John Vesey
Sligo Fiddler

Guest Musicians:
Tom Standeven piano/uilleann pipes,
Eddie Cahill/Peter Fahy/Michael McIntyre Flutes
Martin Wynne fiddle


New Road
Track listing

1. Bonnie Kate/Killoran's Reel
2. Scotsman Over the Border/The Tenpenny Bit
3. McFadden's/Music in the Glen
4. The Morning Dew/The Lady of the House
5. Apples in Winter/The Ash Plant
6. The Sligo Reel/The London Lasses
7. The Harvest Home/The Derry Hp
8. Maids of Mount Kisco/An Sgeach
9. The King of the Fairies
10. The Gold Ring/Tobin's Favourite
11. Apples in Winter/The Templehouse
12. O'Beirne's Hp/Tommy Hill's
13. The Pigeon on the Gate/Miss Monaghan
14. Roaring Mary/The Gatehouse Maid
15. Finley's Fancy/The London Lasses
16. The Miller of Glenmire/The Joy of My Life
17. The Mountain Top/Tom Ward's Donwfall
18. The Copperplate
19. An Sgeach/The Fermoy Lasses
20. Lord Gordon's Reel
21. The Kid on the Mountain

CD 2.
1. Bunker Hill/Rakish Paddy/The Wheels of the World
2. The Earl's Chair/The Swallow's Tail
3. Dinny O'Brien's/Farewell to Connaught
4. The Humours of Lissadell/Sweeney's Dream
5. Doctor Gilbert/The Queen of May
6. The Jolly Tinker/The Pretty Girls of Mayo
7. The Geese in the Bog
8. Jennie's Welcome to Charlie
9. The Concert Reel/The Windy Gap
10. The Lads of Laois/Martin Wynne's Reel
11. The Clare Reel/The London Lasses
12. Maid of Mount Kisco/The Bush
13. The  Dash to Portobello
14. The Lasses of Carracastle
15. Old Man Dillon/The Butcher's March
16. The Tailor's Thimble/The Red Haired Lass
17. St Patrick's Day in the Morning
18. March: O'Sullivan Mor
19. The Ballyoran Hornpipe
20. Tom Ward's Downfall/The Boys of Ballisodare
21. Down the Broom/The Gatehouse Maid
22. Slow Air: An Raibh Tú ag an gCarraig

Click on underscored titles to hear MP3 sound samples



We are delighted to announce our release of this fine double CD set:


John Vesey

Sligo Fiddler

Guest Musicians:
Tom Standeven piano/uilleann pipes,
Eddie Cahill/Peter Fahy/Michael McIntyre Flutes
Martin Wynne fiddle

John Vesey Sligo Fiddler
This collection honours one of the finest Irish fiddlers of our time. Most are solos by John Vesey.
The remainder feature John and his musical friends, including solos by two of them. Without doubt, this recording of the work of a master fiddler is long overdue.
Since I spent many years with him, both as a student and later as a partner in music, my friends encouraged me to make his best music heard once more. Therefore, with the support and encouragement of the Vesey family, the families of the other players heard here, and my good friends in music, I offer you this recording of Irish traditional music as played by the John Vesey I knew.Thomas L.Standeven Jr

 
 

                                                                      Press Reviews

Dirty Linen Reviews. 01/01
Here are three for fanciers of fine fiddling. Two feature players with strong regional styles, while the third is by a contemporary whose influences are mixed – but all are uncompromising and dedicated musicians capable of reaching great heights.
Die hards will know Vesey from an early Shachie record. As the title of the 2 CD set  to him indicates, Vesey was a native of County Sligo and proponent of the grand tradition defined by Michael Coleman, James Morrison and Paddy Killoran, whose early records were being made when John was a boy in the 1920’s.
Vesey immigrated to Philadelphia after WW2, and the recordings on this set were privately made between 1954 and 1974, except for a final air recorded by uilleann piper Tom Standeven in 95. Various other accomplished musicians make appearances, but the primary ingredients are Vesey’s fiddle and Standeven’s piano. An important record by an influential figure.
In fact, all three of these releases are graced with superb liner notes, and all should be eagerly sought by lovers of Irish Music.Duck Baker.

