With Friends Like These

By James Keane

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Album Review

Dublin born but New York bound since the late 1960s, button-box player Keane is a formidable musician, praised for his strong style of playing, his speed and accuracy, and his unique personal embellishments. Since he is so much in demand for other people’s recordings, it is no wonder that on his own album he can summon the likes of Tommy Peoples, Paddy Glackin, Liam O’Flynn, and Matt Molloy into the studio to help him create his music. He presents solos, duets (the fiddle and accordion duets are among the best of the set), and some large ensemble arrangements with an almost swing feel. He contributes some new compositions, some chestnuts like "Rights of Man," and in one duet with uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn, redefines the slow air, "Black Is the Colour." —Louis Gibson

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Drimnagh Musician!

As Seán Keane’s brother, he was from Drimnagh, where I live. Without being biased (I hope), I really like his playing and this recording is just savage!

James Keane, With Friends Like These

Track 6
The first two tunes are called collectively "The Church Street Polkas" which Keane learned from John Egan, a Sligo flute player. Egan formed the St Mary’s Music Club, also known as the Church Street Club, in Dublin, where many young musicians met and played in the early 1960s, including Paddy Moloney and, if I remember correctly, Matt Molloy. The second polka in the set is one I know as "The Church Street Polka" - I got it from a Chieftains recording - and it goes well with another polka I know as "St Mary’s Polka" (again from The Chieftains).

6a: "The Roosky Polka"
https://thesession.org/tunes/5301
6b: "The Church Street Polka" Also known as "Memories Of Ballymote"
https://thesession.org/tunes/1560
6c "Hugo’s Polka" Composed by James Keane.
https://thesession.org/tunes/13277