View Full Version : How'd you get started with the celtic  music?

Jul-14-2004, 8:04am
I was just curious how everyone got started playing celtic music? #I have been learning the mando for a couple years now and started out with bluegrass. #I got "Shatter the Calm" #by Dan B and could n't take it out of the CD player. #Then I made the mistake of getting a Dervish CD and now I'm hooked. #Love it! #Cant get enough of it!

It is almost enchanting how rythmic and melodic the music it is. #There seems to be so much depth. #I overheard these guys at a bluegrass show say how he didnt like irish music because it all sounded the same. #I thought, "hmmmm, dont know what you have heard but it is anything but the same."

Jul-14-2004, 8:41am
It all started one summer afternoon in Shreveport, Louisiana. I was 15, and in the car with my mom, and she had it on an oldies station (60s 70s). Well all of a sudden they played "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller. I was absolutely amazed how cool it sounded. You have to remember that for a 15 yr old boy who grew up in the 80s, the idea of liking anything other than RocknRoll was completely foreign to me. That one single event is what triggered my interest in all things non-RocknRoll. Hell, I don't really like RocknRoll anymore. How I went from there to celtic music is a mystery though. I never had friends or family who liked it (still don't).

Jul-14-2004, 8:44am
There's a joke about there being only three irish tunes in existence.

Steve L
Jul-14-2004, 10:14am
Back in the 70's, I was playing guitar in a top 40 band. We got a house gig in a place with 2 show rooms...one where we played and the other featured Irish ballad groups. I liked the ballad stuff and got to meet some of the musicians. As I got to know them, they would give me tapes of stuff they listened to...Planxty, DeDannan, Bothy Band and that stuff just blew the back of my head off.

Much later, I had the chance to take an ongoing class (it went on for years) which was basically a "slow session" led by the late Tony Cuffe. Tony was a big figure in Scottish music but played Irish music as well. To learn repetoire and play with someone of that stature was the experience of a lifetime and his musicianship was only topped by his warmth and generosity as a person.

For those in the Boston area, the class lives on at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. It will start up again in September led by Peter MacGuire, a fine flute player from Belfast and a great guy.

Jul-14-2004, 1:23pm
A Deanta CD I bought when I was 11. I got it at Target for $5. Most of the music I own is Irish traditional/folk, so naturally that's all I play! I don't play in a band, but I was inspired by my favorite band to pick up a mandolin. I don't have regular training on any of my various instruments, though I think learning by ear and playing when I like is much more fun. I tend to accidentally discover the must-have albums (as I'm often told "You absolutely have to get __" and respond "I listen to that one at work all the time.") so I guess I have good taste.


Jul-14-2004, 3:33pm
"..... music all sounds the same" must have been said about every kind of music. It's the classic outsiders' view. I'm sure there's a kind of music about which we all say this. For me it would be heavy metal and Rap.
I've heard "Irish" musicians (who weren't from Ireland) say "Oh, Scottish music - there's only three tunes and they're all in A", whereas I've lived in Scotland long enough to appreciate the depth and variety of Scottish music. And of course I've heard Scottish musicians say things like "Irish music - it's good for a bit but it gets very samey after a while"

It all depends on your degree of immersion.
For me "Celtic" music goes back to the songs my older relatives would sing, parties in the bush of Australia where the old ones would bring out the accordion or fiddle, then Clancy bros records, then Dubliners, then Planxty etc etc.

Jul-14-2004, 5:28pm
one day i was in the car with my dad and he put in a mysterious cd by the "pogues" entitled "rum, sodomy, and the lash." as he put it in, the last thing going through my mind was that this mysterious disc was infact the greatest CD of all time. now im an addict. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

steve V. johnson
Jul-14-2004, 6:55pm
I have played some sort of popular music or another since I was in high school, as a guitar player mainly. I was in Bethesda, Md., managing a recording studio, and my then-girlfriend, now-wife, who had never played music in her life, used to walk back to our apartment from her job. Her walk took her by the door to Flanagan's bar, an Irish joint below street level. For 'happy hours' they used to have live Irish trad acts, and the music caught her imagination, tho she had never heard it before.

