Consider The Source

By Brian Conway

Sixteen comments

Consider the Source

Brian’s brilliant new CD released on the Clo’lar Chonnachta label and launched at the 2008 Willy Clancy week. This new recording seamlessly continues on from Brian’s outstanding debut recording First Through the Gate, found on the Smithsonian Folkways Label.


while i love the new york style of playing (i probably prefer andy mcganns playing, just has a bit more character and was the first of the current style like brian) i think the fact that the new recording ‘seamlessly continues on from brians’ first cd’ makes the new cd an opportunity missed. i think it is a bit too much of the same, there are a lot of the regular coleman tunes that ive heard brian play quite a lot including the last solo cd and last years tribute to andy, and i would have liked to hear him play something more unusual. maybe a new repertoire for this cd. i think the more he records these tunes the more his playing will sound mechanical and less spontaneous.

Consider the Source

I couldn’t disagree more with Tradmoosic’s comments and wonder if we are even listening to the same CD! Brian’s playing is simply magnificent and contains quite a lot of material that Brian has never recorded. While the entire album is superb, his playing of the Eclipse and Sunshine hornpipes are my two favorites on the album. Brian has taken the New York-Sligo style to a new level! This is clearly one of the top albums of the year!
The trio playing of Billy McComiskey, Joannie Madden and Brian along with Felix Dolan is an added treat, but Brian’s solo playing of Trim the Velvet into Lord Gordon’s and the last track of the CD featuring Bonnie Kate, Jenny’s Chickens, The Mason’s Apron and Peter’s Street is truly inspired, and inspirational, playing.

I completely agree with tradmoosic. Brian’s ‘mechanical’ approach is a major turn-off.

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Brian Conway’s playing is anything but mechanical!
And I’m really confused as to why “tradmoosic” thinks that this album sounds the same as any of his previous CDs.
I listened to one of the tracks from First Through the Gate on my I-Pod and then listened to one from Consider the Source. It sounded totally different! Not only does Brian have a new fiddle now but has changed his style of playing significantly from his first solo album.
Also the content of the albums is completely different. Consider the Source is incredibly varied from Dan Milner’s “Matt Hyland” to the volcanic closing track of Bonnie Kate, Jenny’s Chickens, The Mason’s Apron, and Peter’s Street.
Honestly “Tradmoosic” and “Floss the Tethers” are you sure you actually listened to this album?
Most traditional fiddlers that are out there today would not attempt these compositions because of their sheer complexity.

Ah, but, theyellowhairedtinker (who’s just appeared on this site and never posted anything before), I have listened to the CD repeatedly and I remain distinctly unimpressed.

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I find it very formulaic & mechanical aswell. To be honest it’s a criticism that could be applied to a lot of the post McGann American generation of fiddle players - the over-dependancy on the repertoire of the 20’s Sligo musicians is producing a plethora of bland, unoriginal and highly forgettable CDs. Is there any real need for it? Aside from his ‘devoted’ fans, who will be listening to this CD in 5 or 10 years time? Has it added anything to the tradition? I would suggest not.

Consider the Source

HI WorzelGummidge,
I can’t get enough of the “post McGann” stuff , as you put it . I had no idea there was such a plethora out there. When you have a moment I would appreciate it if you posted the names of the recordings to which you are referring so I can listen to them

Consider the Source Re-Visited

What struck me the most about “tradmoosic’s” comments is that he/she said “Consider the Source” was “too much of the same.” Is it “too much of the same” when Jackie Daly and Matt Cranitch blast into a set of polkas or the Kane sisters play a (yet another) Paddy Fahy tune or Mary McNamara gracefully plays a reel in the East Clare style? You get the point. What makes Brian’s playing special is that he isn’t chasing the latest hot dot in traditional Irish fiddling. Since imitation is the highest form of flattery, musicians have long abandoned regional styles in favor of popularized or commercial successes. Whether it was Coleman fifty years ago or Martin Hayes and Matt Molloy of today, the clear trend today is toward homogenization. This isn’t a mark against those fine musicians, it is a simple assessment that the strength of their playing has spawned a legion of imitators. We can only imagine the results if Bobby Casey abandoned his own lyrical West Clare style after hearing a recording of Coleman on the radio.

As musicians try to imitate commercial successes we’ve seen a wave of blistering-“trad” music-on-steroids. “Tradmoosic” would be better served at directing the “too much of the same” comments where there is at least a factual basis to support them. I believe that his/her criticism of “Consider the Source” is simply unfair because it could be said of any faithful adherent to a particular traditional style. What makes Brian’s music powerful is that although his phrasing pays homage to the Coleman-Wynne-McGann-Reynolds school you can instantly recognize Brian’s playing on the radio. The very title of the CD - “Consider the Source” - speaks volumes about Brian’s respect and admiration for his musical mentors.

As for “mechanical and less spontaneous”, I’m not sure where to begin. How anyone could listen to Brian’s playing of “The Wounded Hussar” and conclude it was too “mechanical” is beyond my understanding and leads me to conclude that it is was just mean spirited. While I may not personally love Tommy People’s style, I can respect and admire his contributions to Donegal fiddling. To my mind, “tradmoosic” should candidly admit either he/she didn’t even listen to “Consider the Source” or confess personal biases before leveling unfair assessments.

Sad, no energy or creativity

Track 5 Third Tune(Redican’s)

If you like this tune and want the music , The Clogger’s Quilt , is another name : I found it in one of the many references in the tune search for Redican’s tunes . The list of tracks spelled it as Radican’s , so it didn’t get highlighted as a tune available on the session website . This is really a great recording for those folks who are drawn to a “traditional” sound ; if it was on vinyl I would have to replace the record because I would have worn it out by now .

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White Leaf

The track listing has a typo: track 7 should include “The White Leaf”, which I believe is also known as “The Maids of Tulla”

This is a good discussion-thoughtful and critical opinions expressed well-with justifications, and only a hint of brimstone!

I hear Brian’s playing as precise and technical, not mechanical, and I think he stays well within the bounds of musicality, but I can hear how other ears might find it outside the boundary.

It reminds me of the discussions in my youth about Jascha Heifetz. There were those who found his playing cold and mechanical. I was among those who found him brilliant, but I also loved the more warm and soulful playing of David Oistrakh.

I am so grateful for my access to all the players, including Brian.

Jackson’s No. 2

It should be linking to the tune called The Westmeath Reel (aka Jackson’s no. 2) in the tunebook, NOT La Cosa Mulligan. Can this be changed?