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24 July 2014

Simone Felice - (is that [si-mo-ne fe-leech-ay] or [sigh-mon fe-llisse]?). OR "Love song to Jean"

+++That big bleedin' stealer, Bríd Ní Mhaoileoin, aka "The Rogue" from that fab new Irish-language music radio programme "Rogha Bhríde" (Bríd's choice), ran in AGAIN this morning and said "gimme your gd blog or else". So I gave her my blog. (after wondering "what the hell is gd, you gd stealer?").
Aisling Ní Acamé+++

THINGS (lots and lots of)
about the concert last night July 23, Róisín Dubh, Galway as part of "Galway International Arts Festival"
(not even very, very, very, very, very, VERY, vaguely in the line of a review)

I just sent an email to my long-lost friend in Pasedena, California. I hadn't seen him since the 29th of March 1984 in Saratoga Springs, New York. (or did you drive with us too to JFK Tim? That morning after Bob woke us up with William Tell's Overture a-blasting all around the house - the most effective and memorable alarm I've ever had in my life).

Since getting back in touch with him (Tim) two months ago through a series of couchsurfing-type adventures*, I had had a few very close "come finally to San Francisco" calls (it has been at the top of my "want-to-go-to-places list" for many's a year. It has graduated to "I'm-going-regardless" places). *From the 5-piece band from SF who played a house concert in my living room, to a guest from "just down the road from Pasedena" (hi Oliver) to a wonderful woman from "right over the Golden Gate bridge (the OTHER side of it)" (hi Marisa!).

I had more California-dreaming moments last night. I went to a concert of Simone Felice at Galway International Arts Festival with opener Samantha Crain, and loved it. I had never heard of either of them. Not until 20 minutes before the show when my friend Jean (I love Jean) played me 20 seconds of Samantha on Spotify and I said "well, I'm going". Jean wasn't that mad about Simone (not at that millisecond), but I quickly spotified him and said "well, I'm going".

Both singer/songwriters did some numbers which brought me closer to San Francisco. I wrote down the line from Simone but then lost my festival programme. But I did remember the words " ...if you go to LA, and meet a girl...look her ... in the eye and tell her I'm doing fine", so I googled it just now, and found the missing words. "If you go to LA and meet a girl out walking in the drizzle and the rain, look her straight in the eye and tell her I’m doing fine [...]". Yo liked it.

And Samantha Crain sang a song and/or told a great story about SF. I can't remember it. There were so many wonderful lyrics during the two hours, and so many fine stories. I thought of the great quote that was on the cover of the 2013 Cúirt International Festival of Literature brochure. It has fallen down the back of the set of drawers which holds my cd collection, so I guess it'll be collecting dust there for another while. I've tried to find the cover on the ole googler, without success, and there's more important things to be done. (if anyone has a copy lying around I'd really appreciate a photo of it though). The quote went something like: after food, shelter and companionship, the most important thing we need are stories. Yes sir/madame!

to be continued

09 July 2014

Triple Crown for "Shannon's Lovely Vale"

+++That bossy boots, Bríd Ní Mhaoileoin, aka The Rogue from that fab new Irish language radio programme "Rogha Bhríde", ran in again this morning and said "gimme your blog or else". So I gave her my blog.
Aisling Ní Acamé+++

I've never bought a Céilí Band cd in my life, but I'll never forget growing up with that distinctive sound streaming from Raidió na Gaeltachta, that "style of music from a bygone era". And then I got a beautiful cd today in the post from Danny O'Mahony (míle buíochas le Danny), "Shannon's Lovely Vale" by the Shannon Vale Céilí Band.

So I listened to the cd from start to finish without reading the credits or titles. My favourite piece was the hornpipe "Shannon's Lovely Vale", funnily enough not only the name of the céilí band, but also the name of the CD. Triple crown!

The packaging is beautiful. I'm a big fan of well produced cds. Well produced anything in fact. The liner notes tell us that my favourite tune was composed by Leitrim fiddle player Maurice Lennon in honour of The Shannon Vale Céilí Band, as is the whole set it is in, track 15 - "Master Shanley's/Shannon's Lovely Vale/The Road to Garrison". Maurice joins the band on this track.

There are some beautiful photos on the inside of the cover (right and above), a ticket from a "Grand Dance" in 1961 (before I was a twinkle in my mother's eye) and two photographs of the original band members, Dr. Mick Sweeney who formed the band in 1960, Martin Brown, Liam Power, Harry Power, Jerry Flaherty, Richard Casey, Séamus Hussey and Den McCarthy.

It's only now as I write this, 6 hours after I started listening to the cd, that I turned to the final page of the cd cover, which names the current band members. Do I feel stupid now! :-) Danny O'Mahony is the band leader! I hadn't realised that. I just thought he was helping his pals to promote it. (I didn't recognise you in the photo Danny! Brón orm!)

The cd opens with a joyful set of traditional reels "Molly Bawn and The New Moon Meadow". I played the second one a few weeks ago on my radio show "Rogha Bhríde", the Connemara version "Joe Mháire Mhicilín" lilted by sean-nós singer Meaití Jó Shéamuis Ó Fátharta.

There are reels, jigs, barn dances, walzes, polkas, hornpipes, a march, and two songs on this cd. Is there anything missing? Slides. Do céilí bands play slides?

I love the corny old drumming. Nothing beats a good good céilí band drummer (sic). The drums shine on track two, "The Nightingale and Nóra Chríona" jigs. And that drumming on the wee wooden whatyemecallit box makes me laugh. For joy. And while we're on "corny", you couldn't get much more corny than the band's version of the song "The Sand Hills of Kilmore". I love. I feel like playing the repeat button, but I'll never get this review written if it do that!

The highlights? The piano intro to track 7. I know, I know, it's only TWO NOTES, but it's so nostalgic! The aforementioned wee wooden whatyemacallit box. The drumming in general by John Collins. Patsy Broderick's piano accompaniment. The fine flute playing stands out (there are three flute players). But then so does the banjo. And then it's the accordion. The changes! For example on track 7, the change from "The Swallow's Tail" into "The Mountain Road". Priceless. The classics like "The Legacy" jig. The beautiful treatment of the previously unrecorded song "The Lordly Shannon Side". The starts. The finishes. From start to finish. It's gorgeous.

"Vigour, elegance, vitality and sweet music" are words taken from the liner notes. They're all here. And what I felt after a day of listening to this gorgeous cd (sorry for repeating myself) was joy and happiness. The happy sound of The Shannon Vale Céilí Band.

PS I'm just reading Danny O'Mahony's biography as I write this. Ah now, radio programme host? Radio Kerry? Guess I'll be taking a trip to the cottage soon!
PPS There's only one thing I need now. Any chances of a copy of ‘In Retrospect’ Danny?
PPPS What, I didn't mention the best cd disc design I've ever seen? A replica viynl. I know, I know, it's probably been done before. I don't care. Problem! If I want to photograph it, I'll have to take the cd out.
PPPPS Did I mention the cool drum-roll intro on track 3?

+++ENOUGH! Could I get my friggin' blog back now? Aisling Ní Acamé+++

As always, Aisling welcomes corrections, even to things written by thieving rogues.