with Sean Casey, Tommy McCarthy, Paddy Breen
and Andy O'Boyle
Farewell to Milltown:
- Pol Ha'penny / Scully Casey's. HORNPIPES
- Colonel Frazer / Toss the Feathers. REELS
- Banish Misfortune / Kitty's Rambles. JIGS
- Jenny's Welcome to Charlie/My Love is in America. REELS
- Untitled. SINGLE JIG
- The Salamanca /The Greens Groves of Erin. REELS
- The Gallowglass / The Legacy. JIGS with Tommy McCarthy, concertina
- The Liffey Banks /The Shaskeen /The Boys of Ballisadare /The Woman of the House/ Tansey's Favourite /The Graf Spee / Ballinasloe Fair REELS
- The Dear Irish Boy. SLOW AIR
- Kitty's Gone A-milking. REEL with Andy O'Boyle, fddle, and Paddy Breen, flageolet
- Untitled / Mrs. Kenny. WALTZES
- Farewell to Miltown /The Star of Munster. REELS with Sean Casey, mandolin
- Unidentified /The Mist on the Meadow /The Wandering Minstrel /Paddy Clancy's. JIGS
- The Ace and Deuce of Pipering / Rodney's Glory. SET DANCES
- Bonny Kate. Reel
- The Laurel Tree. REEL tin whistle
- The Gold Ring / The Legacy. JIGS
- Eileen Curren/The Star of Munster/The Moving Bogs / Rolling in the Barrell/
- The Moving Bogs. REELS
Recorded in Camden Town, London,
by Bill Leader & Reg Hall on 9th November 1966 (tracks 1,2.3,5,8,9.13.178,18)
& !9 April 1967 (track 10) & by Bill Leader in 1971 (tracks 4,6,7,11.12.148,16).
Produced by Dermot Kearney & Reg Hall.
Click on underscored titles to hear MP3 sound samples.
West Clare is a place of natural beauty with a magic all its own. Though it is now a very popular tourist destination, it is still possible to be completely alone there. Even on the warmest day in summer, just wander a mile off the beaten track and you will be all by yourself. The views, the sounds and the smells are all yours. Wherever I hear Clare music I am instantly transported back. As a young man I spent lots of time in Clare listening to the old musicians. Too numerous to mention all by name, but the Russells of Doolin, Paddy Killoury and Junior Crehan spring immediately to mind.
The music of Bobby Casey takes me instantly to that place. I can be in The Burren looking over the Atlantic Ocean towards the Aran Islands, or standing on the Cliffs of Moher hearing the seagulls shriek or drinking a pint of porter in Miltown Malbay, despite the fact that I am many miles away, maybe even on a foreign shore. The fiddle playing of Bobby Casey does that to me. DERMOT KEARNEY, SEPTEMBER 2007.
"I knew Bobby Casey primarily as a pub musician in London, and, although his lonesome fiddle playing reeked of rural Ireland, it was equally the voice of the Irish working men who settled in great numbers in north London. Born into a rich tradition of music-making and country-house dancing at the Crosses of Annagh in Co. Clare in 1926, he is reputed to have had all his fathers tunes by his early teens, and throughout his life he retained the
style he had inherited from his youth. He continued to learn all the current tunes as they came out, and, as can be seen from these recordings,
he transposed even Coleman and Killoran material into his own method of playing. In the early 1950s, he regularly partnered his townie, the piper
Willie Clancy, and the Galway fiddle player Martin Byrnes in the Laurel Tree in CamdenTown, and he maintained long-term musical friendships with Andy Boyle from Co. Mayo and Claremen Paddy Breen and Tommy McCarthy. In fact he knew all the West of Ireland musicians of his generation in town and had played in just about every Irish music venue in Greater London. The odd parish concert, the occasional broadcast on Radio Eireann and a few Fleadh Ceoil successes put his name about a bit, but his real forte was playing his heart out for his fiends in some quiet back-street pub in Kentish Town for little fame and no fortune. He is for many of us one of the greatest artists Ireland has produced". REG HALL, OCTOBER 2007.
Press ReviewsEnglish Dance & Song Mag
"The technique at work here is breathtaking, but this is traditional music that moves the heart and mind in equal measure".
