The Crib of Perches

Man, some tunes have the most enigmatic names, but you find out it’s nothing like you thought. The Crib of Perches (or The Creel of Perches) immediately makes me think of a baby’s crib full of dripping, desperate fish gasping for breath. But no. One person commenting on page for this tune says,

A fish “crib” is a place in a lake, river, or stream where fish may hang out feeding or resting. It may be a patch of aquatic grasses, a tangle of fallen, submerged tree trunks or roots, or submerged rock formations. A crib is where an angler might have a good chance of catching a meal.

Darn. I like my version better. But then, I’m no good at fishing.

Anyway it’s a lovely tune in the key of D mixolydian, and I highly recommend you take a listen to these few versions I found on the YouTube:

The version that started it all (for me!) From a great album by Nathan Gourley and Laura Feddersen called Life is all Checkered (which is another good tune!)–

I have no idea who this fella is, but he’s a good fiddle and box player, so have a listen:

And finally, a lovely, lively version by fiddler John McEvoy and flute player John Wynne.



Love at the Endings

yesterday Corey taught us a lovely reel called Love at the Endings. What a great title, eh? This tune was written by Ed Reavy, and is played far and wide. I have heard two different versions, generally, of the B part. Listen and compare these videos to the recording Corey gave us at the session.

Love Feargal:

Black Flag T-shirt!

and one of my favorites–Anthony Quigney, EdMcMann, Noel ryan. Their album “A Clare Conscience” is unbelievable.


The Kerryman’s Daughter (The Fisherman’s Lilt)

This week Kira taught us a great reel which she called “The Kerryman’s Daughter.” I found it referred to as “The Fisherman’s Lilt” as well. (Find Kira’s version of the tune on the TUNES page of this website!) We had a little discussion about whether the B part is played through once or twice, and we have heard versions of both ways. Played once, the length of the B matches the length of the A, but the B sounds great doubled too, leaving the A alone.

Here are a few other versions I found on YouTube.

Here’s a version by Oisín MacDiarmada. I love the first tune as well. The feel of his playing on these tunes puts me a little off-kilter, in a good way:

A couple more:

March of the King of Laois

Just wanted to share this awesome tune–The March of the King of Laois. Laois is a county in Ireland located in the south midlands, in the province of Leinster. I have read that the king of the title was one Rúarai Óg Ó Mórdha, son of the king who is the subject of this wikipedia article. Whether ’tis true or no, it matters little, for much of interest doth lie in those pages. Think Game of Thrones, minus the dragons and zombies.

Aaanyway, I have been listening to a version of this tune on a recent album by piper Joey Abarta and fiddler Nathan Gourley called Copley Street. Lovely album–I highly recommend it. I’ll post below their version, and a version by the Chieftains. The Cheiftains’ version has a bit more “snap” in it rhythmically, if you know what I mean. Try to hear the difference between the versions if you can.

second tune here:

Hop Jigs

At the LVISS yesterday we learned a tune called “Top the Candle”–a hop jig in D. What IS a hop jig? Good question. Without going to deeply into music theory, I would say that hop jigs are kind of like faster, syncopated slip jigs. It’s kind of like the way slides are like fast jigs with fewer notes. Anyway, there’s definitely a difference in feel between slip jigs and hop jigs. Case in point–The Butterfly is a tune that’s played both ways, and one of our anchors was kind enough to record both versions for us–check it out:

The Butterfly

Here are some examples of hop jigs from YouTube:

For discussions about what hop jigs are, see

Táim Ciaptha ag an bPort seo le Déanaí

The Humours of Lisadell. It’s a reel with lovely, almost elegant, easy movement. It has such a nice shape to it. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to play though! I first heard it (to my memory) at a house concert featuring Edel Fox on concertina and Neill Byrne on fiddle. Here’s a link to the recording I made of the tune. Feel free to download that.

Here’s Neill and Edel playing it live again, with Josh Dukes on guitar, and much better audio:

A tin whistle version:




Spotlight on Concertina!

Ceili-01My first instrument for Irish music was the whistle. Ok, wait. Lemme start over.

My first instrument for Irish music was the bodhrán. But that doesn’t count for the LVISS because we don’t do the accompaniment thing. That isn’t to say I won’t be spotlighting the instrument here on the blog though. It does take a good deal of skill to play, and requires a sensitivity to play well with others that many who try the instrument do not properly comprehend.

But I digress…

After bodhrán I tried the whistle. Finally I came around to the concertina–and it stuck!

It’s a beautiful little instrument, both in terms of sound and appearance. It is small, portable, and the tuning is fixed, so you never have to tune up. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time a fluter or fiddler or piper asked me for an A or G, I’d have enough for a new fiddle bow.

Concertinas come in different flavors. The type used in Irish music is the 30 button Anglo type. It plays a different note on each button, depending on whether you’re pushing the bellows or pulling it. This is in contrast to the English system, which plays the same note regardless of bellows direction. Many feel that the need to change bellows direction makes the Anglo more suited to the “bouncy” rhythm of Irish music. There are other concertina types as well, but they are almost never used in Irish music. So I’ll leave them out. No offense.

In the Anglo concertina category (and possibly in the others, I don’t know,) you will find that entry level instruments often have mass-produced accordion reeds installed for sound production. Higher level ones will have authentic concertina reeds. The thing is, concertina reeds are made by hand, which makes them a good deal more expensive, so anyone looking for a starter instrument will likely end up with them. They sound great, and they don’t make concertinas sound like accordions at all, as accordions usually have at least two or more reeds per note, tuned slightly off each other, giving the accordion that fatter sound. Concertina reeds tend to sound more “soulful,” for lack of a better word. A former co-worker of mine once said that she enjoyed hearing me play my “harmonica” at lunch time. She couldn’t actually see me playing, so she thought my accordion reeds sounded harmonica-like, apparently! Whatevs.

All that said, a fine player can make either either type of reed sound amazing. My concertina is a Morse “Céilí” 30 button Anglo. If you go to the Céilí page on the Button box website, you can hear Christian Stevens playing one under the video tab on the right.

I love Chris Stevens’ playing. There are many fine concertina players, indeed both past and present. Many players today find inspiration in the playing of some of the old greats from County Clare in Ireland, where there was, and is still, a great tradition of concertina playing. Mrs. Elizabeth Crotty is one name you’ll hear often, Chris Droney another. The Irish musicologist Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin has written extenslively on the subject of Clare County concertina playing (and Irish music in general, actually.) Since he’s done so much of the work for me, I’ll just share this link to his essay entitled “Clare: the Heartland of the Irish Concertina.”

Go HERE for a sampling of Clare concertina playing, compiled by the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

One can’t talk about concertina playing in general without mentioning Noel Hill, Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh, Edel Fox, and Caitlín Nic Gabhainn, at the very least, and there are so many more–Páidrag Rynne, Mary MacNamara, and Kitty Hayes, just to scratch the surface. Really there’s an astonishing number of great players out there today, just poke around in the Google place and you’ll find them.