Press Round-Up: In the news and blogs at CRG (11/24/10)

November 24, 2010

Alison Brown joins the Indigo Girls on their new holiday album Holly Happy Days and will be joining the band on tour dates in Chicago, New York and Atlanta the week of December 6th.

Alison Brown Quartet’s DVD Live at Blair, "...offers up a delightful mix of jazz and Irish-based folk music...If you like easy listening, intricate music, you can’t make a better choice." (Country Standard Time)

Old Blind Dogs’ "Dynamic percussion, polished vocals, soaring fiddle and stirring pipes fuel the delicately-phrased melodies and traditional songs." (Paddy Punx) OBD’s Wherever Yet May Be’s, "’Where Are You Now’, with its lazy slide guitar, is probably the winning song, while elsewhere the album full of rich acoustic/electric instrumental texture, from the measured opening air of a St Kilda love song to the closing contemporary joust with some ’Desperate Fishwives’." (Scotland on Sunday)

Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band (live at Johnny D’s), "...may have a bunch of decades under his belt - he’s 68 - but the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band showed they have a lot left in the tank." (Country Standard Time) "It was one of those concerts where at several points my mouth just dropped open from astonishment at what I was hearing." (Notes From All Under)

Music Road includes Altan’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, Karan Casey & John Doyle’s Exiles Return, Heidi Talbot’s The Last Star, Michael McGoldrick’s Aurora and Old Blind Dogs’ Wherever Yet May Be in its Best of 2010 list.

Press Round-Up: In the news and blogs at CRG (11/18/10)

November 17, 2010

Colin Hay discusses Scrubs, American Sunshine and Men at Work with Pop Bitez. Colin’s live performances "highlight his apparently ageless voice, underrated acoustic finger picking style, and his true penchant for comedy." (

Luka Bloom can’t live without James Taylor’s "Fire and Rain"; "wows" with, "Two and a half hours of electrifying, seductive, hypnotic singing and guitar playing. Non-stop energy," at The Sellersville Theater in Philadelphia and discusses Dreams in America ("The period of 1987 to 1991 was an unbelievably exciting one. Things took off for me in America, particularly in New York. It’s a very nice exercise to reflect back on that time and be grateful.") with and with Irish Central.

Donnacha Rynne has released "Being Donnacha" a book about living with cerebral paulsey and multiple sclerosis. His uncle, Luka Bloom, encouraged Donnacha to write the book included the song lyrics for "Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself" in the book. Luka wrote the song for Donnacha.

Heidi Talbot
with Kris Drever and John McCusker give a "lifting" performance at Union Chapel. Heidi is included in this "Trail Mix" from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.

Peter Rowan
plays the Durango Arts Center on Halloween night. Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band’s Legacy, "is the best bluegrass album of the year, but it’s better than that. This album should not be missed by any music fan of any genre. In fact, "Legacy" is the perfect title for an album that should be lovingly handed down to future generations." (

Eileen Ivers
perfromance An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas "promises to be a great night of entertainment (Ivers is a sensational performer), wherever you may see it, and one that will genuinely please the whole family." ( is streaming the album as part of their Christmas CD listening party.

"Neither Snow Nor Hail Will Stop Missy Raines." (Chattanooga Pulse)

The Celtic Tenors
will perform a "Celtic Christmas" in Cerritos, CA.

Joe Derrane in the Irish Examiner

November 15, 2010

Honoring A Musician For The Ages: Tribute Concert For Joe Derrane
By Gwen Orel

Would you rather play, or talk? That was the question the Wolf Trap Festival in Vienna, Virginia, organizers put to Joe Derrane when he made his comeback there in 1994.

He was out of practice. For thirty-five years, he’d been playing other kinds of music-the Irish ballrooms had closed and so he switched to piano accordion, then to keyboard, playing jazz, pop, Jewish music, Italian music - while working his day job at the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

Then in 1993 his early 78 recordings were reissued on Rego on CD, and discovered by Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo. Earle was bowled over. He called Joe up, wrote about him, and got Joe invited to Wolf Trap. The organizers said if he didn’t feel up to playing, he could just have a tent, talk about his life in music. People were eager to hear from him.

"I’d rather play!" Joe said.

There were 1200 people in the tent, and hardly a dry eye in the house by the end, he recalls, talking to me from his home in Randall, Massachusetts, "They wouldn’t let me
leave the stage. I had to pledge not to quit again."

Since then, he has played with the Chieftains and been awarded a Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts. And made seven albums. The latest, Grove
Lane (available on Compass) will be celebrated this Saturday at the Shamrock Traditional Irish Society in Fairfield, Connecticut at a "Concert for the Ages" honoring Joe. The concert also celebrates Joe’s 80th year.