Bobby Casey, who died in 2000, was one of the leading lights of the generation of Irish traditional musicians who arrived in London in the years after the Second World War. This CD is a collection of recordings made by Reg Hall between 1966 and 1971, and both the technical and musical quality is nothing short of outstanding.
Bobby Casey's style was highly ornamented and flamboyant, relying on ornamentation and expression rather than speed. His playing was highly individual and multi-faceted, with a very rich combination of drive, rhythm and precision. The technique at work here is breathtaking, but this is traditional music that moves the heart and mind in equal measure.
Many of the tunes have since become well-known through the later recordings of younger artists, but there's no denying the thrill of hearing recordings of tunes that are now so familiar, from the man who would have been the source for many younger musicians — especially as these performances are every bit the equal of any later versions and, for the most part, their superior.
My own favourites include the epic set of reels starting with 'The Liffey Banks', where Bobby's playing really takes flight — the set is over eight minutes long but it goes by in a flash. The set dances, 'The Ace and Deuce of Pipering/Rodney's Glory' give him plenty of opportunity to display his talent for ornamentation but never to the detriment of the tune. However, there is so much great music on this collection that something new jumps out every time I play it (and right now I'm playing it a lot).
These recordings were made over a period of some years and a few tunes appear twice, like 'The Star of Munster' and 'The Legacy'. It's notable, however, that you can't tell which are the earlier or later recordings — this is a player at the height of his powers and the consistency of performances is very striking.
Collections of music of this quality from this period don't come out very often: for those of us who came to traditional music as kids in the 1960s and 70s, it's a reminder of why we did so in the first place. For musicians who've come to traditional music since then, through the music of artists such as The Bothy Band, Lunasa and Martin Hayes, this is an eye-opener: music from the source (or as close as you're likely to hear).
Either way, this is an essential purchase and I can't recommend it too highly. All credit to Reg Hall and Dermot Kearney for bringing this collection together and to Alan O'Leary and Copperplate for making it available. Chris Boland
The Folk Diary
In the 1970s I booked the Clare piper and concertina player, Tommy McCarthy and his three young daughters to play at a folk club in Lewes; they were excellent but the revelation of the evening was the magnificent fiddle playing of the older chap that they brought with them. This was Bobby Casey.
The same feeling engendered by that evening is brought by the mesmerising playing on this album. Bobby is a truly rounded player, excelling on all aspects of the repertoire from a very moving slow air, The Dear Irish Boy, to some exciting driving reels. As well as being a supreme solo player, he shows himself to be an alert and responsive ensemble musician on the tracks that he shares variously with Tommy McCarthy, Paddy Breen, Andy O'Boyle and his own son, Sean. This album, reassembled from tracks recorded by Reg Hall and Bill Leader from 1967 to 1971 is surely destined to become one of the all-time classics of Irish traditional music. Vic Smith
West Clare fiddler Bobby, who died a little over seven years ago, was an undisputed doyen of, and a major influence on, the London Irish traditional music scene in the 50s and 60s. He made some recordings for Bill Leader and Reg Hall in the mid-to-late 1960s, including the sterling examples of his playing which appeared on Topic Records' landmark collection Paddy in the Smoke; the hour's worth of tapes comprising this new release were recorded both at around the same time (1966/67) and slightly later (1971).
The phrase Banish Misfortune (being the title of that wellknown jig of course) could easily and rightly be used as an epithet for Bobby's playing. Yet it's also probably atypical of the West Clare style, in that it's characterised by both a sweeping flamboyance and a relatively heavy level of ornamentation (albeit still exhibiting a degree of fluidity). It also carries traces of the Sligo style and the Irish-American Michael Coleman records to which he was exposed, but Bobby's biggest inspiration was arguably Junior Crehan.
What impresses me most on the recordings collected here, though, is the sheer weight of tone Bobby achieves from his fiddle for much of the time, a richly layered sound that often almost makes you think he's been doubletracked!
Bobby's sense of conveying the tune's essence is unerring: unhurried but still unbridled. Just listen to the slyly sliding swing on the final Moving Bogs reel-set, for instance.
A very small handful of the disc's 18 tracks feature other musicians in tandem: there's a particularly invigorating set of jigs (track 7) with Tommy McCarthy on concertina. But I never tire of Bobby's constantly inventive fiddling (and his tin whistle playing is pretty nifty too - he also gives us a brief reel on that instrument, The Laurel Tree). This is a happy celebration of Bobby's talent indeed. David Kidman
The Irish Democrat
THIS IS some of the finest and most authentic traditional Irish fiddle-playing that you could hear anywhere. It is re-mastered from recordings made in Camden Town, London in 1966-71 by Reg Hall and Bill Leader - both of whom certainly know their subject.
