Hammy Hamilton,
The Moneymusk
(Ossian, 2001)

The Moneymusk, by Hammy Hamilton, offers an album of traditional Irish flute. Nearly all of the songs are dance tunes, such as "Peggy's Jig," "The Skylark" (a reel) and "The Glenbeigh" (a barn dance). Many of these tunes are skillfully blended with one or even two others to provide a longer dance tune and an arrangement unlike any other.

Hamilton plays the concert flute, joined by another flute, a fiddle, guitar, concertina, piano and even bouzouki. This combination creates Irish tunes brought into the modern day by this blend of instruments. Tunes such as "The Woodcock" and "The Kerfunten" were composed by the artist. Others, such as "Abha an tSulain," are local airs. Hamilton plays the latter on a vibrant, low-pitched bansuri, an Indian bamboo flute. This far-off instrument transforms the song into one deep and haunting.

For the tune "Gan Ainm," blended with two other polkas, listeners can hear the concertina keys clicking in the background. Hamilton also includes "Sarah's Reel," named for his youngest daughter. While many of the songs were written in the 1920s or '70s, they mix well with Hamilton's own melodies, creating a collection of polkas, jigs, reels and other dance tunes that will round off any collection.

- Rambles
written by Valerie Frankel
published 25 October 2003