'By Popular Request'
Back in 2001 I had the privilege of taking part in the St. Patrickís Day parade in New York, along with 99 other Dublin bus members of staff. Some of us were drivers and a few consisted of inspectors and head office staff.
While there, a very good friend and confidante by the name of Mattie Lennon asked if Iíd be interested in going on a radio programme, which goes out from a University in the Bronx. Being fond of a bit of limelight and having a gra for singing, I accepted and performed 'GRACE' the ballad unaccompanied, over the airways of the U.S. of A.
It was a nerve-wracking experience, but with Mattie hosting the show, I got through it and received a souvenir cassette of my song. Mattie is a D.J. and is also popular as a writer. He later persuaded me to write a couple of short stories for a book he put together with a contingent of drivers from Donnybrook Garage in 2004.
More recently, we were having a chat about music and writing and I mentioned Irish Unsigned and he became very interested. A week or two later, he suggested a few bands who might like me to review their c.dís. Among the list he gave me was 'CELTIC MIST'
I contacted Shay Eustace, the lead singer of the outfit and he was delighted to send me two c.dís. This one named 'By Popular Request' appealed to me.
There are fourteen tracks on it, all or some of which I am familiar. However Shay, along with his wife Margaret, a beautiful mezzo-soprano give a new meaning to the words 'Irish Trad' and put their own stamp on each number.
Isle of hope, Isle of fears is a song about Ellis Island and is a story about a Corkonian girl named Annie Moore, who was the first emigrant across the threshold of this place of sanctuary to thousands of people from Ireland and other parts of the world. Margaret sings this sad lament.
Galway City is the familiar 'Spanish Lady' song spiced up a little and a great bit of fun.
A little more serious is the beautiful 'Brindisi', (drinking song) from 'La Traviata' by Italian composer 'Giuseppe Verdi', performed by Margaret and showcases her classical talent. According to Shay, this up-beat Aria from the Tragic Opera has become one of the most requested items in their programme. In this lovely song, she is accompanied by Willie Dunne on piano.
Whiskey in the Jar sung by Shay, is a cheerful version of the well known song. Lovely little accordion riffs here, which remind me of my late Dad Emilio Macari, who played piano accordion.
Homeland in Mayo is a sad melody about the voyage to America, which many an Irishman was forced to make, his/her story becoming a legacy handed down to children and grandchildren alike. The beautiful sound of the accordion, paints a picture of a long journey on a stormy sea. Itís about rural Ireland and the empty homesteads that became a regular sight, to those left behind.
Tecumseh Valley is a song I first heard at a Nancy Griffith concert. Itís a story of the daughter of a miner, named Caroline and is sad and tragic. Performed sensitively by Patsy McEvoy, it includes a fine mandolin solo.
If I had my life to live over, sung by Shay and Margaret, would bring a tear to a stone. Itís a love song and I hear a similarity to Garth Brookes in Shayís use of the American Country lilt and phrasing. Margaretís sweet, clear voice offsets her husbandís and they make such a perfect combination. The melody of this number is gorgeous and a nice input of harmony lends a lovely build-up of atmosphere.
Immigrant Eyes. This is a particularly enjoyable melody, sung in the warm and pleasant voice of Patsy. Accordion accompaniment beautiful once again!
Working Man is a song Iím not mad about, but this version is extremely captivating. Margaret once again, transforms an ordinary number into an unforgettable experience. Sheís joined by the rest of the ensemble as the second chorus is sung in unison. The verse tells a story about the Coalmines of Canada.
Sive is a funny ditty with comical lines in it. It has a catchy chorus and would go down well at a party, after a few pints!
Iím only thinking of you is a slow love-song, sung by Patsy and is a song which was written, looking out from a hospital window. You can feel a lot of emotion in his voice as he recalls the uncertainty of this time in his life. Mandolin and piano create a lovely rich sound in this song.
Instrumental section: This is a few reels which include a guest performance by Brian Kilcawley. The lads sound like they really enjoyed doing this track. And if you enjoy an 'oul dance yourself, grab a partner! Banjo, fiddle and guitar all go into making this a perfect blend of Irish music.
Two little Angels is a gorgeous and very sad ballad, about two little girls who died shortly after their birth. Sensitive and sweet, itís riveting and has a lovely line in it about two new stars in the sky. It gives you hope, in a world that seems so cruel and inexplicable.
Partners in Rhyme tells a story of a couple very much in love, Shay and Margaret. Soft and easy on the ear, it has wonderfully romantic lyrics.
That concludes my magical voyage on the rippling waves of the CELTIC MIST Ocean of music. If you are like myself and canít resist a cheerful ballad, a sad lament or a combination of Irish with a tincture of Country blended together, 'By popular Request' is the c.d I recommend. If youíd like to see Shay and his troupe live, they play in 'The Brazen Head', on Monday evenings. Iím going myself, Ďcause the 'Guinness' is like nectar there and so is the music!
ANGELA-MACARI-OíLOONEY (20/ 11/ 07)
|Review written by: ANGELA-MACARI-OíLOONEY --|