- Robbie Harris: (Bones, Bodhran, Bongos, Cajon, Shaker)
- Donogh Hennessy: (Guitar)
- Mike Galvin: (Guitar, Bass track 11)
- Trevor Hutchinson: (Double Bass)
- Denis Carey: (Piano Tracks 5 & 13)
- Manus Maguire: (Fiddle Tracks 5 & 13)
- Eoin O'Carra: (Zither track 10)
- Tony O'Flaherty: (Piano Track 3)
The Glen Road to Carrick:
The Moonlight Clog:
The Iron Man:
- The Limerick Redowa/Going for Water/Oakum's/The Strawberry Tree. Redowa Waltz, Slides
- Top It Off/The Glen Road to Carrick/McFadden's Handsome Daughter/The Devil's Ladder. Hop Jig, Reels
- Paddy's Lamentation. Song
- The Bruckless Shore/The Sail-Maker's Wife/Muineira de Pontesampaio. Jigs, Muineira
- Lonesome Eyes. Air
- Cailleach An Airgid. Song
- The Belles of South Boston/The Rights of Man/The Moonlight Clog. Hornpipes, Schottiches.
- Fonn do Eithne/The Fairy Step. Air, Slip Jigs
- Niamh's Joy/An Buchaill Dreoite/The Coleraine. Reel, Jigs
- Sé Fáth Mo Bhurta. Song.
- Knockabout/ Tom Barrett's/Sonny Riordan's/ Polkas.
- Bruach Na Carraige Báine. Air
- The Iron Man/The First Century Reel. Strathspey, Reel.
Súgach Sámh / Happy Out, is the latest album from Killarney musician Niamh Ní Charra, and showcases her impressive talent and versatility with a wide-ranging selection of tunes on fiddle and concertina, as well as songs in Irish and English. Following on from her award-winning debut recording, Ón Dá Thaobh / From Both Sides, this new album displays a developed sense of musical confidence and maturity.
Niamh crosses various musical boundaries in her choice of material, contrasting the global with the local, the old with the new. Guest musicians include Donogh Hennessy, Trevor Hutchinson, Robbie Harris, Manus McGuire and Denis Carey.
Press ReviewsMusical Traditions web site
Readers may recall that when I reviewed Niamh Ní Charra's first CD, Ón Dá Thaobh - From Both Sides, back in 2007, I was a little wary about a young fidder who'd spent 8 years playing in the Riverdance band. As it turned out, my prejudice was quite unwarrented - it was a lovely record, and I was particularly delighted by her terrific concertina playing. Now CD No.2 comes along, and already I'm worried again! So many times I've waxed enthusiastic about a young performer's first record, only to be bitterly disappointed by their second. Happily, this is not the case here! Indeed, I like this present release even more that I did the previous one. The concertina playing is equally good, and the fiddling is rather more to my taste. As a bonus we get three songs here, where there were none on From Both Sides. play Sound ClipNiamh is a good singer, in a quiet, delicate manner. This is not usually the sort of singing I like but, somehow, I find her version of it to be very effective. She manages to communicate her emotions without any too-obvious ploys. See what you think; here's the start of Paddy's Lamentation (sound clip).
play Sound ClipIn the previous review I concentrated on Niamh's concertina playing, so let's hear some of her fiddling this time; here's a great jig called The Bruckless Shore (aka, Arthur Darley's), though I'm sure I know it by yet another name (sound clip).
The booklet is fairly slight, but tells us much of what we need to know about the tunes and songs, play Sound Clipand displays a little of Niamh's self-deprecating sense of humour. It's also nice to see that the earlier 'glamour girl' photos have been replaced by ones showing simply a nice looking young woman. And I;m afraid that I can't let you go without a little bit of that lovely concertina; here with the delightful Limerick Redowa/Going for Water from track 1. Rod Stradling
Niamh Ni Charra, from Killarney, is an electronic engineer by training and profession. Fortunately, I software engineering's loss is traditional music's gain as her second album amply demonstrates.
Niamh's principal instrument is the fiddle although concertina runs it close. She writes tunes, sings in both Irish and English and spent eight years as a soloist in Riverdance.
Her core band of Robbie Harris (percussion), Donogh Hennessy (guitar) and Trevor Hutchinson (double bass) is augmented by special guests for one or two tracks: Eoin O' Charra's zither accompaniment to'Se Fath Mo Buartha' is one of the record's highlights. The album is a mixture of fast tune sets, slow airs and songs, Niamh handling the tear-jerking 'Paddy's Lamentation' with as much skill as she does the lively 'Cailleach An Airgid'.
