Album of The Week – Pat Walsh – Simply Whistle 31st Oct 2020
Artist appearing on the album:- Pat Walsh /John Doyle /Mike McGoldrick/Marian Egan / Pat O’Reilly / Stephen Doherty /Tim Edey
Simply Whistle is an album by Manchester tin whistle player Pat Walsh. Pat has been part of the traditional music scene in Manchester for 50 years and is regarded as one of Manchester’s best whistle players. Renowned fiddle player Emma Sweeney says ‘she has a lovely way of bringing music to life, with meticulous thought given to every tune she chooses to play – be it a trad piece or one of her own compositions’.
The music on this album reflects Pat’s musical experience and influences. Her own compositions are an example of her natural gift to create new melodies which never stray from the traditional genre and have been recorded and played by Lunasa’s Kevin Crawford and fiddle player Colin Farrell as well as Mike McGoldrick who also features on this album.
The album has been masterfully produced by Mike McGoldrick who has worked sensitively with Pat in retaining a clean and simple recording. Having played often with Pat in Manchester Mike recognised who would compliment her style and chose the genius John Doyle for most of the accompaniment and Tim Edey also provides his unmistakeable backing on a couple of tracks.
1. The Teacake Reel/The Belly Dancer (reels) – I composed the first reel many years ago, but I was never happy with the second part, so I reworked it for this recording. During our time working on this album, Mike McGoldrick has made many cups of tea and I have supplied the tea cakes, hence the title. The next tune I wrote to fit the first one and it came out sounding more Middle Eastern than Irish, so I’ve called it the Belly Dancer.
2. The Forgotten Fling/Miss Galvins (flings) – I recorded Con Moloney playing this set of tunes in his home January 2013. He asked on a few visits ‘did I have it yet?’ but sadly I learned it too late to get a chance to play it with him. Con played the flute and was one of the originals for me, playing among the older Irish men in Manchester when I was getting started
3. Baby Matthew’s jig/Emmets Hedgehog (jigs) – The first jig I composed specially for our second grandchild Matthew. I follow it with a Niall Vallely tune which Emma Sweeney and myself instantly liked when we first heard the Vallely brothers playing it on the TG4 programme Geantrai. We hit the rewind button on the remote a few times to learn it and have never stopped playing it since. I am delighted my friend Pat O’Reilly accompanied me on bouzouki for this track. His gentle, rhythmical style compliments these tunes beautifully.
4. Fr. O’Grady’s Trip to Bocca/Sheamus Heneghan’s (reels) – I learned the first tune from fiddle player Julie Langan and box player Verena Commin’s album “Fonnchaoi”. Julie hosts a popular session in Newport, Co.Mayo which attracts many fine musicians. Julie’s husband, Graham Wright is a highly respected luthier and fiddle player. We have had many great nights ‘over the bay’ in Newport and are always made feel very welcome. The tune I follow it with I learned from the accordion player Sheamus Heneghan but I’ve never had a name for it. Sheamus is a gentle man and I have fond memories of playing tunes with Sheamus and his daughter Christina, a lovely whistle player, in O Dufaigh’s bar and An Bhun Abhainn in Louisburgh, whilst Liam and Rosie played outside up and down the main street. Their family home is in Thallabawn a few miles further up the coast road from our house in Louisburgh.
5. Humours of Whiskey (slip jig)/Seamus Ennis’ Lark in the Morning (jig) – The first tune was the very first tune I learned properly on the tin whistle. Kevin Flanagan (Flanny) taught me at my mother’s kitchen table; up to then I had been stopping and starting tunes in the wrong place. I will always be grateful to him for showing me the way round a whistle. Flanny is a gifted musician who plays mandolin, guitar and tin whistle and also has a great singing voice. The next tune I learned from Peter Carberry and Padraig McGovern’s beautiful album Forgotten Gems, which I never tire of hearing. Peter lived in Manchester for years and was a major player and teacher of music. I love to hear Peter playing, he has a lovely unhurried style and great timing which gets the feet tapping.
