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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter 60: Ballyhootry-

a-muso-image

There’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and running again…

Song 60: Ballyhootry– I wrote this back in the mid-1990s. I must have fallen out on the wrong side of the bed that day because I created a town called Ballyhootry in the County Anywhere. I let fly at the ersatz Irish or Oirishry so beloved by Hollywood B-movies and songs. You know, where leprechauns frolic at the ends of rainbows and the beer is dyed green and quaintness rules the day to the deedle-lee-dee tootling of a tin whistle. Also a target is the rampant commercialism where Mammon trumps Tradition every time. (the use of the previous verb is not coincidental, by the way). FYI,  I still love Ireland, her blemishes notwithstanding, but I live in Australia now and consider it home- for all its imperfections. The song here is not backed by Banter but Band-in-a-Box because we have not yet recorded any version of the song, even though we’ve play it enough in the past. I’ll update, when or if we ever get round to it. In the meantime, enjoy a more rocky rendition than is heard in our acoustic oeuvre.

 

Ballyhootry
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 59- My Last Farewell

a-muso-image

There’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and running again…

Song 59: My Last Farewell- Based on the last letter written by Padraig Pearse to his mother, this song was written by the O”Meara brothers (who also penned the well-known song, Grace, about another hero of the 1916 Irish uprising- Joseph Mary Plunkett). This song is often requested on our WOW fm radio show, A Touch of Ireland, here in the Penrith valley. Poignantly, the song references his brother William, who was executed the day following the execution of the Irish rebel leader. William seems to have been executed for his name rather than any significant involvement in the rising. “Willie”, a sculptor, was more involved in running St Edna’s School in Rathfarnam. Padraig, in writing his letter, was not to know that his brother, far from providing solace to the Pearse family, would join him in the ranks of the executed participants in the failed rising that provided the impetus for the founding of the Irish state within a matter of years.

 

 

My Last Farewell
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 58- Shelter

a-muso-image

There’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and running again…

Shelter: Song 58- Part of our repertoire since the mid-1990s, this song gets more and more dislocated from the realities of contemporary Australian official government policy, where refugees (designated as such by the UN) languish in off-shore detention camps. Written by Eric Bogle, one of our songwriting heroes, the sentiments expressed herein are closer to the hearts of many Australians than the callous real-politik practised by our major political parties.

Shelter
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 57- McAlpine’s Fusilier’s/Instrumental

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and running again…
Song 57: McAlpine’s Fusilier’s/Instrumental– Over the years this has proved to be one of the most popular items in our repertoire. Obviously we enjoy playing whatever song or instrumental we happen to be performing. We play for enjoyment and not for pay. All we ask is a reasonable sound system. While we won’t make money doing this, we will make craic- and isn’t that all that matters. Dominic Behan wrote this song (among many other fine examples from the genre) and it captures the essence of the Irish navvies who, in their thousands and tens of thousands built the rail, the roads the tunnels and canals and a lot more of the infrastructure in Britain and farther afield.
 
 
McAlpine’s Fusiliers/Instrumental
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 56- Follow Me Up To Carlow

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (plus one middle-aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and running again…

Song 56: Follow Me Up To CarlowAccording to tradition, the pipers of Fiach McHugh, the protagonist and hero of the song, played this melody as a marching tune for the Irish fighters during the battle of Glenmalure, fought 337 years ago, almost to the day of this posting. That wise oracle Wikipedia tells me, The Battle of Glenmalure (Irish: Cath Ghleann Molúra) took place in Ireland on 25 August 1580 during the Desmond Rebellions. An Irish Catholic force made up of the Gaelic clans from the Wicklow Mountains led by Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne and James Eustace, Viscount Baltinglas of the Pale, defeated an English army under Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton, at the O’Byrnes’ mountain stronghold of Glenmalure. The lyrics were written by that great Irish scholar and songwriter, P. J. McCall, who also wrote such perennial favourites as Boolavogue and Kelly, the Boy from Killane. This song has long been in my repertoire and the group, Banter, is working up an arrangement (that you can hear below) that is, like so much of our latest ouevre, a work-in-progress. After a few refreshing beverages, we often get to musing about going into a real studio and recording a live, but considerably more rehearsed and  balanced version of our favourite songs…

 

Follow Me Up To Carlow
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 55- Back Home in Derry

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (plus one middle-aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and ??running?? again…

Song 55: Back Home in Derry– There have been books written on the life and times of Bobby Sands. Among other things, he was a songwriter who, had circumstances been otherwise, might have entered the legions of singer-songwriters of Ireland and fared well (or not-so..) in this avocation. But circumstances saw him elevated to the pantheon of Republican heroes and martyrs. He borrowed the melody for this song from the same Irish source as Gordon Lightfoot did for his song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Sands added a chorus and wrote these well-known lyrics which commemorates the transportation of Irish prisoners to Van Diemen’s land (present-day Tasmania).  We had returned to Ireland in 1979 and were living in Cushendall, Co Antrim, when the Republican prisoners in the H-Blocks of the Maze prison started to agitate for political status. I tell some of this story in another part of this blog- The Summa Quotidian Entry 34- This Cold Bed. I had written the lyrics and music but my wife thought my chords and melody were too-clever-by-half. Of course, she was right, so I “borrowed” a melody she hummed as she read the lyrics.

