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Band of the month

May 2, 2017

MAY 2017

Why should you bother listening to an album of instrumental trad music by an Irish concertina player ? The answer is not something that can be put into words. But if you don’t – then you’re denying yourself a thrilling experience.

Cormac Begley is the son of a demon of an accordionist called Brendan Begley. Brendan was the youngest of nine children, all of them fine singers and musicians, who grew up together in Kerry’s Dingle peninsula, carrying on a musical tradition in the family going back several generations.

The new album – simply called Cormac Begley – is Cormac’s first solo outing, but he’s no novice : he’s always out playing and recording with other artists, and a glance at his list of collaborations tells you that he’s someone for whom other musicians have huge respect. Here’s what Cormac has to say about how the album was made, and what it means to him :

“All of the pieces of music that feature on this album instantly struck a chord with me the first time I heard them. My approach here has been simply to connect as honestly as possible with them. I wanted to produce a solo concertina album using the full range of concertinas from bass, baritone, treble to piccolo, and to highlight some of the instrument’s possibilities spanning across seven octaves. Each track is one take, featuring one concertina and are all free from studio manipulation. I have sourced previously unrecorded music, new compositions and other tunes within the tradition that have been my companions and my internal sound track during my life to date. “

The four concertinas make the album rock. Each has its own range of expression, its own personality. But it still takes a Cormac Begley to bring out that personality and breathe life into the tunes, which he does so skilfully that you’re hardly aware of the labour involved.

It goes without saying that these are wonderful dance tunes. It doesn’t stop there though. These are tunes you have to really listen to and let them wash through your body. It’s a mark of the very special relationship that Cormac has with his instruments, that he’s able to reach these places deep inside of us.

Cormac Begley – Jig: An Cat Is a Máthair 

Cormac Begley – Polka: Frenzy Polka 

Cormac Begley – Reels: Paddy Canny’s Pigeon on the Gate / The Dairy Maid

Cormac Begley – Schottisches: An Síog / Bonnie Scotland / Bill O Malley’s 

Cormac Begley – Air: Beauty Deas an Oileain  

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