Uilleann pipes and sub-drops. Connor Hoy and Austral share their infectious energy live at the National Celtic Festival.
Let's start off with who Austral are:
On uilleann pipes and whistle we have Connor Hoy, on fiddle, bouzouki and vocals we have Angus Barbary, on fiddle also we have Caity Brennan, and finally, on guitar, didgeridoo (didgeribone?), cajon, tambourine and other assorted wizardry we have Rhys Crimmin.
To buy Austral's music, go here:
We were so lucky to have a chance to spend an hour with these four at the National Celtic Festival. They even brought a few beers with them. And we started off chatting with Connor about his background because he was in from Adelaide, and it was a good chance to nab him. But the chat soon wondered on to some more other areas - specifically, the momentum and dynamics the band work so hard to create during their live gigs. And which they totally pulled off in front of our audience at the Bendigo Bank Community Room.
And as is customary in Blarney Pilgrim interviews, we scored a direct hit on the Planxty Bingo - the first mention of Liam Og O'Flynn, piper and whistle player, and towering figure in traditional music. (The current tally, since you ask, is something like Andy Irvine 572 mentions, Donal Lunny 16, Liam O'Flynn 1, and Christy Moore 1.)
So Liam O'Flynn - a carrier of the (uileann) piping tradition into the modern era, through his Planxty work and solo projects. One of which was a double header with poet Seamus Heaney at the Royal Concert Hall (I think) in Glasgow. I was there (I think.) On a cold autumn night listening to Liam play unaccompanied, and Seamus Heaney read - that's an intensely lyrical experience. It's hard to put into words (which doesn't mean I won't give it a shot...heh...) But it was...what...the traditions playing off each other seems too narrow a way of describing it, even though that's what was going on. But there was a tonality to it, the combination of the tone of Liam O'Flynn's pipes, and the timbre of Heaney's voice, his intonation and rhythm and swing. In fact, the common ways of describing music and poetry - tone, rhythm, swing - give you an idea of what it was like. One of those experiences that echoes through your system for a long time after.
So hearing Connor mention Liam O'Flynn's impact on him as a young player was really great. And it's always cool to hear the uileann pipes at close quarters. They really work in a room setting - very different to the (Scottish) bagpipes, which a friend of mine used to play in a tiny stone cavern of a bar years ago as a party piece after we finished our main set. Sending the tourists reeling ecstatically out into the night air with ringing ears and blood thundering around their beery bodies. Awesome, fearsome.
And it was so, so great to have a live audience with us - thank you everyone who came along. Including Connor's grandmother, who we'll be chatting with in a future episode. She joined us on stage for a quick tune, and we're really excited about talking to her when we make it to Adelaide in the months to come. Look out, too, for an interview with Angus from the band in a future episode, and with Caity too.
Thanks again to Austral. Find them when you can, and go see 'em - they're not to be missed. And thanks also to the National Celtic Festival, and Una McAlinden in particular, for the chance to record on location.
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Right, that's it for today.