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Birken Tree CD

IONA is about the Celtic tradition--the WHOLE tradition: Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, Manx, Breton, Galician/Asturian, even our home grown Appalachian. We are fortunate to be New World Celts: the offspring of those nomadic tribes that continue their westward odyssey. The influences we have grown up with are those of our eclectic heritage, which is why we combine them with the vibrant variety that is the United States of America. We even keep Bernard, our token Brit, on hand to stay connected with the homelands...

The complete lyrics may be viewed here.

1. Wrth Fynd Efo Deio y Dywyn/An Culyek Hos (While Going with Deio to Tywyn/The Mallard Duck) Welsh/Cornish 3:31

This song in Welsh is an enthusiastic young traveler's diary, cataloguing his experiences with one Deio, friend of Mr. Jones, en route to the town of Tywyn in Gwynedd, Wales. We combine it with a Cornish tune that reflects Breton origins. Not content with a single time signature, we play the above first as hornpipes then as jigs. lyrics
Barbara: vocals, bodhrán; Bernard: doumbek, flute, D whistle; Bob: shuttle pipes; Nick: mandolin, bouzouki

2. Came Ye O'er frae France/Duncan Johnson's/Butterfingers (P.M. Duncan MacLeod) Scottish 4:21

This fine auld Jacobite song satirizes the Hanoverian King George I, who reigned at the time when James Stuart, the Old Pretender, led the Highland rebellion against British rule, with rude references to his very ugly mistresses and scandalous proclivities. Bob carries on with a hornpipe and jig on the great pipes. lyrics
Barbara: vocals, bodhrán, guitar in open tuning; Bernard: Eb flute, doumbek; Bob: Highland pipes; Nick: mandolin

3. Fare You Well/Santón de Camadu Appalachian/Asturian 5:25

This stunning song from North Carolina was collected by John and Alan Lomax. It seems to have its roots in the time of the Napoleonic wars, but projects a distinct Appalachian flavor, reflecting the Scotch-Irish (yes-that's what they call it!) heritage of Barbara's Kentucky and Bob's Virginia forebears. We accompany the song, then lead with a dance tune from the Camadu area in Asturias, one of the Celtic regions of Northern Spain, that we learned from the group, Llan de Cubel. lyrics
Barbara: vocals, guitar, tambourine; Bernard: flute; Bob: shuttle pipes; Nick: mandolin

4. Quand j'étais jeune à dix-huit ans/Hanter dros (When I was young and eighteen/dances) Breton 5:48

Once again, we are indebted to the Monjarret family of the Morbihan district in Brittany, the Celtic province of France. Nolwenn taught Barbara this song from Morbihan--an hanter dro, or dance tune--with nonsense words in French dialect. We found two of the subsequent hanter dros in Polig's magnificently exhaustive collection of Breton tunes. As always, we encourage our audiences to join in the dances, taught to Bernard by Nolwenn as well... lyrics
Barbara: lead vocals, tambourine, bouzouki, bodhrán; Bernard: vocals, Eb flute, Eb whistle, doumbek, bombarde; Bob: shakers, bombarde; Nick: vocals, mandolin, acoustic bass guitar, avocado

5. Donald MacGillavry/Paddy's Leather Britches Scottish 5:34

Back to the Jacobite rebellion and another satire, this one of one Donald MacGillavry, the symbol for the Scottish lairds who sold out to the English. Bob follows with a piping version of the song on the great pipes, then segués into the reel, Paddy's Leather Britches, arranged for him by his brother, another great piper, Burt Mitchell. According to Bob, the aforementioned leather britches were once worn by excise men to test the strength of whisky: if they stuck to the liquor, poured on a bench, the whisky was strong enough--the britches, no doubt, reminiscent of the piper's bag who penned this ode! lyrics
Barbara: lead vocals, bodhrán; Bernard: guitar, vocals, doumbek; Bob Highland pipes; Nick: vocals, bouzouki

6. Wellington's Advance/A Ei D'ir 'Deryn Du?/Nyth y Gog/The Tarbolton (Blackbird Will You Go?/The Cuckoo's Nest) Irish/Welsh/Scottish 5:11

We decided to do some Celtic hopscotch on this medley. We start with a slow Irish jig, and follow with a macaronic song, i.e. sung partly in Welsh, partly in English--a gimmick popular in the nineteenth century, then a Welsh hornpipe, back to the song, and finish with a rollicking reel, claimed by both the Scottish and the Irish. Quite the whirlwind tour. lyrics
Barbara: vocals, bouzoukis, guitar, bodhrán; Bernard: flute, doumbek, D whistle; Bob: shuttle pipes; Nick: acoustic bass guitar, mandolin

