PRESS RELEASE - February 2011
‘Carrying The Tune’
Lúnasa flute player releases new solo album
Carrying The Tune is the latest solo album by Kevin Crawford. A member of the internationally acclaimed traditional Irish music group Lúnasa, the ace flautist and whistle player has taken time out from his busy touring schedule with the band to record this new disc in West Clare. The album also features John Doyle on guitar and bouzouki, bodhrán player Brian Morrissey plus Mick Conneely on bouzouki. Recorded by Martin O’Malley at Malbay Studios, Carrying The Tune contains fourteen tracks and is a joyful romp through an eclectic yet seamless collection of tunes that are sourced from both the deep well of tradition and from more recent compositions by the likes of Paddy O’Brien, Dónal Lunny, Maurice Lennon and Crawford himself.
Born in Birmingham, England to parents from Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, Kevin Crawford’s early life was sound-tracked by the resonance of the lively traditional music scene in the midlands city. Moving to Co. Clare in 1989, he soon became a pivotal member of the effervescent session trail in the Banner county before enhancing his burgeoning reputation in the group Grianán and the trio Raise the Rafters. He then propelled himself to international recognition with Moving Cloud, with whom he recorded Moving Cloud in 1995 and Foxglove in 1998. Kevin joined Lúnasa in January 1997 for a tour of Australia and has been ever-present in the group since. To date, the instrumental quintet have eight albums to their credit while Kevin has released two solo records, ‘D’ Flute Album (1994) and In Good Company (2001). He joined fellow band member, piper Cillian Vallelly for a critically acclaimed duet album, On Common Ground, in 2009. The innovative flute player has appeared as a guest on several albums, including singer Seán Tyrrell’s Cry of a Dreamer (1994) accordionist Joe Derrane’s The Tie That Binds (1998). and American singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant’s 2010 release, Leave Your Sleep.
A year earlier along with his four fellow members of Lúnasa, he performed on The Leitrim Equation. One of Kevin’s latest side-projects is the formation of a new super-trio, The Teetotallers alongside John Doyle and fiddler Martin Hayes. They have an Irish nationwide tour mid January 2012.
The music on Carrying The Tune is loving embraced and made anew through the mastery of Crawford’s technical prowess in conjunction with an informed passion for tradition. The overall result is an exuberant celebration of Irish music in its most innovative form. With sympathetic and inventive accompaniment by Doyle throughout and occasional contributions by Conneely and Morrissey, Crawford’s flute and whistle playing creates inspiring music that’s full of surprises - sophisticated and completely accessible all at once.
1. McHugh’s / Michael Murphy’s / Humours of Tullycrine. (reels)
2. Lá Ollámh / Lucky Lucky Day. (slip jigs)
3. Autumn Apple’s / Cormac O’Lunny’s / Paddy Sean Nancy’s (reels)
4. Flatwater Fran / Mrs Jean Campbell BSC. (waltz’s)
5. John McKenna’s / The Jointure / The Smithstown Jaunt. (jigs)
6. Queen of May / Tom Dowd’s Favourite / Naughton’s. (hornpipe/reels)
7. The Dear Irish Boy / The Hole in the Boat / Sally Sloane’s. (slow air/jigs)
8. The Arra Mountains / Hunting the Hare / Petko. (slip jigs/horo)
9. Taylor’s Fancy / Tanglony / Willie Clancy’s. (slides/single jig)
10. Repeal the Union / The Ivy Leaf / The Hut in the Bog. (reels)
11. Della the Diamond / Princess Polly / The Girl for Me. (jigs)
12. The Mountain Lark / Jack in the Box. (reels)
13. Ray’s Revenge / The Hula Hoop. (jig/reel)
14. Ag Taisteal Na Blarnán (Travelling through Blarney) / Come West Along The Road. (slow air/reel)
Kevin Crawford – Flutes and whistles
John Doyle – Guitar and bouzouki
Brian Morrissey - Bodhrán
Mick Conneely – Bouzouki
Label BallyO Records
Cat. No. BOR 002
Distribution and media enquiries to;
PO Box 550, Ennis, Co Clare, IRELAND
P – 353 (0) 86 852 0975 - E – email@example.com
In 1989, a young man from Birmingham, England moved to Ireland in order to concentrate more fully on his passion for Irish traditional music and most specifically, on the wooden flute. Instilled with a love and appreciation of Irish music and culture from his Irish-born parents, he quickly settled into the local session scene and a few short years later released his first solo CD. That young man was Kevin Crawford and the CD entitled simply, 'D' Flute Album, quickly became a classic of the Irish trad genre and required listening for Irish flute players worldwide. Crawford went on to join the band Moving Cloud, with whom he toured and released two albums. In 1997, he was asked to join the band Lunasa, replacing departing flute player Michael McGoldrick. Crawford's addition to the then up and coming supergroup marked a turning point in the band's sound and he has remained a driving force in the group's arrangements over 7 albums as well as their frontman in concert. In 2001, he released In Good Company, an album of duets with favorite fiddle player friends, and in 2009 he collaborated with fellow Lunasa bandmate Cillian Vallely for On Common Ground, a duo album featuring Crawford on flute and Vallely on uilleann pipes. During this time, he continued to refine and expand his playing and the many years spent on the road and in the studio are highly apparent on his most recent offering, released in February of 2012. Carrying the Tune marks Crawford's first return to the true solo album format since 1994s 'D' Flute Album and the wait, while long, has been more than worthwhile. Teaming up with Irish guitar phenomenon John Doyle, Kevin Crawford proves once again why he is one of the top Irish flute players in the world, and why he continues to be such an influence on the current generation of young Irish musicians.