I was fairly familiar with the biggest Irish trad groups, and I listen(ed) to a lot of international and ethnic musics, but I had not tried to play a lot (read:any... <GG>) of it.

She began to haunt Flanagan's and hang with the players. Another friend of ours, who was new in town and struggling to start a pop music career, was a veteran of Irish and other folk musics, and he began to take us to Irish trad events and introduce us around. When we moved back to Indiana in the early '90's my wife
(whose name is Min Gates) asked for a bodhran for Xmas, so I got her one with a couple of instructional videos. Within about six months she was playing really well, and to this day is very respected among Irish players.

From about '95 on, we were going to Irish festivals and sessions, but I still was just engineering and producing and not playing, between her encouragement and the fun I was having in the sessions, I started to pick up the guitar again.

Now, she and I do gigs with fiddler TJ Hull, and I do hardly any studio work. We have a CD in process, and we've been to Ireland three times, and have made great friends and played with some tremendous players there. There are four sessions a week between here in Bloomington (Indiana) and Indianapolis, with about sixty people who play regularly and well!

There are a couple of mandolins, a mandola, a couple of octave mandolins, a couple of bouzoukis in the house, along with the usual several acoustic and electric guitars and basses... (and the studio microphone collection seems to be shrinking... <GGG>)

I'm hooked and happy!!


Jul-14-2004, 8:16pm
I think my introduction to Celtic music was through a really wonderful folk dj here in Philly named Gene Shay...his folk music programs were a lifeline for me when I was in high school (in the early 80's)...Steeleye Span was probably the first group that caught my ear (tho not traditional...kind of an effort at Celtic Rock)...in college I started listening to other bands...Planxty, the Bothy Band, Ossian, and also expanded my interest in the threads that connect many folk musics.

I am still interested in how Celtic music ideas are expressed in music of the other regions of Europe where Celts settled...N.France, Spain, N. Europe... and in US cultures (e.g. Appalachian, etc.)

the "sameness" argument generally shows that the listener doesn't understand the music "from the inside"... isn't able to appreciate the subtleties... applies to most kinds of music, as others here have noted...

Jul-15-2004, 2:48am
My mom's Irish (Wooo Hooo Gort, Co. Galway). So as a kid, my mom would listen to weekend radio programs in NY (where I was born and raised) featuring trad music. I was studying classical violin growing up (whole family of classical musicians) and my teacher (Swiss lady) would sometimes teach Jigs, Reels and Hornpipes for string crossing technique and rhythms etc. (alot more fun than Etudes...).

So...fast forward 20 years, and when I started teaching I used the same technique with my students. Classical violin but always Jigs, Reels, and Hornpipes for string crossings and rhythms.

Sooo while teaching kids, the parents usually listened or were around during the lesson. (I teach in the student's home). Well the father of one of my students learned to "back-up" his son on a Hornpipe he learned...with guitar.

Then he bought a mando on a Saturday, I played it in the lesson that Monday and was totally hooked, I bought one on Wednesday. Thursday night we went on stage at a local open mic night with a bunch of notes, our new mandos (plus him on guitar and me on fiddle) and peeled through a few sets. That friday I discovered the cafe. (thanks Scott!)

Then after playing mando a few months, my friend found something called... a Bazouki. He got one and I got one and another and another and another ... ... It was all over after that. IAS set in very very strong and I went to my first Zoukfest. All that happened in 2000.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Jul-15-2004, 4:38am
My story is similar to others here.. I'd been a fan of the Pogues in my high school years, and I especially liked their instrumental tracks. They had this uncanny ability to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up while I was listening, a very strong emotional response I still don't get from most other music. I collected anything of theirs I could find (which included a fair number of instrumental tracks on the EPs & singles), and eventually I heard a track that made me go hunting for an isntrument.

