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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Ceili Magazine Review of Patterson/O'Flaherty CD: Caelic




CEILI Magazine 

(Nov.-Dec., 2012 Vol. 31, No. 6)

Beth Patterson-Patrick O'Flaherty: 


By Chuck Bloom, Ceili Editor

Every so often, the Celtic musical mood calls for something simple, basic and traditional (which should NEVER be substituted for anything less-than-quality). The best music produced often comes from the fewest instruments involved, creating a fine musical dialogue between two craftsmen … even if you don't understand a single word they sing.

Or, in the case of Louisiana's gift to Celtic music, craftswoman!  Lafayette-native Beth Patterson has released a new 13-track album, "Caelic," (her fifth), joined by accordionist Patrick O'Flaherty, an Irishman who migrated to New Orleans to lead a stout Celtic music scene in the Crescent City before Hurricane Katrina literally blew it away in 2005.

They're old pals for the last decade when both played for eight years in The Poor Clares (along with Justin Murphy and Betsy McGovern). The interchange between Cajun and Gaelic songs, jigs and waltzes reflects the kind of familiarity only garnered through personal experience.

And the recorded results are excellent. Patterson is one of the finest masters of the Irish bouzouki – a tear-shaped eight-string instrument of Greek origin that became popular in Irish music in the 1960s (she plays a 10-string version as well). It's not often heard in current Celtic circles, but when she fires it up, it sings.

On most of the lyrical tracks, you might have a problem under-standing what is said (or sung, in this case). O'Flaherty doesn't even need a single note played to complete two numbers ("Cunla" and "Bean Phaiden"). By contrast, Patterson's booming, clear voice is pure Cajun and the unique dialect originating from the swamps of South Louisiana makes you think of gators, boiled crawfish and hot summer nights. Together, the two languages intertwine seamlessly, as does the combination of bouzouki and accordion (with an occasional mandolin tossed in by O'Flaherty).

The best example of the blending is the 7 minute-13 second track, "Caelic Suite" ("J'ai Passe Devant ta Porte," "The Mamou Two-Waltz" and "Cill Aodain"), a combination of traditional Cajun and Gaelic numbers and showcasing the duo's harmonies as well as solo efforts.

Another standout piece is "A Confederacy of Waltzes," a natural wordplay on the title of the famed book about New Orleans ("A Confederacy of Dunces"), except this grouping of four Irish and Scottish waltzes is no one's fool.

Born in real Cajun country, Patterson began her career as a teenager, as a classical oboist and a Cajun bass player. She studied traditional Irish music and ethnomusicology for a year at University College Cork in Ireland, experimenting with musical fusion, and then earned her bachelor's degree in Music Therapy from Loyola University in New Orleans.

Her 2009 release, "On Better Paths," received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album. She has toured in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and Belgium, as well as most of the United States. She was a headliner in Dallas for the 2003 North Texas Irish Festival.

Both of them were regulars at the renowned O'Flaherty's Irish Pub in New Orleans's famed French Quarter, until Katrina struck in 2005, closing the place for good. She's since played regularly at other New Orleans venues – such as Cafe Negril on Frenchmen Street, and Carrollton Station in the Riverbend on Willow Street.

O'Flaherty is a native speaker of Connemara Irish Gaelic and a master at the accordion. He's been called "a living encyclopedia of traditional Irish songs and dance tunes," and "one of the few composers today writing original songs in Gaelic."

O'Flaherty learned to play the harmonica as a young boy in Connemara. Raised in Galway's Gaeltacht, he's still part of a select group of people whose native language is Gaelic. He grew up in Ardmore, County Galway, and spent much of his youth on Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran islands off the coast of Galway.

O'Flaherty now lives in Lewisburg, W.V., and performs locally at The Irish Pub when not touring (shown on the inside cover).  He tours as a solo act, and with the trio, Paddy in the Holler, and occasionally with the Poor Clares and the Celtic Folk.

Together, "Caelic" will take you musically into any pub, where a man and a woman are the evening's musical entertainment. You can hear the beer mugs clink as the bartender pours another pint of stout, and people's laughter and toe-tapping acting almost as the percussion for the band. And in the end, when the evening (and album) have finished, it will be a satisfying night … in either Abbeville or Breaux Bridge … or Anthery or Loughrea.

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Posted By Blogger to Irish Aires at 3/06/2013 11:14:00 AM
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