A Production of The Folk Life ( Inc. 1976)
John McLaughlin and Jamie Downs, Editors


CD Reviews: “Roots & Wings,”
(dba The Digital Folk Life. Org)

The Kitchen Recordings – Sean O’Driscoll & Larry Egan. (Clo Iar-Chonnachta –

Here’s a set of (mostly) dance tunes – reels, hornpipes, jigs and flings, with a single slow air (introducing a pair of jigs), all recorded in Sean O’Driscoll's kitchen in Cork City, Co. Cork, where Sean, a well-established banjo player who has toured America with Paddy O’Brien and performed with Daithi Sproule, Liz Carroll and one of the two James Keanes – maybe both – met up with young Larry (who hails from Co. Wicklow and first began playing accordion at age 10 and has 4 All-Ireland solo titles to his name), who came to Cork City to attend university and met up with Sean, who was playing in sessions at the Corner House Pub with Mick Daly and friends. The rest is the history of a musical friendship which has evolved into this fine recording of traditional Irish dance music, on machine-gun-style banjo and bouzouki (Sean) and twinkling accordion (Larry).

There’s a baker’s dozen of tune medleys on the recording, ranging from the opening reels (The Trip to Birmingham/Down the Broom/The Ivy Leaf), t o a pair of hornpipes that follows (Sliabh na mBan/The City of Savannah), and back to reels (Eddie Kelly’s/The Culfadda/Eddie Kelly’s), to slow reels (John Henry’s/The Lilies in the Field), to a jig/double jig/jig medley (Tom Billy Murphy’s/The Cooraclara/The Cuil Adha), and back to reels (The Palm Tree/Kilty Town) again and away ye go – in other words, as fine a set of sesuin tunes as you’d be liable to meet in a pub or Irish kitchen, any time you sat down a couple of top-class Irish dance musicians and told them to have a go at it.

The sole exception to the rule is Sean’s own composition, the slow air, “An Goban Saor,” used to introduce the jigs, “The Muskery Tram/Garret Barry’s,” giving Sean a chance to show off his fine, melodic control on the banjo, with Larry sitting back for this particular set of tunes; overall, however, you’re listening to Irish dance music, primarily duets, “no fuss, no gimmicks,” as they say. They feature compositions by Charlie Lennon and Finbar Dwyer, with old friend Mick Daly, of Four Men And a Dog, sitting in on guitar, on three tracks, according to the notes besides what sounds like a tasteful bodhran – if that’s a possible phrase - elsewhere; but this is primarily a brisk collaboration between two close musical friends, and it makes a fine recording for an evening of dancing, to prime the pump, maybe, before your friends break out their instruments too or get up and join in the dance with a “Hooch-aye!” First-class entertainment, well worth adding to your collection of Irish dance music.

(Copyright John McLaughlin 2/3/2004)