epiphany

epiphany

When did you decide that you wanted to play ITM? My moment of epiphany was when I switched on the radio in the 1970’s and heard The Bothy band blasting out The Kesh Jig in a live concert on the BBC.

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I was TOLD that I was going to play this stuff…my dance teacher found out that I’d played the viola in high school (oh god, far too many years back) and said, "hey, I need a fiddler for the next set of St. Patrick’s Day shows, here’s a fiddle to borrow, so you’ve got a year to get good enough, okay?" πŸ™‚ I decided that I was going to play the stuff *right*, however, after honeymooning in Ireland and meeting up with muso friends there, about two years later, and finding out what "right" meant… Heh.

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Mine was when I played a simple tune *The Devil’s Dream* with The Chieftains onstage. I had just asked for my fiddle to be passed back stage for them to sign and had only listened to half of one of thier CD’s before hand. When I met them and played, I knew this was my music.

Johnathan

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All started with the sound of the pipes for me, more then a decade already (and i`m portuguese). But without having a clue it was my best friend that took me into the deeps of ITM and the beat of the heart i follow.His brither taught me the bases and the rest it was me… going to sessions… having the oportunity for once and a while play with irish musicians.It was all this that led me to the rhythm and to the bodhran.It is the best sound i could ever hear. Closing my eyes i`m one with nature and I listen the earth pumping the energy I use to play it.I have found a part of myself in ITM. It is the place I consider to be the true world…my reality.

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mine was probably the playing of the Phill Cunningham and Ally Bain, when i was very wee they played tapes and i saw them live when i was 9 or 10 just after i’d started the fiddle. Phil is a wizzard on the Box! (oh STM again πŸ™‚
Is the Kesh Jig Irish?

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Essentially, yes — but I wouldn’t start it up in a session, just in case it’s one of those that will start throwing coasters at your head if you do! πŸ™‚ (Let’s just say it’s considered to be overplayed in most places…)

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Now don’t laugh, but my intro to Irish music came through Riverdance. I was totally gaga over the show. I watched it every night for about a month, and I would listen to the CD at work during every break. Then I started buying compilation CDs, such as the ones from Green Linnet, and a really excellent compilation called Celtic Graces, which had performances by The Bothy Band, Stockton’s Wing, Christy Moore w/ Planxty, Paul Brady, and others.

From there, I bought a whistle and learned to play Spancil Hill, Harvest Home, Tripping Up the Stairs, and very little else before I decided that I probably would never be any good at it. Fortunately, one night in a pub in Phoenix, a local Irish musician by the name of Shay Veno (his real name), heard my somewhat tortured rendition of Harvest Home and really encouraged me to seriously pursue the instrument and start going to the local seisiuns. I took his advice, and I am eternally grateful for that one little moment of time he took to encourage me.

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Oh yeah, that was about 3 years ago, and I was 27 at the time, just in case anyone has any questions about starting late in life.

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Early exposure to "Don Messers Jubilee" on Canadian television primed the pump but I never thought of playing the music at that time.I was in England in the late 70’s and heard "The Silver Bow". Shetland tunes by Aly Bain,Tom Anderson, Trevor Hunter and Davie Tulloch. Turned me on to trad. music. My love for the Irish side of the music came after I started to play fiddle and slowly began to appreciate the differences between the various regional styles.

Bob

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Was it a sudden epiphany?

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The thing that threw me over the edge from wanting to learn to actually trying to learn the fiddle was a conversation with a great fiddler. I told him I always wanted to learn & he encouraged me. He told me to give it a shot & I went for it. The moral of the story is to be nice to the drunken eejit who corners you when you’re trying to make it to the toilet between sets. To often muso’s have an us against them mindset.

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PS Mike The Kesh Jig is a tune that is very popular in Irish sessions, it’s on the verge of eating itself entirely & becoming passe. You might want to check out this old thread
https://thesession.org/discussions/888

The dilema at any session is picking tunes that are in the middle ground - not too common & not too obscure. This also changes from session to session & from one place to another. There’s no surefire way of knowing - you just need to jump in head first & listen to some influential recordings.
I’d say a few Bothy Band Albums, Milestone at the Garden, Michael Coleman’s 2 disk set & any solo Frankie Gavin album will be enough to get you started. Listen listen listen, question, research, dig then listen more soon you’ll be as f’d up as the rest of us here.
Merry X-mas
Brad

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Liam Og.. Not so sudden, if an epiphany can be such ?