Bill Leader has made a great contribution as a recorder of folk music of these islands. Reg Hall, though an Englishman, used to be well-known in the London Irish scene in the 1960s and 70s as a musician, as well as being active in the English folk music revival of that period (when he had a lot of influence on this writer).
I remember him playing piano at The Favourite in Hornsey Rise, one of the best Irish music scenes in London at that time, accompanying some of the finest Irish musicians with his own unobtrusive, supportive style.
He also played melodeon in The Rakes, often with Geordie singer Bob Davenport at The Fox in Islington, linking up the Irish and English musical traditions and introducing London's Irish and English communities to each other on a cultural level.
Bobby Casey was part of that thriving Irish music scene in London and I often heard him (and even played with him) in pubs where the Irish community gathered at weekends.
Most of the tracks are solo fiddle, but in some he is joined by Tommy McCarthy on concertina. (McCarthy was another stalwart of that London scene, with his numerous children whom he taught himself, although they all played different instruments). On others Bobby is joined by Sean Casey on mandolin and Paddy Breen on tin whistle.
On one track Bobby plays the reel The Laurel Tree on solo tin whistle and on another his fiddle playing is joined by Andy O'Boyle on fiddle and Paddy Breen on tin whistle.
There are many reels and jigs, two hornpipes, two set dances, two waltzes and one slow air (The Dear Irish Boy, beautifully played), though for my own taste I would have preferred to hear an even greater spread of rhythms (set dances, polkas, slides, slip-jigs and more slow airs) at the expense of fewer reels.
The skill and the personal and regional style of a fiddle player are expressed in the bowing, and Bobby Casey is a master of it. This is a wonderful recording and I'm delighted that this great exponent of the old West Clare style has been captured for all time on CD. Ken Keable
The Irish Post 21.3.08
Irish fiddler Bobby Casey's music on CD
ONE of the greats of Irish fiddle playing, Bobby Casey was born at the Crosses of Armagh near Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare. His father John 'Scully' Casey, who died when Bobby was a teenager, was a well-known fiddler as well as being a flute and concertina player. Scully gave lessons to Junior Crehan, as did Scully's cousin, the noted dance master Thady Casey Bobby in turn learned much of his playing from Junior Crehan and the two remained lifelong friends.
He moved to London in 1952 and was a regular at the Sunday morning sessions in the Favourite and Bedford Arms pubs which became rallying points for Irish musicians and rural emigrants in the '60s.
In 1959, Ita Crehan helped him record Casey In The Cowhouse, literally recorded in an old cowhouse and which, along with four other tracks, are now available on tape.
"A musician's musician," is how Muiris 0 Rochain of the Willie Clancy Summer School described him.
He had an easygoing and likeable personality His style was described as gentle "with an exceptional flair for variation". With Seamus Ennis, he performed at the first Willie Clancy Summer School in 1973 and returned frequently to Miltown Malbay to give classes.
In later years he moved from London to live in Northampton. Bobby died in 2000 and is buried in his native Clare. Dermot Kearney said:"Wherever I hear Clare music I am instantly transported back. The music of Bobby Casey takes me instantly to that place. I can be in The Burren looking over the Atlantic Ocean towards the Aran Islands or standing on the Cliffs of Moher hearing the seagulls shriek or drinking a pint of porter in Milltown Malbay, despite the fact that I am many miles away, maybe even on a foreign shore.
"The fiddle playing of Bobby Casey does that to me." Always associated with West Clare, the music of Bobby Casey brings to mind the sights, the sounds and smells of Clare.
Bobby Casey is the most influential and inspirational fiddler of his generation and at long last his music is now available on CD.
Hopefully the listener will get an idea of the nature and humour of Bobby and will have your heart warmed by his music. Musicologist and collector Dr Reg Hall, who was at the original sessions, has produced this 18 track CD, lovingly restored and remastered for the 20th century. Initially recorded in Camden Town, London by Bill Leader and Reg Hall in 1966, it was produced by Dermot Kearney and Reg Hall. Joe Mullarkey.