New release available from March 2021
Running Through Woods & Falling In Bogholes
12 tracks of newly composed tunes on Tenor Banjo, Tenor Guitar & Mandolin
The tunes on this album were written over the space of two years and I am delighted to present them here on this recording. Were it not for two people in particular, it may not have come to pass at all. I was never a very prolific composer, but I had written a few tunes. I played a couple of these at a concert in Kenmare a few years ago where our good friend, Derek Hickey, was in the audience. Derek came backstage after the concert and commented that they were nice tunes and did I write much? Of course, I had to answer, 'No', but this got me to thinking, 'Why not?', and the next day I sat down and wrote the first of the barndances on this album. From there I continued to compose tunes with more regularity but without any particular plan in mind. That was until one day my wife, Orlaith, said to me, 'Why don't you record them?'. This got me to thinking again, and my focus became to write enough material for a full album. I aimed to keep the tunes as varied and diverse as possible while, at the same time, attempting to compose them within the traditional idiom. In about October 2019, I completed the writing process but this is where the project came to a stand-still for a while. Then, as we all know, lockdown hit in March 2 020. Well, I thought to myself, here is my opportunity, so I cobbled together a home studio and set to work. This is the resulting album.
I have many people to thank for their help and support to get this project together, so here we go: Orlaith Keane and Derek Hickey for setting the the seeds; my family, Orlaith (again), Matthew and Ellie May for their support and patience during this project and in general; my parents and all others that have gone before me who passed on their love of the music; my siblings for showing me the way through the woods and how to make bows and arrows; the wonderful musicians I was privileged to have join me: Finbarr Naughton, Orla Henihan, Derek Hickey, Catherine McHugh, Kenny Fahy, Brian McGrath, Jamie O'Neill and Matthew Berrill; Stuart Condron for his magical ears; Sam Proctor for being a master masterer; Mariana Soto for the photography; Pearse Doherty for the loan of the ladder; Matt & Florence Keane; and Pat Coyne for the mic.
I hope you enjoy it!
1. The Trip to Prague, Ten Hours in Victoria & What's the Czech for Cigarette? (Reels)
In 1995, as two young adventurers, myself and my good friend, Niall Hackett, decided to go on a little Trip to Prague. So, we saved up a little money and booked two tickets on a bus from Galway to Berlin. That was our first mistake. We boarded the bus with joy in our hearts, which was quickly snuffed out with the realisation of what we would have to endure over the next couple of days. We made it across the Irish Sea easy enough but we then had to spend Ten Hours in Victoria Station waiting for our connection to Berlin. Of course, we didn't have the foresight to get any Sterling so it turned out to be a fairly miserable ten hours. It was also where I developed a severe aversion to the clicking sound that suitcase wheels make while rolling over tiles. We eventually made it to Berlin, where my brother Finbarr and friend Alberto Sanchez were residing at the time, and they kindly introduced us to the squat culture of the city. After a couple of days, we found our funds were depleting far too quickly with Berlin prices and hopped on a train to Prague where we spent the next six weeks busking, gigging and generally living it up. There are far too many stories from that time to relate here, but one of my favourites is the basis for the name of the last tune in this set, What's the Czech for Cigarette? We were attempting to make our way home after a very pleasant evening involving some music and one or two glasses of light refreshment, when we realised we had no cigarettes left. While waiting for the tram, Niall decided the best course of action was to accost passers-by, by tapping two fingers to his lips and making strange guttural noises in an attempt to communicate the situation. Suffice to say, it only served to make several people very nervous and they sidestepped quickly around the demented looking Irishman. Eventually, a kindly gentleman, seeing the situation for what it was, laughingly provided us with what we required. It still makes me smile every time I think of that night.