Bob

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Just before Christmas 2000 my wife took me along to an Irish set dancing class she had been going to for a few weeks, in the vain hope she could get me involved in the dancing - no such hope, I’ve got two left feet and one of them’s on backwards. But immediately the music grabbed me and I knew I just had to play it. So I got out the old violin my mother had left me, had it refurbished (it badly needed it), and the rest is, as they say, history. And Herself isn’t unhappy about it, either.
Trevor

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I remember the day that my older brother brought a collection of harp tunes on a tape I was 12 years old and me and my twin brother started to listen that over and over it was like drugs when it goes in to the blood.
But even before when watching TV I got straight hair when a fiddle or a pipe appears from time to time!

I got in the fiddle at 14/15 years old and after that it was hard work and try to play as good as possible and if possible to play with others

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How did it all happen… When I was 15nish, I suppose, I went to some festival, and heard a band called Carrantuohill (at that time the only Polish band playing ITM, of course with some Silesian flavour). I really liked them. I decided that I have to try myself. But a lot of time passed before I found out that ITM can be played on a guitar (what d’ya want? ITM, despite all the good feelings towards Ireland in Poland, is still unknown in here), and started playing it on a satisfactory level.

My best regards to Friends from NUIGalway Trad Music Society, who showed me the Way.

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For me, it was more gradual, less of an epiphany, although I’ve had some epiphanies concerning the music in the time that I’ve been playing.

Apologies if anyone has heard this story before, I don’t want to bore anyone!

I had a couple "Celtic" harp Cds that I listened to constantly. One was Alan Stivell, the other Kim Robertson. One day while on the train and listening to one of my harp Cds, and in that meditative state you can easily get in while riding on the train, I heard a voice in my head tell me, "You can do this." I really did hear a voice quite separate from my own. "What?!" I replied, "I’m not a musician!" And then the voice replied, "You can learn to do this." It was firm and adamant. It was kinda spooky, but in a good way. So the journey began. I researched harps, I borrowed a few Clannaad Cds from my friend (that was all I knew of Irish music), and in a year (or maybe it was even 2 years) I saw a picture of a harp teacher with her two students who had just placed at the Comhaltas fleadh in the local Irish newspaper. I knew I had found my teacher, I called her up and started lessons.

And so it went, tune after tune, until I was teaching myself tunes that I heard at a session I was going to, most of them tunes I heard from Harold the fiddler who runs the session. "Oh, that’s a great fiddle tune!" my teacher would say. Then something somebody else (who is a fiddler and a guitarist) said at a session, and he may not have been completely serious, but he said, "To really play Irish music, you’ve got to be able to play more than one instrument." That was an epiphany moment for me. It had never ocurred to me that it would be possible for me to learn one, let alone two instruments, but in that moment it all seemed to make perfect sense and be completely within reach.

So at my next lesson, I sat down at the harp and said to Kathy, "I think I want a fiddle lesson." "What’s that?" she asked, and I repeated it. Next thing she was digging through her closet until she found a fiddle for me, and the second leg of the journey had begun.

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I was hooked from an early age. When I was little my dads favorite radio show was "A Prarie Home Companion". That show was followed by "The Thistle and Shamrock". Apparently I wouldn’t let him turn off the radio until after the "Thistle" was over. I was very young at the time and don’t really remember making my dad do anything, but as far back as I can remember I’ve heard ITM on Saturday nights. My first tape recording I ever had was of James Gallway and the Chieftains. Unfortunately it never occured to me to actually play the music until I was 17 after I found my first session.

