Definition: LILT noun \ˈlilt\ 1: a spirited and usually cheerful song or tune 2: a rhythmical swing, flow, or cadence 3: a springy buoyant movement...
“Lilt” -- a duo consisting of Tina Eck on flute and whistle and Keith Carr on bouzouki, banjo and mandolin -- are trying to impersonate all of the aforementioned definitions of their name with their music. They met in the Washington DC session scene some years back and found that “flute and zouk” were a good instrumental match for what they love to play: traditional dance music from Ireland. Jigs and reels, polkas and hornpipes, the occasional slow air or song. Lilt loves and tries to capture the essentials of Irish traditional music: boundless energy, wildness and melancholy.
Notes on the tunes:
1. Jigs: Coppers and Brass, Clonco
The jig “Coppers and Brass” was recorded by the famous fiddle player Michael Coleman. The slide “Clonco” is found in the collection of Breandan Breathnach.
2. Reels: Hut in the Bog, The Ivy Leaf
An old classic, we play the “Hut in the Bog” in Am, although it is often played in Bm and without the third part. The “Ivy Leaf” is lovely reel from the O’Neill collection. T learned both tunes and this setting from the playing of Matt Molloy.
3. Reels: Launching the Boat, Piper’s Despair
“Launching the Boat” is a composition by the great Donegal fiddler Francie Byrne which T learned from the playing of June McCormack and her band Siona. “Piper’s Despair” is an old classic session reel from the O’Neill collection. T got it from Joe DeZarn who plays it with us.
4. Reels: The Ornery Upright, Paddy Fahy’s
Liz Carroll wrote the beautiful tune “The Ornery Upright” (for the piano that wouldn’t make it up the stairs) and recorded it on her album “Lake Effect”. T learned the second reel “Paddy Fahy’s” from the playing of Martin Hayes. Paddy Fahy is an Irish composer and fiddler from Kilconnel in East Galway. Fahy never published a recording of his own playing nor a book of his compositions. Instead of giving his tunes names he simply numbered them. There are about 60 reels, jigs or hornpipes with the name “Paddy Fahy’s No. nn”. Jesse Winch joins us on bodhran.
5. Reels: Hanley’s Tweed, Considine’s Grove
Hanley's Tweed was written by Paddy O'Brien and was played by the Ormond Ceili Band. The title refers to a prize that the band won in competition: a bolt of tweed from the Hanley's company. “Considine’s Grove” is a tune T learned ages ago and rediscovered recently through the terrific playing of Joanie Madden on the recording “Pride of New York”. Our friend, mentor and magnificent fiddler Joe DeZarn loves this set and joins in.
6. Jig & Reel: Big John’s Hard Jig, Heathery Breeze
Big John’s Jig is an old Fermanagh tune that has been played and recorded by the wonderful singer and flute player from that area Cathal McConnell. T learned it from the recordings of “La Lugh” and Catherine McEvoy. ‘Big John’ refers to John McManus, a fiddle player from Fermanagh (born in NY) who got the tune from his father. The lovely single reel “Heathery Breeze” (or Heather Breeze) is found in O’Neill’s and Breathnach Collections and T learned it from the playing of Matt Molloy. Jesse Winch joins us on bodhran.
7. Reels: The Trip to Miriam’s, Mayor Harrison’s Fedora
“The Trip To Miriam’s” was composed by fiddler Colin Farrell, from Manchester, England. K was taught the tune by banjo player Darren Maloney, from Co. Cavan. Carter Harrison Jr. was Mayor of Chicago in the early 20th century and appointed Irish music collector and flute player Francis O’Neill as chief of the police force. Harrison’s trademark was a brown fedora hat and this reel was named in his honor and appears - of course - in O’Neill’s collection. K and T each learned the tune in sessions and always associated it with Joe DeZarn who is joining us on fiddle. Jesse Winch is on the bodhran.
8. Jigs: Gallagher’s Frolics, Trip to Sligo
T learned the first jig a million years ago at a session in the back room of the Washington DC Irish Pub “Nanny O’Brien’s”. “Gallagher’s Frolics” is in O’Neill’s collection. O’Neill thought it closely resembled his settings of the “Frieze Britches”. “Trip to Sligo” T learned from piper friend Andrew Hillmann at aforementioned session on the whistle. What fun to revive them.
9. Reels: Master Crowley’s, Paddy Taylor’s, The Maids of Mt. Kisco
“Master Crowley’s” is a dark sounding fiddle tune which K was inspired to adapt from the version played by American mandolinist Roger Landes. The tune was popularized by Donegal fiddler Hugh Gillespie - a contemporary of Michael Coleman’s - in the 1930’s. Paddy Taylor was a famous flute player originally from Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick, who played a wooden Boehm flute and died in 1976. T learned this tune from the playing of Seamus Egan. “The Maids of Mount Kisco” is said to be a composition of Sligo fiddler Paddy Killoran who recorded it in the 1930s. Joe DeZarn joins us on fiddle.
10. Marches: Northern March, Love finds a Way
T learned the first March from the playing of Matt Molloy who relates it to Rev. Gary Hastings, the rector of St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church in Galway. Born and raised in Loyalist East Belfast, Hastings is a highly respected Irish trad musician - he plays the flute, has recorded an album, and was a regular at the music sessions in Matt Molloy’s pub in Westport. “Love finds a way” was composed by the great Leitrim composer, fiddle and piano player Charlie Lennon and recorded on “Time for a Tune”. Jesse Winch joins us on bodhran.
11. Hornpipes: Nellie Your Favour I Fear I Shall Not Gain, The Stack of Rye
The first tune in this set is a traditional hornpipethat K originally heard played by Angelina Carberry. The second, “The Stack of Rye”, is a beautiful hornpipe composed by Junior Crehan. T learned it from the playing of the Mulcahy family, and K was inspired by the version on the “Faoi Bhlath” CD recorded by Dave Sheridan, Ciaran Somers, and Nicolas Quemener. Joe DeZarn joins us on fiddle for this tune.
12. Slip Jigs: The Thorn Tree, Farewell to Whalley Range
“The Thorn Tree” is a haunting slip jig composed by harpist Grainne Hambly, and is the title track on her own solo CD. We have combined this with another contemporary slip jig, “Farewell to Whalley Range”, which was written and recorded by the great flute player and composer Michael McGoldrick. We had become familiar with it through McGoldrick’s own recorded version and those of Philip Duffy and Cathal Hayden.
13. Air & Reels: Michael O’Connor 2nd Air, Rolling in the Barrel, The Tap Room
T learned this lovely slow air many years ago from a recording of Nollaigh Casey and Arty McGlynn. Our guest fiddler Mitch Fanning revived the tune and we have been playing it since. This Irish planxty was composed by the blind harpist Turlough O’Carolan (1670 - 1738). “Rolling in the Barrel” and “The Tap Room” is a set popularized by Paddy Canny and P.J. Hayes who ended the set with “The Earl's Chair” on the first-ever LP (33 rpm) of trad Irish music. We’re joined by Jesse Winch on the bodhran, Alistair Watson on cello and Mitch Fanning on fiddle.