Originally intended to be a Teetotaler's album (a trio comprised of Crawford, Doyle and fiddler Martin Hayes) the project was quickly revised into a solo album when schedules conflicted. Mostly recorded over the short span of a few days, Crawford and Doyle recorded their tracks together live and then picked out what they felt to be the best performances of each track for the album. Later some additional bouzouki, guizouki and mandola were added by Doyle, along with some flute and whistle overdubbing from Crawford and some additional rhythm work from Mick Conneely on bouzouki and Brian Morrissey on bodhran. For the most part the overdubs are spare and this combined with the short recording period and rich, warm production value gives the album a lovely intimacy that is often lacking in the great wealth of trad albums now being offered.
The opening set of reels, titled McHugh's/Michael Murphy's/The Humors of Tullycrine, immediately dispels any uncertainties about what kind of an album this is. Crawford and Doyle are in top form as they effortlessly plow through a set of reels featuring Crawford on the Eb flute, soaring above Doyle's driving, syncopated guitar. Indeed, perhaps in a nod to his original 'D' Flute Album, there is not a bit of 'D' pitched flute to be found on this recording, replaced by C and Eb flutes and D, C and Bb whistles. These differences in pitch from the usual concert D flute allow Crawford and Doyle to play with some interesting textures and tunings for the accompaniment instruments which further adds a very different vibe to the proceedings.
2 Days, the second track, consists of two slip jigs written by Kevin and originally pitched as a set to Lunasa. Vetoed by the band, the version here begins with some gorgeous textures set by Doyle on bouzouki and guitar with Crawford playing whistle and later layering in flute on the second tune. Lucky, Lucky Day, the second slip jig in the set, is a stunning tune that I predict will be making the Irish session rounds in the very near future and the tight, tasteful playing and chordal progressions make this track worth the price of the album alone.
Autumn's Apples/Cormac O'Lunny's/Paddy Sean Nancy's is a light, straight ahead set of reels showcasing the two musicians' obvious delight in playing together as the flute and guitar call and answer one another through one tune variations after the other. How many of these little bits of the musical "conversation" were planned out and how many were happy accidents in the studio we will probably never know but it is a wonderful track that nicely showcases two master musicians at the height of their craft.
Flatwater Fran/Mrs. Jean Cambell BSC is a set of waltzes, performed by Crawford on several overdubbed low F whistles and a low Bb harmony flute. For fans of Lunasa, this is probably the track that is closest in sound to the band's now famous "low whistle trio" arrangements. The first tune is a composition of Scottish accordion maestro Phil Cunningham. The second comes from the playing of Scottish piper Rory Campbell and was originally recorded by the band Deaf Shepherd. I had not heard the tune in years and was pleasantly surprised as it is one of my favorite waltzes, and both tunes are given a wonderful life and quality here by Crawford and Co.
On an album that features primarily flute and guitar, even well played music can quickly become stale if the same formula is repeated over and over and Crawford wisely finds ways to avoid this problem without ever losing the essential momentum of the recording as a whole. I have long said that Kevin is one of the Irish music's premiere air players and on The Dear Irish Boy he takes up one of the big standard pipe airs on the Bb whistle, infusing the tune with his usual sense of melodic taste and emotional clarity. The result is a truly haunting performance, supported by sparse but perfect guitar accompaniment from John Doyle. The two then continue on with a set of darkly rhythmic jigs, The Hole in the Boat/Sally Sloan's.
