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John O'Dreams

Album Review by Sean Laffey, IMM Nov 2020

Tapestry

John O'Dreams

Opus Asia Records, 16 Tracks, 57 Minutes


We all know about the excellent Irish traditional music coming out of the North West of England: Mike McGoldrick, The Kelly Family, Dezi Donnelly and , in an earlier generation, Sully "Banjo" Sullivan, but there is also an equally vibrant Irish ballad scene in the region. On this album Jane and Steve Gerrity pay homage to the memory of a stalwart of the Lancashire Irish ballad scene, the sadly deceased John Green, whose maternal roots were in Tipperary.


There are echoes of Luke Kelly here as Steve adds five string banjo to Si Khan's reworked Belfast Mill (the original was Aragon Mill), adding extra bounce with strings. They cover Ralph McTell's Clare To Here (written after McTell met Bobby Casey digging a trench in a London street); Tapestry's version moves at a fair clip with some excellent whistle playing driving the song back home. There are instrumental tracks Ships Are Sailing, The Maid Behind The Bar and Planxty Irwin featuring the mandolin that was bequeathed to Steve after John's death.


There are some rough edges too, Muirsheen Durkin and Dicey Reilly, both live tracks, Steve having fun with the audience on Three Drunken Maidens, an English song learnt from the singing of Christy Moore. Jane steps forward on The Sally Gardens and Wild Mountain Thyme, the latter is completed with a charming children's choir singing on the final verse. The album closes with John Green's favourite song, the Shakespeare inspired John O'Dreams, guitar and octave mandolin provide the luscious melody and the song is sung with complete conviction.


At three minutes short of an hour this is convivial company for a morning commute, a memory of a cherished friend and a reminder that the Diaspora sing wherever they put down roots.

Sean Laffey

Irish Music Magazine, November 2020

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