The complete lyrics may be viewed here.
|Yes we are. We're following the evolution of our roots in the Celtic traditions of Europe and the British Isles transplanted here in the United States. It's been quite an adventure researching collections compiled in the early years of the 20th Century, and fitting together the pieces of a complex cultural jigsaw. The effect is rather like a patchwork quilt. When we were on the Isle of Man, we discovered that the American craft of quilting may well have originated there and been introduced to the New World by Manx immigrants. And so go our musical discoveries as we pursue the branches that have found their way across the Atlantic. We invite you to join us in our quest to explore the westward migrations of the Celtic tribes.|
Refugees from religious persecution in France and Brittany immigrated to Canada's east coast in the eighteenth century, where they came to be referred to as Acadians. Ousted by the British, they fled south, settling in Louisiana, forming the roots of the thriving Cajun culture we know today. This version of Qu'avez-vous, collected by John and Alan Lomax from the singing of Jesse Stafford, is a song of discontent (although Barbara likes to interpret it as a song about how wonderful blondes are, based on the line "it's all for blondes, nothing for brunettes"). We intersperse Breton wedding dances from Polig Monjarret's collection to demonstrate the undeniable relationship between Breton and Cajun music, and finish off with a rousing set of tunes from Asturies, one of the Celtic areas in Spain: the first, a carol from Cuideiru, then a dance tune from Llanes. Chuck performs his debut on washboard...(see the lyrics.)
Mile Marbh' Aisg Air A'Ghaol is puirt-a-beul (mouth music) originating in the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland: a waulking song, performed while fulling wool to make thickened tweed. Waulking was a social event for the women in the community, who would gather around a table and pound the woven fabric to break down the fibers as it was passed hand to hand. They would sing call and response songs to keep the rhythm and pass the time. We maintain that the subject of this song was a reflection on the sentiments of the women who were, no doubt, disenchanted by the preparation of the fabric. In order to weaken the fibers, it was soaked in a noxious solution of brine and urine, the latter oft provided by the men who obligingly recycled their whisky! (See the lyrics.)
Collected in Galax, Virginia by the Lomaxes in the 1930's, Sweet William is firmly rooted in the folk traditions of the British Isles. The passion between two lovers is cursed by family and fate to end in tragedy, and everyone dies in the end. To emphasize the Scotch-Irish ancestry of Appalachia, Bob plays a Scottish march, and Bernard wrote the Irish style reel. Susan adds percussive clogging accompaniment, a variation of the Earl, a step originated by Earl White in North Carolina, and taught to her by veteran clogger Dana Bryant. (See the lyrics.)
We introduce the set with a lament of the whaler's family, leading into a plaintive Manx air. We finish off with a tune composed by Bob's friend, Charlie Glendinning, to honor sixteen children and their teacher, who were tragically murdered on March 16, 1996 in Dunblane, Scotland. (See the lyrics.)
We decided we needed to do more recognizable session tunes, albeit with IONA's distinct interpretation. Of particular note is Chuck's solo on 6-string bass–not your usual lead instrument. Each of us takes a solo...
We begin and continue this set with more tunes from Polig Monjarret's wondrous tome, then cross the Channel and head north to Wales to sing a song collected in Cardiff in 1908. With thanks to Cheryl Mitchell, as always, for her help with Barbara's Welsh pronunciation. (See the lyrics.)
When we were on the Isle of Man, we heard an intriguing song of conscription and faithlessness, for which Annie Kissick, director of Caarjyn Cooidjagh, an a capella Manx choir, provided music and background. According to her research, the words originally appeared in the log of the whaling ship Herald out of Providence, Rhode Island, in 1817. Since the subject, William Taylor was "born and raised on the Isle of Man", we include a popular Manx tune, Flitter Dance, for dramatic impact. We open with an Appalachian gaming song, collected in Galax, VA, to cement the American tie-in. Bob pipes us out with a Scottish march, a hornpipe, and a Highland pipe version of the Flitter Dance. (See the lyrics.)
Barbara's Cornish blood inspired her to research the music of her ancestors. She was fortunate to find a Cornish bard, Jack Libby, in Polperro, on the south coast of Cornwall, to help her with the pronunciation of this bucolic song of agrarian bliss. We add a reel from the little fishing village next door to Penzance, of pirates' fame. (See the lyrics.)
In 1798, the French agreed to support the Irish in one of their many rebellions against the British. Alas, the French were on Mediterranean time, and sent too few troops too late to help the rebels. Repercussions included the hanging of Wolfe Tone, and the evolution of this drinking song. We bracket the song with three lively jigs, the last to which Susan dances a Scottish interpretation of an Irish jig in which the "Woman of the House" is furious at her husband who rolls in late and besotted--much as the Irish must have felt about their French "allies". (See the lyrics.)
A lament for the death of a great Welsh harper leads smoothly into a sinuous Galician dance and then into an ancient Cornish tune. This modal instrumental set demonstrates the similarities and differences of three distinct Celtic cultures rarely combined.
We include this medley as a tribute to the late, great "CEO" of Barnaby Productions, Inc: Barbara's and Bernard's famous black cocker spaniel, Barnaby. We changed the name of the bootlegger, Barney, in this well known Irish drinking song, when Barnaby would supervise IONA rehearsals. We bracket it with first an Irish, then Scottish, set of reels. (See the lyrics.)
Total Running Time - 51:38
Bernard Argent (Irish flute, whistles, doumbek, vocals, egg)
Chuck Lawhorn (Bass guitars, whistle, vocals, washboard, doumbek)
Bob Mitchell (Highland great pipes, Scottish small pipes, eggs, tambourine)
Barbara Tresidder Ryan (Vocals, Celtic bouzouki, guitars, bodhrán, tambourine)
Susan Walmsley (Feet)
Produced by IONA at Shuman Recording Studio, Falls Church, VA (703-237-5677)
Engineered by Scott Shuman
Artwork and design: Bernard Argent & Barbara Tresidder Ryan
Photography: E. Bruce Calvert
Liner notes: IONA
Management by Barnaby Productions, Inc., 7116 Swift Run Trails Dr., Fairfax Station, VA 22039
With many thanks to Dana Bryant and Brenda Lawhorn for their invaluable help and support; Bruce Calvert for being such a good sport; Scott Shuman and Ruth Frislid for putting up with us for so long; the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which has included IONA in its Touring Program, and our friends, families and fans who make it all worthwhile.
All titles traditional, except where noted. All arrangements © IONA.
IONA ® is a registered service mark of Barnaby Productions, Inc. For bookings, please contact us through the web site or call Barnaby Productions, Inc. at 703-426-1450.Back
Document last modified on June 19, 2013 - IONA.