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Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009
The Green Fields of America, formed as long ago as 1978 by musicologist Mick Moloney, has always had an impressive line-up, currently Robbie O’Connell on guitar, Mick Moloney on banjo and mandolin, Billy McComiskey on button accordion, Athena Tergis on fiddle and John Doyle on guitar and bouzouki. On this album the group is augmented by guest artists including accordionist Brendan Dolan, uillean pipe players Ivan Goff and Jerry O’Sullivan, and fiddler Bruce Molsky. The group, formed to promote fine Irish-American music, has toured extensively to bring together the vocal, instrumental and dance traditions. Apparently their live shows are something to behold.
There’s a generous serving of songs, reels, jigs and even barn dances here, all played and sung with the ease, dexterity and authority that come with many years of experience. The songs, ably sung by Robbie or Mick, include the emigration ballads The Rambling Irishman and Across The Western Ocean, Robbie’s own Islander’s Lament inspired by a visit to the beautiful Blasket Islands off the coast of Kerry, Stephen Foster’s The Glendy Burke, Irish street ballad Down By the Tanyard Slide, as well as The Bonnie Irish Boy and the famous The Catalpa. The instrumentals originate from far and wide, from Ireland to the American Appalachians and include tunes by Turlough O’Carolan, Brendan Mulvihill, Paddy Fahey and Percy Grainger. Extensive research has been done in selecting the material here, and interesting explanatory notes have been included.
Nicely presented in a digipak, this album will be a fine addition to any serious folk collector’s library.
Compass 7 4495 2 (Planet Co.)