On her first full-length project since ‘08s On Better Paths, Beth Patterson reunites with fellow former Poor Clares multi-instrumentalist Patrick O’Flaherty for an eclectic baker’s dozen worth of tracks that’s hardly your standard Celtic fare. Buy on AmazonThe majority of the tracks feature Patterson thrashing away on bouzouki and O’Flaherty gliding on accordion — an interesting, yet nonstandard configuration. And instead of the proverbial jigs, reels, and hornpipes Celtic musicians rip out whenever they get together, some medley tracks actually begin with a Cajun tune, like “J’ai Passé Devant ta Porte” and “The Mamou Two-Waltz” that segue seamlessly into a Celtic tune such as “Cill Aodáin.” A few Cajun-Celtic numbers are played in their entirety, like Adam Hebert’s “Pointe Aux Pins” — instantly attention-grabbing due to Patterson’s infectious rhythmic strumming on the intro. Other than Patterson’s gorgeous French vocals that are otherwise a dead giveaway, the Cajun melodies are so well rendered that it’s conceivable some could mistakenly assume their origin was always Celtic.
Patterson and O’Flaherty are just tight on the trad Celtic material, frolicking and galloping through a bevy of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and French Canadian tunes. On occasion, O’Flaherty percolates on banjo and accompanies his vocals on mandolin. Interestingly, he takes the lead on the twin bouzouki duet “Óró, Séadh Do Bheatha Abhaile.” But when it’s all said and done, O’Flaherty should be lauded for his vocals on the centuries-old, sean nos style of Gaelic language singing (“Bean Phaídín,” “Cúnla”). Only a few can sing this well unaccompanied and stay in pitch, something O’Flaherty does with the best of ‘em. A sound alternative for traditional Celtic and Cajun music lovers alike. --Dan Willging, OffBeat magazine
Patrick O’Flaherty and Beth Patterson will be playing two shows in New Orleans next week to celebrate the release of their latest CD, the aptly named Caelic.
“There are no songs sung in English here,” said Lafayette native Beth Patterson. “It’s very bare bones going back to the original traditions, and pretty much represents what we do as a duo.”
Two founding members of the acclaimed Poor Clares, this is their first project as a duo, and what can be found on this latest release is a refreshingly authentic and rootsy mix of Cajun-French and Irish-Gaelic traditional songs and tunes, each draws from their separate backgrounds, that of a French-speaking Cajun in the case of Patterson, and that of a native Gaelic speaker from Connemara, Ireland in O’Flaherty's.
“I hadn’t done a CD for a while now, and we had been talking about it for a few years, just Louisiana music and just Gaelic songs,” said Patrick. “There are familiar songs that everyone does, but they don’t always really speak the languages. I thought it would be good to do these same songs, and do it with the proper accents.”
Caelic was recorded in West Virginia over the space of less than one week, at what Patrick describes as an ‘old fashioned recording studio’.
“That was an inhumane amount of time for this kind of thing,” said Patterson. “We have played together for just so long, but even so we wanted to get it as good as we possibly could, and we are pretty happy with it.”
“The first song on the CD is actually one of the first Cajun songs I ever learned,” said Beth went on, explaining their adaption of the Cajun call-and-answer song, Mon Bon Vieux Mari (My Good Old Husband) to reflect both Louisianan and Irish sensibilities, with her taking the role of the irate Louisiana wife in Cajun French, and Patrick answering in defiant Irish as the guilty husband.
“It shows that men and women really cannot communicate,” she laughed.
O’Flaherty currently owns, runs, and performs in the also aptly named Irish Pub On Washington Street, Lewisburg, WV but he and Patterson are planning other collaborative tours in the future, and he hopes to play more in New Orleans.
“If I have plenty of warning I can get away from the pub and it actually a relief for me to get out on the road,” he said. “Beth plays about more often, but if it clicks we will definitely be playing more together. When I leave New Orleans I have to go back to eating crap food.”
--Sharon Armstrong, WWOZ blog