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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.

1 comment:

Aisling Ní Acame said...

Members Danny O'Mahony: Accordion, Michael Collins: Banjo, Joe O'Sullivan: Flute/Vocals, Marianne Browne: Flute, Colm Kissane: Fiddle, Sheila Garry: Fiddle, Patsy Broderick: Piano, John Collins: Drums.

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