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Mixing the Punch

By Paddy O’Brien, New Folk Records

Tagairt: NFR WCM 0003  

Paddy O'Brien, the All-Ireland accordion champion renowned as one of the most powerful and passionate players of Irish traditional music today, celebrates the release of his second solo recording, MIXING THE PUNCH.

MIXING THE PUNCH features Paddy O’Brien playing his old 1947 Paolo Soprani button accordion (an instrument that once belonged to legendary musician Sonny Brogan). The new CD offers a wide mixture of jigs, reels, and hornpipes, one slow air, and one selection of polkas, which are Paddy’s own compositions. The tunes included are particular versions from Counties Clare and Donegal, or settings from players Paddy has known over the years, and filtered through his own taste and musical expression.

Paddy is accompanied on MIXING THE PUNCH by Teresa Baker, a wonderful piano player who hails from Portland, Oregon. Fellow Offalyman, Felim Egan from Cloghan, plays a selection of jigs on solo accordion as a guest artist.


A product of County Offaly in the midlands of Ireland, Paddy O’Brien is regarded by serious players and collectors of Irish traditional music as one of the tradition’s most important repositories. In a career that spans the last half-century, Paddy has earned a reputation as a walking encyclopedia of Irish traditional music; according to conservative estimates, he carries in his head more than 3,000 Irish melodies—jigs, reels, hornpipes, airs, and marches, including many rare and unusual tunes.His mastery of the two-row button accordion was also acknowledged through prestigious awards: he was named Oireachtas champion four times, and All-Ireland senior accordion champion in 1975.

Paddy’s particular skill is in remembering not just melodies, but particular individual and regional settings learned from older players who are now gone. He has made his mark on Irish traditional music in many different ways: through live performances with some of Ireland’s best-loved traditional bands, through classic recordings in the tradition; and, not least of all, through his work on The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection: A Personal Treasury of Irish Traditional Music, a monumental undertaking that documents 1,000 melodies from his repertoire.

Paddy is also known for putting his own distinct stamp on the music of the groups he has founded: Bowhand, Hill 16, Chulrua, The Doon Ceili Band, and O’Rourke’s Feast. He has worked to create a distinct sound with each group, in the process earning major accolades in the world of Irish traditional music.

In Ireland, Paddy played and recorded with the famedCastle Ceili Band andCeoltoiri Laighean. In 1978, he began playing regularly in the United States, in Washington DC, Saint Louis, Saint Paul, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and many places between. He has been featured on six recordings with Shanachie Records since 1978, including two with fiddler James Kelly and guitarist/singer Dáithí Sproule, which are now considered iconic examples of Irish traditional music all around the world. In 1988 Paddy released his first solo album,Stranger at the Gate, on the Green Linnet label (and recently re-released by Compass Records). His most recent recordings includeThe Sailor’s Cravat, with fiddler Tom Schaefer, bouzouki player Paul Wehling, and singer Erin Hart (who happens to be his wife); and a new solo CD,Mixing the Punch.Both of these recent recordings are available fromNew Folk Records/Cló Iar-Chonnacht.

Paddy has taught at the Willie Clancy Summer School held in Milltown Malbay, County Clare, Goderich Celtic College, The Swannanoa Gathering, and the Catskills Irish Arts Week, and served several times as a master artist in the Minnesota State Arts Board Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program. Since 1994, he has received a number of prestigious fellowships and grants to support his work with traditional musicians, and The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection.

Praghas: €15.74