2. Running Through Woods & Falling in Bogholes (Slipjigs)
These are a couple of slip-jigs I had written but didn't yet have titles for, when lockdown was enforced in March 2020. We are lucky enough to live surrounded by woods in the West of Ireland, and my daughter and I spent a lot of that early period of lockdown exploring the woods around us. It reminded me a lot of my own childhood, as my siblings and I spent a lot of time Running Through Woods, swinging from trees, making bows-and-arrows and playing cowboys and Indians. Falling in Bogholes also seemed to be a theme of my youth and we all fell in at some stage. I suppose, if you spend enough time jumping over them, you're bound to fall in sooner or later. Thanks Paul for pulling me out by-the-way. I kind of think of this as my origin story, as, along with all the adventures, it's also where I started my musical journey.
3. Planxty Frank (Planxty)
This tune was written for my good friend, and master luthier, Frank Tate. The tune is played on two of Frank's instruments, an all mahogany tenor guitar and a carved, arch-top mandolin. I have great respect for anyone that can craft such fine instruments and I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to pay tribute to Frank than to dedicate this planxty in his honour.
4. Flowers for Mom & Dad's Rainbow Slide (Slides)
These two tunes were written when my daughter, Ellie May, was 4 years old and I decided to leave it to her to come up with the titles. The first is fairly self explanatory as what 4 year old girl doesn't like getting Flowers for Mom and we had probably just returned from doing that particular thing. The second comes from the fact that, at the time, we were practising the Kermit the Frog song, The Rainbow Connection. She originally named it 'Dad's Rainbow Song' but has since agreed to amend it to 'Dad's Rainbow Slide' to fit the tune type and because I like the idea of having a rainbow slide.
5. The Inis Meáin Waltz (Waltz)
In July 2018 myself, Matt Keane and Tom Waldron hopped on the boat in Rossaveal on a Friday evening and headed for a weekend of tatterin', as Matt would call it, out on Inis Meáin, one of the Aran Islands. We were picked up by our gracious hosts, Pádraic and Meg from Teach Ósta, and whisked up the hill and straight into the pub. After a quick bite to eat, we set to work blasting out tunes and songs and partaking of a few beverages. Well, it wore from evening to night and on to the small hours. The next morning the cobwebs had a good firm grip of me, so I decided a swim in the sea was the only cure. I grabbed my shorts and my towel and with my ceann tinn I headed for Ceann Gaineamh, the sandy beach. It was an absolutely beautiful morning with bright blue skies, and as I strolled down the road a few notes drifted into my head and I began to whistle. That was the beginning of it, and when I made it back to the house after my refreshing dip in the Atlantic, I took out the tenor guitar and put the rest of the tune together. I'd like to dedicate this tune to Pádraic and Meg and all our good friends on Inis Meáin. Hopefully there will be many more nights of tatterin' out there.
6. Arthur's Legacy & While You Have the Hammer in Your Hand Father (Hornpipes)
At Christmas 2016 my sister came home from Belgium for a visit and brought with her a wonderful bottle of good, strong Belgian beer called Arthur's Legacy. This was very fitting as our late father's name was Arthur. After partaking of the said bottle of beer, I decided that Arthur's Legacy would be an appropriate name for a tune in his honour and set about composing it. It was the first tune in what has become this album.My father was a great storyteller and the title of the second tune here comes from one of the stories he was so fond of telling. The story was based in the time when local village fairs were still common around the country and where all kinds of livestock could be bought and sold. The main characters were the parish priest and the local spalpín or, odd job man. Along with tending to his flock, the priest had a sideline of keeping cattle on a small bit of land and when it came time to sell these fine animals, the job of walking them to the fair fell to the spalpín, which he did with great care and diligence. The priest couldn't be seen to be driving cattle to the fair as such menial things were below him, you understand. Before the job of haggling began in earnest, it was the done thing to retire to the local public house to warm the blood with one or two half-ones. Now, one thing you must understand about these two men, is that the spailpín was very fond of a drink, while the priest considered it the devil incarnate. But, none-the-less, on this particular day the priest couldn't be seen to be shirking his side of the bargain, and after arriving in the town at his leisure he proceeded to the public house to meet the spailpín.'What'll you have Peter?’, he asked gruffly of the spailpín. 'Whiskey Father', was the quick response. The priest nodded to the barman and the whiskey was placed on the counter in front of the spailpín who made very short work of it. The spailpín looked up expectantly at the priest who, with a disapproving look, nodded again to the barman. The second whiskey was placed in front of the spailpín and in the blink of an eye it had joined the first. Again, he fixed the priest with an expectant look who, at this stage, had had enough and thought he might teach the spailpín a lesson. 'You know Peter, every time I buy you a one of those whiskey's I'm driving another nail in your coffin', he said.The spailpín looked up at him with a cheeky grin and quickly replied, 'Well, while you have the hammer in your hand Father, will you ever drive another one?'
