Open The Door For Three (OTD43) is a triumvirate of performers each having their own separate careers in music, film and theatre. They bring together experiences from all around the world and express it in their love for Irish Music. You may well have seen their individual performances before and not realised it.
Liz Knowles for example played in the "Riverdance" band for years. she is also a well-known and sought-after teacher of Irish music. As well OTD43 she regularly plays in the all female String Sisters and the Martin Hayes Quartet. Her compositions and arrangements of tunes and songs have been recorded and performed by a myriad of other world wide known performers.
Kieran O'Hare received the honour of being the first American-born player of Irish music invited to perform in the annual 'Ace and Deuce of Piping' concert, held in Ireland's National Concert Hall. He has worked extensively in designing music for the stage, and is in great demand as a session musician and as a teacher of Irish music. Did you spot him in his musical role in the Sam Mendes film "Road To Perdition?" Kieran also serves on the Board of Directors of Na Píobairí Uilleann in Dublin, an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of uilleann piping worldwide.
Pat Broaders grew up in Dublin, the son of parents from Wexford. He began his journey in traditional music at the age of eight. He started out on the whistle, and later moved on to the uilleann pipes. He took up the bouzouki in 1988, inspired by the sounds and the popularity of the instrument in Dublin's vibrant traditional music scene. In the early '90s, moved to Chicago and held one of the longest running Irish music gigs in the history of Chicago at Kitty O'Shea's. He has performed, recorded and has a long-standing relationship with the Norwegian new age musical group Secret Garden and Kongshavan Studios. His father was a singer, and having grown up around Dublin's singing tradition, it was a natural step for him. Pat's repertoire today reflects his interest in the great songs of the Irish tradition as well as songs and ballads from the English and Scottish traditions.
The whistle played by Kieran O'Hare starts off this lively track soon to be joined by the Hardanger, the resonating backing strings adding their offering to the intricate tune. Kieran learned this tune like so many of us by listening and playing along with a CD. It seems that it survives in many forms following Irish, Scottish and American Traditions. As is the custom of most traditional music we are then taken into an afterdance in this case "Let Us Leave That As It Is" although here as is often the case, it has been heard being played under an alternative title of "Lord Elcho's Favourite," which of course might well have been. "Hey band, play my favourite" being called out by the sponsor. Whatever you might call it, this tune is an almost irresistible invitation to dance. In the minds eye a village hall full of twirling dancers comes to mind and there is no finer track to accompany them.
Pat Broaders relates this lilting narrative tale which he learned from his father about the beauty of the Carrig River. The abounding wildlife lives alongside the remains of ninety eight Wexford men. The song was written in 1890 so I assume it relates to the "Land War" troubles of around that time, which sought to improve the lot of tenant farmers and agricultural workers. This tune required a set of uilleann pipes in the key of C. Not having such a thing, the band borrowed a set from Emmett Gill for Kieran to play. The song's soft melodic structure and rhythm defies it's chilling story.
"Heavy Is My Fate"
This is a contemplative piece which has a haunting air to which the band has added their own touches. The emotion generated is one of melancholy. It provides a moment for the listener to reflect on things past. The musicianship of the trio displays respect and care for the originators of the tune. which is also known in other circles as "This casts gloom upon my soul." That said, I was thoroughly involved as the piece played, - I loved it.
"The Boy In the Tree"
In contrast to the previous track this is lively and playful, a bit like the little imp in the title. As the second tune starts you can almost see the boys misbehaving at "Jenny's Wedding". The bride can be imagined raising her skirts to dance around the hall in sheer joy, a feeling broadcast to all there.
Pat sings tale about a young filly thought not to be worth "half a pin." She is taken to the races and all the pundits laughed at her saying she had no chance. As the race progressed, they seem to be confirmed in their view as she trailed behind. At the third mile post her jockey applied the whip and she "fleered past them like a dart" and won the race. However all is not well at the end as she drops down dead. The lively tune belies the way that men treat their animals and take advantage of them until they are done.
"The Joyful Hour"
This set has three tunes The Rose Garden, The Joyful Hour and a more recent composition but still in the same genre by accordionist Tom Fleming from Kerry. The whole melding into a delightful jig. Quite how the musicians manipulate their instruments at such a tempo as is used here to actually voice every note is a wonder.
"Ye Lovers all"
This song is an illustration how music is passed around over the generations and remains charming and melodic. Via Mary McEntee on County Monahan, through Len Graham to Pat Broaders and no doubt other singers too. In the process the tune may alter a bit and the words will almost certainly also change. The thrust of the song remains however, a gentle love song is always a gentle love song. None is better delivered than this example. The voice of Pat Broaders is well supported by the strings of Liz Knowles and the pipes of Kieran O'Hare.
"An Bhean Bubh"
A timeless melody which has been around for decades and serves to illustrate the mastery of the instruments possessed by Liz, Pat and Keiran.
We move to Scotland for this tale of a suitor who leaves the warmth of his mother's house to go to a maid who lives on the other side of a raging river (The Clyde). He has faith in his coal black steed. "Oh the good steed I ride upon, Cost me thrice thirty pounds, I'll put trust in his swift feet, To take me safe and sound." When he arrives, she won't let him in and sends him away. On the way back across the river he loses his cane and in bending to retrieve it, he falls in. The maid dreams of this and goes down to the river to try to save him and they drown together. The musical arrangement is wondrous and contains a cameo appearance of "The Morning Star" influenced by the playing of the late Joe Bane.
Is a bright reel of three tunes "Charming Mary Kelly" and "The Cat That Ate The Candle" together with "Achonry Lasses". This last tune the band play two variations, one of their own and the other as Liam O'Flynn and James Kelly did it nearly forty years ago. Which do you prefer? You'll have to make your own choice.
"The Joyful Hour" is an apt title for this CD. Time spent listening to this album is indeed well spent. To anyone with an interest in Irish Music played impeccably, the purchase of this CD is a more than worthwhile investment. Each of the trio bring their own skills to the party and the result is truly extraordinary.
|The Vagaband: Something Wicked This Way Comes||Graham Robins: Majestic Halls|
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