Seamus Kennedy,
Seamus Kennedy in Concert
(Gransha, 1995)

Seamus Kennedy has been delighting American audiences for the past 24 years. His CD Seamus Kennedy in Concert is a recording of a live performance in Springfield (which Springfield, though, I don't know), and is a mix of comedy, protest songs, humorous tunes and serious subjects.

Kennedy sings in a traditional manner, like his influences Tommy Makem, the Clancy Brothers and the Irish Rovers. Accompaniments are simple, limited to keyboards, guitar, accordion and fiddle. Also appearing on this CD are members of the Beagle's Growl Band and Brad Hayford, Heather Hayes and Dave Teeple doing occasional backup vocals.

The tunes on this CD are interspersed with comedy bits, including "Murphy and the Snails," "The Nuns and the Devil" and "Scottish People." Many of the jokes are so old that everyone knows how the punch line, but they're a delight to hear in Kennedy's brogue.

The CD starts with the amusing "The Liar," borrowed from Tommy Makem, a tune about the best liar in all the world. Other amusing highlights are "The Drover's Dream," sung in a credible Australian accent and "The Widow and the Fairy," about an elderly woman who gets three wishes and the use she makes of them.

In the category of serious tunes, the highlights are "The Wearing of the Green/The Rising of the Moon," a pair of protest tunes that originated from the British laws suppressing Irish nationalism, and "The Writing of Tipperary." The latter is a history lesson, taking the listener from King Edward's burial in 1910 to the graveyards in Flanders at the end of World War I. The tune is divided into four sections. The first and third sections are the history lesson (which called to mind Billy Joel's similar song of a few years ago). The second section concerns Jack Judge who wrote a very famous tune in less than a day. The fourth section is the tune, made famous by its opening line "It's a Long Way to Tipperary." The tone of the third section, which details events leading to World War I and talks of the lads who answered the call and died for their countries and marched to the strains of that tune is so sad that when Kennedy starts "Tipperary," I start crying every time. It is the most memorable tune on the CD.

If you've never heard Seamus Kennedy, this CD is an excellent introduction -- I speak from experience. I hope to someday get a chance to see him perform live.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]