Beyond The Pale likes to explore the musical connections between the traditional music of the immigrants that came to America from Ireland, Scotland and other parts of Europe, and American folk music. The title of our latest CD, Paleontology, refers metaphorically to this process of searching in the past for connections to the present. Each of the tracks on the CD contains elements of these past connections, unearthed and cast in the light of the present day.
Inside Liner notes (1 full panel)
1. I’ve Just Seen a Face (J. Lennon- P. McCartney) Gordon’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Liverpool some 80 years before the Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time. Gordon sings the lead, and we spice it up with “The Temperance Reel”, a grand old Scottish tune with a bit of an Appalachian flavor.
2. Eoin Murphy’s/The Brosna Slide/The Race Classic/An Spailpin Fanach- ( Gordon McLeod)Trad. & Original Irish Slides and Polkas The great Irish band from Sliabh Luachra, Sliabh Notes, has been a great source of inspiration and encouragement to Beyond The Pale over the years. Since we first met them at the North Texas Irish Festival many years ago, we have been guests in their homes and they in ours many times. The first tune in this set, “Eoin Murphy’s Slide” is an original composition by Gordon McLeod, named after the youngest son of Donal Murphy, Sliabh Notes’ accordion player. The other three tunes in the set are traditional Irish slides and polkas from Sliabh Luachra. Matt Cranitch joins us on fiddle for the second tune, “The Brosna Slide” and the fourth tune in the set, “An Spailpin Fanach”, a polka that Betsy Cummings learned from The Dave Munnelly band. The third tune, a polka called “The Race Classic” is one Betsy learned from the Irish group Liadan.
3. Conjugal Visit (James Nash) Christy McLeod sings the lead on this witty song that she learned from The Waybacks. Conjugal Visit inspired Christy because of the testimony regarding single moms and of good people rising above perhaps not-so-favorable beginnings. It also seemed to lend itself to a Cajun musical feel, Cajun music being influenced by the French/Acadian immigrants to Louisiana.” Morgan McLeod plays drums.
4. The Laughlin Boy (William Jolliff ) Betsy Cummings was raised with Quaker influences so this song resonates with her values. The song is inspired by a Civil War conscientious objector of Irish descent and fits perfectly in our band's repertoire of traditional Celtic, original and Americana musical offerings. Songwriter Bill Jolliff was glad to hear we were going to record it and said “It's a true story, you know, and the more people who sing it, the longer Seth Laughlin's brave witness goes on.” Historical accounts of the brutality “The Laughlin Boy” suffered at the hands of his own army are available via online searches.
5. La Valsounette/Homage Edmond Pariseau Two tunes with French influences. The first is a fast waltz composed by J. Molard, violinist from Brittany who played with former Kornog flute player Jean Michele Veillon in the band Pennou Skoulm. The second tune is a French Canadian reel with lots of syncopation and a bit of a polka feel.
6. On The Turning Away ( David Gilmour/Anthony Moore ) Christy chose to cover this Pink Floyd song, an inspiring message of remembering that we are our brothers keeper and that in an world that grows increasingly smaller every day, turning a blind eye to the suffering of others becomes all the more intolerable. The melody of the song is from a traditional Irish tune. Christy sings the lead and composed the jig that we play in the instrumental sections. Dirje Smith plays the cello parts (4 of them!) Gordon arranged and plays the other string parts.
7. Sailing To Philadelphia (Mark Knopfler) This song is a dialog between Jeremiah Dixon and Charlie Mason who surveyed early America and drew the famous Mason-Dixon Line to settle a border dispute between the colonies in the 1760s. We thought this song fit well with our theme of musical connections between America and Europe. Since Jeremiah Dixon was a “Geordie” from Northumberland on the border between England and Scotland so we spice up the tune with a little Northumbrian style hornpipe that Gordon composed just for that purpose.
8. Maid On The Shore (Trad. --Christy and Gordon McLeod) Christy learned The Maid on the Shore in Ireland at The University of Limerick several years ago from Irish singer, Karen Casey. It is a traditional Irish song, and featuring a theme often used in folk music of many cultures, one where the woman is the wily one who turns the tables on the men. We like songs of ironic trickery and had fun giving it a pirate feel…arrggg!
9. T-Man’s Jig/I’ll Get Wedded In My Auld Claes/Rosewood ( Gordon McLeod) (Orig/Trad) The first tune was composed by Gordon and named after his little grandson, Thomas George. It has a decidedly Scottish feel so we put I together with two old Scottish jigs. “I’ll Get Wedded In My Auld Claes” is an old traditional tune. “Rosewood” was composed by the famous Scottish fiddler James Scott Skinner (1842-1927). John Delaney works out on the concertina on the first and last tunes.
10. Saving Limbo ( Betsy Cummings) This slightly tongue-in-cheek song was composed by Betsy Cummings after John Delaney expressed his regret at the demise of Limbo in the Catholic doctrine. The song incorporated some of John’s childhood stories about being raised Irish Catholic in Albany, N.Y. It has a distinctly East European feel so the clarinet (Gordon) and saxophone (John) seemed to lend itself to Betsy’s lead vocal.
11. The Ghost of Willie Clancy (Gordon McLeod) Gordon composed this song in honor of The Willie Clancy Week, a fantastic traditional Irish music festival and school held each summer in Miltown Malbay on the west coast of County Clare, Ireland, in honor of the great Clare piper Willie Clancy. Gordon and Christy attend this festival and school nearly every summer and Betsy has been to it as well. The music and set dancing are like nowhere else. Willie Clancy was an uillean piper and Clare is known for its legendary fiddle players. So, what could be more fitting than to have Mickey Dunne and Matt Cranitch join us on this song celebrating the music of Clare! Mickey’s piping would put the goosebumps on a corpse and Matt’s fiddle playing, wonderful in its own right, matches Mickey’s piping so well it is truly remarkable. Gordon says “I am truly honored that musicians of this stature have added their stellar music to my song.”
12. That Lonesome Road ( James Taylor/ Don Grolnik) Our audiences seem to really enjoy our four part harmony a capella singing so we decided to record a new piece in this style. James Taylor’s haunting song seemed to be the perfect vehicle with an enduring message.
13. The Humors of Ballyconnell/The Roscommon/The Reconciliation (Trad. Irish) These are a set of traditional Irish reels, all great tunes for a dance or session!
14. Now Westlin Winds ( Robert Burns/Trad. Scottish) We often perform at “Burn’s Suppers” in late January and this is one of the songs we always do at these events commemorating “The Bard”. Scottish singer, Dick Gaughan, says, “This song says everything it is conceivably possible to say about anything—and it does it in five verses!” The strings were arranged and played by Gordon with John adding the haunting sounds of his wonderful whistle.
Beyond The Pale is:
Gordon McLeod – fiddle, guitar, bass, mandolins, bodhran, clarinet, vocals
Christy McLeod - guitar, bodhran, octave mandolin, vocals
Betsy Cummings – accordion, bodhran, vocals
John Delaney – flute, hammered dulcimer, tin whistles, C melody saxophone, tenor saxophone, concertina, vocals
Special Guest Musicians:
Matt Cranitch – Master fiddler; PhD. in Traditional Irish Music
Mickey Dunne – Uillean pipes, one of the last great pipers from the traveler’s tradition in Ireland
Dirje Smith – cellist extraordinaire
Produced by Gordon McLeod, Copyright 2010 at McLeod 9 Studio www.gordonmcleod.com
All musical selections used by permission of the composers and/or publishers:traditional selections noted. All arrangements by Beyond The Pale. Graphic art designed by David Hendley. Photo by Paula Cham
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