Onstage will be Dr. Mick Moloney (who will also give remarks), Joanie Madden, Seamus Egan, Billy McComiskey, Seamus Connolly, John Doyle, Brian Conway, Jerry O’Sullivan, John Whelan, Felix Dolan, Brendan Dolan, Tommy O’Sullivan, John McGann, Rose Flanagan, Patty Furlong, Margie Mulvihill, and Irish stepdancers Joe Dwyer and Melanie Deegan. And surprise guests, too.

If you don’t already have your tickets, try to get on the wait list. And don’t wait to get the album - a simple and rather spare album, Grove Lane also has a lot of emotion and
beauty. "Waltzing with Anne," which Joe wrote for his wife, who passed away in 2008, is a knockout, one Joe wrote "in the classic ballroom style." And the traditional tunes
shine - I particularly love "The Mooncoin Jig."

"He’s a genius of a musician," says Mick Moloney. One of the pleasures of the new album are the notes, from Earle, Mick, Seamus Connolly, Joe Burke and Billy McComiskey.

For Gregg Burnett, who runs the Shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society, the most important thing is "to make sure it’s a terrific night for Joe. The second thing is to
make sure it’s a terrific night for Joe."

Proceeds from the night benefit this little folk org that could - the organization puts on about 15 concerts a year, some in theatres, some house concerts around the state, and is also the driving force behind the publication of fiddler Liz Carroll’s book of original tunes which came out this summer. All the musicians are donating their time for the

The Joe Derrane evening will be at the Fairfield Theatre, an intimate venue of 225 seats. Gerry Wenner is filming it, for the archives and for Joe’s family, and if we’re
lucky it may end up on PBS. It’s the largest line-up Shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society has ever had.

At the event, Joe will talk a bit, about his life in music.

But will he resist being able to play?

"I know I will want to!" he says with a laugh. He speaks with bright energy and a charming Roxbury accent. "I’ll speak and welcome people, then near the end again. My
whole family is coming, my children and grandchildren." They told him to sit back and relax, don’t worry about playing.

He doesn’t worry about playing - he loves it.

When he was a little boy in Boston, his parents used to listen to a radio show featuring "Terry O’Toole the boy from Ireland." Joe mostly ignored the show, but whenever the
button accordion came on he would start running from wherever he was in his little apartment "and stand in front of the radio and jump up and down. When they stopped I
went back to whatever mischief I was into. By the time I was 10, I was driving them crazy!"

His parents tracked down a button accordion - no mean feat during the war years. Many of these instruments were made in Germany and Italy, who weren’t exporting to
America. After finding the instrument, Joe’s parents contacted the button accordion player from the radio, Jerry O’Brien. He came to the house and gave him lessons.

By the time Joe was a teenager, he was playing at houseparties, called "kitchen rackets" because the linoleum floors were great for dancing. "One night I had to give up
my chair; they set me on the kitchen counter. Twice I almost got knocked over. I took off my shoes and socks and stood in the sink!"

By 17, he was making those 78s that still startle musicians with their drive, clarity, precision. Fiddler Seamus Connolly writes on the Grove Lane liner notes that when he
first heard the 78 of the teenage Joe Derrane that "I felt as if I had been hit by a lighting bolt. ... Never in my life had I heard such precision, creativity, lighting-speed
descending triplets, phrasing, and tempo."

You hear that on the new CD, which features Joe playing with guitarist John McGann. You also hear what makes Joe an inimitable player, especially on his five original
compositions - his unusual understanding and working with chordal progressions. "Back in the 40s, when I did the 78s, that was straight ahead playing. Jerry had the
patience of a stone, but it was either right or it was wrong. There was no gray in between. Every note had to be very separate and very distinct. Today a lot of box
players have a very legato feel. He would say, these are all eigth notes, and triplets have to be crisp! Bing bing bing, right on the money."

But after 35 years playing showtunes, blues, some Polish tunes, along with jazz, Latin and Italian, his style changed. He played piano accordion and studied with piano teachers on keyboards. He planned to go into arranging, and took lessons with Berklee School of Music’s Dick Bobbit on chord study. And he brought that into his "comeback" at Wolf Trap on the button accordion. To prepare for that festival, Joe practiced six hours a day, soaking his arms in ice every few hours.

Billy McComiskey, perhaps the best known contemporary button accordion player today, listened to Joe Derrane growing up. In fact, "he’s kind of responsible for my existence. The first night my mother and father went out, was to meet Joe Derrane." Billy’s family always had his records in the house, along with Michael Coleman and Joe Kimmel.

