Fear Inis Bearachain
Is albam nua é Fear Inis Bearachain: Traditional Irish Music on the Melodeon atá curtha i dtoll a chéile ag Johnny Óg Connolly in ómós dá athair, an boscadóir aitheanta Johnny Connolly. Tá an t-albam eisithe ar lipéad Chló Iar-Chonnacht agus tugann sé aitheantas cuí d'oidhreacht cheoil Johnny Connolly agus is ceiliúradh atá ann ar an uirlis a raibh sé ina shár-mháistir uirthi.
Ag scríobh dó sa leabhrán atá san áireamh leis an albam, deir Johnny Óg, "Bhí sé i gcónaí i m'aigne agam díriú ar an mileoidean am éigin amach anseo, ach de bharr thinneas m'athar, tháinig an t-am sin níos túisce ná mar a bhí súil agam leis."
Deir Johnny Óg go bhfuil míniú an taifeadta seo i dteideal an albaim, Fear Inis Bearachain. "Tá béim mhór, mar sin ar cheol dúchasach Chonamara chomh maith le ceol mileoidin ó ré na bhfichidí i Meiriceá. Tá píosaí ceoil le cumadóirí as Conamara mar Mharcus Ó hIarnáin agus Máirtín Shéamuis Ó Fátharta, chomh maith le leaganacha de phoirt a bhfuil lorg láidir de cheol Sheáinín Phat Mhyla Mhic Dhonncha le cloisteáil iontu."
Fear Inis Bearachain, Irish Music Magazine, Bealtaine, 2019. Léirmheas le Seán Laffey.
This album was released in December 2018, just in time for Christmas. It is in many ways a present from Johnny Óg to his father Johnny Connolly. The latter is the well-respected box player, who hails from the island of Inis Bearachain in Conamara, hence the title of the album. Johnny Senior hasn't been doing too well of late, being struck down with Alzheimer's, so much so, that his playing days are sadly behind him.
On this album, Johnny Óg pays a warm tribute to his father's memory and music, not by way of imitation, neither is it sentimental, it is an act of love, a gentle passing of tradition from one generation to another. Oh' what music there is to hand down, lively dance music, with a strong hint of the wing and verve of 1920s American ballrooms on a pair of jibs 'Flanagan's and Kimmel's'. Track ten is a medley of tunes that recall places where Johnny Senior has lived, Inis Bearachain, London and Boston. There's a waltz lullaby 'Suantrai James agus Eilidh Patricia'. Johnny's own composition 'Tommy the Norman' and 'The Fitzharris Fling' were composed for Leitrim man Tommy Fitzharris who adds his flute to this track.
Other guests include Gary O Briain on Mandocello and Padraig Ó Dubhghaill on guitar, Clodadh Costello on banjo and Liam O'Connor on Fiddle, a premier league team. The solo playing is exemplary, complete with the click and clack as the buttons press out the music, giving the album another dimension of handicraft and honesty.
Music is a gift and the Connollys have shared it with each other and us for years. Give yourself a treat and gift it to your collection.
Fear Inis Bearachain, The Living Tradition, www.livingtradition.co.uk, April-May 2019, Review by Alex Monaghan.
This button-box maestro pays homage here to his father Johnny Connolly, one of the kings of Irish melodeon. Ireland traditionally had several kings, but not so many melodeon-players in recent years: Johnny Óg himself favoured the B/C button accordion, but his father was virtuoso on the single-row melodeon. With his father's tragic illness, Johnny Óg turned back to the humble melodeon and overcame its challenges to make this moving and inspiring album of his father's music and his own. Classics such as 'The Sligo Maid' and 'The Silver Spear' jostle good-naturedly with Connemara favourites like 'Pota Mór Fataí' and 'Cailleach An Airgid'. Oddities from the English and American melodeon repertoire include 'The Keel Row' and 'Kimmel's' which I know as 'The Champion'. Johnny Óg adds his own variations to several pieces here, and produces a showpiece version of the hornpipe, 'The Brown Coffin'. Other selections are based on the playing of PJ Conlon and Marcus Hernon among others. Johnny Óg also includes nine of his own fine tunes.
The melodeon playing is a fitting homage to Johnny Óg's father, with its characteristic staccato rhythms and arpeggio ornaments. It is supplemented by flute, fiddle and banjo on about half the tracks here, and accompanied expertly on guitar and mandocello. Johnny Óg switches to the two-row box for his slow air, 'Caoineadh Aisling na nGael', unaccompanied, dedicated to his father. There's a lovely lullaby too, and a pair of charming waltzes, contrasting with the reels, jibs, barndances and hop-jigs. 'Fear Inis Bearachain' ends with unusual versions of three well-known jibs: 'The Blackthorn Stick', 'Humours of Glendart', and 'Páidín Ó Raifeartaigh', rattled out in fine style on box and banjo. This is an enjoyable CD, a memorable album, and a landmark recording in the Connolly family tradition. It's also a spur to go back and listen again to Johnny Connolly's own recordings from a few years ago.
Review by Alex Monaghan.