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Thread: What artist/album got you started with Trad

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    Registered User Ed McGarrigle's Avatar
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    Default What artist/album got you started with Trad

    This question occurred to me as I responded to another thread about what artist/album or song changed one’s perspective on music.
    I found a copy of Eugene O’Donnell and Mick Maloney’s “Slow Airs and Set Dances” in a resale shop for 50 cents a couple years ago and I guess you’d say I found it kind of enchanting and led me into the Irish Trad realm. And with the pandemic led me to begin playing the mandolin. Any album register with you in a similar way?

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    O'Riada Sa Gaiety by Sean O'Riada.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Se%C3%A1n_%C3%93_Riada
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    Registered User misterstormalong's Avatar
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Nothing to do with mandolins, but the person that diverted my interest from Prog Rock to proper Trad was Shirley Collins.

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    No particular artist or album. The music itself, as played at the jam sessions held at a coffeehouse I attended.

    Of course I then pursued the artists and albums available at festivals and such, but the music itself got me into it.

    Which is one thing I dearly love about all this music - it is not so much a worship of superstars of the genre, but really a reverence for the everyday people who have kept this music alive over the centuries.
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    In college I helped produce a concert series, inviting various folk performers to our area. One of the performers changed my musical interests completely. I had been playing guitar, mostly James Taylor tunes, and old time banjo. (being influenced from the owner of Elderly Instruments, a banjo player.) It was 1978 and I became so impressed with this performance, that I decided to learn Irish fiddle. I've done that and more. ( researched and arranged a book of tunes for beginners in the 1990's). Now it is 2021 and I'm still a big fan of Kevin Burke.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Burke_(musician)
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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    It wasn't an artist or album that got me started, more a peculiar chain of events regarding my Significant Other. I had played guitar for over 30 years, mostly Blues and beginner-level Jazz. I had been bugging my S.O. to play music with me for years. She had played violin as a kid and piano as an adult but we had never played together. She decided to get back into violin, and to ensure that were on a more-or-less equal level, I decided to learn mandolin. So we were both starting again as beginners, somewhat.

    After a while, we started hanging out with the local OldTime music crowd, which led to fiddle tunes, which led to some Irish tunes in the OldTime jams. And that eventually led to playing more Irish trad in local beginner-to-intermediate level sessions, leaving the OldTime music behind. Then my S.O. got interested in Scottish trad as well, so I followed. And here I am, playing pretty much exclusively Irish, Scottish, and Cape Breton trad, and a smattering of Breton and Shetland tunes.

    If there are one or two artists who inspired me once I got started, it would have been Kevin Burke on fiddle, and Simon Mayor on mandolin. My S.O. attended a few workshops and private lessons with Kevin, where I got to meet him. His touch on fiddle is just fantastic. And Simon, because he was the first mandolin player I discovered whose albums pointed the way to how mandolin could be used in the music. In particular his "New Celtic Mandolin" album from 1998.

    I guess a third one would be John Doyle, because I was learning how to back the music on guitar during this period. His DVD on Drop-D backing got me started, and I later met him in a workshop.

    There are very few prominent mandolin players in trad, so I have to say that probably 98% of my continuing inspiration from artists in this genre is from fiddle, flute, and pipe players, not mandolinists. It's just a numbers game; there are more of "them" than "us" to learn from.

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Twas the slow airs for me as well. I'd always been moved by the sound of the pipes/harp on the old Chieftains recordings (maybe I first heard the Women of Ireland theme on Kubrick's Barry Lyndon) - pibroch, lament, ballad.. Seems like the slower, more melancholy the tune - the more I like it.

    My other trad pursuit these days is solo hardanger fiddle music (Norwegian trad) - first compelled upon hearing Halvard Bjorgum and Annbjorg Lien on the Lindley/Kaiser Sweet Sunny North compilations.

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Prior to getting heavily into trad music I had played guitar and drums since I was a kid, mainly in punk bands. As a kid our family had a lot of singers in it, fans of the folk/ballad singer boom, lots of sing-songs at family get togethers, but no one played an instrument. The Dubliners were big favourites in our house and I always loved their version of "The Queen of the Fair". Fast forward to 2002 and I was fixing up an old derelict farmhouse in East Galway, with only the telly for company - one evening as I was painting the sitting room a programme came on our Irish language station, TG4, about regional fiddle styles. I was fascinated by it and loved all the tunes. That was what got me started really, because it was the first time I'd really thoughtfully listened to trad music, hearing the regional nuances in playing. For specific musicians it would be Angelina Carberry's CD's - I got "Memories From the Holla", the CD she did with her dad and John Blake, and her solo CD "An Traidisiún Beo" I couldn't stop listening to them - they're really where my obsession with the music started.
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Early 60s Dubliners and Clancy Brothers I guess.

