This collection is the first (although released third) of our series of four themed albums. We hoped to capture the joy of longer days and warmer weather with these songs and tunes from England, Scotland, and Ireland. All tracks feature myself (Hanz Araki) playing flute, whistle, and vocals; Kathryn Claire on fiddle, guitar, and vocals; and Joe Trump on percussion.
Track 1: An Leanbh Sidhe (The Fairy Child), The Primrose Lass, The Maid in the Cherry Tree, The Otter's Holt -- slow air/reels
I first heard An Leanbh Sidhe played by the great Galway whistle player Sean Ryan. There are words set to this air written by Samuel Lover, a poet and writer from the 1800s based on an Irish legend:
"O'er the mountain thro' the wild wood,
Where his childhood lov'd to play,
Where the flow'rs are freshly springing,
There I wander, day by day,
There I wander, growing fonder
Of the child that made my joy,
On the echos wildly calling,
To restore my Fairy boy."
The reels in this set are common session tunes that fit our theme both in title and in tone. The Maid in the Cherry Tree also goes by the title "The Curragh Races". We changed this tune slightly to suit the rest of the set and mean no offense. The Otter's Holt has been a favorite reel of mine for years.
This track features Cal Scott on guitar.
Track 2: Searching For Lambs
Yet another songs pinched from the June Tabor cannon.
Track 3: As I Roved Out
We learned the words of this song from Colleen Raney who learned it from the singing of Sarah Makem. At a festival in Austin, TX, we were lucky enough to take part in a singer's session (a rare occurrence!) with the Makem and Spain brothers. After Kathryn finished singing this song, Rory Makem said he remembered his Granny singing it when he was a boy.
Hanz Araki plays a Rob Forkner bodhran on this particular track.
Track 4: The April Fool, The Dawn, The Skylark
A jig and two reels. Very springy, I'd say. Once again, Cal Scott on guitar.
Track 5: Rosemary Fair
I have very little information on this particular version of this song. I learned it from one of the all-time great traditional song collections: Mick Hanly's highly influential album "A Kiss in the Morning Early".
Featuring Chris Hayes on the ukulele.
Track 6: Blackbirds and Thrushes
A song we learned from our dear friend Niamh Parsons. We were joined by the amazing Liz Bacon and Ara Gale on vocals.
Track 7: Pleasant and Delightful
Like so many great traditional songs, I learned this one while in Kyoto, Japan from another dear friend, Felicity Greenland. Liz and Ara are featured here again on backing vocals.
Track 8: Spring in the Air, Up and About in the Morning, The Cottongrass Flowers, The Rabbit in the Field
Two jigs, a slip-jig and a jig. No recollection of where I learned these tunes, as is so often the case. Cal Scott once again on guitar.
Track 9: Rosebud in June
On a sunny afternoon in Seattle, I sat and traded songs with the amazing Nancy Conescu -- Rosebud in June being one of them. Many years later, on a warm spring afternoon, I sat on a porch in Portland, OR with Kathryn and Matthew Haywood-Macdonald and it came flooding back.
Track 10: Lucky in Love, The Game of Love, The First Month of Spring
These tunes are the antidote to the reel set on our collection of murder ballads! Cal Scott on guitar.
Track 11: Country Life
This song was a favorite of my friend and brother Paul "Lolly" Lawton. I hope you like it, Loll. Liz and Ara again lent their voices to this track.
Track 12: The Verdant Braes of Skreen
Like so many Americans, my introduction to Irish songs were the collections of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and The Dubliners. At the urging of Conor Byrne (proprietor of Seattle's home of Irish Music at the time), I set out to learn more "torch songs" as he called them. At some stage, I had been given an old 7th generation video cassette with a segment featuring De Dannan on RTE. Maura O'Connell sang The Verdant Braes and I fell in love with the song (and her) -- but the audio was so terrible, I couldn't understand the words. It wasn't until some time later that Niamh Parsons was kind enough to jot the lyrics down on a napkin at, of course, Conor Byrnes.
Chris Hayes plays acoustic guitar on this track.