”Down the Green Fields” is the third release from the Irish Traditional band Bua and it’s the first with the group’s newest member Devin Shepherd. Critics have noted the band’s “unabashedly retro” approach to their music and, with “Down the Green Fields,” Bua continues to find inspiration in Irish music’s rich past for repertoire and style. The album is also a celebration of the music of friends and mentors in the US and Ireland.
St. Louis native Brían Ó hAirt sings six songs on the album. “I learned half of the songs from friends in Ireland and the other half from singers I heard while in Ireland or the States” says Ó hAirt. His sources include his recent tour partner Len Graham (of County Antrim) and long-time mentor and inspiration Áine Meenaghan (of Connemara and resident of Chicago) along with Oireachtas winner Gearoidín Bhreathnach of County Donegal. The songs span a wide variety of dialects, singing styles and song forms in both the Irish and English language.
Chicagoan Devin Shepherd is new to the band but a has long been a musical partner and friend to flute player and piper Sean Gavin. The two got to know each other from a young age at Midwest Fleadh Cheoil music competitions (both were frequent winners with Devin taking first prize in fiddle for nine consecutive years). “I love playing with Devin and I feel like he and I have kind of grown and matured alongside each other,” says Gavin, referring to their duets as a “conversation.” The instrumental tracks on the album focus on this deeply rooted duo, underpinned by the accompaniment of Brian Miller on guitar and Greek bouzouki, and on one track, by Ó hAirt's dancing in the sean-nós style.
Foras na Gaeilge—Ireland’s own governing body for the Irish language--awarded Bua a grant to fund the substantial bilingual booklet that accompanies the CD. Focusing on the six song tracks featured on the album, the booklet contains biographies of source singers, archival photos, song background and translations rendered by Dr. Deirdre Ní Chonghaile of the National University of Ireland in Galway.