MORNING MIST (THE BIRDS) (Pearse McGloughlin)
Written by the incredible Irish songwriter Pearse McGloughlin. I first heard him sing it totally unplugged in a session in the International in Dublin in 2011 and it floored me. The progression into the “Come on brother no we’re not going to go” section made me really stop and notice, drawn in, and when it came to the big singalong I was just blown away. It never ever left me, from then on I swore to cover it one day and it took a while!
I recorded my oven timer (yes) onto my eight track cassette recorder and slowed the tape machine down til the oven timer was ticking at the speed I wanted the song. Fuzzed it up and recorded it onto four track and had a funky click track that also stayed in the final mix.
Recorded my parts entirely on four track, dumped them onto computer and added other guest instruments using remote recordings. This would not have worked unless the other musicians were absolute legends with incredible technical ability who could conjure up perfect parts just like that.
To that end, I’m so thankful to..
Ian McTigue – drums
Mick Morris – bass
Jayne Pomplas – violin
Gilbert Hadden – cello
Played on FM national and local/independant radio stations and online portals in Ireland and in territories all across the world, from Australia to the US, from Germany to Israel, from Iceland to Italy, RTE, BBC – thank you so much Laura Mulcahy and NoPR
THE GALWAY SHAWL (traditional, arranged by RJH)
I came to my own version of this classic Irish ballad in 2015. The song and the melody cut deep into my heart and I really fell for it. I recorded the core basis of this track then, all in one evening on four-track cassette, when the song was new to me. Over the next few years I kept it in the back of my head, along with other four-track recordings, as one to finish ‘one of these days’. When I set about putting AND WE FOR ONE ANOTHER together in 2022, finishing this track and making it actually sound the way it sounded in my head was a key move.
I’m glad it turned out the way I hoped it would (eventually….). It means a lot to me.
AKA THE PORT OF LARNE
I have a long history of playing in the fine Antrim port town of Larne since I met the bould Murray McDowell (demon on button accordion and Telecaster) in 2007 and he brought the Band Of Moonlight Love up to play his Larne Folk & Blues Festival. I met many (surprisingly many) wonderful musicians and friends and began a long and slightly unlikely love affair with Larne which has seen me play there dozens of times, and also compose this piece as a tribute. Fun fact – I once performed an unplugged version of this tune at the unveiling of a sculpture in Larne Harbour. For this performance I earned £100 and the wrath and disgust of Jim Allister, which was better payment than any sum of money.
This recording began with the electric guitars and e-bows, the core of the track, recorded over the course of a November night in 2014 in my old flat in Portobello, Dublin 8, on four-track cassette portastudio.
In 2021 I revisited the recording and pieced together a tapestry of accompanying rhythms, harmonies and additional sounds both found and created. Ian McTigue‘s drums and bodhrán pulled my hazey shoegazey Durutti-Column-plays-trad Jazzmaster blur into sharp focus. The first crack of the snare is deliberately mixed That Bit Too Loud. The tune is written about Larne, so (with respect and also irreverance) I wanted you to wonder whether it was a noise from the docks or a gunshot.
THE KEACH IN THE CREEL (traditional, arranged by RJH)
A Fife frolic! The second song attempted on four-track (after The Magpie’s Nest). I used a cheap mic I bought in a flea market in Copenhagen for the ‘female’ vocal (the mother) in the ‘duet’ of the story-telling… When I finished the song and added to the basic tracks in 2021 it became clear that the only thing that would really set the seal on the story was recorder. Not a cassette recorder, the wind instrument beloved of teachers of tots. I searched, asked around and struck extremely lucky and I’m indebted to the recorder playing talents of Amanda Younge (Dublin) and Dorothea Bergmann (Norfolk) for adding the perfect lines and harmonies and a sprinkling of nostalgic childhood magic.
Lead guitar twang was cut on my ’52 reissue 2005 Fender Telecaster, first take, plonk.
Indebted to Gerry and Eoin Power of Powersound, Arklow, Co Wicklow for strings, cables, things to hit and invaluable ideas and inspiration. (Eoin when I said I had no drums, only a stompbox for kick – “JJ Cale recorded a whole album with just kick and rimshot” – cue Gerry, conjuring an old unused snare seemingly out of thin air, “you want a lend of this?” – BOOM!)
Two original compositions, stuck together with a wee bit of musical superglue I’ve always called “The Greenlaw Step”.
Ian McTigue‘s bodhrán tells an important part of the story here. He and I have played these tunes together since 2011 so he was able to record his part (playing along to a recording of my guitar in his headphones) in free time between teaching drum lessons in a secondary school in Blanchardstown, Dublin. The last thing you hear at the end as the track fades is Ian hitting a cymbal and welcoming in his next student who has just walked into the classroom.