"The Battle March Medley" on "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" has a blistering bouzouki line in it.. I heard that, and checked the sleeve notes of the CD. I saw "bouzouki" and didn't know what the heck that was, so I went out looking for a "mandolin" which the one instrument I assumed was what I was hearing!

I had a washburn bowlback for about 2 years, then a kay mandolin, then an old Gibson A2.. some flirtation with tenor banjos, another gibson (a3), then finally I stumped for a sobell 10-string mandola.. and started playing 3 nights a week in a Milwaukee Irish band. I always seem to come back to the mandolin though. Basically I think the summary of it all has been simply liking the sound of the instruments, no matter how badly I played them.. I never have lost this obsessive desire to simply keep playing.

Jul-15-2004, 6:27am
I came to celtic music through Thin Lizzy; I loved the likes of Whiskey in the Jar, Emerald and Black Rose. Then I started homing in on the celtic type tracks by the likes of Simple Minds and Gary Moore. Then came Clannad and the Van Morrison/Chieftans album (I was already a Van fan). Then I kinda went to the Pogues and from there to the Dubliners, Christy Moore and the more traditional stuff.

Why the mandolin? I was playing guitar, then in quick succession I saw Davey McNevin play with Stockton's Wing and John Munroe with Eric Bogle, and fell in love with the sound of the mandolin. And the rest is history :-)



Jul-15-2004, 12:04pm
I heard a Chieftans LP back around 1975. #Fascinating. #They still sound great to me. #A few years later Danny Carnahan (of Wake the Dead) really gave me an education with his giant record collection and wide knowledge. #I have been hooked since.

Jul-15-2004, 2:10pm
I'm a big fan of the Chieftains as well... and especially appreciate the ways they've sought to bridge musical genres. After putting out a serious (how many? at least 10) of definitive Celtic music, they have made several albums collaborating with Rock artists, Country artists, one featuring women, etc. Love it!

Jul-15-2004, 2:11pm
whoops... I meant "series"...

A Brown
Jul-15-2004, 2:48pm
The tunes were always round me. My grandfather was a piper (he served with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers during the First World War - the pipe band acted as stretcher-bearers under fire) and my mother always had the music on the radio and sang it round the house. As a child and teenager in the 60s and early 70s I enjoyed Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor and the Corries. I first became aware of the mandolin when I heard Roy Williamson (of the Corries) follow the song "I know my love by his way of walking" with a mandolin version of "The Lark in the Morning". I bought a cheap Czech flatback and have been murdering beautiful music ever since.


mad dawg
Jul-15-2004, 3:06pm
I was introduced to Irish and Scottish music from an early age as part of my family's heritage, but I never really took much interest in it until I started travelling, and ran into sessions in pubs in Ireland and Scotland. What ignited a more intense interest in the music and in the mandolin, was Iain MacLeod's awesome mandolin work on Shooglenifty's A Whisky Kiss. It was absolutely inspirational, and I now find myself dedicating a large part of my CD collection and listening time to trad and modern Celtic music, non-Celtic folk music from various cultures, and mandolin music in general.

Jul-15-2004, 9:33pm
These are all really cool stories! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Jul-19-2004, 9:01am
Caught the Chieftains on SNL about 20 years ago. Bought one innocent little tape...

