Take a first-rate Irish quartet and add four of the best American bluegrass pickers and a member of Elvis Costello’s band, the Sugarcanes, and you get a mighty lively recording that may cause you to get a speeding ticket if you’d dare play it in your car.
This fast-paced project features Paul Brock playing button-key accordion and melodeon; Manus McGuire is the fiddler for this fine unit. With the help of such bluegrass luminaries as Ricky Skaggs, Aubrey Haynie, Bryan Sutton, and Mark Fain, they charge through a program of Irish and American tunes from such classics as “Wheel Hoss” and “Indian Springs” to “Wild Fiddler’s Rag” to Irish classics like “Moving Cloud.” Often played in sets, American and Irish tunes pop in unusual juxtapositions. Two such sets include “Darling Girl From County Clare”/”Turkey In The Straw” and “Fish On A Snag”/“Wheel Hoss”/“Ships Are Sailing.” The best part is that they work well together and the hybridized band makes it all work wonderfully. Interestingly, what they call “Fish On A Snag” is called “Mississippi Sawyer” in the States.
There are wonderfully moody pieces interspersed between the rollicking sets. Their reading of the late Kentucky fiddler, Hiram Stamper’s “Chinquapin Hunting” is a pure joy to hear. If you are already a fan of Irish music, you will find a lot to like here. If you are just getting into this music, this will provide an opportunity to hear new takes on well-known bluegrass pieces. If you just love good fiddling and fine picking there is a lot here to like. This is a treasure of Transatlantic ear candy for your listening pleasure. (Paul Brock, Frendale Promotions Ltd.,The Coach House, Lifford Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland, www.brockmcguireband.com.) RCB