Music: U.S.-based Corkmen release fine CDs

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How It’s New York: Donie Carroll is a New York man now, running a session at Murphy’s in Sunnyside, and Máirtín de Cógáin is here more often than you’d expect for someone who lives in the midwest.

How It’s Irish: Both Donie and Máirtín are from Cork.

This joint review of Donie Carrol’s Divil of a Noise and Máirtín de Cógáin‘s DVD From Cork with Love, by Dan Neely, who was one of Irish Echo’s Top 40 Under 40, was originally published in the Irish Echo, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. Some of the pics were taken by Dan at the launch at the New York Irish Center!

It’s my great pleasure this week to talk about releases from a couple of my musical colleagues, both of whom happen to be from Cork!

The first is Donie Carroll’s new CD, Divil of a Noise, a wonderful album that explores Donie’s nostalgia for growing up in Cork and for when he first fell in love with music.

Donie is someone who needs little introduction to New York audiences.  Many know him from his work with the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra and through his debut solo album Down the Slippery Gap.  Many also know him from his very popular Friday and Saturday night sessions at Murphy’s Bar in Sunnyside, Queens.  Donie’s national renown is growing as well – he’s performed on both of Joanie Madden’s Folk N’ Irish cruises and has become a fixture at CelticFest in Jackson, Mississippi.  A major part of this has to do with his unmistakable voice: although rough edged like Seamus Creagh’s, it has a charm somewhat akin to that of his good friend Jimmy Crowley.

Divil of a Noise has several standout tracks.  Donie’s rendition of “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree” is lovely and delicate, while the “Army of Today,” a song Donie remembers his father singing, takes on more of a music hall feel.  The latter starts with a sample of Eamon de Valera’s recorded reply to Churchill’s criticism of Ireland’s WWII neutrality, and features fine brass and woodwind playing from Darin Kelly (trumpet), Joe Exley (tuba) and Kate Bowling (piccolo).  Then, there’s the catchy “Are Ya Right There, Michael,” a humorous Percy French song about the inefficiency of the West Clare Railway Company that will surely have people singing along.  There’s something to recommend each of the album’s tracks.

Much of Divil of a Noise’s success has to do with Donie’s close musical relationship with gifted multi-instrumentalist Gabe Donohue, who also arranged, engineered and produced the album.  Gabe has an incredible intuitive understanding of Donie’s music and a great sensitivity to what sounds will frame Donie’s voice best.  Donie also had the help of some top musicians, including fiddler Caitlin Warbelow, fiddler Heather Martin Bixler and singer Marian Makins, not to mention a rake of folks who need no introduction, like Jimmy Crowley, Joanie Madden, Mick Moloney and Billy McComiskey.

Donie is a special character in the New York scene, and this album is a wonderful showcase of his talent – it will delight listeners.  Check it out at www.cdbaby.com/cd/doniecarroll1 

The other project at hand is Máirtín de Cógáin’s new DVD From Cork With Love. Three years in the making, this project demonstrates Máirtín’s engaging character and entertaining performance style in a musical travelogue of his Ireland home.  It’s an exciting new approach to the music’s presentation from a younger US-based artist.


Made possible by a successfully funded Kickstarter project, each of the DVD’s 14 chapters finds Máirtín exploring a different facet of Cork’s history and culture.  Máirtín’s own music brings depth to each chapter, but many of them include brilliant performances from high profile guests, including John Spillane, Jimmy Crowley, Matt Cranitch & Jackie Daly and Máirtín’s father Barry Cogan.  These contribute greatly to the finished product. 

The DVD is professionally shot and comprises footage taken in Ireland and in St. Paul, Minnesota. 


For the material shot in Ireland (and for the feature’s editing), Máirtín called on cameraman and filmmaker Paschal Cassidy of Red Shoe Productions.  Cassidy has a stellar reputation in the trad scene.  He got his start working for Cork’s Forefront Productions as the cameraman for RTÉ’s annual Fleadh program.  Over the years, however, he’s been behind several important programs on TG4, including “Geantraí,” “Gradam Ceoil” and “Ceol Ar An Imeall.” 

Spliced into the travel narrative is concert footage shot at the Celtic Junction in St. Paul, Minnesota by Zach Nicholas, which features Máirtín playing live with Bua’s Brian Miller, The Outside Track’s Norah Rendell and the Doon Céilí Bandn’s Nathan Gourley.  The audio from this concert was recorded and used for Máirtín’s 2010 album also called From Cork With Love, but it is used here to bring musical depth to Máirtín’s various rambles.  The DVD also includes three bonus tracks, all of which come from this live footage.

Ultimately, this is a really fun and entertaining project that lets Máirtín’s unique brand of humor and enthusiasm really shine.  To learn more about Máirtín, this DVD and his various projects, visit mairtinmusic.com.

Finally: last week, RealWorld records released Iarla Ó Lionáird’s fabulous album Foxlight in physical form in the US – do check it out!  Its release comes just before Ó Lionáird’s short Ireland tour with the Ghost Trio, March 19-27.  The Ghost Trio groups Ó Lionáird with Dublin/NYC’s Ivan Goff (who is one of the finest uilleann piper and flutists out there) and the innovative US-based fiddler Cleek Schrey.  The tour will pass through Dublin, Kildare, Leitrim, Cork, Wicklow, Mayo, Galway and Kerry. 

If Ó Lionáird and Goff’s work together in NYC’s Irish Arts Center’s “Masters in Collaboration”  (read Gwen’s New York Irish Arts rave here!)
 series in 2011 was any indication, this tour will yield some amazing music – it should not be missed.

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