘Sweet Lisbweenmore’ was sung by Cork singer Elizabeth Cronin; ‘Edward Connors’ is an emigration song from the repertoire of Eddie Butcher from Derry; and Leitrim singer Thomas Moran was the source for the unusual ‘Captain Thunderbolt’. Irvine also includes a number of his own compositions here, of which the most intriguing is the early ‘Dublin Lady’, written to a poem by American poet Patrick Carroll.

One of the great benefits of this set is that it mostly focuses on Irvine as a solo performer, allowing us to hear in close detail just how impressive a musician he is, both as an instrumentalist and as an interpreter of traditional songs. Listen to how Irvine’s mandolin weaves magical lines around the melody of ‘Captain Colston’, sometimes echoing the voice, sometimes punctuating the melody with horo-esque cross-rhythms, and always colouring and shaping the harmonies in unexpected ways. On the more sonorous ‘Green Grows the Laurel’, Irvine’s vocals take on a darker patina, allowing the bass bouzouki to enrich and intensify the duskier sound. Those enamoured of Irvine’s work with other musicians, and in particular the interlacing bouzouki and mandolin lines pioneered by him and Dónal Lunny, will revel in his acerbic composition ‘King Bore and the Sandman’.

Given the long period this retrospective covers, the sound quality understandably varies throughout, but this never distracts from the quality of the songs collected here. And while the historian in me was longing for a chronological ordering, the approach of mixing up the tracks does provide more contrast when listening through the two CDs. It’s a worthy document of Irvine’s prowess as a live performer, and invaluable for the light it throws on his less familiar material, and on the development of his sound and music across a long career. Perhaps best of all, it is encouragingly labelled as ‘Volume 1’, whetting the appetite for another journey down the long road.

Andy Irvine: Old Dog Long Road, Volume 1: 1961-2012 is available from www.andyirvine.com. Irvine will play the Purty Kitchen in Dún Laoghaire on 6 December and the Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart on 7 Dec. In January and February he tours New Zealand, and next March he will perform a number of dates with Paul Brady in Ireland. For full details, visit www.andyirvine.com/gigs.

Published on 28 November 2019

Adrian Scahill is a lecturer in traditional music at Maynooth University.

 

source: journalofmusic.com

Archive Album Reviews: Patrick Street – On the Fly (2007)

Patrick Street – On the Fly – Loftus Music LM002; 47 minutes; 2007

A recent review of this album in the UK magazine Songlines referred to Patrick Street as a ‘Dublin band’, revealing not only the reviewer’s ignorance about a group which has never featured a Dublin-born member in its career of now twenty years and more, but a sheer lack of understanding of the derivation of the musical elements which have coloured this group’s recordings and performances since its inception.

On the Fly is the band’s first album since 2003’s Street Life, the first to feature John Carty (on fiddle, flute and banjo – though he’s been performing live with the band for several years now) and the last to include accordionist Jackie Daly, who only appears on two tracks. Indeed, following Jackie’s departure, Patrick Street must be the only Irish ‘supergroup’ whose members were all born in England (three in London and guitarist Ged Foley in Durham)! A ‘Dublin band’, Songlines?

This latest album very much follows the standard Patrick Street format. There’s a wide mix of various dance tunes (three sets of reels, including wonderful interplay between Kevin and John on Down the Broom/The Gatehouse Maid/Mulvihill’s, plus hornpipes, jigs and slip jigs, as well as a set of polkas with Jackie Daly’s box to the fore) and John’s own composition the air/jig Seanamhac Tube Station. Indeed there can have been no more joyous sound on a recent recording than the sheer swing and sway of the twin fiddles on Martin Wynne’s.

Andy digs deep into his repertoire for three songs: The Rich Irish Lady, learnt from a Peggy Seeger LP in the late 1950s; plus Erin Go Bragh, first heard in a Hull pub in 1964; and, Sergeant Small, a depression song gleaned from his many visits to Australian. As has become a matter of course, but really needs reiteration, there are few singers in the English-speaking world able to tap so fundamentally into the wellsprings of a song than Andy and these three song outings tremendously reinforce that fact. Additionally, there’s a rare outing for Ged’s vocal cords on an engrossing version of The Galway Shawl.

