There is a big Irish Music scene in England which has developed over the years its own destinctive style. We talked with two musicians from England, who play their own way of Irish Music on a very high and enjoyable level. Ian Carr and Karen Tweed are both well-known for their excellent duo work - but what is for them the music they are playing?
Ian and Karen have been playing Irish Music for quite a long time, but they are not Irish. Although Karen's mother is Irish she does not feel as Irish. "We have played with a lot of Irish musicians, and a lot of second generation Irish musicians. The music we play, though it is Irish tunes, is kind of once removed from Ireland.” Karen compares their music with the American Irish scene. "America has a huge Irish population, and a lot of the younger people, who are playing now Irish music, they haven't been in Ireland, they weren't born in Ireland. There is a kind of American-Irish style that is not an Irish style, it's just based on an Irish style.”
"I think a lot of the music that me and Ian play, it can't really be classed as traditional Irish music because we don't play it like Tommy Peoples would or whoever would.” Also, with Karen playing the piano accordion, her instrument is hardly seen as a traditional Irish instrument. "The music for me is putting your own personality, music is like talking, it's conversation between two musicians. And if you have two Irish musicians brought up in Ireland playing Irish music you gonna get a very specific type of music, which is just completely drenched in that Irishness, whereas me and Ian's version of Irish music is gonna be --- you know, we are using the tunes that we got from Ireland, but it's gonna be part of our personality, which is based a lot in England, and based a lot in playing with other musicians, sometimes English musicians, sometimes Scottish musicians, sometimes Swedish musicians. And that makes it one step different. And I think that's good for the progression of the music. But we do love Irish music very much, and we hope that we respect it enough not to damage it too much.”
"I think we just play Irish music with an English accent.” That is how Ian describes their music. He adds that in the same way as they play Irish music in their own style, there are a lot of different styles of playing Irish music in England. "For example people in Ireland talk about a Leeds style, that they all play in Leeds, and you can tell that it's from Leeds, but it's Irish music.”
Karen probably thinks there is even a North London Irish style and a South London Irish style. "I think it's probably as specific as that, which is bizarre really; but it's because there are so many Irish families living in England, and they all learn Irish music together, but not in Ireland.”
Both Ian and Karen think it is good for them that they do not try and play Irish music in an Irish way. "There are a lot of bands that really try hard to play Irish music like Irish musicians do, and it's lovely, it's really nice, but it doesn't say anything. You have bands that try to sound like De Dannan, you have got bands that try to sound like Altan, but there is only one De Dannan, and there is only one Altan. It seems more important to me to make your own sound, whoever you are really. It's great to be influenced by these fantastic musicians and these great bands, but if you are not saying something about yourself, then you are not taking the music any further.”
Indeed Karen is right in this opinion - as the duo Karen Tweed & Ian Carr proves, it is good to make up your very own style of Irish music if you have not that direct background. The duo has just brought out a convincing album together with the duo Chris Wood & Andy Cutting, together know as The Two Duos Quartett. Great stuff!
Latest published CD:
Swåp "Sic" (Ian Carr, Karen Tweed & from Sweden: Carina Normansson, Ola Bäckström); Amigo
The Two Duos Quartett (Ian Carr & Karen Tweed with Chris Wood & Andy Cutting); R.U.F Records, 40 Whitstable Road, Faversham, Kent. ME13 8DL +44 1795 537906
Ian Carr, Karen Tweed "Fyace"; Fyasco Records
Further infos/contact: Karen's Homepage e-mail Karen Tweed.
Photo Credit: photo by The Mollis
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