    My dad sang a lot while working but he was no better than me, and I am terrible.

    Maybe it's significant that both Dubliners and Clancy Brothers (w Mike Seeger I think) recordings in that era included mandolin (though obviously tenor banjo predominated in Dubliners) so I grew up thinking banjo and mandolin were integral to the sound.

    They had whistle and fiddle of course, but I never heard flute and pipes in that context until the Planxty/Chieftains era.
    Bren

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    By chance I was exposed to the Mary Bergin solo recordings and was hooked.

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    gardener catmandu2's Avatar
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Actually, I forgot I'd gotten started long ago on guitar - I'd been playing Page's instrumental treatment of Black Waterside for a long time, before delving into his sources. Naturally, this led to a long triste with Bert Jansch, Pierre Bensusan, others.. So, I'd been playing tunes on guitar - much earlier than getting into fiddle, harp, free reeds, slow music, etc.

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    I was on tour with a Cirque du Soleil show, hitting open mic/blues jams (with the electric mando in my avatar). We were in Spain, and I couldn't find anywhere to jam. Turns out that the little girl/singer that the show's storyline revolved around played fiddle, her big sister could really play fiddle, and Dad backed them up on guitar. Out of boredom, I hooked up with them, and we decided to go to an Irish session. We don't know any trad tunes, we haven't a clue about session etiquette, but we can nail those Ottawa Valley fiddle tunes (I'd done my homework), so we've got something to contribute when invited. Halfway through the evening, the girls put on tap shoes, stand up and do a set of fiddle tunes while dancing. The place goes nuts, Dad's beaming, and I'm surprised and impressed. This becomes a routine: we rehearse a lot, we hit Irish sessions around Europe, we gradually pick up enough tunes to blend in, and then halfway through the evening the tap shoes go on and we bring down the house. If we hit the same session more than a couple of times I could feel some unwelcomeness from the musicians, but Dad didn't seem to care, he just wanted to showcase the girls.

    We eventually wind up in Dublin. We spend our first day session-hopping, I'm quite aware that we're in way over our heads, but we're a big hit at the touristy Gogarty's. Later, I go back to Gogarty's on my own, to check it out. A younger group was playing, the guitarist (James Riley) was tuned all weird, and my jaw's on the floor, it sounds like nothing I've ever heard before. This is waayyy hipper than the corny Canadian stuff we've been playing. I go back a few more times, and eventually hang out with the musicians after their gigs. They're listening to the same Trad stuff at home! I'd kinda been assuming that this music was like golf, it's fun to play but no-one really watches it on TV. It was a What do they call Chinese Food in China? moment — my eyes had been opened.

    After leaving Dublin, I try to get the girls and Dad to become more "authentic", try to get Dad to get that DUDDUD groove into his jigs and to quit playing that "Happy D" chord (with the F# on top), for the girls to throw in those triplety ornaments, but it ain't happenin'. Still, we keep hitting sessions and having fun.

    Fast-forward maybe two years (most of it in Brazil), and we're in Santiago de Chile. Our first night there, we go to a session, and whoa, this is different, this is nothing like the previous sessions we'd attended in South America. These folks can play, they're playing fast and clean, and they're organized, they arrange the sets before they dig in. All of this quality-control is obviously emanating from one girl, who sounded as good on whistle and flute as anything I heard in Dublin. I meet her after the session, I'll be in Santiago for a month, and I'm desperate to learn. Turns out she's also got two bands going, and of course, they sound great, everyone's super-nice, I'm introduced to recordings of artists like Flook, and well, Santiago was hard to leave, but I was excited about a future of attending sessions around the globe on my own.

    I never really left Santiago. I kept going back on tour breaks, and eventually married the girl. We now have a seven-year old daughter, and the three of us are living in Dubai, missing the live music but otherwise enjoying life.

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Prior to the Pogues I had never listened to anything that could be remotely considered trad. But it was really Planxty's first album and the De Danann Best of album that got me hooked. I was mainly interested in bouzoukis and citterns back then, and didn't pick up the mandolin until years later.