Irish Music Magazine
A superb album of the late John Vesey, recorded in Philadelphia between 1954 and 75. mainly in kitchens and in houses, this is not a studio album, but is nonetheless one of the best archive recordings of the year. Sean Laffey

fROOTS July 2001
Thank goodness, for that small battalion of people who get off their arses and actually do something, then just as importantly hang on to what they did. This is the case with Thomas Standeven of Philadelphia who gathered together tapes dating back nearly half a century, of an extraordinary fine fiddler, John Vesey, putting them together on a truly excellent double CD that is outstanding in value and musical interest.

John Vesey, alas, is dead and gone now for some six years or so. He was born in 1924, near Tubbercurry, County Sligo, a time and place of one of the very high points in the history of fiddling. Although a backwater in every other respect, this wild, rough, mountainous place had as big an influence on traditional music in the 20th century as Perthshire and Aberdeenshire did in the late 18th century, and on the birth of traditional fiddling as we know it. Why? Possibly because there wasn’t much else to do. From this area came a phenomenal amount of talent among which the name of Michael Coleman stands out. John Vesey was a generation later than Coleman but the same factors led to a similar lifestyle – small Irish country town, little work other than poorly paid farming and the appeal of the bright lights of England and brighter still – America. So John Vesey took the boat west, settling in Philadelphia after a spell in England.

His fiddling skills were soon recognised as he honed them at dances, on radio and even TV. Irish music was popular in America in those days after World War II (Coleman died in America in 1945), though it was considered old fashioned in Ireland – “bogman’s music”.
John Vesey was aware of this, but considered the finer points of fiddling to be one of the high arts. His reputation as a fiddler and a teacher grew and he made an album (The First Month of Spring, Shanachie) with Paul Brady accompanying him on guitar in 1977.

Listening to this double album, with it’s many outtakes from Station WTEL, Philadelphia, in the 50’s, the sound is amazingly good and it is interesting to compare the style and the speed of the playing with the two other Sligo fiddlers, Michael Coleman and Michael Gorman. Because of the popularity of Coleman and his 78’s in the 1920’s and 30’s, it was mainly his style which dominated, and often still does, but the spinning discs may have been projected at a faster speed than they were originally played. Mick Gorman (died 1970) who featured on many LPs, often with Margaret Barry, played a slower, equally decorated style to Coleman and this is for me the truer Sligo style as I remember it. JohnVesey learned from Gorman and it shows in the rich trebled bows and tumbling rolls. His variations and offshoots from the melody are a delight to hear and this can’t be taught. It’s part of the inventiveness on the theme that special musicians have.

Many of the tunes will be familiar to enthusiasts of Sligo fiddling, particularly the 60 or so reels made in the last century on the 78’ rpms, by Coleman, Paddy Killoran and Tom Morrison. The tunes have that lovely twist that John Vesey employs. That splendid reel, Dr Gilbert is taken easy and slow, the way Gorman used to play it, bringing out its splendid meandering melody.
It is a bonus to have included the flute playing of Eddie Cahill of Charlestown, County Mayo
who lived close to John Vesey in Ireland and America, the great Martin Wynne on fiddle and Tom Standeven on the uilleann pipes – his one solo contribution and his duets with Vesey show what a fine piper he is. (He also did some very informative notes).
This is a splendid contribution to the annals of Irish fiddling and will give much enjoyment to lovers of traditional music. Distributed by Copperplate.   Joe Crane.

Songlines. Spring/Summer 2001
A generation older than the 20th century fountainhead of Irish traditional music, Michael Coleman, fellow Sligo native and US emigrant John Vesey (1924 – 1995) ranked among his most gifted successors. Born in music rich Ballincurry, South Sligo, and taught by the renowned Michael Gorman, Vesey settled in Philadelphia following World War II, swiftly making a name for himself there, and in New York, Boston and Chicago, for his playing at dances, house parties, and on radio and television.
This lovingly compiled double CD was put together by one of his pupils. multi-instrumentalist, Thomas Standeven, mostly from private domestic recordings made between 1957 and 1975, together with a few early radio clips. The majority of the 43 tracks capture Vesey playing solo over Standeven’s simple piano accompaniment, although many feature other duo and trio line-ups drawn from Vesey’s closest musical partners – flautists Eddie Cahill, Michael McIntyre and Peter Fahy, fellow fiddler Martin Wynne, and Standeven again on uilleann pipes and fiddle.
Though all have been digitally remastered, sound quality varies considerably, from downright scratchy fuzziness to impressive clarity. However, there’s no concealing the finesse and sheer joie de vivre of Vesey’s playing, with his strongly bowed drive and lift, characteristic of the Sligo style, his intricate bowed and fingered ornamentation (much of it derived from uilleann piping techniques), and his subtleties of tone and expression.
Extensive sleeve – notes round out and excellent package with ample background, including a transcribed conversation between Vesey and the late Willie Clancy.
Sue Wilson

