Antoin Mac Gabhann &
Doorways & Windowsills
Marcas O' Murchu (flute) and Eddie Whelan (guitar)
Mick and Antoin are a band of musicians who can be seen at every musical gathering in Ireland, playing their music in the streets, resting in Doorways and Windowsills. They invariable attract a huge crown with many fellow musicians joining the session. Hence the title of this one off recording.
Antoin Mac Gabhann (Tony Smith) comes from Mullahoran Co Cavan and now lives in Ashbourne, Co. Meath. He is one of Ireland‘s best known traditional ﬁddle performers. He was twice winner of the Senior Fiddle title at Fladh Cheoil na hEireann as well as being winner of other major ﬁddle competitions such as Fiddler of Dooney, Fiddler of Oriel and Oireachtas Crotty Cup.
He ﬁrst learned the ﬁddle in his native Co Cavan and on coming to Dublin in the mid 1960's he got immersed in the music scene through the Comhaltas branches and traditional music clubs. He was a member ofthe famed Green Linnet Céili Band. playing at Céili‘s and broadcasting regularly. He traveled among the Ulster ﬁddlers in Fermanagh. Tyrone and Antrim, but he was also a regular visitor to Co Clare where he joined sessions and played for sets with concertina player Chris Droney and musicians from the Kilfenora and Tulla Ceili Bands. He has toured individually and with Comhalus to USA. Canada. Europe. and Japan and was with Na Ridiri' on their tour to Australia in 1995.
Tony plays mostly in music sessions rather than on the commercial circuit and is widely recognised both as a performer and teacher of the ﬁddle. He has been teaching weekly ﬁddle classes in Ashboume for over thirty years and derives great pleasure from helping young musicians and seeing them develop.
Mick O'Connor inherited a love of music from his parents who came from Kerry and Roscommon. It was listening to Barney McKenna of The Dubliners that inspired him to take up the banjo in 1967. In the late sixties. he regularly went to sessions to hear Raymond Roland and Liam Farrell at the White Hart Pub in Fulham. which was a hive of great Irish music for many years. He moved around the Irish music scene in London and played at Comhaltas sessions as well as sessions at the Favourite on Holloway Road. playing with many great musicians who were in London at the time. including John Bowe, Bobby Casey, Tommy McCarthy and Roger Sherlock.
During the I970s and I980: Mick made frequent trips to Ireland. He was greatly inﬂuenced by the east Galway and east Clare style of music, including the music of Paddy Fahy and the playing of Martin Bymes and Paddy Carty. Mick recorded a well known LP with Paddy Carty in 1974. and along with Kevin Burke and Donal Lunny, he played on Tommy Makem's ‘Ever the Wind! LP in I975.
He recalls that meting James Kelly and Willie Clancy at Miltown Malbay in the early seventies was a great experience. Mick was winner of theAII-lreland Banjo competition in 1971 and two further AII-Ireland wins in l986 and l987as a member of the Thatch Ceili band. He contributed to a recording made by Mick Mulcahy during the 1990s. Mick has also and with Comhaltas. in the USA. Canada. South Africa, Switzerland, Gemany, ltaly. Australia and Ireland. He plays sessions and regularly teaches banjo and mandolin In London.
Track 1: John Brennan's
Track 2: The Old Flail
Track 3: The Moving Bog
- Quinns/The Boys Of Portaferry/Lady Gordon
- The Four Courts/The Whin Bush/The Sandmount
- John Brennan’s/The Red Haired Lass/The Christening
- The Humours Of Miltown/ The Hole In The Hedge/Seamus Cooley’s
- The Rainy Day/The Flowers Of Redhill
- The Quarrelsome Piper/Scully Casey’s
- The Flower Of The Flock/The Flax In Bloom/The Wind That Shakes The Barley
- You’re Welcome Says Maureen And Hugh/Jerry’s Beaver Hat/The Cow That Ate The Blanket
- The Glen Of Aherlow/Mullingar Races/Callaghan’s
- Dwyer’s HP
- The Green Mountain/The Trip To Birmingham/The Otter’s Holt
- The Haunted House/The Whistler At The Wake/The Old Flail
- The Moving Bog/The Steeplechase/Mick O’Connor’s
- The Ash Plant/The Merry Harriers/Last Nights Fun/The Sailor On The Rock
Very straight, very trad, very sweet. This pair of paragons have been meeting up at music events for several decades, and both are iconic figures in Irish music: Mick as a leading member of the London scene, and Antóin in the Meath/Dublin area as well as his native Cavan. Fiddle and banjo combine here to deliver a large helping of old favourites in tight duets, with a couple of solos each and some fine flute flutters from Marcas Ó Murchú. Eddie Whelan provides guitar accompaniment.
From Quinn's Reel to The Sailor on the Rock, most of the material on Doorways & Windowsills will be familiar. It's the playing that counts, as well as the play-along possibilities: everything is conveniently at session pitch. Mick O'Connor has been described as "more musical than most banjos", and he proves that here: his solo jig selection Humours of Miltown jogs along very tunefully, ending with a sparkling version of Seamus Cooley's. The famous Mick O'Connor's Reel is also featured, the definitive version from the man who composed it in 1971. Antóin takes his first solo on The Rainy Day, all too common where he lives, and a rather less common version of The Flowers of Redhill. He too contributes a composition, the gentle jig You're Welcome Says Maureen & Hugh, which the duo join to Jerry's Beaver Hat and The Cow that Ate the Blanket for one of this CD's best tracks. Antóin's second solo is another highlight, a relaxed stroll through the four-part Dwyer's Hornpipe.
And that's about it, apart from the nine sets of reels which space out the jigs and hornpipes. You know you're in trad heartland when an album is two-thirds reels. There are some great ones here: The Whin Bush, John Brennan's, The Red Haired Lass, The Christening, Callaghan's, Last Night's Fun, and The Green Mountain which starts a second solo from Mick. I prefer The Otter's Holt at a slightly slower pace myself, but apart from that it's hard to find fault with Doors & Windowsills. You might struggle to find this CD outside specialist shops, but give it a go! © Alex Monaghan