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In the current climate we are doing our best to keep everyone up to date. All gigs, as we all know, are off.

However, good old YouTube has plenty to offer both old and new to help us survive whilst housebound. Plus now is a good time to stock up on your CDs.

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Monday, January 04, 2016

CD Review: Live at Foxrock Folk Club – The Parish Hall Tapes (revisited)

(Editors note: We don't normally do more than one review of the same CD unless the second contributor is offering a totally different view which isn't the case here. However, due to the holiday period causing some lack of communication among our blogforce, fans of Irish folk, jazz and blues can read again the fascinating story of the Foxrock Folk Club and the resultant recordings.)
(Review by Russell)
To the south of Dublin is the village of Cornelscourt. In the 1960s its ‘rather nondescript and rundown’ parish hall was to become the venue of Foxrock Folk Club presenting folk, jazz, blues and poetry. A 15 year old local schoolboy, Kevin McCann, had a reel-to-reel tape recorder. He took it along to the parish hall and recorded many of the musicians who played at the club during 1970-72. Somehow the tapes survived down the years and some fifteen years ago were transferred to CD. Careful restoration and mastering followed and The Parish Hall Tapes is the result.
The two discs have a generous running time; the first at over one hour, the second at one hour fifteen minutes. Legendary names on the Irish folk scene were recorded at Foxrock  – Al O’Donnell, Andy Irvine, Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew to name but four – as were a host of superb acoustic blues musicians and a first rate jazz outfit.
Disc one, comprising of nineteen tracks of which thirteen feature traditional folk material, covers a wide range. Some of the recorded sessions include potent political commentaries from Luke Kelly – Alabama ’58 and Jail of Cluain Meala – the bluesmen Red Peters and Brian Fry play country blues, Johnny Norris plays ragtime and, as the informative album notes point out, pianist Tony Drennan plays Meade Lux Lewis on ‘the somewhat battered parish hall piano’. Peters and Fry – known as Clawhammer – play Alberta. Peters’ vocals are quite something, big and powerful. The jazz tune on the first CD is Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone by the Butler Fox Jazz Band. Clarinettist Phil Butler and Rock Fox (trumpet and flugelhorn) co-led one of Ireland’s finest traditional to mainstream jazz bands. The septet, including pianist Tony Drennan, was surely one to be heard, and now, thanks to Cornelscourt Records, this fascinating documentary project brings them to life.   
The second CD includes a collector’s item. Luke Kelly singing Blackwaterside is his one and only available recording of the song. Ronnie Drew sings McAlpine’s Fusiliers, a tune as pertinent today as it was at the time of this 1972 recording. The Dirty Dozens – Johnny Norris and Gerry Doyle, guitars, Red Peters, vocals, Shay Fogarty, harmonica – are heard on Statesboro Blues and it is Peters and Fogarty (superb harp playing) who steal the show with Louise, Louise Blues. The thirty-seventh and closing track features nine minutes and twenty two seconds of sheer excitement as the Butler Fox Jazz Band blow up a storm on Swinging the Blues. The audience response is ecstatic (a noticeable feature across the two CDs) as Fox proudly introduces the ‘All Irish Rhythm Section’ of Tony Drennan, Jimmy McKay on bass, and ‘the incomparable’ John Wadham, drums.
Principal credits:
Kevin McCann, original recordings at Foxrock Folk Club, Cornelscourt
Johnny ‘Oldhitz’ Hughes, transfer to CD
Adam Sinclair, restoration and mastering
Barry Somerville, art work and design
Liam Clare and Michael Blake, photography
Jeremy Kearney, producer
The Parish Hall Tapes is clearly a labour of love for all those involved with the project – the restoration of the tapes, the research, the CD artwork and the lovingly written booklet.
For those with a passing interest, The Parish Hall Tapes is a recommended purchase. For those with a keen interest, consider it an essential purchase.
Russell
Live at Foxrock Folk Club – The Parish Hall Tapes is available on Cornelscourt Records, catalogue number CR 001.

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