Dave Sheridan: fiddle
Benny McCarthy: accordion & melodeon
Conal O'Grada: flutes
- Nell Ní Chróinín (sean nós singer)
- Colm Murphy (bodhrán).
- Tivoli Capers / Daorla. Reels
- Chafpool Post / Gan Ainm. Barndances
- Joe Sullivan's Slides
- Cá rabhais ar feadh an lae uaim. Song
- Ester's / Boys of Tulla. Reels
- The Halting March / Fainne Geal an Lae / Mill Mill O . Marches
- The Showman's Fancy / Charlie Mulvihil's. Hornpipes
- The Gander at the Pratie Hole / Sweet Briar. Jigs
- Na Tailliúri. Song
- All Wine & No Milk / The Boys of Scarf. Hornpipes
- The Leitrim Bucks / The Eel in the Sink. Reels
- Napoleon Crossing the Alps / Madame Bonaparte. Set Dances
- Joe Burke's / The Upperchurch / The Lonesome. Polkas.
With a refreshingly uncluttered approach to playing, the Raw Bar Collective present a vibrant and excitingly earthy style of Irish Traditional music. The Raw Bar Collective is a fluid gathering of Irish musicians, each of them an acknowledged standard bearer within the tradition.
They are anchored by Conal Ó Gráda (flute), Benny McCarthy (accordion) & Dave Sheridan (fiddle), all long recognised as among the top instrumentalists in Ireland. For their debut recording 'millhouse measures' they are joined by guests Nell Ní Chróinín (sean nós singer, commonly acknowledged as the most exciting traditional singing talent of her generation) and Colm Murphy (bodhrán, widely recognised as one of the top Traditional music percussionists of all time).
The Raw Bar Collective focus on connecting with the listener. Their music is presented with warmth, wit, passion and respect. A live recording, 'millhouse measures' reflects these values and crackles with the energy generated by such a genuine connection with the listener. Their live shows do likewise.
This is physical music and it draws a visceral response. It stirs the blood, it warms the heart, it quickens the pulse, it puts your spirits soaring and sets your feet tapping. It is The Raw Bar, played with complete commitment by immensely talented musicians who are steeped in traditional music.
Born in Cork in 1961, Conal Ó Gráda has long been at the forefront of traditional Irish flute-playing and truly has one of its most distinctive sounds. A multiple All Ireland winner in his youth, Conal's debut recording 'The Top of Coom' in 1990 is still regarded as a seminal recording of flute-playing. Conal takes the basic elements of traditional music and forges them into a personal style which, once heard is unforgettable. His fast, rhythmically precise flute-playing has an earthy raucous tone reminiscent of the saxophone and is driven by a spirit from the true heart of traditional music. Conal has played, toured and recorded with many of the music's leading exponents and his long overdue second recording 'Cnoc Buí' was released in 2008 to widespread critical acclaim.
was born in Tubber, Co. Offaly, a small village that nestles close to the Westmeath border. A lifelong musician, David has been a constant presence in the top echelon of traditional fiddle playing. He compliments a hugely traditional fiddle-sound with an intense energy and humour in his playing and has attracted the attention of all of the flagship Irish television programmes. He has toured extensively at home abroad and in 2009 released a highly acclaimed CD, Faoi Bhláth with friends Ciaran Somers (flute) and Nicolas Quemener (guitar). David is now a resident of Carlow where, along with wife Michelle, he runs a successful folk club, bringing the best musicians and singers to the town.
Benny is from Deelish in Co.Waterford. He started playing at the age of 13 and was mentored by none other than accordion legend Bobby Gardiner. Like most musicians he travelled all over Ireland to sessions and festivals meeting and playing with musicians from all regions and styles. His influences include Bobby Gardiner, Jackie Daly, Mairtin O'Connor to mention just a few. Benny was Oireachtas champion on both Button accordion and 10-key Melodeon in 1994. In 1995 he founded the band "Danú" with whom he still manages and performs with to this day. Over the years he has been involved in a variety of other bands and projects.
Press ReviewsThe Irish Times
Less is more is the motto of Raw Bar Collective's debut collection, a live album in the fullest sense, recorded in a Waterford pub. The collective is flute player Cónal Ó Gráda (contributing three highly evolved original tunes to the mix), fiddle player Dave Sheridan, and accordion player Benny McCarthy.
There's a verve to a good live session that's rarely captured in recording, but they've bagged the beast here. Laser-sharp shafts of light illuminate everything from the barndance Chaffpool Post to Jackie Daly's vigorous polka Joe Burke's . There's a delightful clipped quality to the playing, each tune etched out with enough space for each musician to delve beneath its surface. Sean-nós singer Nell Ní Chrónín's diamond-cut vocals add a third dimension on two perfectly delivered songs and Colm Murphy's bodhrán adds a distinct backbone. SIOBHÁN LONG****
New York's Irish Echo's, Ceol Column
On the website of the Raw Bar Collective trio is this statement regarding Irish traditional music: 'It stirs the blood, it warms the heart, it quickens the pulse, and it puts your spirits soaring and sets your feet tapping . ' Below that is a f o o t n o t e : 'Health warning: If you display any of these symptoms, treat yourself to a whoop!' I counted at least six 'whoops' I let out in response to 'Millhouse Measures,' a self-issued debut CD recorded live in the small, bucolic Millhouse Pub in Co. Waterford by the Raw Bar Collective.
