TRASNA NA DTONNTA,
Fine, hearty playing with a lovely flow, great swing and a powerful lift: what more could any listener hope for?
Well, it’s all to be found here on this album, in the music of father and son, John Gannon of Droim, Leitir Mor, Conamara and Colm Gannon of Dorchester, Boston in the US. Their music, full of character, lifts your spirit and takes you back ‘home’, back to where our music came from.
Whenever John and Colm play together they bring out the best in each other. Ní neart go cur le chéile. Playing tunes from the deep well of the tradition, tobar an cheoil, in a great traditional style, they bring wonderful twists and turns to the music. They have the ‘few notes’ different, the ‘crafty’ ones, the ones that make all the difference. Listening to their music is like walking down an old, familiar country road, and noticing many delightful, undiscovered aspects of your surroundings for the very first time. Furthermore, the tempo they play at is just right, giving you time enough to enjoy the scenery along the way.
The songs round off the album beautifully. Maureen Creighan (Gannon) R.I.P., John’s sister, sings Cuaichín Gleann Néifin and Tógfaidh Mé Mo Sheolta. She sings in the great Conamara Sean-Nós style. This is how the songs were passed down to Maureen, and it’s how they’ll now be passed onto the next generation. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam. The Gannons are joined on this album by John Blake who, as ever, accompanies superbly on piano and guitar.
With melodeon and accordion, John and Colm pull and draw notes out of a tune in a deeply expressive, meaningful and musical way that is truly special. Their playing has the lonesome touch of an emigrant’s music that has travelled Trasna na dTonnta, across the Atlantic waves, from Conamara to Boston and back.
This is music played from the heart with great feeling.
Is dreas cheoil iontach é seo, a mhairfeas go deo!
John McEvilly, Ballintubber, Co. Mayo, June 2011.
John Gannon was born in Droim, Lettermore, County Galway, where he learned his music. John like most back then was self taught. In 1959 John immigrated to the States first Chicago then Pittsburg and then settling in Boston where he lives now with his lovely wife Gerry, from Tuirin, Connemara. John gave up playing for over twenty years shortly after he had emigrated. He started playing the box again when he wanted to pass it on to his two sons Sean and Colm and has been at it ever since.
MEAITI JO SHEAMUIS ON JOHN GANNON
John Gannon's melodeon playing is different and distinctive in his own style even though he utilizes his power of recall in full in this very enjoyable debut album of his. First impressions have a lasting effect and the more we listen to it the greater the appeal. Although he possesses a unique and personal style of his own, here we have loads of touches of yesteryear with the almost ever-present introductory long note and equally constant unhurried tempo along with that wonderful steady unfailing rythm throughout. An equally competant two row accordionist, John can switch from one to the other with natural ease.
His melodeon arrangement of some unusual reel tracks supports this theory.On one of these tracks his younger son, Colm, joins him with a rare selection of reels. But John mainly chose from his vast repetoire of old melodeon tunes from his native Connemara for this album. An example of these are hornpipes like the Boys of Blue Hill and the Plains of Boyle, some reels like Miss McLeods, Johnny will you marry me and the Blackberry blossom in a rare lower key to suit the 10-key Castagnari model. But his selection of jigs particularly emphasises a reflects the older popular dance music of his native Garumna Island: Cailliach an Airgid (The Hag with the Money), Haste to the Wedding, The Irish Washerwoman, The Connaghtman's Rambles and An Rogaire Dubh (The Black Rogue) and The Ramblin Pitchfork, on which he is joined by his older accordion-playing son, Sean.
Yes two tremendous debut box albums within the space of twelve months from father and son, but in reverse order, speak volumes for the musical activities of the Gannon family of Boston and Droim. And it is my honour and priviledge to be part of this tremendous occasion.
- Meaiti Jo Sheamuis
JOHN CARTY ON JOHN GANNON
Galway is well known for its outstanding accordion music. From east to west there are varied and rich interpretations of the music and it seems the pocket of Lettermore, where John Gannon hails from has produced some of the most interesting musicians in our tradition. There has been many memorable nights in Irish music, but one that stands out clearly for me was in Spiddal at the lauch of Colm Gannon's debut album,
Return to Droim. The hotel was crowded with celebrated musicians and music Connoissuers. We were treated to some excellent music from Colm and friends and just when we thought, it gets no better than this, Colm invited his father, John, on stage for a few tunes. Everyone present that night knew they were witnessing something very special. This was big league music!
When John started to play there was an immediate connection with the audience, it is this ingredient, which makes him such a distinctive musician. I am delighted to give this album my blessing and I praise the excellent work done here by all the production team. This is a must for anyone's music collection. Fair play John Gannon.
- John Carty
Colm Gannon Was born, in Dorchesrter, Boston, Massachussette of Connemara parents. His Father John, from Droim and his mother Gerry from Tuirin. He learned to play his music from his father and his brother Sean. Colm won the all Ireland in 1994 on the button accordion and then moved to Ennis, Co. Clare with Fiddler Jesse Smith where he got to live and play with all the great musicians there. After a couple of years there, Colm was asked to join "Riverdance the show" which he toured with for four years. Colm has toured the states with world-renowned Sligo based band "Dervish". Colm also performed with Dolly Parton, in "Dollywood" with the show Ragus. Colm is now living back in his father’s homeplace, Droim, and is currently playing all over the country and the US promoting his new album with Jesse Smith and John Blake; "The Ewe with The Crooked Horn" after the great success of his solo album "Return to Droim", which featured guest artists such as; John Carty on Banjo, Jesse Smith on fiddle and John Blake on Piano, Guitar and Bouzouki.