"When I was born, they had Joe Derrane on in the dining room, on the Victrola." For Billy, what Joe does is particularly Irish-American - emphasis American. "He was playing
Irish traditional music with a different kind of courage. If you sat in on a session in Ireland, it would be lovely and steady and great. Joe was almost like a marching band just
a nonstop forward kind of motion. As an Irish-American you had to take that approach, kind of blast it out, with confidence. It inspired me," says Billy, who calls himself a "hybrid," an American with a strong East Galway influence.

The harmony Joe uses is there even on the older recordings, Billy says. When he knew he was going to play in this tribute concert, he decided to look at Joe’s music. That’s
when he realized "there were pretty few I could actually learn intact. That was a humbling experience for me. I am not up to playing Joe Derrane’s music! That tango - forget about it! I took it between the ears. He’s a genius. He isn’t playing better, or at the top of the heap. He is looking down at the heap from somewhere else."

Some of it is technical, Joe’s use of chordal progression on what is essentially a diatonic instrument - using the button accordion as if it’s a chromatic piano accordion. But even when Billy slowed it down, he couldn’t play this "ridiculously complex music." The musicians at the concert will play some of the tunes Joe popularized, and one of his
compositions, "The Wolf Trap Promise."

The tune refers to that promise not to stop playing again.

Billy says, "young players are going to be delving into these recordings and researching them, the way people research Michael Coleman recordings now. There is no way I can begin to criticize the new album one way or the other. I just have no idea what the man is doing, but I know it’s right. And an awful lot of fun."

Copyright ©2006-2010 The Irish Examiner USA

Press Round-Up: In the news and blogs at CRG (11/12/10)

November 08, 2010

Listen to Joe Derrane on Celtic Sojourn. Joe’s Grove Lane is "as poignant as it is brilliant" (Irish Central)

Heidi Talbot discusses psychology, Joanie Madden and Cherish the Ladies with Wandering Educators. Heidi’s "The Last Star complements Talbot’s exquisitely expressive, honeyed yet ardent voice..." (Community Music Center)

Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band plays the Opera House. PRBB’s Legacy is "a welcome demonstration that Rowan still knows and loves bluegrass." (Country Standard Time) "The picking is inspired, the harmonies transcendent, and all the tunes—mostly Rowan originals—solid, easily slipping into a classic bluegrass repertoire."(City Pages)

John Hartford Stringband’s Memories of John "shows how much the spirit of Hartford’s music continues to resonate." (Driftwood Magazine)

Bob Boilen (NPR’s All Songs Considered) includes Liz Carrol & John Doyle’s "The Island of Woods" in his "Ultimate" Dinner-Party Playlist. You can hear "The Island of Woods" on Liz and John’s In Play.

Listen to Martin Simpson perform at the Holywell Music Room on Celtic Sojourn.

Eileen Ivers appeared in the Bay Area and at Caltech and will present An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield CT on Dec. 9.

Liz Carroll performed for NMU.

Missy Raines is "Calling All Hipsters!"

Colin Hay performs benefit to end homelessness.


News like this and exclusive articles are available on the Compass Records Group’s newsletter Upclose. Upclose readers can receive 20% off titles featured in that month’s newsletter. To receive Upclose click here.

Press Round-Up: In the news and blogs at CRG (11/03/10)

November 03, 2010

Richard Julian’s Grooveable Feast "Serves up a new kind of reality."

Irish Echo calls Joe Derrane’s Grove Lane "heaven". "[Joe says] ’I still feel so at home when I play. It is still a challenge. Still fun. I love this album, and the whole thing!’ So do we." (Margeson on the Music)

Gibson Guitars names Martin Simpson as one of the best guitar players of all time!

Special Consensus brings Traditional American Music (TAM) Program to Congress Elementary School’s "Great Desert Bluegrass Festival".

Peter Rowan discusses the family story behind the song "Father Mother" with the Star Tribune, plays a Halloween show with H4TH, has worked his way into Ear Tyme Music’s heart, and eases your mind about missing church to see his show. Here are a couple nice reviews of Legacy on the Girl Music Blog

Heidi Talbot’s album "The Last Star is a fine recording that leaves you feeling like you’ve just had an interesting, funny, thoughtful conversation with a friend," (Daily Local News) and gives The Line of Best Fit an evening of "...the kind of music that it’s good to be reminded of once in a while."

Catie Curtis teaches others how to inform and encourage social change through song-writing.

Here’s a look back at this year’s IBMA and just a few artists (Alison Brown, John Hartford StringbandPeter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Dale Ann Bradley) that made the week-long event shine.

Alison Brown continues to keep everyone laughing. Listen to Alison discuss the banjo on WOSU’s The Bluegrass Ramble Show.

News like this and exclusive articles are available on the Compass Records Group’s newsletter Upclose. Upclose readers can receive 20% off titles featured in that month’s newsletter. To receive Upclose click here.

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