The Slippery Slope may take my vote for favorite track on the album. Finely textured guitar opens this set of slip jigs with Crawford leaping forward on both melody and harmony flutes. I have always appreciated musicians who, while talented, restrain themselves from the absolute craziness you know they could ascend to if they wished, and instead choose to implement that prowess for just the right moments. Crawford exercises that tasteful restraint here though you hear his energy and enthusiasm bursting at the edges of his music until the track hits the final tune (a traditional Bulgarian 'Horo'). He then unleashes several harmony flutes and, along with Doyle's lush chordal arrangements, builds the track in intensity until the satisfying climax.
Repeal of the Union is a set of reels starting with the eponymous old piping tune before switching into one of the nicest and most interesting versions of the Ivy Leaf I have ever heard. This particular reel is oft played by many pipers and flute players and Kevin presents an interpretation that combines elements of many different versions of the tune while adding in various aspects of his own inimitable style.
Della the Diamond is a set of three tunes written by Crawford, each for a member of his family (mother-in-law, sister-in-law and wife, Tracy, respectively) and it provides a wonderful example of his tune writing abilities. This is one of several tracks that feature bouzouki player Mick Conneely. Conneely plays a Greek bouzouki with 6 strings and his style is very reminiscent of Alec Finn's classic approach to the instrument. You would think that his rolling, old school playing on the bouzouki would clash with Doyle's very modern, syncopated style on the guitar but in fact the two very different accompanists mesh perfectly on this track, providing a sure and measured textural net underneath Crawford's lilting whistle playing.
The Hula Hoop opens with a jig written for a neighbor and snooker rival of Kevin's and it is another example of his gifts for hiding subtle musical 'winks' in his playing. The tune takes some unexpected variational paths, replacing legato phrasing with a staccato phrase here and there and is a testament to the sheer joy and love of playing that is inherent in this album. The set then shifts gear into a reel and churns along to the solid, neatly locked rhythms of Doyle on guitar and Brian Morrissey on bodhran.
The album ends appropriately with the air Ag Taisteal na Blárnan (Travelling Through Blarney) on the low C flute, once again displaying the ease and understanding with which Crawford presents slower melodies. The air is then followed up by one last reel in the form of the session favorite, Come West Along the Road.
Kevin Crawford has said that this album was meant to be primarily about musicality rather than showy technique, and this choice becomes more and more evident upon both first and repeated listenings. The technique and pyrotechnics are there, but they never get in the way of the melody and there is a excitement and playfulness to his music that grabs the listener from the first note. All in all, this album succeeds brilliantly because it takes no shortcuts in how it presents the material. Talented and inventive musicians with a deep respect for their craft and tradition coupled with a simple approach to the arranging and a stellar production make this CD a must have for fans of the genre and for Irish flute players especially.
Carrying the Tune is available through Kevin's website at http://www.kevincrawford.ie
Supergroup Lúnasa show how they're different
Irish music fans are well aware of the high-quality, well-balanced show that trad supergroup Lúnasa puts on. Theirs is serious music for the journey, but it’s music that’s couched in an easy playfulness that belies how complex and different what they do really is. This difference was readily apparent the Monday evening before St. Patrick’s Day at Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom, where the group settled in before a full and engaged audience for two long sets.
The music was brilliant. Monday’s set list represented their well-crafted and modern ideas about narrative and dynamics in traditional music in a very fulfilling way. Tunes like the upbeat and percussive “Morning Nightcap” let Sean Smith’s fiddle and Trevor Hutchinson’s bass shine, while Sean, Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely’s low whistles on “The Last Pint” illuminated the tune’s beautifully plaintive melody and left the audience dazzled.
Readers will be happy to know the legend of Kevin Crawford’s on-stage banter remains fully intact. Everyone in his universe is fair game – family, friends, bandmates, snooker adversaries, the odd bits of furniture he’s crashed on over the years – and nobody was left out on Monday. After entertaining with both his music and words onstage, he seemed to make it a point to talk to nearly everyone who remained after the show, even making special time for a small group of young, talented musicians from the NYC session scene (including two members of the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra).