My first memories of music are of my Dad, John Gannon, playing the box at the kitchen table at our house in Dorchester, Boston, Massachussettes where I grew up. Dad came over to the states in 1959 from Droim, Connemara and my mother, Gerry Gannon, came in 1954 from Tuirin, Connemara. I learned music on the box from my Dad and my brother, Sean. There was always music in our house, recordings of Seanin Phat Mylea McDonough, Kevin Coyne, Finbarr Dwyer, Joe Burke and Martin McMahon were playing night and day, and were the first big influences on my playing.
My Mother started taking me out to sessions and concerts, at a young age, where I got to meet people such as Tina Lech, Jimmy Noonan, Frankie McDonagh, Brendan Bulger and Larry Reynolds. Through these musicians and many like them, and also people like Coley and Annie Mullen, giving us videos and tapes, I had no limit to the music that I could get my hands on. Frequent trips to Ireland gave me a chance to hear and play with lots of great musicians i mightn't have come across in Boston.
In 1998 myself and good friend, Fiddler Jesse Smith, moved over to Ireland. We were based in Ennis, County Clare, and I stayed for a couple of years. Before leaving Ennis I was asked to join Riverdance, and spent four years touring the U.S, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Since 2003 I have lived in Droim, Connemara and have been playing music all over Ireland ever since.
Irish music has been passed on one way or another throughout the years. All this great music keeps us going. As a musician I listen to and learn from the music that I've heard during my life and this has infuenced my music immensely, there have been a lot of influences on my playing, that’s how traditional music keeps surviving, by respecting what came before us. I hope this recording represents some of the great music I've heard over the years whether it be at late night sessions, tapes given to me, 78 recordings or tunes heard at the kitchen table.
- Colm Gannon
MEAITI JO SHEAMUIS ON COLM'S "RETURN TO DROIM" ALBUM:
I am honoured to be associated with such a delightful recording. No words capture the sheer pleasure I've had listening over and over to this beautiful album. Wonderful playing indeed, giving the accordion fresh dimensions of great style and tone and exciting rich renditions of regular, simple tunes, reminding one of times past.
Shades of some of the old master music-makers such as Coleman, Morrisson, Killoran and Tuohy are much in evidence and although this is Colm's first album, one could be misled to assume that it is one of his many albums because of his maturity and masterful playing. This is a truly traditional music lovers CD: rich in all its free flowing style and yet original in variation and creativity.
The sense of surprise in Colm's variations will continue to hold one in suspense while an ever present spiritual lift would inspire one to the dance floor, none more so than the very last set, where his grand uncle's interpretation of songs equalled even that of the "Proffessor" Morrisson himself! And surely Colm's interpretation of present day great sean-nós singing style is equally reflected in his unique playing of Thois ag an Tobar! Up Droim, Inis Treabhair agus Boston!
- Meaiti Jo Sheamuis
Maureen Creighan (Maiden name Maureen Gannon) was born in 1935 in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht, Droim, Leitir Mor.
Growing up with three brothers (John, Patsy and Michael) and two sisters (Sally and Cissy), the family learned to sing, play the accordion and were known to throw a few steps as well. They inherited the love for music, song and dance from their mother Mary (Curran) Gannon, who was born in Montana. Mary Curran moved back to her family’s home to Ireland before WW1 and was unable to return due to the war. She settled in Connemara where she met Johnny Gannon Sr. and raised their family.
Maureen learned many Irish songs in her early years from her grandmother and uncle. At 13, she first learned English while attending school at Kylemore Abbey. In 1952 aged 17, her uncles, Patsy and Larry Curran (both accordion players), brought her to Pittsburg, where she met her future husband Paddy Creighan of Fermanagh. After their engagement, they moved to the North side of Chicago where she planted her roots. At that time, Irish songs were not heard in public, but kept alive at house parties and private gatherings in the area, (an area that was heavily populated by the people of Connemara).
Maureen recalled the first time she was asked to sing Gaelic songs in public was 1956. Shortly after, she was approached by a group of Irish-Americans eager to learn the Gaelic language. So Maureen decided to start up Gaelic language and singing classes in the area. The interest grew and ended up culminating in the foundation of the Gaelic League in Chicago. In the 1970’s she staged her play “An Tincear Buí”. It was performed solely in Irish, and incorporated traditional music, song and dance. This is just one example of countless methods she used to pioneer her tradition.
Maureen was a great lady in so many ways. Her contribution to music, song and family were vital to the preservation of our tradition in the US. In an interview recorded by Mick Maloney in the late 1970’s Maureen says “I would like to thank you, Mick, for coming around and recording these old songs and tunes in order for us to be able to be keep them alive, because if it hadn’t been for that, well, they would just be lost!” That was her philosophy, she strived to preserve the culture she grew up with for future generations and she succeeded. Maureen sadly passed away a few years ago but her influence lives on, especially in John Gannon (her brother) and myself (her nephew) who recorded this album and knew it wouldn’t be complete without a couple songs from Maureen.
ABOUT JOHN BLAKE
John Blake is highly sought after for his many musical talents; on guitar, flute, piano and bouzouki. John was born in London and as a youngster took lessons in Queens Park from Clare fiddler and instructor Brendan Mulkere. In 1998, John moved to Ireland and since then he has appeared on a wealth of albums throughout the years including: 'The Tap Room Trio' and was a member of young traditional band Téada. Although a well known guitarist, John is equally adept on the flute the evidence of which can be heard on the critically acclaimed 'Traditional Irish Music from London' with Lamond Gillespie and Mick Leahy.