Concertina was played by Clare Faherty of Portarlington Co Laois, a great musician and great pal, my go-to concertina player for the last five years!
On fiddle, the irrepressible Cian Loughnane, nephew of the late and sorely missed Seamus Begley, an incredible talent whose fiddle playing is matched by his guitar and singing skills. I honed my versions of School Days Over and McAlpine’s Fusiliers not by absorbing Luke and Ronnies’ classics like so many others, but from hearing Cian sing them, accompanying himself flawlessly on guitar in after-show sessions on tour after tour of the US with the band Gael Slí (in which he played fiddle and I played guitar!)
The acoustic guitar part which I play was originally recorded by Liam Mulvaney as part of the ‘Live From Kilmichael’ sessions we cut in my house in late 2020. It didn’t make the live-at-home lockdown album but a year later I took the recording of the guitar, played it into the trusty four-track from my phone and used that recording as the start for the track you hear now.
HECTOR THE HERO (traditional, arranged by RJH)
A sombre, sad but beautiful traditional Scots air written as a lament for Major General Hector MacDonald, a distinguished Scottish officer. He committed suicide in 1903, and there was an outpouring of grief among the Scottish people, including poems and songs. His suicide came about after he was effectively ‘outed’, homosexuality being far beyond the pale in the Edwardian British military.
I don’t want to sound pompous or up myself, but I just always found that the song was recorded as an achingly, mournfully sad but very pretty lament, or some attempt at Celtic rock. Nothing seemed, to me, to capture the anger and despair and tragedy and utter bleakness that a man of that strength must have felt to bring him down so far. I’m certainly not saying for one second I genuinely succeeded, but I tried!
SONG FOR THE 12TH OF JULY (AND WE FOR ONE ANOTHER) (traditional, arranged by RJH)
Staying deep in history, the lyric was written by a Presbyterian cabinet maker from Westmeath called John Frazer in the early 19th century. I heard this song perfomed live by the late and sorely missed Seán Tyrrell and the lyrics moved me to tears because of their profound and deeply heartfelt language and Frazer’s understanding of both sides of the line.
Soooo….I recorded the vocal and cuatro on a Zoom R8 with a dose of laryngitis, between Temple Bar gigs, while I still lived in Portobello. Once again it fell by the wayside for a while when I moved out of Dublin and gradually re-settled myself in Kilmichael but when I started this album it was a must for a spit and polish job. The four-track didn’t seem to feel right but I had just gotten hold of a second hand 1995 TASCAM 488 MkII eight-track cassette recorder, a much sweeter, more gentle and focussed machine. It was the perfect foil for my muse for this song.
FARE THEE WELL ENNISKILLEN (traditional, arranged by RJH)
One of my all-time favourite Irish songs. I love this song because it is, and always has been, sung by both sides of the sectarian ‘divide’ in Ireland. It is a truly Irish song, in that it is not owned by any one faction on the island but sung by all.
Liam Mulvaney originally recorded me performing the guitar and vocal as part of the ‘Live From Kilmichael’ sessions. As with The Compatriot’s Set, it sat on the mantle for a while, but Fare Thee Well Enniskillen was the first song where I successfully managed to combine material recorded on digital format with music recorded on analogue four-track cassette and manipulate them both together to make something fresh new and unheard in folk/trad.
Wrote the guts of this tune on a backyard porch in Omaha, Nebraska, back in 2014. Messed around with it for years and recorded a version on four track in 2016. It was all over the place but it had a manic disjointed slightly epic vibe that told the tale I wanted to tell.
MASSIVE kudos again to Ian McTigue for his genius bodhrán playing which miraculously brought all my scruffy rhythms into line without requiring days of digital editing. He made the track three dimensional.
Is ‘PLAINS’ backwards…and so is the basic track! Added kick, bass and snare to send it hurtling down a 1980s Top Of The Pops TV theme rabbit hole.
THE MAGPIE’S NEST (traditional, arranged by RJH)
This recording is the beginning of the 4 track adventure for me. The first thing I recorded after I got hold of my beloved TASCAM Porta02 in late 2014. All done simply, microphone and instruments plugged straight into the portastudio. I had to stand side-on to the mic for the whistling in the outro to stop wheezy, poppy side noises from my mouth. Naked simplicity but it hangs well.
I re-recorded this two years later in a pro studio with Ailbhe Nolan on concertina as the title track of our duo album. Although that version is vastly superior technically and benefits so much from Ailbhe’s playing, I couldn’t manage to recapture the feeling of this one, especially the ukulele outro..