WTJU Folk: Alex Davis Best of 2016

Alex Davis co-hosts Atlantic Weekly II Saturday mornings from 10 til noon (est).

Top Traditional Irish/Celtic Albums of 2016
Artist: Album (Label) followed by review and highlights

1. Josh Dukes and Dylan Foley: The New York Connection (Josh Dukes and Dylan Foley)

Announcer Notes:
This dynamic recording of accomplished New York/Washington DC musicians Dukes and Foley packs a punch! Recorded over the winter of 2015 “The New York Connection” also features consummate pianist Matt Mulqueen accompanying on piano, Sean McComiskey on button accordion (son of the famed Billy McComiskey) and Jim Stickley on bodhran.

Tracks of Special Note:
The London Lasses/Follow Me Down (reels)
Ted’s Tune/Joe Bane’s (barndances)
Judy Ann’s Waltz (waltz: an original composition by Dukes)

2. Tommy Peoples: Recorded at Fiddler’s Hearth (Tommy Peoples)

Announcer Notes:
Living legend Tommy Peoples presents a recording from a concert in Indiana. This is solo fiddle at it’s finest: subtle, sophisticated and complex playing where every note is finely executed in service of the tune’s integrity. This solo recording allows the listener to revel in Peoples talent: from his impossible to copy bow triplets to his fascinating variations on classic material. This album is necessary listening for any student of the Irish fiddle.

Tracks of Special Note:
Reels: The Boy in the Gap/The Morning Thrush/The Maids of Castlebar
Jigs: The Humours of Ballyloughlin/The Sporting Pitchfork
Slow Air & Hornpipe: The Fairest Rose (Original Peoples composition)

3. Matthew Olwell: CyberTrad (Matthew Olwell)

Announcer Notes:
Olwell is a Central Virginia native flute and bodhran player as well as stellar step dancer. In addition to his own talents, Olwell is the son of famed wooden flute maker Patrick Olwell. Matthew takes his since-birth traditional Irish music experience and pushes it forward into unexplored territory on this album. Featuring the “human beat-boxer” Shodekeh Talifero, Olwell puts traditional Irish tunes to a techno-rap beat and layers in bass to create rhythmic trad-jazz that delights the senses. This album also features Aimee Curl on bass and vocals, Simon LePage on bass, Jaige Trudel on cello and Joey Abarta on the uilleann pipes.

Tracks of Special Note:
Stormness Head
Trip to Birmingham

4. Alison Perkins and Nicolas Brown: All Covered With Moss (Alison Perkins and Nicolas Brown)

Announcer Notes:
This debut album from accomplished musicians Perkins and Brown brings Irish music back to its traditional roots. Brown’s consummate knowledge of his instrument, the uilleann pipes (as well as stellar playing on the flute), is matched with Perkins’ subtle yet fierce fiddle. It is the perfect pairing. These players have done their research. Brown and Perkins play tunes as they were originally transcribed in places like the O’Neill collection providing a retro departure from the way tunes are usually played in the contemporary session. Hypnotic, yet precise, All Covered with Moss is like sitting next to a comfortable fire and hearing ancient stories from the Old Country.

Tracks of Special Note:
I Have Two Yellow Goats/Paddy Cronin’s/The Yellow Cow (Polkas)
Banish Misfortune/All Covered With Moss (Jigs)
The Gypsies (Song: featuring Alison Perkins)

5. John and Maggie Carty: Settle Out of Court (Racket Records)

Announcer Notes:
John Carty’s fiddle playing is noted from one side of the Atlantic to the other. In addition, Carty is an accomplished player of banjo and many other instruments. This album features John playing fiddle and banjo with his daughter, Maggie who plays banjo and also sings. “Settle Out of Court” shows us how tradition gets passed from one generation to the next. Also featuring: Shane McGowan and Donal Lunny.

