Angus Barbary Interview (Fiddle) - The Blarney Pilgrims Traditional Irish Music Podcast

Episode 16 · September 24th, 2019 · 53 mins 30 secs

About this Episode

The National Museum of Australia video where Angus plays his great-great grandfather's violin can be found here:

Angus plays fiddle with Caity Brennan, Connor Hoy and Rhys Crimmin in the band Austral which we caught up with in a previous episode. It's a banger, and definitely worth checking out. You'll find it here when you're ready:

To Follow Angus on social go here:

To buy Austral's music, including "Hoedown Throwdown" go here:

Again, thanks so much for your time Angus.


Now, here's Dom's notes.

Angus’ first tune, The Musical Priest, is one of the first tunes I ever learned. Me and Tony Murray used to play it as a whistle two-fer, with little fragments of harmony wound in and around the main strands of the melody. It’s a session staple, anchored around the B natural that gives it a sort of wintry quality, I always think. But as Angus plays it, it has a warmth to it and, as he says himself, a swing.

Anyway, when I was 16 or 17 that was a tune we’d play in The House Of McDonnell, more usually known as ‘Tom’s’ after the owner, Tom O’Neill. Our first regular gig as a band, in the tiny back room that’d regularly be crammed – and I mean crammed – with people down from Belfast for the holidays, or from Corrymeela (a sort of retreat center outside town where Catholic young people from troubled parts of the north could get together with Protestant young people from troubled parts of the north for cross-community groping sessions. Heavy petting for peace. ‘See? We ARE actually all the same after all!’) One of the youth workers accompanying them one night wore a mini skirt made from a black bin liner, and black leggings. I was entranced and frightened in equal measure. ‘So THAT’S why mum and dad are always talking about how dangerous it is in Belfast...’

Then for some reason I can’t remember, that gig ended. I was distraught, in a teenage kind of a way. And as was my habit in those days, I’d dive headfirst into my grief by lying on the dining room floor of our house with my head between the speakers of the ITT stereo system we’d inherited from Mrs Buntane, a friend of my dad’s. On the first Friday night after we no longer had a gig, in the throes of my despair, I was listening to Barclay James Harvest Live in Berlin (probably the most embarrassing thing I have yet admitted to in these notes to date) when I got a phone call to say we’d been asked to play in the Boyd Arms instead. Seriously? I was ecstatic.

In the Boyd Arms’ front room with its curved wall behind us, beside the fireplace, we played quiet Friday nights when a few punters would stick their heads around the door then head into the main bar, and other nights where you could hardly move for the people. It was great. Without that chance to play every Friday night, and the other gigs that came from it, I have no idea how I’d have spent my teenage Friday nights. Oh, wait, yes I do. Listening to Barclay James Harvest Live in Berlin.

Anyway, me and Darren often talk about having the chance to listen to players at close quarters and how cool that is. And that’s true – there’s something very unique about having the opportunity to really listen to a player working through a tune on their own. It’s dramatically different from the habitat of a session – it’s exposed and honest, a human being articulating what a tune is about for them, in that moment.

Thanks again, Angus Barbary.


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Till next time.
Darren & Dom