Breton is a success!
Our most recent CD, Breton, was released on St. Patrick's Day this year. We celebrated with two CD release parties at our two favorite local spots - Dargan's and The James Joyce. Breton's most frequently played song on Spotify is our cover of The Pogues' Love You Till the End, which features Brian Kinsella and Siobhan Doherty. Breton also features tunes by band members Jocelyn Tipple and Russ Doherty.
The band is still humming - we're currently working on new material for the next CD. We haven't decided yet if it will be an entirely new CD or a "best of," but either way it will include a few new tunes and songs.
Recording Next CD, Website Updates
We are currently in the studio working on our next CD, Breton, which should come out on St. Patrick's Day of 2012. We're all very excited about the new CD, which features new songs by Russ Doherty, Jocelyn Tipple, and Siobhan Doherty, as well as a few older songs from The Pogues (Love You Till The End) and the traditional Poor Wayfaring Stranger. We're also trying out new instruments and harmonies that we haven't experimented with before. Also, you may have noticed, but the website is being updated! Please enjoy browsing through our new Gallery, watching new videos, or perusing our Books, Sheet Music, and CDs available for purchase.
The Galway Train Released
Our new CD The Galway Train is finished.
The Galway Train is a wonderful melange of songs and tunes featuring
Siobhan Doherty, Andrea Arredondo & Serena Corr on vocals,
with Emily Sommermann & Karl Burrelsmann on fiddles, Linda
Holland on flute, Jocelyn Tipple on whistle, Kevin Kinsella
& Nick Moore on percussion, Armand Renga on bass and Russ
Doherty on guitar.
Helping to make this CD a standout amongst the five Dannsair CDs are original compositions by Linda Holland, Russ Doherty, and Russ & Siobhan Doherty.
Other highlights are Emily Sommerman soloing on Banish
Misfortune & Cuhullan's Lament; Jocelyn
Tipple's gorgeous whistle solo on Kilkee Waves; Serena
Corr's emotional vocals on Marrying The Sea; Armand
Renga's bass solo on the reggae-influenced Tom Ward's
Downfall; and the inspired percussion playing of Kevin
Kinsella & Nick Moore.
A Masterclass at UCSB
Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill
- - - - - - - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Hass
Russ and Leah spent the afternoon with Martin
Hayes, Dennis Cahill, Alasdair Fraser and Bruce Molsky. The
2 hour question and answer session with music was part of
UCSB's Ethnomusicology seminars.We had a conversation
and demonstration of regional differences in tunes like Rakish
Paddy (Martin's East Clare introspective version vs Altan's
Donegal 100 mph version), Flowers of Edinburgh (Alasdair
Fraser's gorgeous west Scotland style vs Bruce Molsky's Appalachain
barn dance version which has completely different timing and form,
and features a notably stretched-out melody).
Alasdair Fraser demonstrated how he bowed
the violin according to what the dancers were doing. He likened all his
bowing styles to the various dances. While demonstrating a
Strathspey two different ways (the long walking dance steps
of one region vs the oingie-boingie hopping style of another
region) he actually did the steps right in front of us. Martin
said he would never think of Alasdair the same way again after
watching him dance.
Dennis Cahill demonstrated how he uses his guitar to shift tonality in the subtlest ways. Sometimes he only plays 3 note
chords, then he changes one note at a time, so the tonality
slowly changes along with the melody. He reminded everyone
that the chords are implicit in the melody as it is being
played, so his job is more coloration, making the music darker
(adding a 9th) or lighter (Maj7), thicker (playing all 6 strings)
or thinner (playing only 3).
Leah and I were grateful to see a number
of tunes played so beautifully and so emotionally, giving
us quite a lift right before we do our next CD. Martin &
Dennis graciously accepted copies of our current CD, Galicia,
and they wished Leah & I well with the band. It was a
Highland, Heath & Holler Concert
The Highland, Heath & Holler concert that evening was wonderful also. The highlight of
the concert was the decidedly forward-looking duo of Alasdair
Fraser with Natalie Hass on cello. Doing the same sort of
ground-breaking duets that Martin & Dennis popularized
in the last decade, Alasdair explained how originally, Scottish music
was played by a fiddle and cello
duo. Unfortunately, the English & the Protestants got rid of the intruments at "Burning Parties." Alisdair is on a mission
to revive the cello/fiddle duo which added a whole
new dimension to traditional Scottish music and the evening.
Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill were riveting, as usual.
Opening with a whisper-to-a-scream set, from a slow air to banshee-sounding
reels, they had the audience mesmerized. Then all 5 musicians
played sets together, and they had the audience on their feet. Traditional music is alive, well
and sonically growing in many exciting directions.
Named after the Celtic region of Spain
just north of Portugal, Galicia is home to a number of famous
musicians, Julio Iglesias (the singer) and Carlos Nunez (the
Celtic piper) being two of them. Kristen and I got to perform with Carlos
Nunez and The Chieftains on their last swing through Santa
Barbara at the Arlington Theater. I was inspired to write
a melody reminiscent of Carlos' piping tunes, which became the tune that starts and ends
A very young Carlos Nunez showing his bagpipes to
Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains.
Some of the other other sets on the CD
The Scandinavian sailing tunes New
Rigged Ship - Full Rigged Ship. Karl heard a
version of these tunes from the duo Aly Bain & Ale Moller
that was very emotional and we've tried to recreate that.
Kristen starts us off on a couple of reel
sets: The Sally Gardens - Over the Moor To
Maggie - Trip to Durrow and Golden Keyboard
- Cooley's Reel - Sheehan's Reel.
A funny side note. The first
time The Chieftains allowed us to perform with them we asked
them to play the Sally Gardens set with us. When we started playing the tunes
everything was going great. Then Paddy started Maggy in
the Woods (a Kerry Polka) instead of Over the Moor
To Maggie. Total confusion reigned
until we all jumped into Trip to Durrow together. Even when there are 2,000 people in the
audience and you are playing with The Chieftains it's just like the pub sessions, anything
Some of Russ' other compositions from
his recent trip to Ireland are also featured including Waterloo
Piper - Kathy and I heard a phenomenal piper
playing in a pub down the street from the Butcher's Gate.
I didn't know the tune, but an outline
of the melody stayed in my brain. Karl then paired it with some tunes
from his fiddle circle - Blackthorn Stick - Top Of Cork
Road. The juxtaposition of the flute solo in the 1st
tune and Karl starting off the next two is very pleasing.
The Dingle Dolphin is a slip
jig composition triggered by watching Fungi (pronounced FOONGIE),
the dolphin, jump around in Dingle Bay. That slip jig gets paired with two others: Kitty
Come Down To Limerick and Humours of Whiskey.
I got the first tune from Bridie and Owen while playing
with them at Dolan's Pub in Limerick. Humours came
from listening to John Doyle (guitar) and John Williams (button
Siobhan's Waltz was written
for my daughter. It is in the style of a New England Barndance.
Emily plays the flute melody very lovingly.
Till next time!