 

Back Home in Derry
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 54- The Lark in the Morning

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and ??running?? again…

Song 54: The Lark in the Morning– A song in progress (we’ll probably end up copying The Dubliners version of this song with the interspersed instrumentals). At any rate, our bodhran player and main singer confided the other day that he used to sing this song way back when so we struck up the band, so to speak, and this is what resulted. We’ll keep working on it ( I was about to say, refining it but that might be a bridge- or should I say,- an inaccuracy too far…) This is one of the most popular songs, covered by many artists.

 

The Lark in the Morning
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 53- Two Hornpipes

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and ??running?? again…

Song 53:  Chief O’Neill’s Favourite/The Cork Hornpipe or Harvest Home– In 1974 , my wife bought me a small round-backed mandolin I lusted after from the music shop at the top of  Crown Street, Wollongong. I started plinking on it and after a time found that I could string the notes of these hornpipes together fairly accurately.  Of course, I slavishly followed the example of The Dubliners from a record of theirs which I played repeatedly to get the gist of the tunes. When Seannachie formed, I duetted with the gun mando player from that group- one Bertie McKnight- and for the next few years it became a staple of our performances. When the group, Banter, re-formed (again) just a few months ago, I re-introduced the hornpipes to the group. Why we hadn’t played them before remains one of life’s little mysteries because they are great tunes. Anyway, in this formation, I play guitar while the tunes are carried aloft by father and son on mandolin and fiddle respectively as the group’s main singer batters away on bodhran to mark the tempo.

 

Two Hornpipes
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 52- Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and ??running?? again…

Song 52 & 4: Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye– I first heard this sung by Tommy Maken way back and I took it up as part of my repertoire when I was still young and green. Written by English songwriter, Joseph Geoghagen and published in 1867, the anti-war sentiment seemingly  embodied in the song may be an aretfact of 20th Century readings of it as some evidence suggests that the song was sung for comic effect in music halls in the 19th Century!   But in Ireland itjihky was sung, like Arthur McBride, as a cautionary tale about joining the British army. In any case, these anti-militaristic views were quite widespread, especially among women. We’re trying out another arrangement of the song, now, and it is still a work in progress (even though some-myself included-might quibble a bit about that word progress!) Nevertheless, it may be of interest to those readers and listeners who like to examine process as much as product.

 

Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 51- The Ferryman

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and ??running?? again…

Song 51: The Ferryman– Like so many Irish urban songs, this Pete St John number tells of how economic forces affect the ways in which people regard their employment and the ways in which their relationships also may be subject to change. For all the gloomy sub-text, the song remains optimistic in spirit and this comes through in this treatment of it.

 

The Ferryman
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 50- St Anne’s Reel

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and ??running?? again…

Song 50: St Anne’s Reel– When we emerged from our self-imposed torpor a few months ago and started, in desultory fashion, to play music together again, we found ourselves quite rusty and found that the WD-40 that overcame this problem was the expedient solution of slowing down whenever we commenced a hazy tune. Our innate competitiveness, however, invariably resulted in the tune gradually acquiring momentum (sometimes to the extent that it eventually flew apart under centrifugal forces!) All good fun…

 

St Anne’s reel
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Banter V Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 49- The Lonely Banna Strand

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots (+ one middle aged son) gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table is, now,  an iPad with connected mic that has somehow survived the knocks and spillages that are part and parcel of the sessions.  So here we are, up and ??running?? again…

Song 49: The Lonely Banna Strand– Back in the mid-seventies we sat around a fire in a bleak backyard in Werrington and sang this (and other) songs. I came across a reference to this song in an old diary and, having decided to get up and going again (even though two of us are over seventy and I’m closing on that big “O” at a rate of knots…and the baby of the group is over halfway to three-score and ten) we offer up a series of songs and tunes that we intend (at some time in the not-too-distant-future) to take into a proper studio and record a properly balanced set. I think the singer interprets this portion of the story of Sir Roger Casement with real feeling. When I lived in Cushendall, I would often take the family out to Moorlough Bay, which looks across the North Channel to Scotland, and walk the paths about the headland, thinking about the achievements of this great man. I taught, also, for nine years in the 180s at Ballymena Academy, the alma mater of Sir Roger. While I was there, they did not acknowledge him, in any meaningful way. I wonder if this is still the case?