Séamus Begley - melodeon, vocals
Stephen Cooney - guitar, bass, keyboards, bells ~ & producer
Kells Music, 1996 KM-9504
http://www.kellsmusic.net/ = http://www.regorecords.com/
Named the best album of 1996 by the “San Francisco Gael ”
Séamus Begley is known for his sean-nós singing, hailing as he does from the Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht, both he and Stephen Cooney are well established in that part of Kerry. There are three songs in the Irish demonstrating his lilt and way with them on this CD. Séamus is also a damned fine melodeon player in the Kerry way and this gift, along with the talents of Stephen Cooney for accompaniment, age given wing on the ten other instrumental tracks of dance music.
I’m not sure what happened in the studio, or between there and pressing, or possibly between the US company and maybe a difference in the spin on our stereos in Europe, but the tracks, for example #2, slides, are a whole step up, sharp ~ that much faster than what would likely have been the original recording. With track #2 that meant the key of B Major for “The Kings of Kerry”, that’s five sharps, instead of the usual key of A Major, three sharps. As with many tunes in A it is also played in G Major, and vice versa. Even if it were a box in the old tuning, that tends to mean about a half step sharp, D to Eb, not usually a full whole step.
At the moment, having checked, in the Summer of 2005, you can find this recording for less than a tenner, US dollars or UK pounds. I got mine new for around a fiver awhile ago. It’s an enjoyable earful…
Hi Ceolachan…I’ve wondered about that on a couple of Begley recordings - from Seamus and Breandáinn
Of course f you took a C#/D box and played it across the rows in B/C style you’d get this effect, but this wouldn’t be how Begley would usually play afaik..
The album was actually originally released by Hummingbird in 1992.
The third polka in the first set goes by the name of The Munster Bank: https://thesession.org/tunes/9873
Though the pitch has either been shifted or he is playing on a non-concert instrument, I believe Seamus is playing it in the key of A.
I’d like to wax pedantic for a second… the title of this album should more properly be spelled Meitheal. On the cover of the record it’s spelled using the old Gaelic script which uses a unique glyph for the lenited consonant, a dot over the t. When using Roman characters, the lenited consonant needs to be written as th.
the second polka from track 6 is here: https://thesession.org/tunes/12839
the third polka from track 6 is this one: https://thesession.org/tunes/4158
the first polka from track 12 is: https://thesession.org/tunes/6645
the third polka of track 12 is: https://thesession.org/tunes/3331
Strangely enough, the last set of slides also appears on Sean Smyth’s album, the Blue Fiddle, also released in 1993. (The 1996 date listed above is erroneous, I think)
‘Meitheal’ was actually first released by Hummingbird in Ireland in 1992.
In sessions with Seamus Begley I found him playing half a note sharper than the mainstream key.
Tuning up the fiddle helps, if you want to play along, and it’s worth while.