7. The Landing at Cherbourg & Escape to Cider (Air / Jig)
This set is dedicated to the memory of my late grandfather, Tommy Naughton. As a young man he moved to the US, and in 1917 at the age of 25, he enlisted in the American Army. He was finally called up in 1918, and we know that he saw front line action in Belgium before the end of WW1. Unfortunately, his war records were destroyed when the building where they were stored burnt down so we don't have too much detail on his posting. We do know he was honourably discharged from the company of the 113th Ammunition Train on the 24th January 1919. I can't even imagine what it would have been like for him, crossing the ocean to go to war. The Landing at Cherbourg is an attempt to capture the emotion of landing on that shore in 1918 and the uncertainty of what lay before him and his comrades. The title of the second tune here, Escape to Cider, refers to a story my father used to tell, and who in turn heard it direct from my grandfather, about his time in encampment in Belgium. Part of their duties was to go out on patrol during the day and when they would return in the evening they would be under curfew until the following morning. One day, while on patrol, my grandfather and some of his comrades met some of the locals who told them they were having some sort of a get-together that night and invited them along. I don't know the details, but after breaking curfew and meeting with their friends from earlier, they spent a good old night of it drinking cider. It's nice to know I have something in common with him, as I may have broken curfew once or twice myself to have a little drink.
8. Martin Keane's & Ned Naughton's (Barndances)
Throughout my life as a musician the question, 'Where did the music come from?' has been a common thread. While my elder siblings played music, neither my parents or any of my grandparents played. I have to go back to my two grand-uncles Martin Keane and Ned Naughton to find the musicians. Martin Keane was my mother's uncle and he was a fiddle and flute player originally from Co. Roscommon. He moved to New York as a young man and continued to play music there throughout his life. Sometime in the 1940s he sent a gramaphone home to my grandmother Katie Keane and continued to send 78rpm records home for a number of years after. We were lucky enough to have had access to these records when we were growing up, as they include records from Michael Coleman, the Flanagan Brothers, The Balinakill Céilí Band and Tom Morrison among many others. Ned Naughton was my father's uncle and was a fiddle player originally from Co. Galway. He also moved to the US as a young man. Ned Naughton joined the police force in Chicago at the same time that Francis O'Neill was the chief of police there. Chief O'Neill, of course, was famous for his various publications including, 'O'Neill's Music of Ireland 1850 Melodies', and coming in at no. 1744 is Ned Naughton's Hornpipe. So, I'm taking it that this tune I’ve composed is the second tune named for my grand-uncle Ned.
9. Nellie Bheag & Nellie Mhór (Reels)
These two tunes are dedicated to my daughter and my late mother. The two Nellies. My mother's name was Nellie and my daughter is named after her. Even though her name is Ellie May I can't help affectionately referring to her as Nellie from time-to-time.
10. Matthew's Mazurka & The Storm with the Silver Lining (Mazurka / Waltz
I was sitting at home one evening tinkering with a few notes when my step-son, Matthew, wandered into the room looking for something and remarked, 'That's nice, what is it?', to which I replied, 'I don't know yet'. When it did become something I thought it only fitting that it be named Matthew's Mazurka, and so it was. The Storm with the Silver Lining is in reference to our wedding day. Orlaith and I (mostly Orlaith) had planned it meticulously. The marquee in her parents back garden, the flowers, the food, the music and, of course, the weather. Yes, the weather was going to be fabulous, because we had organised it for early September when there would be an Indian summer, and besides, some weather guy in New Zealand said that it was going to be just wonderful in Ireland that time of year. What could go wrong? Enter Hurricane Katia. She wasn't invited but she came anyway, bringing storm force winds and lashing rain. How the marquee stayed erect is beyond me. Hair-dos may have been ruined, shoes may have gotten a bit mucky, cars may even have gotten stuck in the field, but, in the midst of the storm we had the most wonderful couple of days. And one thing is for sure, none of our guests are going to forget our wedding. Happy memories.