Bob DeVellis
Jul-19-2004, 2:18pm
Well, let's see. I guess it began with my general interst in folk music. Bluegrass had always intrigued me and, when I moved to Nashville for grad school, I got an earful. I began wanting to know more about where the music came from. That led me to old time. Then, I wanted to know where that came from, which led me to British Isles music more generally and Irish more specifically. The transition was helped along by a place called Tara that used to be in Nashville at the time (around 1976 or so). It featured Irish musicians in its basement pub. The first I heard was a guy named Jimmy Kelly, a singer of ballads and rebel songs. I really enjoyed him at the time. Then, one night he didn't show, or something, and was replaced by a band called Ormond -- sort of a Bothy-Band type of sound. I was floored. Although they made good use of both mandolin and mandola, I wasn't playing anything of the sort at the time. But their sound really turned me on to Irish traditional music and, as cash allowed, I'd purchase the occasional LP, mostly Chieftans. When I moved to North Carolina for my first job after finishing up grad school, I also acquired a nice violin that had been my father's. I brought it to a local luthier for some minor repairs and set-up and asked where I could get some lessons. He recommended a guy named David Keilor. As it happened, Dave (he now uses Blaise as his first name) played mostly Irish stuff. So, that's what I began to learn. I found fiddle to be a tough instrument, given my limited talents and time to devote to it. I really missed frets (having played guitar and banjo). So, I bought a Kentucky mandolin (Japanese). But life got hectic and the mandolin mostly sat in the closet. A few years later, on impulse, I bought an inexpensive concertina. Although it was fun, it provided a novel experience -- I actually exceeded the capabilities of the instrument. So, I ordered a better concertina from England. While I was waiting for it to be built, I got my hands on a mid-level concertina that was better than the original but still had leaky bellows and sloppy action. Not knowing any better, I killed myself trying to keep up with other musicians on some very concertina-unfriendly tunes. When my good concertina arrived, it was a whole lot better, but I'd already begun to develop tendonitis from flogging the leaky one so hard. Despite the better instrument, it got worse. I decided that it was going to just tear my wrist up if I continued, so I reverted to mandolin, upgrading in the process to a Gibson snakehead. Unfortunately, the local Irish music scene began to change around the same time. Whereas when I was playing concertina, I was getting together regularly with friends to play, many of those folks lost jobs, moved back to Ireland or to other parts of the US, or were just too busy and unhappy to enjoy music as much. The linch-pins of the musical interactions I most enjoyed were either gone or struggling with unemployment and not able to conslidate any attractive music scene. My newly-launched mandolin playing wasn't good enough for the sessions at the area pubs (about 45 minutes away), which tended toward obscure tunes played at very quick tempos. The players, as one of my friends put it, also had a unique capacity for sucking the joy out of music. It was tune after tune, with little banter in between and rarely a smile crossing anyone's lips -- more like a job than a session. This is very wierd for Irish pub music. The people I knew who continued to play were nicer people when they weren't holding instruments than when they were. Each get-together would seem to start with someone feeling the need to do a little mini-concert, showing all the things he or she knew that no one else did. Ironically, a friend who had taken up concertina always wanted to play tunes uniquely suited to that instrument -- sure, now! We were all expected to re-tune to a non-concert pitched conertina and play tunes occasionally modified to avoid notes that were not readily accessible. When I remembered the crazy note sequences in horrific keys I'd pushed myself to learn on concertina to keep up with this same person on fiddle, I was greatly annoyed. It just wasn't what it had been, to put it mildly. Besides, I was getting busier and busier, with escalating work demands, etc. So, although I've persisted in playing mandolin for about 4 or 5 years now, and still favor Irish music, it's less a social and more a solitary activity. Recently, I got together with some friends I used to play with more regularly at a house party, and it was great. But none of us has the time or energy to do it on a continuing basis.

Despite the lack of comradery that has evolved, I still love Irish music and enjoy playing it on mandolin. I'll continue to play -- on my own primarily, and with friends when the opportunity permits.

Jul-19-2004, 10:09pm
The UK folk-rock stuff is what prompted me to pick up stringed instruments.

Fairport Convention - Full House
Fotheringay (w/Sandy Denny and Jerry Donahue) - Fotheringay

Quickly bought the earlier Fairport discs (Liege & Lief, Unhalbricking etc.) and every new one that came along (Angel Delight, Babbacombe Lee , as well as Pentangle/Renbourn/Jansch, and albums by all the ex-Fairporters and spin-off bands (Matthews Southern Comfort, Steeleye Span, Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick), and from there, bought albums by the various musicians appearing on those discs (Tim Hart & Maddy Prior, John Kirkpatrick, Robin & Barry Dransfield, Shirley Collins, The Watersons) and spin-offs of the spin-offs (The Woods Band, Terry & Gay Woods, Albion Country Band....)