Lastly, those two concluding tracks with Jackie Daly provide a gorgeous reminder of the accordionist’s ability to spur a tune ever onwards into the deepest regions of the imagination and provide some of the slickest ‘tips’ you’ll ever hear in your life.

Ever enthralling, On the Fly is an essential purchase.

Geoff Wallis - 5th March, 2008

For more information visit http://www.loftusmusic.com/.

source: www.irishmusicreview.com


CD Reviews: Patrick Street – On The Fly

‘On the fly’ usually denotes hurriedness, a quick-fix in a situation where time is limited. However, this On the Fly does not betray anything of moves made in-flight or constrained by time. On this, the eighth studio…

On the Fly – Loftus Music LM002

‘On the fly’ usually denotes hurriedness, a quick-fix in a situation where time is limited. However, this On the Fly does not betray anything of moves made in-flight or constrained by time. On this, the eighth studio album from Patrick Street, the music is measured out in a space which flows around, above and in-between the 47 minutes it takes to play through the twelve tracks.

More than being just another release, this album represents an important shift in the line-up of Patrick Street as it formally marks the departure of Jackie Daly. But in effect, Daly already recorded his last Patrick Street album with Street life (2002), featuring on just two tracks, quite appropriately.

As a replacement, John Carty adds a new dimension to the group’s sound. His fiddle, flute and banjo playing create interesting settings, counterparts and leads to Kevin Burke’s flowing bow.  In the tune selections Carty and Burke explore their shared musical background. While on well-roved paths – such as ‘Happy to meet Sorry to Part’, ‘Martin Wynne’s’ and ‘Down the Broom’ – their twin fiddles create a raw, direct sound that is often unnecessarily smoothed over in contemporary traditional recordings.

On the song front, Ged Foley makes a brave attempt at resuscitating the worn out ‘Galway Shawl’; it took a while, but it grew on me. As usual, Andy Irvine is reassuring in the regular consistency of his sound world. ‘The Rich Irish Lady’ is a fine example of his inventiveness with contrapuntal accompaniment. Indeed, on each of the four songs there is an interplay which makes full use of the four musicians.

Overall, the production creates a live feel. The studio is absent in that you only ever hear four musicians, albeit in an ideally balanced setting: it is a document of things as they are rather than a fiction created in the studio or on stage. Within Patrick Street is the present place of Irish traditional music as it is in the flesh; this music could happen in your house.

I don’t limit my enjoyment of the album to one track, but there is certainly one that stands out for me: the set of hornpipes, ‘The Long Acre/Cuz Tehans’. This is as good as it gets, temperately measured with notes falling into each other like dominoes, moving to form a design mapped out by the four individuals.Banjo and fiddle moving together forces a smile, but words only catch the sentiment on the fly: go and listen for yourself.

Published on 1 March 2008 - Rory McCabe

source: journalofmusic.com

The Hot Spot Music Club, Greystones – Saturday, 25 JUN 16

Andy Irvine is one of the great Irish singers, his voice one of a handful of truly great ones that gets to the very soul of Ireland. He has been hailed as “a tradition in himself.” Musician, singer and songwriter, Andy has maintained his highly individual performing skills throughout his 45-year career. From Sweeney’s Men in the mid 60s, to the enormous success of Planxty in the 70s and then from Patrick Street to Andy Irvine & Dónal Lunny’s Mozaik, Andy has been a world music pioneer and an icon for traditional music and musicians.

As I Roved Out (YouTube)

Forgotten Hero (YouTube)

Tickets €18/€16    Doors open 9pm

The events are a great opportunity to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. The HOT SPOT MUSIC CLUB is a friendly and relaxed venue.  See below for details of all of the events taking place.

Source: Events – The Hot Spot Music Club