Have you ever tried to learn a Reel from an Altan CD, strained to catch each note, each ornamentation or variation, or even just tried to keep up? well despair no more, for here’s the answer. Solo Fiddle playing of Donegal tunes in Donegal styles, one for each of the eight musicians, who clearly have Donegal running through their veins, no matter where they were born.
These musicians are not all young ‘Flash Harry’s’, as ages range from twenties, most in their thirties, up to a couple who are over seventy, so what you get here is a broad view of tune interpretation as styles change, down through the generations. Now granted, there is some pretty flashy playing here, I’m sure you would be disappointed if there wasn’t, & many of the younger ones are grand at laying on the intricate ornamerntation, & exciting variations, but don’t be fooled by the older players apparent simpler approach, for there are lovely subtle things going on, that you have to listen very closely to catch.
What makes this type of CD so special however is the accessibility of the tunes to the listening musician. You can learn so much about Donegal Fiddling & the Donegal tunes from careful inspection.
Another endearing quality for me is the fact that you can hear folk breathing in the audience, it’s that intimate, it’s like your right there in the 2nd row & so it becomes a very personal experience listening to this.
Bottom line - the whole CD is a wonderful blend of magnificent tunes & superb playing, & for anyone who can’t get over to a Donegal Fiddle week, but would like to, these CDs are magic.
Sooooo, who are the eight musicians?
Oops Sorry, when I filled in the artist section, I listed all eight Fiddlers, but didn’t notice that that information was changed to - Various Artists. Appologies, yes that info. would help you, I’m sure.
You can tell I’m new to this, so please be gentle with me.
First up is Martin McGinley, in his early forties now & a mighty Fiddler. He turned up for a Festival in Ballycastle a few years ago, & first time I saw, & heard him, he was sitting up on a high bar stool ripping into reels, as fast as you like, on his own, just a few interested folk around as an audience. However, he wasn’t showing off, for as I learned over the course of the weekend, the man just loves to play, & he doesn’t seem to care who’s listening, or what they think. What a great way to be.
Next is Jimmy Campbell, now in his sixties, who lives in the wee glen of the Croaghs outside Glenties.
Then there’s Michael McMenamin, from just outside Ballybofey, who is attracted to the playing of the, now late, Danny O’Donnell, & who wouldn’t be, for he was an absolute gem of a player.
Mick Brown, who was born & raised in Dublin, but spent loads of time in Donegal since his teens, & now lives up there, is probably my favourite player on this CD. His playing is often compared with Danny O’Donnell.
Proinnias O’Maonaigh, now nearly eighty, comes from the Irish speaking Gaoth Dobhair district of Donegal. Recognise the surname?
Danny McCarry, from around Dunfanaghy on the north coast, has been a Fiddler for sixty years (so I’m not the oldest Fiddler in the country!) He has a great store of rare old Barndances & Highlands - now them’s great tunes ya boy ya.
Peter Tracey, is a Derry City man, no the place not the football team! I knew him from his years in Scotland. A super Fiddler& a grand fellow. He came down from Derry & played at my folk club - The Black Nun - here in Ballycastle, a few years ago, & I couldn’t believe how well he was playing. Being back home certainly suits him. He is a master of the complex staccato bow style.
Last, but not least, is Paul O’Shaughnessy, who I’m sure by this stage needs no introduction. I was up in Glencolmcille, at the Fiddle week recently, & Paul & Dermi Diamond got up to give us a few sets at the Tuesday night concert, & boy can those boys play well together - fireworks. They play together regularly in Hughes’ pub in Dublin, great pub, great people, great sessions, mighty altogether.
There you have it - now are you happy Zina?
Well, I’m not happy. A serious case of envy of you getting to hear
all of those fiddlers in person is giving me a heartache. But thanks
for all the great characterizations, what a way with words you
I’m either always happy or never happy, I haven’t made up my mind yet, and am not likely to at this advanced age. :)
Sounds a great collection, that’s for sure. Like Sosaidh, I have a serious case of the green eye going on. At least there’s the CD for us!
More is more!
for those who like this album (and who would n’t) volumes 2 and 3 are out now and i understand that more are planned.