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Back in 69 when I was 9 dad bought me an old Hohner C&C# accordion. There was nobody for me to learn from in Melbourne, he hadn’t a clue so he stuck me in the corner of the lounge with the Gallowglass Ceili Band on the 33 & a 1/3. Luckily the old Garard record player played sharp so the old Hohner was almost in tune with the record. I now have found memories of that crackaly old record.

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Fairport Convention - Full House
    Fotheringay - Fotheringay (Sandy Denny)

    In short order, I had all of Fairport's back catalog, some Dave Swarbrick, Matthews Southern Comfort, Pentangle, John Renbourn

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Banjo Barney from Donnycarney AKA Barney McKenna.

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    I started with blues, Josh White, Howlin' Wolf and simultaneously Frank Proffitt and Wade Ward on banjo.

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad

    Irish trad: Planxty first album, got it around 82. A true classic.
    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; May-21-2021 at 11:09am.

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    Registered User liestman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad

    I was playing bluegrass and a friend recommended this group that just had their first album come out that he thought I might like, because it was also acoustic. We figured it was pronounced "planks it ee". Boom. Hooked. That was about 1976 or maybe earlier? No wonder I mostly play mandolin and uilleann pipes.
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad

    It was the folks at Mandolin Cafe’s Song a Week Social Group:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/group.php?groupid=67

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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad

    Hanging out in an Irish American bar in St. Paul (Half Time Rec) in the early to mid 1980's. The main band we listened to was a duo swapping between standard Clancy Brothers stuff and really good instrumentals. They'd swap instruments around and the one was a really fine flute and whistle player. Then we'd often hear the other bands which would include Paddy O'Brien, and other good bands that I didn't realize at the time were the cream of the crop of trad Irish. Just thought they were folks getting by. Even remember Martin Hayes with his early band Midnight Court. We figured they were destined for something, but what he and Dennis later did was amazing.

    Went from there to playing American old time music, which then lead through friends to Scandinavian and Nordic and now have added some Quebec stuff. Still can't play Irish worth anything, but that's how it all got started. Went from bass to acoustic guitar and then picked up the mandolin seriously about 4 years ago.
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad

    1985 or thereabouts. Boys of the Lough’s “Open Road” & Gerald Trimble’s “First Flight” albums - through Elderly Instruments’ catalog, if memory serves. I couldn’t get “Calliope House” out of my head!
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post

    Maybe it's significant that both Dubliners and Clancy Brothers (w Mike Seeger I think) recordings in that era included mandolin (though obviously tenor banjo predominated in Dubliners) so I grew up thinking banjo and mandolin were integral to the sound.

    .
    Actually I thought that too. NK (Nigel) Forster wrote quite a long article called 'What is a Celtic mandolin' a few years ago, in which I made some comments.
    https://www.nkforsterguitars.com/blog/celtic-mandolin/

    I took a look, and this is what I said:

    “It’s maybe worth remembering that in the early seventies the mandolin was generally quite a prominent instrument in folky bands, and was used by the Dubliners, Fairport, Boys of the Lough, Planxty, Horslips, Hedgehog Pie, Lindisfarne, the MacCalmans and plenty others."

    Indeed, when I started playing it (the mandolin) I actually thought it was a much more established ‘Celtic’ instrument than it turned out to be!”

    So I did think that I was playing a very folky - indeed traditional instrument when I began to get into this stuff.

    One band I saw a lot in the early days (they used to tour the Highlands every year) were the Boys Of The Lough. I would have to credit Dave Richardson as being the primary influence in my choice of instruments - Sobell mandolin and octave mandolin plus tenor banjo. When I saw how he was using them, there was no doubt in my mind I should approach Stefan Sobell to get an instrument made.
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad

    The Chieftains and The Boys of the Lough.
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    Default Re: What artist/album got you started with Trad

    It wasn't an artist or album that got me started in Irish trad, but a couple of acquaintances, Frank Quinn and Lawrence Nugent. Well known around the Chicago trad scene, these two have guided my journey more than anyone else. Hanging around at their weekly session, I am sure Larry got tired of me asking what the name of that tune was all the time.

    Others like David Surette, Matt Flinner and Jill McAuley helped me learn this stuff on the mandolin, and showed me what was possible with the instrument. Jill's playing on her lovely Giourard A led me to buy one myself.
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