With Michael Rooney (harp), Eoghan O'Brien (guitar) and FrankMcGann (bodhran)
We are delighted to announce our release of this classic CD.
The Stoney Steps:
An Buachaill Caol Dubh:
- The Quilty Shore / Grogan's/ Kitty's Rambles.
- The Stoney Steps / The Hut in the Bog / The Merry Days of Easter.
- Lone Shanakyle. Air
- Spórt / The Hawthorn Hedge.
- Geoghagan's / McDonagh's / The College Groves.
- The Dogs Among the Bushes / The Barrowburn Reel / Wynne's # 3 / Sonny's Return.
- The Blackbird / The Flowers of Edinburgh / Mr's Galvin's.
- An Buachaill Caol Dubh. Air
- George White's Favourite / The Copperplate / The Beara Reel.
- Maghera Mountain / Brian Quinn's / Tommy Coen's / My Mary-Anne / The Nervous Man.
- John Mahoney's / Willie Coleman's / Brendan Tonra's.
- The Duke of Leinster / The Old Bush / The Spike Island Lasses.
www.liveIreland.com May 2010
There are two great things about listening to as much Irish music as we do. Well, three. The first is that when you get about 500 cd's a year sent to you, you get to listen to a lot of Irish music, and a lot of that is from groups and soloists you have come to trust for delivering the goods. The real deal. Second is the bit when you find a really fab, super new talent who just knocks you down. The third is when someone sends a great, great album you had missed. This month we have an example of each!
There is no better barometer in Europe for what is happening in traditional music than Alan O'Leary of Copperplate. His company is the epicenter of the best of the best. The regular reader knows his name well from this column, as you should. Go to his site. Just Google, Copperplate Distribution. Amazing artists there. Chris Droney. The Mulcahy Family. Teada. Eilis Kennedy. Shaun Davey. Rita Connolly. As we said, the best of the best. Years ago we called Copperplate, The Gold Standard. Still is.
One of the best artists in the Copperplate stable is a stunning concertina player by the name of Micheal O'Raghallaigh (O'Reilly). A year or two ago---exact time memories are getting increasingly impossible---we reviewed Micheal's second album. It is entitled, Inside Out. An apt title for an album that takes the amazing little concertina to the edge of the universe of musical possibilities. Brilliant. Thoroughly a traditional musician, Micheal is 39-40 years old. Good. Many, many years ahead of him to make more music. So, Alan and I were recently Skyping about Noel Hill, he of the famed concertina from Connemara. Many, many musicians might well claim Noel Hill as the best concertina player in Irish music, and he IS brill. We would rank Micheal O Raghallaigh right there with him. Hill's playing is redolent of the uillean pipes, to the point where we often think he is trying to pull off the perfect synthesis between the two, and make two instruments one. Fabulous. Micheal, on the other hand, plays more of the concertina as the concertina. Take your pick. Can't go wrong. We are yakking away about all this, because Copperplate sent us Micheal's first album, The Nervous Man. Incredible. Right at the heart of the music. Perfect technique meets real taste and grasp of the music. Perfect. Get thee to the Copperplate site and get thee this album. In this economy, you may not be able to go to Disney World this year, but for the cost of a cd, you can close your eyes and be transported to Ireland. The real Ireland. The real deal. The Nervous Man. Do it. You'll discover two life forces at work in the music. Micheal O Raghallaigh and Copperplate. You're welcome! Rating: Four Harps. Bill Margeson
Froots Magazine October 2002
' a near masterpiece' this is an unequivocally essential album. Geoff Wallis
Taplas June/July. The Welsh Folk Magazine
O'Reilly is the concertina man and powerhouse of the band, Providence and, though in his early thirties still, started playing the thing when horribly young. This long apprenticeship tells in the subtle inflections and variations, perfect timing and the depth of feeling in his playing.
Nothing is rushed: he eases you gently into a tune, but has you hooked before you know it, taking you on a roller-coaster tour of its ins and outs with complete mastery.
There are some great tune sets here, and the accompanists do a fine job too: Eoghan O'Brien on guitar and especially Michael Rooney on harp: sounding half way between a guitar and a piano, it's a model of understated accompaniment.
In the unlikely event of your attention wandering from the music to the sleeve notes, you won't be disappointed here either. A gem of a CD. They don't get much better than this. John Neilson
Pay The Reckoning Web Site May 2002
Don't let that MOR tag on the CD serial number fool you! The MOR refers simply to O Reilly's initials. Middle of the road this album certainly is not.
If 2002 sees the release of a more honest, pure, soulful, down-to-earth virtuoso album, then we at Pay The Reckoning shall consume our headgear!
O Raghallaigh (pronounced - as the man himself "wryly" puts it - O'Reilly, O'Riley or even O'Wryly) is a musician's musician. The inherent technical idisoyncracies of the concertina (and the instrument is technically very indiosyncratic!) are blithely ignored as he treats the listener to some mesmeric feats. His ability to launch a few compelling chords, as well as to echo the melody line on each side of the instrument, is spellbinding.
But not only has the man got technique in creel-loads, he has an ear for a tune and the ability to combine them into some of the most exquisite sets to which we have been treated.
The album's opener (Quilty Shore/Grogan's/Kitty's Rambles) is a convincer. O Reilly kicks off with a tastefully ornamented solo piece before Eoghan O'Brien (of Deanta) joins him with a restrained, but nevertheless spot-on guitar accompaniment. Then into a set of reels (Stoney Steps/The Hunt In The Bog/The Merry Days Of Easter), where he is joined by Michael Rooney on harp.