The album is nicely programmed, starting slightly unexpectedly with concertina and ending with a sparkling strathspey and reel fiddle duet between Niamh and Manus McGuire. Dai Jeffries ***
Taplas, The Welsh Folk Mag Feb/March 11
THREE years after her first CD (On Do Thaobh, available from Copperplate) this former Riverdance fiddle/ concertina player from Killarney has come up with another polished release. Along with the 14 varied Irish trad material there's an air by the late Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland, a James Scott Skinner strathspey, a Galician muineira (Niamh is a member of Carlos Nunez's touring band) and several of her own compositions
She proves to be a gentle singer with three songs, one of which features her father on zither. Backing musicians are different this time, including two of the original members of Lunasa. They provide a pleasant setting for Niamh's flawless, virtuosic and intelligent playing on both her instruments, but the overall effect is just a tad gritless. John Neilson
Folk & Roots Web Site
Killarney-born fiddle and concertina player Niamh first came to attention through the Riverdance show, after which she scored highly with her debut album Ón Dá Thaobh (From Both Sides) back in 2007, on which she was backed by a wealth of Sliabh Luachra musicians. Since then, she won the Irish Music Association USA's Best Violin/Fiddle Award (2009) and although she's lately been busy touring with the Carlos Núnez band, has somehow found the time to record a followup CD, which is even more persuasive than its predecessor.
Of its 13 tracks, ten are instrumental; these are admirably even-handed, with half featuring the concertina as main protagonist and half the fiddle. Niamh's fingerwork on both instruments is suitably direct and replete with a gentle energy: neat and nifty, always reliably following and leading the melody line and displaying a characteristic lightness of touch that's supremely well reflected in the supporting contributions of the various other musicians, a fine crew this time comprising Robbie Harris (bodhrán, bones, cajón, shaker), Denis Carey (piano), Donogh Hennessy (guitars) and Trevor Hutchinson (double bass), with Tony O'Flaherty (piano), Manus McGuire (fiddle), Mike Galvin (guitar, bass) and Eoín Ó Carra (zither) appearing on one track apiece. That light, airy feel I noted in the playing is especially marked on the delightful hornpipes-and-schottische set (track 7), where the sheer deftness of Donogh's guitar is quite miraculous in its role as an ideal foil for Niamh's fleet-fingered filigree box work. There are occasions when the voltage races higher, as on the mixed medley The Blue Horse (track 4), which culminates in a vigorous muiñeira composed by Núñez himself. But of the quick-tempo selections, my favourite has to be the utterly joyous brilliancy of the final set, The Iron Man, which pairs a Scott Skinner strathspey with a reel written by Canadian fiddler Rudy Meeks, played as a twin-fiddle showpiece (Niamh in consort with Manus). The pace necessarily slackens for three slow airs, of which Bruach Na Carraige Báine (an old love song from Munster) is played as a concertina solo, while Niamh's own composition Fonn Do Eithne, played on the fiddle, functions as a beautifully lyrical prelude to her cautiously tripping slip-jig The Fairy Step (though I don't think it should've been necessary to fade this track out).
I also must give special mention to the three vocal tracks, which turn out to be among the CD's highlights; the story goes that Niamh was reticent about singing at all on this ostensibly mainly-instrumental release, but in truth she proves herself more than capable in this regard, and on a wide variety of material too. The forlorn love song Sé Fáth Mo Bhuartha is shot through with absolute expressive honesty (and greatly enhanced by her father's plangent zither accompaniment), whereas the tongue-in-cheek Galway song Cailleach An Airgid is given an accomplished, lively and sparkling performance from Niamh, making the most of the taunting chant that forms its chorus. Best of all, though, is Niamh's sensibly measured and simply heartfelt rendition of Paddy's Lamentation, keenly yet sparsely scored for just piano and concertina. These fine vocal tracks not only provide superbly-wrought relief from the principal (instrumental) diet, but make a key contribution on their own terms to what would in any event be an impressive and thoroughly appealing Irish album release with its roots in the tradition. David Kidman
The Living Tradition Jan/Feb 2011
Niamh's excellent debut CD followed stardom with Riverdance as a fiddler and concertinist. Album number two - Sugach Samh in Irish - has taken time out of her touring schedule with the Carlos Nunez band. This outstanding Kerry musician's second CD is still mainly instrumental, but adds three songs in English and Irish - a new departure for her. She also presents four new compositions here, so she's been a busy bee since her previous release, and I have to say she's looking well on it.