Then stuff like the first albums by Boys Of The Lough and Planxty when they were released; early discs by The Chieftans, The High Level Ranters, and a whole slew of stuff on the Leader/Trailer label from England, Scotland and Ireland. And also all those early Alan Stivell discs (which were released in Quebec), which is where the whole "Celtic Music" label can be traced back to.

Niles Hokkanen

<span style='font-size:8pt;line-height:100%'>But I was still listening to Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Allman Brothers, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Dead, John Mayall, Zappa, King Crimson, Bob Seger System, Genesis, Traffic etc. etc. etc.</span>

Jul-19-2004, 10:56pm
First the Pogues, who have some really evocative tracks, then the NPR program "Thistle and Shamrock" opened me up to more traditional stylings. I am still a novice in terms of the repertoire, as I am with the Bluegrass stylings of the same songs, but the exploration of these new vistas is sure a lot of fun!

Jul-21-2004, 11:06pm
Well compared to all of you I am a real newcomer to the irish music scene. Dont have the big collection yet but am working on it. For me, the music has so much depth to offer very intricket and intriquing.

Love the Chieftans, Dervish, Kevin MacLeod and Alec Finn, Dan B......

Jul-22-2004, 10:36am
Interesting to see how many have been drawn to the music through The Pogues. And how many have been influenced by great players like Kevin and Dan who also post on here.

Dagger Gordon
Jul-23-2004, 8:52am
I've heard Scottish music since I was a kid, but frankly I always thought of it as hopelessly 'square'. As a youngster I much preferred the Cream to Andy Stewart (still do actually).

I became very influenced by British guitarists such as Martin Carthy,Davey Graham and John Martyn. Davey went though a spell of being really into Irish stuff, and I saw him doing a concert of it that remains one of the best gigs ever. He could be terribly inconsistent, but he was mesmerising that day. You can hear some of this on his album 'The Complete Guitarist'. Fabulous.

One of the first gigs my mum took me to was the Corries, who featured a huge number of interesting instruments including the mandolin. Roy Williamson also made things called 'combolins', which were some sort of hybrid mandolin / guitar things with drone strings. Come to think of it, the Corries were really great, and gave an excellent evening's entertainment.

Like many people, I was into bands like The Chieftains and Planxty.
I often saw the Boys of the Lough in the 70's, and I would credit Dave Richardson as a major influence on my playing, particularly in my choice of instruments.
Other things we used to listen to were Na Fili, especially the LP 'Farewell to Connaught', and 'O'Riada sa Gaity' - a live recording by Sean O'Riada, whose importance in the development of Celtic music really cannot be overstated.

One thing I noticed was that while the jigs and reels were great, the stuff that really got us going were the slow airs. I've made a point of including them ever since in my own repertoire.

Steve L
Jul-23-2004, 11:03am
I was in a used record store recently and they had some old vinyl of The Corries with "combolins" in the jacket photos. They wouldn't last an hour in the classifieds here...wild, fun looking things!

That "Complete Guitarist" by Davey Grahm has some absolutely brilliant playing on it. I've often heard him cited as an influence, but he never seemed to achieve the prominence of guys like John Renbourn and Burt Jansch (both of whom I love).

Jul-23-2004, 11:52pm
PLANXTY did it all for me. I wasn't into Irish music, mandolin's and never even heard of an Irish bouzouki until they came along. After that, I was hooked, mandolins and bouzouki's and instruments inbetween. More about it all here Andy Irvine, China to Galway. (http://www.chinatogalway.com/)


Aidan Crossey
Jul-27-2004, 10:19am
How do you get started on this journey?

