YouTube Picks (#39) – Celtic Stories

Songs. There millions of songs out there. There are songs of love and songs of angst. There are political songs and protest songs. Nostalgic songs, songs of humor,  songs of homesickness, confessional songs and songs about every nuance of the human condition imaginable. For me the most successful songs are those that tell a story and, in my opinion, the most successful songs and song writers are the ones that tell memorable stories. I call them narrative songs and here are a couple of examples. These two performers are musicians of exceptional talent in the Celtic tradition. The accompanying instrument is the Irish Bouzouki. This instrument is a relative newcomer to traditional Irish Music scene. Irish musicians traveling in Easter Europe in the mid sixties became enamored with the Greek Bouzouki and  music from the Balkans. The instrument, and elements of Balkan music, started showing up on the traditional scene. To accommodate the local demand British and Irish Luthiers turned their hand to building instruments and in doing so they made changes to the Greek instrument by building them with a flat back and experimenting with the tuning systems. What emerged at the end of this process was the Irish Bouzouki. Andy Irvine is one of the legends of modern traditional Irish music and was  one of the first traditionally inspired musicians to adopt the Irish Bouzouki. Fortunately for us here in Cranbrook we got to hear Andy perform at the Studio Stage Door way back in the 1990s. The Close Shave is a reworking of one of those traditional songs that relates the misadventures of sailor home from the sea and out on the town.

Daoiri Farrell  is one of the younger musicians that has vitalized the modern Irish music scene. He spent ten years working as an electrician before deciding to pursue his interest in music full-time. He returned to education to gain a Ceoltóir Diploma in Irish Music Performance at Ballfermot College. During this time he released his first album The First Turn in 2009. Farrell continued in education with studies in Applied Music at Dundalk’s Institute of Technology followed followed by an MA in Music Performance at the World Academy of Music in the University of Limerick.

After completing his MA, he returned to touring and recording. He won the All Ireland Champion Singer award at the 2013 Feadh Cheoil. Since 2013, Farrell has also toured as part of the group Four Winds. In 2015, the group won the Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections and released their debut album.

In both of these songs the Bouzouki adds a flavor to the music that is unavailable with conventional guitar accompaniments. The rhythm is bouncy and driving and there is lots of neat cross picking and counter melodies.

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