In Portland, Oregon, Kevin Burke made me (Dom) a cup of tea and we sat in his living room for two hours on a sunny, Friday afternoon, and talked. It was delightful. What did we talk about? Being a boy in post war London; learning the fiddle from a lady called Ms. Kristofferson; bumping into Joe Burke at JFK after trying and failing to get Arlo Guthrie’s phone number from Directory Enquiries, and so much more. Including Michael Coleman.
‘That chap,’ said Ms. Kristofferson, ‘he really finds the soul of his instrument.’
Some of the other players Kevin mentions...
‘Probably the most shocking, the most uplifting and inspiring – like in the old fashioned sense of the word, awesome – was a guy called Brendan McGlinchey. I was completely awestruck when he sat down and started playing.’
Liam O’Hara from Sligo. Tommy and Ted McGowan and Tommy and Eddie Corcoran from Gortin. And most of the Liverpool Ceili Band. And if you want to get a really good feel for the vibe of that time in London when Kevin was growing up, get your hands on this collection. You’ll hear many of the musicians Kevin mentions, including Lucy Farr and Eddie Corcoran:
And Joe Burke:
This version of Paddy Tunney singing The lowlands of Holland is, as we discussed, mind blowingly beautiful:
Kevin played the following tunes:
1 Maudabawn Chapel, written by Ed Reavy, after whom there’s now an annual festival. Check it out here:
2 The Sailor on the Rock.
‘It’s the first tune I learned just from hearing at a session. A fella called Con Curtin and and fella called Edmund Murphy played it one night. And I went home and I found I could play it, just from hearing them play it. And I was thrilled, that’s the first time that ever happened to me.‘
You can find out more about Con Curtin and the ‘Sliabh Luachra’ style of playing here:
3 Morrison’s Jig, which Kevin has just re-recorded with John Carty for his new album ‘Sligo Made’
4 Paris Nights, by Cal Scott
5 London Town, written by Kevin Burke and Cal Scott
6 Lucy’s Fling, from the playing of Lucy Farr
As will happen, I was hoking about looking for clips of the McGowan brothers when I came across this, featuring Seamus Tansey and James Murray. It’s pretty funny, entitled ‘Sligo Flute Controversy!’ – worth a gander:
One last thing - thanks to Ruby Hoy for her help in making this episode happen, and to Bronnie Griffin.
And thank you Kevin Burke.
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Till next time.
Darren & Dom