I suppose, being Irish, that the music was all around me when I was growing up. #But I didn't pay it much mind. #My dad and his brothers and sisters were big into singing - Dubliners/Clancy Brothers stuff, American folk, country stuff. #My paternal grandad was into traditional song - I can still remember him singing The Verdant Braes Of Screen and telling me that I ought to learn it. #(Which I never have, somehow! #Although I occasionally give one of its variants - P Stands For Paddy, I Suppose - an airing when the mood takes me.) #My maternal grandad was quite the dancer in his day ... when he passed on, I was given some old medals he won for dancing at various feiseanna. #Among my fondest possessions!

When I say I didn't pay the music much mind, I did however - as a very young boy - sing out a lot. #At parties, hooleys and singalongs, myself and my sister would do our turns - some excruciating rebel song or some (possibly equally excruciating) folk song that was popular at the time.

As time passed I was less interested in all that. #I started developing my own tastes in music outside of folk, etc. music. #Indeed I thought of folk/trad music as being vaguely amusing and a little bit embarassing. #(Guess what? #Most of the music I was listening to in my adolescent years/early adulthood now seems to me to be ... vaguely amusing and a little bit embarassing!)

I was a fan of The Pogues, like many who've contributed to this thread. #But they didn't turn me back on to Irish music. #When I first saw and heard them it was the punk nature of what they were doing that impressed me rather than the "sources" that informed their music. #I still don't see much connection between what The Pogues were doing and the music that I and fellow trad musicians play. #Parallel streams maybe ... but no significant cross-over. #(And much though I have a great deal of respect for the Pogues and for Shane himself, I find irritating the crop of Pogue-alike (Pogue-lite?) bands that have sprung up in their wake who don't appear to have got the fact that it wasn't just the noise and anger that carried them through several years of increasingly mature music ...)

Anyway ... a few years back I was made redundant from a job I had come to loathe and, in order to take stock of my situation and with a huge redundancy payment throbbing in my bank account, I headed off to Achill Island in County Mayo for a "couple of weeks". #There I met two musicians to whom I'm deeply indebted - Shay Kennedy (whistles, pipes, vocals) and Dermot Maguire (whistles, pipes, guitars, mandolas, vocals). #Nice guys. #Big drinkers. #Full of vim, vigour and fun and willing to adopt an eejit like myself who was carefree and a wee bit out of control and try to steer me out of the ditches and on to the straight road.

A "couple of weeks" turned into seven or eight. #Sunny days and boozy, smokey nights. #And the music was everywhere. #Shay urged me to listen to his CD collection at will. Planxty's "After The Break" and The Bothy Band's "Live At The BBC" were soon on constant rotation. #At nights I'd sit in with the two lads, accompanying the jigs and reels on guitar in a rather cack-handed manner. #Thankfully their playing was sufficiently good that they weren't put off and by the end of a few sessions, I'd come to be aware of their changes (though Dermot occasionally had to stage-whisper the key to me when I was "caught out" by some new twist to their sets!) #And then there were the parties! #A lovely singer/concertina player, called Deirdre ni Chinneide, and I worked out a nice simple droning arrangement of "The Water Is Wide" that we took to a few all-nighters; Deirdre's beautiful, clear voice soared above my spartan guitar backing. #She was so good that she raised my game; no way was I going to let her down with duff chords! #(And somewhere in there I might have developed a wee infatuation ...!)

Anyway ... all things must pass, mustn't they? #The jaunt petered out. #A final farewell day of songs, tunes, beer and whiskey and I got a lift out towards Knock as the weather began to break and the glories of summer surrendered to the dreary days of Autumn.

Back in London. #The memories stayed with me and the tawdry albums in my music collection had, almost without exception, lost their appeal. #I gathered up boxfuls of CDs, tapes and vinyl and set off for The Record And Tape Exchange and sold enough to buy a cheap, nasty tenor banjo.

