To Hell With The Begrudgers

By Seamus Tansey And Jim McKillop

Four comments

Re: To Hell With The Begrudgers

The lack of a single comment in fifteen years needs to be rectified.

This album by the Sligo fluter and the Antrim fiddler was released by Sound Records of Sligo in 1999. True to that label’s form, the CD’s liner consists of one sheet of folded paper whose notes reveal that Jim played a fiddle which he made himself and Séamus’s flute was ‘a Ruddle [sic] and Rose …. purchased … by his mother for 2 pounds & 10 shillings’. John Coakley of The Boys of the Lough provided keyboards.

Séamus was probably still smarting from the reception he received at the 1996 Crossroads Conference - https://imusic.ie/crossroads-conferences/ -, hence the title.

Track 3 (in the liner notes called ‘Fairy’s of Tiveragh’) is a hornpipe composed by Jim.

‘Silent O Moyle’ is also known as ‘The Children of Lir’ and (I think we know who wrote the liner notes) ‘Séamus’s love for this tune can be heard in his expressive playing and he wishes to dedicate this tune to all the children who are orphaned or come from "broken homes" in the world today’ which is hardly an appropriate dedication considering the fate of Lir’s children.

We’re told that track 9, ‘The Dance of the Dead’ is a jig that was played at wakes ‘when the dead was taken from their bed and danced with.’

Truth be told, I’ve only listened to this album twice in twenty years. The problem is that Jim and Séamus seem to be occupying two different time zones, partly because they appear to have an embarked on an ornamentation competition. Jim’s the more restrained, but the Tansey seems to be so preoccupied by the need to decorate that he’s often behind the beat (which, thanks to John Coakley) is regular, to say the least. Sometimes, as on ‘Frieze Britches’, it’s almost as if they’re playing different tunes and in a different pitch. Séamus also seems to be in full-on descant mode as well.

Anything by ST is worth listening to, but even his greatest admirers would struggle to enjoy this album and might indeed wonder if the two musicians had actually been in the studio at the same time.

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Re: To Hell With The Begrudgers

I had heard that the original title was going to be something more robust ! I also seem to recall that the photo on the front sleeve had been accidentally reversed, so that Tansey appears to play right-handed, and McKillop left-handed.
Have to agree with GWs comments above.

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Re: To Hell With The Begrudgers

Yep, Kenny, the photo is definitely reversed.

I remember one time seeing Séamus play in a pub in Finsbury Park, The Auld Triangle. James Carty was there and he soon pulled out of the proceedings in sheer frustration. Séamus had apparently specifically requested Reg Hall to provide the piano accompaniment, and he’d had driven all the way up from Croydon to do so. However, he found the Tansey in one of his most puckish moods, insisting, as Reg told us at the bar, on switching to obscure key signatures such as B or F sharp minor which are notoriously unfriendly to pianists.

There are other stories I could tell, but I just wish he’d been far more serious about his music. I reckon that, on his day, he was as good as it gets.

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Re: To Hell With The Begrudgers

It came to me this morning that the actual medical name for the Tansey’s condition is ornamentitis.

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