One of evening’s high points came late in the show’s second half with a Crawford feature on “The Hula Hoop,” a tune set taken from his just-released CD “Carrying the Tune.” On Monday he was tastefully accompanied by the group’s new guitarist Ed Boyd (ex-Flook). On the album, he’s joined by John Doyle (guitar and bouzouki), Mick Conneely (bouzouki) and Brian Morrissey (bodhrán). “Carrying the Tune” is an exquisite declaration from the tradition’s top shelf. Doyle’s percussive approach and expansive harmonic palette is a perfect foil to Crawford’s driving playing, especially on tracks like “The Clare Connection” and “The Dear Irish Boy.” I highly recommended this CD, and it was great to hear it represented at the Highline show on Monday.
Cillian Vallely provided a couple of the evening’s other musical highlights. One was an outstanding and sensitively delivered version of the slow air “Port Na bPúcaí” (a tune associated with the Blasket Islands), which was the talk of the line of musicians standing against the back wall. Vallely also took the lead on “Snowball,” a set that appears on the group’s most recent album “Lá Nua.” But before they started, Crawford predictably wasted no time in singling out Cillian’s wife Katy in the audience, noting that Vallely wrote “Ciara’s Dance,” the first of the three tunes in the set, and named it after their oldest daughter (who is a dancer herself). A proud-looking Vallely fired into the tune brilliantly, and was then joined by the rest of the group on the set’s final two tunes, Johnny McCarthy’s “Burning Snowball” and Tommy Cunniffe’s “Road to Reel.”
An impressive band to see live, Lúnasa is on an East Coast tour of the U.S. throughout March.
Lúnasa and Crawford always delight...
The green season is past us now when all the world’s a Gael and turning out for the seasonal frolics. Many are oblivious to the fact that the world of Irish traditional music is a high powered and entertaining art form that doesn’t switch off as the calendar changes.
Even The New York Times noted the evergreen quality of the Irish trad session scene in New York City in its St. Patrick’s Eve edition. Fueling and inspiring traditional Irish music still is a combination of great performance bands that keep the music innovative on the technical and entertainment scales with committed artists who populate their rosters and also show their mettle as individual performers.
Last week I caught a Monday night show in Manhattan by Lunasa, the all-instrumental band from Ireland which has maintained a prominent place in the vanguard of professional touring bands since starting up in late 1996.
Founding members Sean Smith, one of Ireland’s finest fiddlers, and bass player extraordinaire Trevor Hutchinson remain, and Kevin Crawford (flute) who joined them in 1997 followed by uilleann piper Cillian Vallely in 1999. They are a formidable quintet who amazingly keep trad music sharply balanced on the cutting edge.
Watching them play at the very classy Highline Ballroom – one of their favorite and more successful haunts in the Big Apple – was like watching a fabulous high-wire act or Cirque du Soleil, full of creativity, daring do, balance, teamwork and stagecraft.
Their music is always powerful and sublime in equal measures, a testament to the skills of the individuals in the band whose sum always exceeds the parts.
With the thoughtful interplay between the melody makers in Crawford, Smith and Vallely and the
rhythm section of Hutchinson and Ed Boyd more than holding up the guitar chores on the current tour, it is easy to see why they remain on top as one of the more popular tour acts around the world who have produced eight CDs.
This March tour features 17 dates as it closes out this week, including a performance at the historic Blairtown Theater in New Jersey (www.thbt.com) on Wednesday, March 21 at 8 p.m.
Surviving so long without a singer again says volumes about the musicality of the group, but it wouldn’t be accurate to say they don’t have a vocalist.
Flute and whistle player Kevin Crawford saves just enough of the mighty wind he uses to power those instruments, to keep the audience in stitches with his comical repartee usually at the expense of his bandmates and also himself.
He has no compare when it comes to slagging the fellows on stage or relating the commonplace little episodes on tour, or the derivation of tunes all cleverly delivered in the patter of his charming Clare accent keenly honed over the years since he moved back to Ireland in 1989 from his native Birmingham.
As my own Clare-born mother was fond of saying, “He didn’t steal it” as his parents hailed from Miltown Malbay. Crawford has been a popular and central figure in the music scene in the Banner County since his early days at the fledgling ClareFM radio station where traditional music is core to the programming.
He was a key member of the band Moving Cloud based in Clare, and that band is where I and many others first discovered him.