Weeks, months, maybe years of struggling followed while I banged and hammered and plinked and diddled, attempting to make a recognisable sound! #Out of consideration for my neighbours, I invested in a (cheap, nasty ... spot a trend here?) mandolin. #Same tuning, I figured ... but less volume. #Because I could practice later into the night without risking the wrath of irate neighbours, I began gradually to see some improvement.

But it was YEARS before I felt confident enough to play publicly. #I'm not sure that I can remember the wheres and whens, but I am sure that it was dreadful. #It must have been. #Everyone's first faltering moment of playing in public is dreadful. #Nerves take over, finger memory disappears, timing goes to pot, etc. #But I stuck with it. #And wandered about, here and there, joining in sessions until I located a bunch of people close to where I live with whom I now trade tunes once or twice a week. #People who not only play with a shared vision of the music, but who are the sorts of people I'd choose to hang out with in any event. #Funny, passionate, articulate, interested in life!

Nowadays, the music is my constant companion. #Sitting in a dull meeting, I can console myself by playing "Johnny Doherty's Mazurka" or "The Glenbeigh Hornpipe" on my mental jukebox. #Waiting for my wee one's bath to run, I pull the banjo (now not so cheap and nasty) or mandolin (not so cheap, not so nasty) out of its case and play a few sets. #By dint of the fact that I run reviews of trad albums, I've been sent a whopping number of CDs and my journeys to and from work are enlivened (made bearable, in fact!) by whichever few CDs I choose to listen to that particular day.

And on Thursday nights or Saturday nights, the pulse starts racing as soon as I walk in the door of the Blythe Hill Tavern or Shillelaghs. #There are the regulars - Max on whistles, Danny on the flute, whistles and melodeon, Cath on fiddle, Billy on banjo and mandolin. #And the semi-regulars; Brian on fiddle, Paul likewise, Shakey ditto, Sarah the flute, Sarah the concertina, Alasdair on low whistle, Big Dave - fiddle again, Mick fiddle and mandolin. #The occasionals - Dan on mandolin, banjo, tenor guitar, zouk; Ken on guitar; Sean on melodeon, Chris on flute. #And the rare guests - Bren on shiny mandolin, Dave on whistle, Paddy on guitar, Helen on whistle and vocals, Conán on piano accordion, Susan on fiddle, John on fiddle, Mick on flute, Frankie on spoons and vocals, Felix on guitar, Pete on melodeon, Andy on banjo, Malcolm on fiddle and numerous others who've turned up when time has permitted! #Already the tunes are underway and the tables are groaning under lashings of beer. #A quick nod or two in my direction while I drag an instrument from its case and then, as the change comes round I find the first few notes of the next tune and I'm away! #The slagging in the breaks between tunes, the late night tunes, the unexpected rubbing shoulders with the familiar ... all those little moments that make the session a special type of place. #Once you've gained your seat around the table, then you're part of that circle forever.

And then there's the sessions visited ... Paul Draper's session in Stratford, Mick Mulvey's in Bethnal Green, The (excellent!) Porterhouse in Covent Garden, Ken and Sheila's sessions at the Duke of Edinburgh and the Holly Tree; the occasional one-off at a pub in Plumstead; the speed-of-light Saturday session in Tir na n-Og; the Greyhound in the Oval; the now-defunct Hollydale Tavern session. #And the sessions on my to-do list ... the Kilkenny in Merton, some of the sessions out west where Dan is a regular visitor (sorry haven't got to one of these yet ... life gets too crammed sometimes!), etc.

The music has become a separate life almost. #There's the day-to-day; work, shopping, commuting, chores, blah, blah. #And then there's the music ... the retreat, the sanctuary (an unfortunate habit, that ... when I talk about the music, I can't help but use quasi-spiritual terms. #I don't mean to ... but maybe we all need a religion of sorts and the "real" religions don't hold much appeal for me!)