Traditional Music Maker
John was born in County Sligo in 1924, and was taught fiddle by Michael Gorman. After WW2, he emigrated to the USA where he established a fine reputation in the Philadelphia area and beyond, both as a player and a teacher.
This double CD set is made up recordings by one of his pupils; Thomas Lawrence Standeven, Jr, dating from 1954 to 63 with a few tunes from 74.
John died in 1995.
The opening tracks are from a radio broadcast in 1954, delightfully informal, with the announcer keen to show off his knowledge of the music, “I liked those chromatic slides across all four strings, yes indeed”. Here John is accompanied on piano. Most of the tracks are recorded with Thomas on piano (also once on fiddle and thrice on uilleann pipes) through one features The John Vesey Ceilidhe Band which adds drums and flute to the fiddle/piano combination, and really rocks. Many of the late tracks feature John, Tom and flute player, Ed Cahill.
Much of the material will be familiar to the fans of Irish music, and Tom provides very full sleeve notes on every track pointing out each interesting aspect of John’s style as it occurs. With 44 tracks, most of them being two-tune sets spread over 2 CDs, there is a great deal of fine music to enjoy, and learn from. Inevitably, considering the sources and age of the recordings, they are not of modern quality, but if anything this adds to their appeal.
It is obvious that this project has been a labour of love for Tom Standeven, and he’s made a great job of it. Grahame Hood

The Irish World
This collection has been put together in order to honour one of Ireland’s finest fiddlers. Most of the tracks are solos by the said fiddler, John Vesey. John was born in Sligo and spent his youth among some of the finest traditional musicians in Ireland, at a time when the music was still part of the way of life. John became well-known in New York and other major American cities with his performances at Irish dances and parties as well as broadcasts on TV and radio.
This double CD contains 43 tracks and is a mix of reels, jigs, hornpipes and set dances. It is a comprehensive mix of great Irish traditional music and could be described as a good buy for those of you who are already Irish traditional music fans as well as a good introduction for those of you who have no interest in this field whatsoever!
If the latter is the case, it might be wise to take this release in small doses! Such a large quantity of traditional music could merge into one track on first listen, unless you are relatively into the CD.
Good quality tracks to look out for include The Lasses of Carracastle, The Dash to Portobello and Farewell to Connaught. John is joined on some tracks by other high quality musicians and this only adds to the enjoyment for the listener. A good release in the traditional field.    Maureen O’Donnell.

The Boston Irish Reporter
The story of the late Sligo fiddler John Vesey is a familiar one in the annals of Irish-American musical experience. Born in 1924 in Ballincurry, Co Sligo, Vesey began playing the fiddle at a young age, learning from legendary Sligo fiddler, Michael Gorman. He emigrated following World War 2, settling in the Philadelphia area.
His playing flourished in Philadelphia where his musical leanings folloed other Sligo masters like Michael Coleman and Paddy Killoran while still forging his own individual style. Along the way, he made many musical friends, like fellow Sligomen, Edward Cahill and Martin Wynne, flutist Peter Fahy and Thomas Standeven.
It is Standeven though, one of America's senior uilleann pipers, who is responsible for this wonderful double CD, culled from field recordings of Vesey and his musical partners from 1954 to 75. Most of these recordings were made while these musicians were in their prime, and the 42 tune sets are full of drive and lift indicative of the Sligo style. Although they have been digitally mastered, these are not studio recordings. They offer the listener a glimpse into the real social context of Irish music prior to the recording boom. That, coupled with the extensive liner notes which feature background on all the musicians, tune history and an interview with Willie Clancy in 1962, provides a historically important musical document and some great listening.    Cliff McGann