This trio comprises Deelish raised Danu member Benny McCarthy on button accordion, Cork-born Conal O'Grada on flute, and Tubber, Offaly, native Dave Sheridan on fiddle. They are frequently supplemented by guest Colm Murphy on bodhran, and the CD also features two songs in Irish from guest sean-nos singer Nell Ni Chroinin.
'Millhouse Measures' follows a trend I identified in previous 'Ceol' columns about the increasing absence of a formal accompanying rhythm instrument--particularly guitar or piano--in traditional music made in Ireland by duos and trios. Whether this is the result of smaller budgets, aesthetic preference, or both, it is a trend that seems destined to continue.
Whatever the reasons, the only outcome that matters is the music, and the music of 'Millhouse Measures' is a deliciously no-frills treat. Apart from his estimable work with Danu, Benny McCarthy has quietly undertaken the role of uncluttering Irish traditional music in his other projects, including Raw Bar Collective and Rattle the Boards. The latter group, formed in 1992, specializes in old-style parish platform dance music (hence their name) and features McCarthy with three Tipperary natives: Pat Ryan on fiddle, mandolin, and banjo, John Nugent on guitar, and John T. Egan on vocals.
McCarthy is deeply respectful of the players from whom he learned, especially Clare master Bobby Gardiner but also Galway's Mairtin O'Connor, Cork's Jackie Daly, and, in no small measure, Boston's Joe Derrane. The fact that McCarthy, who began at age 13 on the B/C button accordion, now prefers to play a C#/D box custom-made by Bertrand Gaillard (Derrane plays a D/C# box custom made by Gaillard) and, with Raw Bar Collective, recorded a hornpipe, 'The Showman's Fancy,' that Derrane put his inimitable stamp on after WWII, reinforces the connection to Derrane. McCarthy's taste in box players is clearly impeccable.
The rest of Raw Bar Collective's lineup is no less impressive. Through two solo albums, 'The Top of Coom' and 'Cnoc Bui,' Conal O'Grada firmly established himself as one of Ireland's premier flutists. (By the way, Colm Murphy plays bodhran on both of those CD's.) A fine fiddler also proficient on whistle, flute, and guitar, Dave Sheridan released one excellent album during 2009-2010, 'Faoi Bhlath' with flutist Ciaran Somers and guitarist Nicolas Quemener.'
Now I'll acknowledge my six 'whoops' from the playing of McCarthy, O Grada, and Sheridan: 'Joe Sullivan's Slides,' the jigs 'Gander at the Pratie Hole / Sweet Briar,' the reels 'Leitrim Bucks / Eel in the Sink,' the polkas 'Joe Burke's / The Upperchurch / The Lonesome,' the aforementioned hornpipe 'Showman's Fancy' coupled with 'Charlie Mulvihill's,' and the reels 'Esther's / Boys of Tulla.' With all due praise to Ireland's best guitarists and pianists, they aren't missed on those six standout tracks.
'Leitrim Bucks' is a tangy variant of the traditional standard 'Bucks of Oranmore.' 'Esther's' was previously made popular by Jackie Daly and Seamus and Manus McGuire on their magnificent if still under-appreciated 1984 album, 'Buttons & Bows.'
Besides the Derrane link previously cited for 'The Showman's Fancy,' where the triplets nimbly executed by Raw Bar Collective suggest a subtle homage to the D/C# virtuoso, the name of Charlie Mulvihill (1917-1975) resonates strongly in the Irish-American traditional music community of New York, where he was born and earned a reputation as an esteemed accordionist and composer. Raw Bar Collective makes all those tunes sound brand-new.
The organic splendor of Irish traditional music recorded without equalization and reverb in an intimate pub setting before an appreciative audience seeps into every one of the album's 11 instrumental tracks.
O'Grada's own compositions of 'Tivoli Capers,' 'Daorla,' and 'All Wine & No Milk' seamlessly fit within the overall weave of traditional tunes.
Also notable are McCarthy's expert left-hand bass playing for accents or other undergirding and his brief burst of rat-a-tat improvisation in 'Leitrim Bucks / Eel in the Sink' that catches us delightfully off guard. Moreover, talented sean-nos vocalist Nell Ni Chroinin delivers two songs given the rapt attention they deserve. 'Listening to good traditional music is not a passive occupation,' Raw Bar Collective asserts on their website. If you need further persuading, check out 'Millhouse Measures,' which I enthusiastically recommend. Earle Hitchner