Greengrass, Vol. 3

“Tin Roof” (Steve Martin) – This week’s playlist inludes a couple more tunes from Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers’ inaugural (and Grammy-winning) release, The Crow. Later we’ll also hear an instrumental version of “Calico Train.”

“Oedipus Rex” (Open House) – A silly folk tune by Mark Graham, played by Portland Irish group Open House (headlined by Kevin Burke).

“Young Ned of the Hill” (The Pogues) – I’ve included tunes from a couple of my favorite celtic punk rock bands on here, The Pogues, and The Tossers. I’ve tried to pick tunes that are more traditional-sounding, but even so, I think the “purists” might still snub their nose a little. That’s cool. I’m trying to bridge the gap between traditional and progressive here… And progressive works best when it doesn’t become too dated after a couple decades.

Half-way through building this compilation, it seemed heavily weighted toward the celtic side. So for this week’s arrangement of “Kid on the Mountain”, I picked Grammy-winning bluegrass artist Tim O’Brien. His arrangement is clean and well done (there’s nothing “twangy” about it that could reveal it might have been recorded in Nashville). I really dig his style on this track. He’s done a couple albums of Irish tunes, so he’ll probably show up pretty often in this series, in both categories.

“Flippen” (Punch Brothers) – This is a great swift tune from Punch Brothers’ new release.

“Paddy Fahy’s”, etc. (Seamus Egan) – Seamus takes this tune and modulates it in his own way; it’s supposed to be in G-dorian, but he makes it major. It’s a little jolting if you’re familiar with it.

“The Green Fields of Glentown” (The Duhks) – This is one of my favorite reels. I used to play it on tour with Ric Blair, though I can’t remember who the fiddle player was who introduced it to him and also recorded it with him. Up until yesterday this playlist also had an arrangement of Glentown by famed accordion player Sharon Shannon. This is one thing that stinks about Spotify: a provider can simply remove a song at whim, causing it to disappear completely from your playlists. So much for retaining out-of-print records and rarities over the years. I may need to go to iTunes for this one.

“The Humors of Glendart”, etc. (The Tossers) – I was first introduced to this fine Chicago celtic punk rock group when I met the boys from Flatfoot 56 several years ago. Tobin had chosen it as their pre-show music. I remember being completely floored by it. The Tossers are a great band, and I recommend them highly. After several years of releases they now officially qualify as “prolific”, so there’s plenty of material to choose from.

“East at Glendart”, etc. (Planxty) – Yes, “East at Glendart” and “The Humors of Glendart” are the same tune, but The Tossers and Planxty take their sets in completely different directions. This is placed here as sort of a retrograde, as The Tossers went from jigs to reels, and now we’re back to jigs again with Planxty. I felt that their version blended better into the next Steve Martin tune, which starts with a couple seconds of complete silence that might otherwise seem even more out-of-place.

“Eamonn Coyne’s”, etc. (Seamus Egan) – Yes, Egan is also a fine whistle player, and these ones are done as a solo.

“Lucy’s Fling”, etc. (Kevin Burke and Mícheál O’Domhnaill) – Sort of a Bothy Band reunion with these two. Their 1982 collaboration, Portland, is one of those excellent works that doesn’t sound like it was made in the eighties. There’s a bit more reverb than the 1970s recordings, but other than that, the fact that they kept their sound traditional keeps it from feeling dated as much as some other musicians’ work.

“Sweet Afton” (Nickel Creek) – This song is from a poem by Scottish bard Robert Burns about the Afton Water in Ayrshire. When bluegrass bands do celtic tunes, it really fits well with these playlists.

“The Bantry Girls Lament”, etc. (The Duhks) – More traditional songs from this fine Canadian group hailing from Winnipeg. I do wish I had discovered them long ago. It appears to be one of those situations where half of the band is replaced after a few years so the sound on the new records isn’t going to be consistent with the old. Let’s hope that at least the new music would still be good, if different.

I do hope you enjoyed this week’s playlist. Please drop a note in the comments box below!


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