6. Fingal’s Cave (march) into Sporting Paddy/Tie the Bonnet (reels) – I heard Matt Molloy playing the first tune in the Park Hotel, Mullingar around 2003. The music was wonderful that night – Matt’s exceptional flute playing with Mick Conneely on bouzouki and the audience quietly listening. The next tune I first heard on Sean O’Riada’s soundtrack to Playboy of the Western World an album which mesmerised me then and still moves me today despite my copy being full of scratches. For me Sean O’Riada was the pioneer who paved the way for future musicians to be creative with the tradition. This tune is often played in sessions and is known as Sporting Paddy. Tie the Bonnet is from the Chieftains second album. I love that Mike joined me on this track and the big flute gives it a very old fashioned sound.
7. The Pondering/The Diplodocus (jigs) – First tune I learned from banjo player Enda Scahill’s album Pick It Up. At the time my iPod was on shuffle and seemed to be always on this very catchy tune which I really liked so I had to learn it even though it didn’t seem like an obvious whistle tune at first. I follow it with a gorgeous Liz Carroll tune (recorded on the first Trian album) which I first heard played at one of Donal Maguire’s many house sessions by a lady called Gwenda on the fiddle. I loved this tune immediately. Donal is a fine singer and musician and we have known each other since the Exile of Erin days.
8. Master McDermott’s/Taylor’s Fancy (reels) – Marian Flannery Egan often played this set of reels back in the ‘70s. She learned them from her good friend Deirdre Collis who plays accordion and tin whistle. Marian came to Manchester from Sligo in 1973 and soon became popular amongst the Irish community playing the piano accordion, tin whistle and concert flute. She joined Sully’s band, Sullivan’s Private Stock, but her legacy to Manchester is most definitely her music teaching. Marian and myself had a lot of fun when we were young which is why I was thrilled that she joined me on the whistle for this track. We thought we were really cool going into the studio that day like a pair of ageing rock chicks, we had a great time. Tom and Stephen Doherty’s recording studio is in a stunning location in Foxford, Co. Mayo. They looked after us and made us feel very welcome. Both are exceptional musicians and to have Stephen accompany us on the piano was the icing on the cake. Marian kindly provided the lovely picture of Pake Dyer and Jimmy Taylor on the front page of the booklet.
9. The Lost Jig/The Box Man (jigs) – The first jig is mine which I made up years ago and forgot all about until I found it on a cassette tape during a house move. The second tune is another great Liz Carroll composition which she recorded on her In Play album with John Doyle
10. Claudia’s Waltz – I made this little tune up a few years ago and when our first grandchild Claudia arrived in Dublin it seemed the perfect fit. A little girl I taught whistle loved it and suggested the name. She asked me to teach it to her and said when she grew up she would play it for Claudia’s first dance at her wedding which I thought was very sweet. Claudia introduces her tune and Mike has added his magic, playing the low whistle, which I think is absolutely gorgeous.
11. The Poolbeg Chimneys/The Ivy Leaf (reels) – The first tune is my own composition named for this well-known Dublin landmark. As we were finishing the album, Claudia’s sister Vivienne came into the world so it will always be her tune. The Poolbeg chimney tops are visible from where they live. I follow it with a tune I learned from Michael Burke the accordion player who used to play in the Exile of Erin. I am playing Michael’s version how I remember him playing it nearly 50 years ago. Sadly, Michael recently passed away and I’m so sorry I never had the album finished in time for him to hear it. I’m delighted once again that Mike joined me on the whistle for this tune.
12. Old Rafferty’s Apple/Rosie’s wedding (jigs) – The first tune is Mike McGoldrick’s composition which he recorded on a recent duet album with John Doyle. I love playing this tune. Mike writes great music and is very generous with his compositions. I follow it with a tune I wrote and played with fiddle player Emma Sweeney at my daughter Rosie’s marriage to Craig. Emma is an exceptional musician and an extremely talented fiddle player. I love playing tunes with her. She has been a family friend for a long time and we have had many good times and tunes over the years.