Niamh is joined by Robbie Harris on bodhran, and by the original Lunasa rhythm section of Donogh Hennessy and Trevor Hutchinson, as well as a handful of one-track ponies.
The ten tracks of tunes here are equally divided between fiddle and concertina, with two technomagic duet tracks. There's a Kerry influence in the inclusion of slides and polkas, but Niamh's tastes are understandably eclectic after her touring experience. She starts with The Limerick Redowa (a Czech dance similar to a mazurka), turned with the brilliant Oakum's and Niamh's own lilting Strawberry Tree Slide. The gentle old slip jig Top It Off leads into a pair of familiar fiery reels - almost an American fiddle style as the bow saws through The Glen Road To Carrick - then a more delicate approach for her catchy composition The Devil's Ladder. The Blue Horse is a clear highlight for me, a set of jigs starting with one which has many names but I know best as The Swedish Jig, followed by The Sail-Maker's Wife which Garry Walsh introduced me to, and finally a muneira learnt at the knee of Galician gaita giant Carlos Nunez. Lonesome Eyes is the first of three slow airs here, a beautiful melody by the late great Jerry Holland into which Niamh pours all the poignancy of her fiddle. Eithne's is another Ni Charra composition, bittersweet and haunting, followed by Niamh's light airy jig The Fairy Step. One final air comes from the heart of the Munster tradition, Bruach na Carraige Baine, wonderfully articulated on concertina. A glorious set of hornpipes, some splendid jigs and polkas, and a pair of big Scottish and Canadian tunes complete the instrumental offering.
A fluent Irish speaker, Niamh delivers two songs in Irish and one in English here. I know Niamh was reluctant to add vocals to her live performances, but the three examples on this recording are a credit to her. Paddy's Lamentation is taken slow, mournful and low: no dramatics, just a simple honest delivery, with a complimentary in the middle. Niamh tears into the comic ditty Cailleach an Airgid with gusto, and backs this up with a fine fiddle version of the well known jig, while the lovesong Se Fath Mo Bhurta is handled gently and features a sparkling accompaniment on zither by Niamh's father.
This all adds up to a very impressive CD, Happy Out could well be one of the best albums of 2010, so don't miss it: www.niamhnicharra.com will give you more information on Niamh's recordings and live gigs. Alex Monaghan
Earle Hitchner's Top 30 of 2010 in The Irish Echo, Ceol column.
"Sugach Samh" by Niamh Ni Charra (self-issued): Residing in Drumcondra, this talented fiddler and concertinist, able singer, and budding composer displays her mettle once more.
German audiences will be delighted to see Niamh Ní Charra of Riverdance and Carlos Nunez Band fame in October and November 2010 when the Irish Folk Festival (IFF) comes to town once again (FW#42) - after her stint with the 2008 festival tour (#38). She will bring along her brand-new, second solo album "Súgach Sámh - Happy Out".
This album kicks off in a rather bizarre fashion with "The Limerick Redowa", which is a 19th century waltz-like dance from the continent (you can hear that clearly), immediately followed by three sildes: "Going for Water" (apparently not the same as the better known "Going to the Well for Water", e.g. see the recording of Tim O'Shea -> #31), "Oakum" is based on the Gaelic song "Oakum A' Phriosuin", and eventually "Strawberry Tree" is one of Niamh's own compositions. Niamh plays both concertina and fiddle; there is Donogh Hennessy and Trevor Hutchinson of Lunasa fame (#37) on guitar and double bass, respectively, and Robbie Harris on bongos and shakers. Track #2 starts with the hop jig "Top It Off", again the pace is rather gentle, before launching into some fiery fiddle reels, the traditional and popular "Glen Road to Carrick" and "McFadden's Handsome Daughter" and Niamh's own "Devil's Ladder".