If his humor brings a smile to one and all, it is his music and command of the form and the important roots from which it stems that pulls at the heartstrings.
And he has just produced another sterling solo CD, Carrying the Tune, on Ballyo Records that will want to find a place on the shelves of every follower of the pure drop.
Like his earlier recordings D’Flute and In Good Company, Crawford knows good tunes and he relishes sourcing them and literally breathing new life into them with his own tasteful interpretation.
Thirty-seven tunes carefully distributed over 14 tracks give us a fair idea of the thoughtful and comprehensive way Crawford absorbs the music all around him, from seminal sources deep in the well of tradition, or new compositions or settings that he finds a way to complement the source always, gentleman that he is.
He even devoted a track to three tunes he composed for his mother-in-law, sister-in-law and darling wife Tracy (“Delia the Diamond,” “Princess Polly” and “The Girl for Me”) with great affection that comes through the music and the liner notes.
The humor was on him when he composed two more tunes, “Ray’s Revenge” about his snooker opponent (he is zealous fan of the sport) and “The Hula Hoop” about a little garden party where the three aforementioned family members found the combination of high-spirited tunes and drink sent them for a loop.
While old codgers like me have to pull out the magnifying glass to read the liner notes, they tell the tale of what makes Crawford tick as a musician and a tradition bearer of the highest order.
Crawford always finds himself in the best musical company, and on this album he has close friends Mick Conneely, Brian Morrissey and John Doyle who along with Martin Hayes form a new trio with Crawford called the Teetotallers who will be out in the U.S. in late May.
For more information visit www.kevincrawford.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org where Tracy Crawford will happily assist you. For more information on Lunasa go to lunasa.ie.
Lúnasa Keep 'Carrying The Tune'
Lúnasa will play the Highline Ballroom in New York City on March 12th
By Gwen Orel
Carrying the Tune, the new solo CD by Lúnasa frontman, flutist Kevin Crawford, is "not for flute anoraks." Well, that's a relief. "It's definitely not a purist, solo flute, 'bow down to the technical side of things' kind of piece."
He and the band appear at Highline Ballroom on March 12th.
Well, he's right. This is not a CD just for purists; it's for everyone.
Carrying the Tune is insanely catchy.
You can hear some of the tracks at Kevin's website, www.kevincrawford.ie.
By track two, a collection of slip jigs from Maurice Lennon and Donal Lunny, I'm grinning and swaying, on an hour of sleep.
Part of that is John Doyle's spirited, jaunty guitar driving the beat.
But mainly it is the way Kevin plays on and around the melody.
There's tremendous life and variety, and sweet simplicity.
If you dance, you'll be on your feet.
Track number four, a collection of waltzes beginning with "Flatwater Fran" by the Scottish accordion master Phil Cunningham, feels like the sun coming out.
The 14 tracks fly by. You'll have them on a loop.
It's always been a weird trick of Lúnasa that they're one of the best bands going, yet they have no singer.
When they play you forget about it, and you're never bored. How do they do it?
It's not an accident, Kevin explains. For him, what makes him listen to a piece over and over again is "the little subtle thing that maybe you missed the first time round, you may have been focused on the melody. Then you go back and you listen and it offers up something new and then the third time, oh wow, I didn't get that before either. We do strive to add in those little surprises. We always felt that if we were going to survive without a singer we had to offer up these surprises, or a little more sophistication of coming together of a set of tunes."
So what distinguishes a piece for Lúnasa, the five piece trad band that includes a double bass from Trevor Hutchinson, Seán Smyth on fiddle and whistles, Cillian Vallely on uillean pipe and whistles, and guitar player Ed Boyd, who recently joined the group, from a piece for Kevin?
Lúnasa, named to honor the Celtic god Lugh, has had the words "jazz, rock and roll, bluegrass" thrown at it.
All of the players are outstanding.
Some tunes, like their version of Pierre Bensusan's "The Last Pint," could almost bring you to tears.
It comes down to what Kevin hears when he hears a tune: "I might say that offers up lots of rhythmical options that might suit Trevor on double bass. That one is really nice, with a lot of chordal possibilities for our guitar player."
The two slip jigs were offered to the band, but turned down - and as he says, their loss is his gain.
But generally, he explains, "I'm a more traditional kind of animal than people think I am."
What keeps Lúnasa traditional too, despite its instrumentation (you can't call the double bass a trad instrument), is respect for the core of the music: the melody.