Tracks of Special Note:
The Turn/Carrigkerry/Con Cassidy’s (Slides)
The Maid of Mt Kisco/Matt Peoples’ (Reels)
Lough Erne Shore (Song)

6. John Blake, Mairead Hurley, Nathan Gourley: The Truckley Howl (John Blake)

Announcer Notes:
This talented trio of world-class musicians graced the local stage (and local pub for a spontaneous session) this year. At last is their debut album featuring Gourley on fiddle, Hurley on concertina and Blake on flute and guitar. This album plays to the players’ strengths: playing with ensemble, duo and solo playing. This is an album of sweet, spare playing. These players have the talent to play with restraint, letting the tunes speak for themselves. Rhythmic, impassioned and full of pathos, the Truckley Howl is a must listen!

Tracks of Special Note:
The Grand Spy (an amusing take on the Graf Spey)/Mcfadden’s Own (Reels)
Tom Moylan’s Frolics Set (Reels)
Ah Surely/The Copperplate (Reels)

7. Nathan Gourley and Joey Abbarta: Copley Street (Nathan Gourley and Joey Abbarta)

Announcer Notes:
Nathan Gourley has been quite busy this year! Another album from the young fiddler this time with accomplished uilleann piper Joey Abbarta. The title of the album comes from the address of a music house in Boston where Irish musicians used to gather. These musicians play with heart and Gourley’s mellow fiddling grounds Abbarta’s lively piping. A brilliant album featuring Irish tunes from the northeast.

Tracks of Special Note:
Cheer Up Old Hag/The Pretty Brown Girl/Church Street (Jigs)
Miss Johnstone’s/The Tipperary Hills/Cucanandy (Hop Jigs)
John McGrath’s/Miss Monaghan (Reels)

8. Caladh Nua: Free and Easy (Caladh Nua)

Announcer Notes:
This is the fourth album from this tightly- knit five-piece group. Caladh Nua is based out of southern Ireland and features lively reels and jigs on fiddle, flutes, box, banjo and guitar. The group has effective arrangements of traditional tunes that showcase each player’s strengths. Caladh Nua also features the gorgeous singing of Lisa Butler.

Tracks of Special Note:
Bo Na Leathaidhairce (Song)
Elenor Kane’s Set (Reels)

9. Realta: Clear Skies (Realta Records)

Announcer Notes:
Clear Skies is a sophomore release from Realta, featuring a traditional Irish band sound reminiscent of The Bothy Band and others. The group features pipes, whistles as well as guitar, fiddles, flutes, and vocals. Realta presents a big band sound matched with a sensitivity lacking in other groups.

Tracks of Special Note:
The Longford Weaver (Song)
Bill Malley’s (Reels)

10. Jack Talty: In Flow (Raelach Records)

Announcer Notes:
Jack Talty is known for his consummate concertina playing featured on this debut solo album. Talty is also well regarded as a producer of new and upcoming musicians both independently and through his Galway project of live recorded concerts: “Tunes in the Church.” Talty is a remarkable musician in his own right and “In Flow” features his relaxed yet confident playing. This album also features John Blake (of the Truckley Howl) accompanying Talty on guitar.

Tracks of Special Note:
The Morning Star/The Rising Sun
The Heathery Breeze/Rakish Paddy

11. Mick Mcauley: Highs and Bellows (CD Baby)

Announcer Notes:
Mick Mcauley is perhaps most well known for his work as guitarist, accordionist and singer with Irish super-group Solas. He has also played locally with famed guitarist and singer John Doyle. This solo album features Mcauley’s soulful singing as well as accomplished box playing. Not to be missed!

Tracks of Special Note:
As I Roved Out
The Fairy Set

12. Raw Bar Collective: Ag Fogairt an Lae (Independent)

Announcer Notes:
Raw Bar Collective is another lively group from Cork/southern Ireland area and features ensemble playing bursting with energy. This group of exceptional musicians features Dave Sherridan on fiddle, Benny McCarthy on accordion and the inimitable Conal O Grada on flute. Raw Bar Collective also features Nell Ni Chrionin on vocals (Chrionin is an accomplished Sean Nos style singer) and Colm Murphy on bodhran. Of special note is Raw Bar’s polka sets which are presented with unparalleled energy and verve.

Tracks of Special Note:
Séan ‘S a Bhríste Leathair (feat. Nell Ní Chróinín)
Security Status Orange, The Hijacker Cat, Take Me to the Canaries (polkas)

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