The first of the album's two airs is "Lone Shanakyle" - a song which has recently been aired by Dervish on their album "At The End Of The Day". The tune is an odd one - Dervish's Cathy Jordan exploited its ability to surprise to great effect. O'Reilly's version on concertina is less baroque than Jordan's. He delivers this haunting tune impeccably - in the process illustrating the fact that while his playing has the ability to singe, he can also operate at a lower temperature, warming us rather than firing us!
Rooney sits in with O'Reilly for the next set of jigs (Sport/The Hawthorn Hedge) which are delivered at his characteristic laidback pace. The languid approach allows O'Reilly to ornament the tunes with intricate trills and grace notes where the break-neck brigade would be lucky to get most of the "dots" in!
Two sets of reels follow, both of which could stand as blueprints for the construction (not to mention execution) of sets. In the first (Geoghagan's/McDonagh's/The College Groves) Rooney provides a needle-sharp accompaniment, allowing O'Reilly to take all three tunes off into realms of pure artistry. On the second set (Dogs Among The Bushes/The Barrowburn Reel/Wynne's No 3/Sonny's Return), O'Brien provides a solid guitar backing, once again permitting the maestro to concentrate on articulating a depth of feeling and sureness of touch that leaves the listener gasping at his remarkable ability.
Three hornpipes follow (The Blackbird/The Flowers of Edinburgh/Mrs Galvin's). O' Reilly deliberately avoids rushing headlong towards the end and therefore allows himself to explore each tune, giving us a glimpse of a twist here, a peek at a new avenue there!
The slow air "An Buachaill Caol Dubh" follows before O' Reilly launches into two reel sets whose power and poetry impress equally. "George White's Favourite/The Copperplate/The Beara Reel" and the epic five-reel set "Maghera Mountain/Brian Quinn's/Tommy Coen's/My MaryAnne/The Nervous Man" are not only beautifully assembled and beautifully played, but they represent a "peg in the ground" as far as traditional Irish music is concerned. This is as good as it gets!
A set of jigs (John Mahony's/Willie Coleman's/Tonra's) changes the rhythm for a moment and gives O Raghallaigh an opportunity to introduce the delicate bodhran of Frank McGann who joins O Brien in the rhythm section for this set.
The finale (The Duke of Leinster/The Old Bush/The Spike Island Lasses) is a set of much-loved and often-played reels. A muffled "Now!" launches a set where all of O'Reilly 's guests contribute to a celebratory end to a genuine classic.
If Irish music had a hall of fame (now there's a concept that doesn't bear thinking about!), then O'Reilly would have assured himself a place on the basis of this album alone.
If you're only going to buy one trad album this year, then choose this one!
The Sunday Tribune
A superb presentation from a player with hugely interesting parallel fingering that utilises much of this instruments unlimited potential. Air playing is beautifully stark and understated, with a blessed absence of electronics. This unapologetic acoustism colours the album as a brave statement, almost unique, and appreciation of the player's ability to emotionally take over a range of moods.' Fintan Vallely,
Claddagh Records, Dublin.
Occasionally there are benchmark recordings that will be listened to forever - remember the first Bothy Band album or the one by Noel Hill and Tony Linnane? This is one such, a thing of beauty that is perfect in every way. Great concertina playing by a man so at one with his instrument that it sounds as if he's singing. It's done with a confident mastery of the idiom, and a sensitivity to music and its effects that borders on genius. Definitely the best album of 2001.
Irish Echo, The Wall Street journal, top 1O traditional albums.
O'Reilly is a supremely gifted concertinist... truly blossoms as a soloist. His ornamentation is precise and purposeful; his exploration of harmonies, full and adventurous; his tempo, unfrenetic and fluid; his joy, abundant and contagious. his concertina playing will leave listeners weak-kneed in wonderment. Earle HitchenConcertina master Michael O'Reilly, from Co. Meath, releases his debut solo CD, titled 'The Nervous Man', MORCD 001. It features 12 tracks of concertina music with various accompanying instruments including Harp, Guitar, and Bodhran
Michael O'Reilly, is a member of one of Ireland's most loved musical families. He has been feted as a virtuoso since his teens. He is the driving force behind one of Ireland's best up coming bands, 'Providence', whose two albums have made many new friends worldwide. He is also a member of the 3-time All-Ireland Ceili Band Champions, 'The Tain Ceili Band'. He has performed on radio and television both nationally and internationally, including 'The Mountain Lark', 'The Pure Drop', and other traditional music programmes.
Michael is also a concertina teacher of vast experience, and is widely sought after for his expertise and hands-on skills at many of the summer schools and workshops held throughout the country and overseas. A seasoned traveller as well as performer, he has toured widely within Europe including the UK, Scandanavia, in addition to the USA and Canada. As a tutor, Michael also has a well-earned and highly respected reputation at a number of third level institutions.
His recording history includes tracks on notable releases such as 'Port na Coille', 'Lamh ar Lamh', 'The Tain Ceili Band', and 2 Providence CD's, 'Providence', and 'Fig for a Kiss'(both available from Copperplate Distribution). It has been said that O'Reilly's warm yet frisky playing creates much of the characteristic Providence sound.
O'Reilly's' long awaited debut solo album, 'The Nervous Man 'is a welcome opportunity to savour some terrific concertina playing, with sensitive and tasty backing from notable musicians in their own right; Michael Rooney, fluid and effortlessly soaring on harp, Eoghan O'Brien, subtly backing on guitar, with contributions from the irrepressible and unique Frank McGann on bodhran