13. The Red Gates/Larry’s Favourite (reel) – The first tune I learned from Debbie Garvey, a wonderful box player here in Manchester. Debbie is a modest and gifted musician who attributes her style of playing to Peter Carberry’s teaching. She is a natural musician and her playing is never rushed so you can hear every note and the melody clearly. I follow it here with a Paddy O’Brien reel which is a popular session tune and a favourite of mine.
14. The Love of Lucia/Heart Shaped Wood (jigs) – The first tune is a composition by Angela Usher which she plays on her album The Gort Mile. It is a lovely tune and a big favourite among the session scene in Manchester. Angela is a great banjo player and multi-instrumentalist who hosts sessions around Manchester and teaches traditional music full time. I play it here with Mike McGoldrick’s tune Heart Shaped Wood from his Aurora album.
15. Kissing Cousins/John Sindt’s Favourite (slow reels) – I composed these two tunes during the summer of 2019 in Louisburgh. The first tune is for our four grandchildren – in order of appearance – Claudia Grace, Matthew, Vivienne Sofia and little Tommy. On a recent trip to New York I played them for the whistle maker John Sindt whose favourite was the second tune so I named it for him.
16. Caoineadgh An Spailpin (slow air)/ Pass the Baby / John Griffin’s Fancy (jigs) – The first tune I learned from the soundtrack album for Playboy of the Western World. Sean O’Riada’s arrangement of this slow air is simple and hauntingly effective. I fell in love with it on first hearing. I am grateful to his son Peadar for the name of the tune and also for telling me his father composed this melody especially for the film. My friend Julie Langan translated the title for me – ‘the lament of the spailpin’ – a spailpin is a seasonal labourer who was hired at fairs. Pass the Baby is my own tune which I composed when Claudia was born and we constantly passed her around for cuddles. The last jig was composed by Fr John Griffin a Milltown Malbay man who lives in San Francisco. Seamus and myself went on the famous Joanie Madden Folk‘n‘Irish cruise in 2017 and at most of the sessions I would sit beside Fr John (whistle and flute player) – he liked my playing and I liked his. Seamus and myself were never up in time for mass, so I just thought Fr. John was a very popular man and I only found out later he was the priest who celebrated mass on the boat.
17. Eanach Mhic Coilin/The Music Room (reels) – The first reel I got from Mike McGoldrick. He recorded it on Dog in the Fog album with Dezi Donnelly, Julie Langan brought the next tune to my attention. It was composed by Clare flute player Paddy O’Donoghue. Julie and I often play this set when we are in a session.
18. Statia Donnelly’s/Marian’s Trip to Collooney / Humours of Ayle House (jigs) – The first tune I got from Lynne Percival and Martin Oakley who have been a big part of the Manchester session scene for years. I follow this with one of Sully’s compositions from his album Sully’s Fancy. Sully has written lots of tunes which are played regularly in sessions and many have been recorded by top players. I think this tune particularly suits the whistle. The third tune in this set I heard on the Cruise. Kevin Crawford and Dylan Foley played it a lot and they recorded it on their album The Drunken Gaugers, with Patrick Doocey on guitar. The flute and fiddle are my favourite combination of instruments.
19. The Mystery Reel (Barnaderg)/Naughton’s (reels) – The first tune I learned from the playing of the fantastic whistle player Grace Kelly. Grace lives and plays in Manchester and is well known in traditional music circles here and in Ireland. She is an exciting and sensitive whistle player. Around 2006 a crowd of us from Manchester went to Barnaderg, Co Galway to join Mike McGoldrick and his family for a weekend of music. I remember Grace sitting at a picnic table outside the pub playing this and I instantly liked it. Emma was staying with us in Louisburgh that summer and she liked it too so we learned it and played it all the time round Westport that year. I thought it appropriate to follow one fantastic whistle player with another which is why I chose to pair it with a tune Mary Bergin plays on her iconic album Feadóga Stáin. Mary is undoubtedly the first lady of whistle playing and is an inspiration to us all.