Grey Larsen
& Paddy League,
The Green House
(self-produced, 2001)

When the first track began and I heard only a pennywhistle and bodhran, I worried this would be a dull album. Don't get me wrong, the two instruments sound great together, and the two musicians were both obvious masters -- but an entire album of nothing but a whistle and drum could get tedious.

I needn't have worried. Neither Grey Larsen nor Paddy League is a one-trick pony, and The Green House gives both men ample opportunity to show their chops. League plays bodhran and guitar. Larsen is even more varied, playing the Irish flute, tin whistles, anglo concertina, harmonium, field organ and piano. And the two used plenty of overdubbing in the studio to turn some tracks from duets into ensembles.

Based in Indiana, the duo has arranged a varied array of traditional tunes. The focus of the album is on Larsen's whistle or flute and League's drum, with other elements adding variety and interest to the sound. (The field organ in particular adds an unusual touch!)

As a bonus, the CD includes three tracks dedicated to late Michael J. Kennedy, a melodeon player who emigrated from Co. Galway to Cincinnati, Ohio. The tracks include a tune, "The Cuckoo's Nest," surrounded by Kennedy's recollections of the tune and the music tradition in the Ireland of his youth. The tracks, recorded in 1976 by John McCutcheon for the out-of-print LP Michael J. Kennedy: 65 Years of Irish Music, are a treat, if largely unrelated to the preceding 12 tracks. Of particular interest are Kennedy's rambling recollections, his gravelly voice sharing fond memories of days long past.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 20 August 2001

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