"We don't tamper with that much, we don't dissect and chop and change and do all types of strange things to superimpose a jazzy rock and roll thing on top of it."
With Carrying the Tune, his third solo project, he wanted to show that he can play his instrument at a high standard, yet take the general listener on a journey, too.
That can be challenging. But even people who listen to Irish music "don't want to be bombarded with technical greatness, because a lot of that isn't music."
Yet let's be clear - the technical greatness is there, too.
There are ornaments so fast and fluid they sound like a bird whistling in tune, and the transition between tunes in a set seems so smooth you can only picture Kevin turning purple as he keeps playing without breathing.
There's a beautiful intimacy to the sound of the CD, too.
Tracks often begin with a couple of bars of John Doyle's guitar.
His energy and creativity "brought a whole other side of my playing that nobody else has done previously. I wanted this to be a little bit more in the moment, if you like."
He and John laid down the tracks live, and Kevin then chose the ones with the best energy, coloring them in later, sometimes adding harmony whistles, in a Lúnasa vein, or adding bodhrán from Brian Morrissey or bouzouki from his friend Mick Coneely.
But there's always the melody carrying you along.
Kevin's original tunes blend easily with the older trad tunes, and all are done with control and precision.
Track 13, "The Hula Hoop," is a jig that goes into a reel.
The reel, "The Hula Hoop," was composed first, inspired by Kevin seeing his wife, sister in law and mother in law dancing and hula hoop-ing on the lawn, while he watched from inside.
He tried to get the sense of hoops rising and falling in it.
I hear it on a high note that has a sudden pause before the tune picks up again - the hoop dropped!
In his home in Ballyogan, he says, there is an instrument every two feet, so that if a tune or a variation comes to him he can play it without losing it.
The jig, "Ray's Revenge," was written to honor a local man who beat him at the Snooker championships. Ray is a "slow burner," coming from behind. The jig captures that sense of unassuming progress.
Pairing the tunes was a hapy accident, Kevin says, when he realized the chords of the tunes go together.
But the shift from jig to reel gives the tunes an electric energy jolt.
The album includes traditional old melodies, including a lovely rendering of the slow air "The Dear Irish Boy" (which leads gradually into two sweet jigs).
Some tunes come from pipers and whistle players, including Pat McNulty, Paddy O'Brien; "The Mountain Lark" he got from fiddler P.J. Hayes.
Others are tunes Kevin has collected, including a jig from Leitrim flute player and New York fireman John McKenna.
Kevin learned about McKenna when Lúnasa had a residency in County Leitrim in 2007.
Over 18 months, as the band visited 10 times, Kevin immersed himself in the staccato, choppy style there.
A 2-CD project, Leitrim Equation, came out of that (it can be purchased at the Leitrim Equation website).
McKenna, he learned, left for the states in the early part of the 20th century.
His recordings from 1920-1935 helped rekindle interest in the music back home.
People would gather at the home of someone with a gramophone player on a weekend night, and 30 or 40 people would hear the latest 78 recording from America.
"It was a catalyst for the Clancy brothers, who then inspired the Chieftains, and brought the music into a whole other arena."
Kevin too heard music from abroad to inspire him-only in his case, abroad was "home."
Brought up in Birmingham, England, by parents from Miltown Milbay, he says "I may as well have been brought up in West Clare. I am not joking you. We ate Irish food. We listened to Irish music. Everybody that we mixed with in social circles, that were calling to the house, was not just Irish, they were all Clare people."
His mother took the children to Ireland every summer.
At home, he listened fanatically to the Tulla Ceili band, the Kilfenora band, P.J. Hayes and Paddy Kenny.
As a child he figured out where to stand in which room of the house to get the radio to pull in a crackly Radio Éireann. "I was fanatical like."
That fanaticism led him to move to Ireland in 1989, not knowing if it would be for two weeks or two years.
People he met would say, "don't go home tomorrow, there's a session with Tommy Peoples, you'll enjoy that."
Before long a year had gone by, and he called his mother to send the rest of his things.
He worked day jobs, on a diary farm, at a hifi store.
In 1994 the group Moving Cloud asked him to join, and in 1997 he was asked to join a new band called Lúnasa.
Since then he's gone on carrying the tune with him. And sharing the melody with us.
Lúnasa are at Highline Ballroom on March 12.
Gwen Orel runs the blog and podcast New York Irish Arts
Gwen Orel runs the blog and podcast New York Irish Arts