Traditional Irish music demands far more than mere instrumental virtuosity from its practitioners.
What is demanded is cultural and spiritual engagement with the spirit of the music combined with deep listening to fellow musicians.
No better men to prove the point than Paul Brady and Arty McGlynn.
Paul Brady has featured here several times before as befits a master musician, songwriter, singer and performer.
Arty McGlynn, who sadly died recently, will be less well known to those who are not Irish music aficionados.
Arty, who I saw grace the stage many tines with Van Morrison, was by universal acclaim the premier guitarist in the traditional music world.
He seemed always able to find exactly the right parts to play both as a soloist and as a supportive accompanist.
Anyone playing with Arty was in the very best of company.
The clip below is from a 1976 TV Show and showcases Paul Brady’s great song Crazy Dreams before it had that title and before it was recorded with a rhapsodic full band electric arrangement.
Magnificent as that version remains I always wished the acoustic version below had been officially issued.
It doesn’t get any better !
Now let’s let Arty delight us with scintillating solo a Guitar.
To add to our revelries let’s now introduce master musicians Matt Molloy and John Carty
Sometimes a session opens up glorious musical vistas undreamed of before the first note was launched into the innocent air.
If you ever find yourself at such a session find yourself a good seat and settle in for the evening and let the magic do its work.
Now for some Poetry.
Bernard O’Donoghue has been a distinguished academic at Oxford University for many decades.
Yet, as his poems attest, imaginatively and emotionally he has always drawn nurture and inspiration from his Irish roots.
O’ Donahue’s poems are deeply felt and fully realised.
An architecture of the spirit.
There is an affecting spareness and reticence in tone which may owe much to his immersion in classical and medieval poetry.
The old thin ache you thought that you’d forgotten-
More smoke, admittedly than flame;
Less tears than rain. And the whole business
Neither here nor there, and therefore home.”
This Post Dedicated to the music and memory of Arty McGlynn.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam (May his soul be seated on God’s right hand)