Séamus Begley and Oisín Mac Diarmada's New Album

Séamus Begley and Oisín Mac Diarmada's New Album

The Journal of Music talks to Oisín Mac Diarmada of Téada about recording Le Chéile with Séamus Begley.

A set of slides, a set of polkas, a set of hornpipes, three sets of reels, two sets of jigs and four songs make up Le Chéile, a new duo album from Oisín Mac Diarmada of Téada, and Séamus Begley.

This album came out of the Irish Christmas in America tours that Mac Diarmada and Begley have done together, explains Mac Diarmada talking The Journal of Music. ‘Being on tour with Séamus is such a great experience, both on and off stage. He brings a lot of joy to performing and travelling, which makes you wish tours would never quite end. Séamus’s spontaneous approach to music is very refreshing, never taking things too seriously but ultimately possessing a great passion for the tunes and songs he performs.’

‘Making the album, which was mainly recorded over a weekend in Donogh Hennessy’s studio in Dingle, was interesting for both of us given the stylistic differences in our playing. Séamus has obviously recorded a number of fantastic albums previously with guitar accompaniment, so making a totally unaccompanied album with fiddle was a new direction for him. From my own perspective, Séamus’s unique rhythmic pulse was a fascinating adventure for me. Even in terms of repertoire, there was a journey for both of us, with Séamus exploring more reels for instance than he has recorded on previous albums, while I dipped my toes into the wonderful world of Kerry slides and polkas.’

‘Quite a number of the tunes which Séamus chose for the album come from Finbarr Dwyer, the legendary accordion player whose reworking of familiar tunes has been a source of fascination for many accordion players, not least Séamus. Séamus always carries around a small MP3 player and inevitably is always listening to a recording of Finbarr. On many a drive in the US, Séamus has often excitedly handed me his earphones to listen to another great variation from “the Master”. Finbarr’s present ill-health, which means he cannot play the accordion any longer, is a source of much sadness for Séamus.’

‘In terms of song material, all are songs that Séamus has not previously recorded. The stirring version of the 1798-themed ‘An tSeanbhean Bhocht’ is a real highpoint for me. The only guest on the album is Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich, Séamus’s daughter, who sings backing vocals on some of the songs.’

The tracks are as follows:

1. Slides: The Scartaglen / Trasna na dTonnta
2. Reels: Richard Dwyer’s / The Hunter’s House
3. Song: An tSeanbhean Bhocht
4. Jigs: The Boys of Tandragee / The Eavesdropper / Finbarr Dwyer’s  
5. Song: Bánchnoic Éireann Ó
6. Reels: King of the Clans / The Woman of the House  
7. Song: Eibhlín a Rún
8. Jigs: Currants for Cakes and Raisins for Everything / My Wife’s a Wanton Wee Thing
9. Reels: Over the Moor to Peggy / The Dogs Among the Bushes
10. Song: Banks of the Bann
11. Hornpipes: West the Hill / The Druid’s Field  
12. Polkas: Connie Fleming’s / The Ballinahulla

You can catch them next at Bewley’s Café Theatre on Grafton Street on 15 May.


Published on 6 March 2012

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