7. The Mermaid's Song/Seoladh na nGamhna (Driving the Calves to Pasture) Scottish/Irish 5:38

Bob and Barbara take the spotlight with two beautiful solos. The Mermaid's Song is one of the most haunting piping tunes we know. Seoladh na nGamhna, from the collection of Pilib Ó Laoghaire, describes with unsurpassed grace, the seduction of the singer's object of affection in "a fragrant little nook in the corner of the wood". lyrics
Barbara: vocals; Bernard: E whistle; Bob: Highland pipes; Nick: bowed 5-string bass

8. Where are you Going/Aberdulais Cornish/Welsh 3:55

This Cornish song, also of seduction, describes a naive swain maneuvered handily into marriage by a canny young milkmaid. Barbara, whose interpretation this is, renders the song in English, the words of which were sung by James Olver, a tanner of Launceston, Cornwall, and recorded by Baring Gould. We introduce the song with an old Welsh tune, Aberdulais, then follow it with a variation. The latter interpretation is a happy mistake executed by Ceri Rhys Matthews, a contemporary Welsh musician, while transposing the original Aberdulais from a collection of tunes, Alawon fy Ngwlad: Lays of My Land, compiled by Nicholas Bennett of Glanyrafon 1896. lyrics
Barbara: vocals, bodhrán, shakers; Bernard: B whistle, bombarde; Bob: shaker, Highland pipes; Nick: Low F whistle, acoustic bass guitar

9. Birken Tree/Devil in the Kitchen/The Curlew(Donald MacPherson) Scottish 4:41

Yet another happily ever after love song, in which the cooing couple trysts beneath the birch tree in the glen (the very same one after which we've named this album). Bob augments this joyful concept with a hornpipe and jig on the great pipes. lyrics
Barbara: vocals, bouzouki, guitar in open tuning; Bernard: Doumbek; Bob: Highland pipes; Nick: bouzouki, avocado

10. An Dros/Te Traa Goll Thie (Arrane Oie Vie)(It's time to go home or Good night song)/When First Her Face I Seen Breton/Mann 4:15

We start out with two an dros--Breton dances, from Polig Monjarret's collection, and throw in a hint of the tune of the song to come, in the upbeat preamble to this beautiful song of farewell from the Isle of Man. Frequently sung at sessions after last call, Te Traa Goll Thie is considered by many to be practically an anthem. We're indebted to David Fisher, a musician in Mann, who patiently sang the words over the phone for Barbara across the miles. The finale is a beautiful air, also from the Isle of Man, that we learned from Elke Baker, a good friend and fine fiddler. lyrics
Barbara: bodhrán, guitar, lead vocals, bouzouki; Bernard: flute, vocals; Bob: shuttle pipes; Nick: mandolin, vocals, low D whistle

Total Running Time - 48:28

Credits:
Produced by Bernard Argent, Barbara Tresidder Ryan and Scott Shuman
Recorded and mastered at Shuman Recording, Falls Church, VA
Engineered by Scott Shuman
Art work and design: Barbara Tresidder Ryan and Bernard Argent. Front cover based on a carving on the North Cross, Duleek, Ireland.
Photography: IONA meeting by the Burke (Virginia) Birken (river birch) tree by Tom Smith; studio shots by Chris Moscatiello
Liner notes: IONA
A Barnaby Productions, Inc. enterprise

IONA: Bernard Argent: flutes, whistles, doumbek, vocals;
Bob Mitchell: Highland and shuttle pipes, shakers;
Barbara Tresidder Ryan: vocals, guitars, Celtic bouzouki, bodhrán, tambourine;
Nick Smiley: mandolin, Celtic bouzouki, acoustic bass guitar, vocals, bowed 5-string bass, avocado

With undying gratitude to Frank Coleman, a dear friend without whom this recording would not have been possible; as always, to Cheryl Mitchell, Barbara's Welsh coach; to Nolwenn and Polig Monjarret for guiding us through the intricacies of Breton music; to David Fisher and Ceri Rhys Matthews who so kindly helped us with our research; and last, but certainly not least, to Susan Walmsley for her magnificent dance accompaniment to IONA's music, and for helping make it fun!

This album is dedicated to Barbara's father, Argus Tresidder, who helped us with past projects, and came faithfully to our concerts until, at 93, he is no longer able to.

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 202-258-7602.


Copyright © 2017 Barnaby Productions, Inc.

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Page updated July 21, 2012 - Bernard Argent

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