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IRTRAD-L  June 1994

IRTRAD-L June 1994

Subject:

From:

Edward McGraw 64025 <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 24 Jun 1994 13:32:26 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (59 lines)

Both Lori's and Marge's comments on the playing/listening thread have
coaxed me to share the following 2 personal experiences:
 
1. When I was still in college in the late 50's, a bunch of used to
hang out at the local Hibernian Club, where a wonderful button-
accordion/fiddle player, Frank Murphy, from Mayo, played every
weekekend. Myself (acc) and a friend (banjo) started going to Frank's
house on Friday nights and that is where I learned, really 'learned',
the music. It was an ideal setting. It also lead to us being invited
to the 'house parties' which were fantastic at that time. Frank was
the main musician and I'd get to play along on those tunes that I
knew. That gave me the timing I needed to play for the dancing. Then,
about midnight the host (which revolved among 6 or 7 people) would
put on an unbelievable spread of food. After that some more dancing,
then it was time for the songs and stories. Everyone, maybe 30 or 40
people would just sit down and each one would get their turn, right
around the room. Some good singers would get more than one turn.
So earlier it was a group thing with the music and dancing, then
later, a solo performance thing - and I've yet to see people enjoy
themselves more anywhere.
 
2. Two years after I married the girl from Kerry, she took the 'yank'
home for the first time, 1962. She lived on a small farm on the banks
on the Shannon, so its no wonder that one of the favorite pubs was
the small local where the country people gathered. They knew I was
interested in the music so a couple of 'special' parties were planned
for 'the back kitchen'. The entertainment, or so I thought at the
beginning, was my brother-in-law, a far better player than me, myself,
and another local who played harmonica, bodhran and sang. Tommy McKenna
was also visiting and had his fiddle. We started off with a few tunes
but I was totally unprepared for what transpired after that, because
it seemed that everyone there was the 'entertainment' and to them it was
just there natural way of enjoying themselves. A song from Willie
Coolahan, another from Dr. Johnny Coolhan down from his post in
Dublin, a story from the 'Master' Lavery NT, a song from his son
Frank. A song from John D. and a recitation from someone else. Some
were Irish songs, some were popular songs of the day, like
Old Man River and Goodnight Irene, the recitation was from Robert
Service. But you would never see and here these performed any better
because each one was a masterpiece in acting. Never have I witnessed
such a sharing of souls through artistic expression, a beautiful,
radient expression. Again, it went around the room and everyone got
their turn, then it went around again.  Then Willie would come in
with another tray of pints. Even my brother in-law Jim, sang songs
I never heard him sing here in America. It seemed as if that particular
setting, and those particular people, brought to the surface songs
that he learned from his father and uncle in that very pub long ago.
 
The above words in no way describe the emotional experience of
being part of these 'sessions' and sharing in the lives of these
great people, ordinary people who you never believe capable of
such marvelous expression. So it's not just the song or tune that
makes the traditional experience, but, and perhaps most important,
it's the people. And as the tears roll off in remembering
these folks, many of whom are gone, I'd better stop before I short
out my keyboard.
 
Ted McGraw  [log in to unmask]

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