11. Newtownsmith Headquarters, Last Bus to the Lisheen & Knocking on the Áras Door (Jigs)
At the tender age of 17 I moved to the city of Galway to attend college, but somehow, for good or bad, I got waylaid by the traditional music scene that was extremely vibrant at the time. I spent the next eight years living and playing music in the city and to say that it was a formative time would be an understatement. The friends I made and the music I learned during that time are with me to this day. This set of tunes is dedicated to that time. Newtownsmith Headquarters refers to the apartment at No. 2 Newtownsmith where I lived for four years. The amount of music I learned in that flat is unquantifiable as the music literally seeped from the walls. They were paper thin and there was always somebody practising something, somewhere. It was quite famous for the occasional party. Last Bus to the Lisheen was the late night calling cry of the, one time, proprieter of the Crane Bar, Dave Larkin. Long before there were the plethora of late night bars in Galway that there are now, there was only one place to get a late drink, and that was the Lisheen. In a vain attempt to get us stragglers to leave so he could clean up, Dave could be heard gently whispering, 'The last bus to the Lisheen is leaving now'. Árus na nGael was, and still is, another fine house of traditional music in Galway. As it was a club, the door might not always be open when you would want it to be. Many's the time we spent Knocking on the Áras Door in an attempt to gain entry, as we knew full well there was a rip-roaring session going full tilt inside and we were missing out. Of course, it had nothing to do with late night pints. Fond memories!
12. The Carragh Reel & The Coffee House in Sonnagh (Reels)
As I was coming to the end of the writing process for this album, I mentioned to my wife, Orlaith, that I needed one more track and what did she think I should write? Her response was, 'A good reel like the Bucks of Oranmore'. I thought to myself, 'Thanks very much. No pressure then'. As it was her idea I asked her to name the resulting reel, which she did. The Carragh Reel is named for the townland in which she grew up and was home to the generations of amazing musicians and singers that came before her. The Coffee House in Sonnagh refers to the house in which I grew up. The story goes that my grandfather, Tommy Naughton, after serving with the US army in WW1, returned to the States and sometime afterwards was approached by an acquaintance for the loan of some money, which he obligingly granted. When the time came, my grandfather sought out this acquaintance and requested repayment of the loan but, lo and behold, the fellow didn't have it. What he did have though, were shares in a coffee company and my grandfather accepted these in lieu of the repayment. It turned out to be a very fortunate turn of events, as when he cashed in the shares after returning to Ireland some years later, they had substantially increased in value. It was with these proceeds that he purchased the house and farm that I grew up on in Sonnagh.
All tracks written, produced and recorded by Colm Naughton
Mixing: Stuart Condron & Colm Naughton
Mastering: Sam Proctor, Lismore Mastering
Photography: Mariana Soto
Design & Layout: Colm Naughton
Colm: Banjo - 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9,11 & 12
Tenor Guitar - 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 & 10
Mandolin - 2, 3, 5 & 10
Bouzouki - 2, 9, 10 & 11
Acoustic Guitar - 5, 10, 11 & 12
Finbarr Naughton: Fiddle - 2 & 5
Orla Henihan: Tin Whistle – 2
Catherine McHugh: Piano - 1, 6, 11 & 12
Derek Hickey: Accordion - 4
Brian McGrath: Piano: 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 & 10
Matthew Berrill: Alto Sax - 4
Kenny Fahy: Bodhrán - 2, 7, 9 & 12
Jamie O’Neill: Snare - 4, 5, & 8