Now all ingredients of "Súgach Sámh" are together. Well, almost. Whereas Niamh's debut album "Ón Dá Thaobh - From Both Sides" (#33) was instrumental only (besides one piece sung by Brendan Begley), she recently took to singing. The story goes that she rather had to be forced into recording a song for the 2008 IFF sampler (#37). Her singing has improved and matured since that debut. Niamh is no Dolores Keane, but the girlish rendition of the emigration song "Paddy's Lamentation" (which has been often recorded, including Andy M. Stewart for the 10th IFF tour in 1991) has a charm of its own. A stark contrast to the warning cry better stay at home instead of being slaughtered in the American Civil War. By the way, Tony O'Flaherty is on piano here. This is the only song in English, later on Niamh sings the Gaelic "Cailleach an Airgid", which in English means "Hag with the Money", and is played as a jig under this title (e.g. by Mat Walklate who is joining Niamh on this year's IFF tour -> #41). You can watch a nice video of the song on Youtube.
The second Gaelic song is "'Se Fath mo Bhuartha" (The Reason for My Sorrow) with Niamh on vocals and violas and her father Eoin on the zither. This horizontal wire-strung lap harp of Third Man fame (#40) is not very typical for Irish music, though it is actually played quite similar as the harp and indeed matches the sound of the originally wire-strung harp. Here it comes full circle, because Niamh's uncle Pádraig Ó Carra (zither) played with Maire Ní Chathasaigh (harp -> #37), Maírtín O'Connor (accordion -> #39) and Ide Ní Fhaolain (fiddle) at the 2nd Irish Folk Festival in 1975, the group's name being Comhluadar.
What more should be mentioned? Perhaps the "Muineira de Pontesampaio", a Galician tune type similar to the jig, learned from Carlos Nunez of course. "Lonesome Eyes" is a slow air from the late Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland; Manus McGuire plays second fiddle here and Denis Carey piano (#40). The recording of the "Knocknaboul" polkas with guitarist Mike Galvin has already been featured on the 2008 IFF sampler (#37); three polkas from the Sliabh Luachra area close to Niamh's hometown of Killarney (#42).
Niamh Ní Charra seems almost permanently on the road these days, so she will probably hit a town nearby. Seek her out, you won't regret it. Walkin' T:-)M
Irish Music Magazine.
An intriguing title - Sugach Samh in Irish - for this outstanding Kerry musician's second CD. Her debut followed stardom with Riverdance, and album number two has taken time out of her touring schedule with the Carlos Nunez band. Niamh plays fiddle and concertina, and sings in English and Irish - a new departure for her. She also presents four new compositions here, so she's been a busy bee since her previous release, and I have to say she's looking well on it. Niamh is joined by Robbie Harris on the auld skin drum, and by the original Lunasa rhythm section, as well as a handful of one-track ponies.
The ten tracks of tunes here are evenly split between fiddle and concertina, with two technomagic duet tracks.There's a Kerry influence in the inclusion of slides and polkas, but Niamh's tastes are eclectic. She starts with The Limerick Redowa (a Czech dance similar to a mazurka), turned with the brilliant Oakum's and Niamh's own lilting Strawberry Tree Slide.The gentle old slip jig Top It Off leads into a pair of familiar fiery reels - almost an American fiddle style as the bow saws through The Clen Road to Carrick -then a more delicate approach for her catchy composition The Devil's Ladder. The Blue Horse is a clear highlight for me, a set of jigs starting with one which has many names but I know best as The Swedish fig, followed by The Sail-Maker's Wife which Garry Walsh introduced me to, and finally a muheira learnt from that Napoleon of the Galician gaita, Carlos Nunez. Lonesome Eyes is the first of three slow airs here, a beautiful melody by the late Jerry Holland into which Niamh pours all the poignancy of her fiddle. Eithne's is another Nf Charra composition, bittersweet and haunting, followed by her light airy jig The Fairy Step. The final air comes from the heart of the Munster tradition, Bruach na Carraige Baine, wonderfully articulated on concertina. A glorious set of hornpipes, some splendid jigs and pokas, and a pair of big Scottish and Canadian tunes complete the instrumental offering.
A fluent Irish speaker, Niamh delivers two songs in Irish and one in English on this recording. I know Niamh was hesitant to add vocals to her performances, but the three examples here are a credit to her. Paddy's Lamentation is taken slow, mournful and low: no dramatics, just an honest delivery. Niamh provides her own concertina break in the middle. Cailleach an Airgid and Se Fat/7 Mo Bhuartha are sung in a light clear voice: Niamh tears into the comic ditty with gusto, and backs this up with a fine fiddle version, while the lovesong is handled gently and features a sparkling accompaniment on zither by Niamh's father. It all adds up to a very impressive CD.
Happy Out could well be one of the best albums of 2010, so don't miss it: www.niamhnicharra.com will give you more information on Niamh's recordings and live gigs. Alex Monaghan