Oh, and don’t feel bad Frank, I was hooked on Riverdance as well. If it hadn’t been for that I never would have met the person that introduced me to the person that told me about the place where I found out about the session. πŸ˜‰

-Kira

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I played classical viola at school years ago… but about 6yrs ago during Celtic Connections, I worked in a bar at one of the venues… and being surrounded by all this traditional music, I started having dreams about playing the viola again. Not being on stage and being famous… but just being in a shop trying one out, playing some really bad sounding scales… I could even smell the rosin despite not having smelt it for so long… I let it haunt me for a few weeks and gave in and bought a viola. Bizarrely, the bit in the shop was very true with the truly crap scales.. Now I have a fiddle too. Although, maybe the dreams were caused by too much guinness drinking during the festival…

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I saw Steeleye Span at the Ash Grove in 1975??? and got hooked on "pigeon on the gate" among others. After that it was the Chieftans at UCLA, 2nd row, and I marveled at the pipes. A bunch of records later and a purchase of a 1/2 set of pipes a ga-zillion years later…

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Re: Convoluted route

Don’t laugh, but Jimmy Shand (from an early age) then John Kirkpatrick got me playing things with buttons on (shirts, trousers etc.) and eventually, the High Level Ranters, of all people, got me into ITM, and then I discovered - THE CHIEFTANS !!!.

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ITM turns up in strange places. An old Peters Sellars track "Suddenly, it’s folk song" recorded in 1958 features an Irish band playing "Tell her I am"-quite hilarious, if not politically correct these days as it degenerates into a drunken bar room brawl. Unfortunately, that was the stereotypical view of the Irish in those days.

I used to listen to Irish music on Radio Eirann in those days and found it very pleasant and different to the "White Heather" scottish variety. Like most people, though, I took the route through the folk scene and had my eyes opened by the likes of the Bothy Band, Planxty etc from Ireland and Silly Wizard, Battlefield, Ossian and others from Scotland. I didn’t actually start playing trad until even later, at which time, it was mostly Scottish. I’m learning a lot more Irish music these days(though not exclusively), as it seem to travel better and has the best sessions. Perhaps another contoversial topic could be "Why are (or should) the *best* sessions be Irish music?" :>))

John

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Commenting on John’s last post - I think "the best sessions be Irish music" comes more from tradition (no pun intended)! than anything else. It’s just an Irish thing, isn’t it? From my experience, a Scottish session in Scotland is a bit like an Irish session, except they like to play in a more unornamented and possibly cleaner and clearer style with mainly Sots-based tunes. The attitude toward tunes usually is "anythin but Irish, no more bliddy Irish reels one after the other till the cows come home" (but just about anything else is accepted). Some of these can still be good and mighty sessions.

Having said all that, the sessions *in* Scotland are for the most part Irish….so here we go again!!! No contest.

Jim

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When I was in my late teens and moved to the big smoke (Melbourne) I moved into a share house with a guy who had a few Planxty LP’s and an Alan Stivell. I taped them and played them incessantly because I loved the sound and feel of the music. Then a few years later, I found out that the guy played the box in an Aussie ‘Bush Band’ and they were looking for a replacement guitarist and he asked if I was interested. I went to a rehearsal and found that I had a flair for the rhythms of the right hand. We played regular gigs for three years, until several of the members moved to the country. I have never looked back.

Gerry.

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Got it when I heard "corney is coming" by Planxty.

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John J…
Tell her I am played by an oul style ceili band.

Sean: Pass the bottle paddy…ah… that’s it a drop of the hard stuff.
Paddy: Sean!,(guffaw) I say,Sean that sounds to me like a bum note yer was playin there.
Sean: Don’t be telling me I was playin a bum note!…I don’t have to take that kind a talk from anyman..take that (smack)ye stupid idiot yeh…(tempo increases as the fight ensues…sound of instruments breaking)
A: Gentlemen, please you are ruining the tape recording!!!!…
B: Lads, lads, mind the instruments…
(Noise of splintering and rendering)…
C: Mind me harp, mind me harp (crash) oh…I’ll never get to heaven now…
Tempo increasing to the point of ridiculousnessness πŸ™‚

Did you know that Peter Sellars wrote the commentary on one of the Chieftains first albums?

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Peter Sellers also does a great rendition of ‘New York Girls’, tho I can’t remember where I heard it. A classic!

Gerry

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Peter Sellers played ukele and sang along with" New York Girls" on a Steeleye Span album."Rocket Cottage",if memory serves.