The music is both a sociable thing and a solitary thing. #As well as the sessions where music and socialising share equal billing, I've found that the music can be equally fulfilling as a solitary occupation. #When on holiday, for example, I like nothing better than a few stolen moments in a quiet spot in which to rattle out a few tunes. #Sometimes the unfamiliar environment allows the mind to make connections between tunes and new sets start to form ... on one such occasion I first ran The Congress Reel into The Monaghan Twig and to my surprise they hung really well together. #And sometimes these solitary moments give rise to new tunes.

To Bob I'd say this. #Your post is very honest and very insightful. #You say that despite the fact that cameraderie hasn't developed you still love the music. #I suspect you'd love it more if some sense of close-knit "community" had evolved? #If that is the case, then don't give up looking for this. #"The Session" lists 8 sessions in NC ... I don't know if any of these are within striking distance of you (and I haven't checked each listing to see if they're still active). #However, it goes to show that wherever you are, there are going to be folks around you who appreciate Irish music. #And some of them will (probably) share your vision of the music ... #It's difficult to make the initial contacts, but once you have then - as you know - it can be much more rewarding than ploughing a lonely furrow! #See http://www.thesession.org/session....=Search (http://www.thesession.org/sessions/index.php/search?country_id=173&areaname=North+Carolina&town=&day=Any&search=Search)

Ah well ... that's (some) of my story.


Dagger Gordon
Jul-27-2004, 1:43pm
Good stuff Aidan, I really enjoyed that.

steve V. johnson
Jul-29-2004, 7:52pm
&lt;&lt; I became very influenced by British guitarists such as Martin Carthy,Davey Graham and John Martyn. Davey went though a spell of being really into Irish stuff, and I saw him doing a concert of it that remains one of the best gigs ever. &gt;&gt;

In the 'lore' that's accumlated around guitar playing in Irish trad music, Davey Graham is often mentioned as being credited with introducing DADGAD. But like the person who introduced the bouzouki to trad sessions, I have seen several folks named (blamed?) for these events.


Dagger Gordon
Jul-30-2004, 12:39am
I am aware that Davey Graham is often credited with 'inventing' DADGAD, but I don't think he used it in the context of accompanying Irish stuff.

On The Complete Guitarist, he plays his Irish tunes in EADEAE.

He is still alive, though rarely plays live. He has been a musician who very much ploughed his own furrow. The Irish music on The Complete Guitarist was only one of the things he tackled. He used to do a lot of jazz and blues, and was very into 'world' music, several decades before the phrase caught on. His experiments with guitar tunings tended to come from Middle Eastern music, and he travelled a lot in these areas to find out more. He played the oud and sarod at various times. A very individual musician indeed, whose influence was much greater than the introduction of DADGAD.

The Complete Guitarist is the only album he made where he concentrates on Celtic music.

Aidan Crossey
Jul-30-2004, 5:52am
Thanks, Dagger. I didn't know if I was just rambling or if my wee piece above would strike a chord!

Chris Baird
Jul-30-2004, 9:42am
That was as fine a post as I've read here.

Aug-01-2004, 4:24pm
Great Post Aidan... really enjoyed reading it.

(wow.. it was longer than Bob D's post..!) #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif # #


(from the Cittern-L)

Aug-03-2004, 1:58am
I'm impressed you can remember everyone's names Aiden, I can barely remember my own at the end of a session, and as far as tune names are concerned, I can hardly remember any now. Old age settling in! Thankfully the tunes don't escape me yet. Aiden runs a great website too, so jump over and have a look at it. If anyone's remotely interested, there's an interview there I did about why I started playing, and it's a question I often ask! Having just seen and met guitarist John Williams at the Dundee Guitar Festival, it reminded me how very far away the Planet he's on is!! Boy, was he impressive. He also gave a fantastic seminar with Greg Smallman, the guy who makes the uniquely designed classical guitar he plays, with balsa, cedar, carbon fibre and laminates, and a flexible neck! Whacky stuff but gorgeous sound.