There's a single story or a thousand stories in this week's episode. The story of Mick Doherty, Donegal fiddle player of the famed Doherty family of tinsmiths, travelers and musicians. The story of his father's music, and of his grandfather's music. And woven in and around it all the figure of Johnny Doherty - Mick's uncle - one of the iconic Irish fiddle players, a tinsmith himself, and traveling man.
Johnny was the subject of a documentary in 1972, a film called Fiddler on the Road. Produced by Ulster Television, it's a fascinating document of a moment in his life and, like all the best documentaries, it shifts a little each time you watch it. In fact, if you watch really closely, you'll notice how with the passing of time the film itself has assumed a strange, elastic quality. So the background behind Johnny as he plays seems to sway in places and elongate and contract, as if it's about to come loose from its moorings. Listen to Mick speaking of his uncle Johnny, and that effect is amplified.
Fiddler On The Road:
Mick Doherty recorded his one and only CD in partnership with his student and friend Rob Zielinski, of Perth, Western Australia. Mick lived in WA until his death in 2014, and we have Rob to thank for the tunes preserved on that CD, the echoes of Mick's father and grandfather in the playing, and for the recordings that make up today's episode.
In collaboration with Rob, in 2009 Kevin Bradley at the National Museum in Canberra recorded five separate sessions in conversation with Mick, sessions covering his life story, family history and musical lineage. It's thanks to them we have this treasure to share with you today. Truth be told, Mick's speaking voice is a long, unspooling melody itself, with a cadence and rhythm that carry within them the man as he was in 2009 and the lives he had lived up to that point.
We've re-arranged some segments of the original archive recordings so they play sequentially in this episode. And we feel it's true to the spirit of Mick's story, his voice and his playing. If you'd like to dive into the entire series of recordings, go here:
And please check out Mick Doherty's CD recorded with Rob Zielinski. It's essential listening really:
And as we mention during the show, our heartfelt thanks to Kevin Bradley and Rob Zielinski for all their help with this episode.
We hope you're all keeping well, and we'll see you next week.
Darren and Dom
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