FolkWorld #63 07/2017
© Walkin' T:-)M

German Book Reviews

T:-)M's Night Shift

John Spillane is my favourite songwriter, says the great Irish folk singer Christy Moore. He is not the only one. John's songs have been covered by Sean Keane, Cathy Ryan, Karan Casey, and many more.

Grade 2 Bodhrán Tutor From Portglenone, Northern Ireland, Fergal O'Brien has taught many young bodhrán players. The Grade 2 Bodhrán Tutor was especially designed to meet the needs of participants in the London College of Music (LCM) bodhrán exams ( No beginner guide per se, it is a basic tutorial book and CD which should enable the novice to become the next John Joe Kelly. There are two different notations: a simple graphical representation with up and down arrows; and arrows written below the standard stave notation with emboldening to show the emphasis on the beat. On the CD, you can learn the rhythm with particular syllables matching the beat of a tune, listen to Fergal's bodhrán accompaniment or play along yourself to a tin whistle.

Fergal O’Brien & René de Kat, Grade 2 Bodhrán Tutor & CD in support of 2016-2020 Irish Traditional Music Syllabus, London College of Music Examinations - University of West London. Traditional Arts Partnership || Ring of Gullion, 2nd Edition, 2017, pp??, UK£20.00 (

John Joe Kelly

»I have read many tutorials over the years but found this one in particular to be really well delivered, with clear and creative instructional methods used throughout. Fergal's long history of teaching is evident within the publication and sincerity comes off each and every page. In today’s world of bodhrán playing there are many methods of learning and I thoroughly advise you to pick up a copy of this fantastic tutorial. Happy playing.« (John Joe Kelly)
Artist Video

World of Wonders While Bruce Cockburn announces his first studio album in seven years, coinciding with his induction into the Canadian Songwriter's Hall Of Fame, author James Heald has revised and expanded his 2012 book World of Wonders about the lyrics and music of Cockburn. »Bruce Cockburn is, first and foremost, a visionary artist; engaging and probing songwriter, spiritual seeker, truth teller, and extraordinary guitarist. There are very few musicians who have recorded for more than 40 years, putting out consistently good records every couple of years, with few, if any, artistic misfires. On February 20, 2017 Bruce Cockburn received the inaugural Folk Alliance International People’s Voice Award. The award was created to honor “an individual who unabashedly embraces social and political commentary in their creative work and public careers.” While I was happy with my book when it first came out, there is always room for improvement. One important factor in the decision to revise it was the publication of Bruce’s own memoir Rumours of Glory in 2014. While very little of what I wrote was changed all that dramatically by his book, it was reassuring to know that I was mostly on the right track with my analyses. Where I was wrong or could have been clearer, I have used this opportunity to improve the book. I also added a section on his live recordings and made small changes and updates throughout to clarify the arguments and correct some important omissions.« (Jim Heald)

Jim Heald, World of Wonders - The Lyrics and Music of Bruce Cockburn. CreateSpace, 2017, ISBN 978-1546664772, pp278 €10,69 (

          Bruce Cockburn

Artist Video

I Got A Song - A History of the Newport Folk Festival I Got A Song is devoted to the history of the Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island, which began more than a half-century ago in 1959 ( The annual festival (late July) features folk, blues, country and bluegrass, but has expanded lately to include folk-influenced acoustic and indie rock. (Newpart had become infamous in 1965 when festival headliner Bob Dylan played with electric backing from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which marked his shift from folk to rock.)

Read an excerpt @ NoiseTrade!

Rick Massimo, I Got A Song - A History of the Newport Folk Festival. Wesleyan University Press, 2017, ISBN 978-0819577030, pp260, US$24.95

John Spillane, Will We Be Brilliant or What? - Songs & Stories. The Collins Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1-84889- 285-9, pp220, €16.99

The Bard of Cork has written thousands of verses, and now gives insight into the inspiration behind his 60 best loved songs. John Spillane even provides a songwriting workshop and relates tales of his journey in the music business.

The oldest song that made it into Will We Be Brilliant or What? is also the first one he recorded and released. "My Love Will Not Sing For Me" had been inspired by a girl who told him that he had no hope whatsoever of making it in music, so she could not be with him because of the life of poverty she would have with him.

I hope she found what she was looking for. Meanwhile, I have enjoyed a successful life in music and many bright and shining adventures on the sea of life.

Spillane started playing guitar at 15; by 20 he was a professional musician. He started out in a rock band, but went acoustic soon enough. Cork was brilliant in the early 1980s he says and names the people lurking around, Jimmy MacCarthy, Declan Sinnott, Jimmy Crowley, to name but a few.

However, it took a while. In 1994, he eventually wrote his big flagship number, "I Won't Be Afraid Anymore." Shortly before, he had joined the traditional Irish group Nomos, featuring Niall Vallely (concertina), Liz Doherty (fiddle), Gerry McKee (mandocello, bouzouki) and Frank Torpey (bodhrán).

I walked into the Spailpín Fánach pub one evening to witness an incredible session of traditional music. There were players like Niall Vallelly, Liz Doherty, Niall Keegan, Brendan Ring, Frank Torpey and Gerry McKee lashing out a new, crazily energetic form of Irish music. It was a shock to the senses. It was mad. They obviously had no respect for any of hte conservative or staid elements of the music. I loved it. It seemed to me to be far more rock and roll than rock and roll itself. ... Nomos was a brilliant young traditional band that I joined in the summer of 1992. ... This was lightning fast, wild trad music. 'I Won't Be Afraid Anymore' was the title track of the first Nomos album.

The first Nomos album also featured his favourite song, written for his daughter Leslie, which is now sung the length and breadth of Ireland.

All the ways you wander, all the ways you roam,
All across great oceans, all across the foam,
Through the faraway houses, through the sunsets on fire,
Searching for the island of your heart's desire.

I vaguely recall to have seen Nomos in the mid 1990s on a St. Patrick's Day Celebration Festival tour through Germany.

After a second album in 1997, he left Nomos to launch a solo career. Just before his 40th birthday he got signed to EMI and recorded his debut solo album "Will We Be Brilliant Or What?," which became a kind of slogan.

Spillane also became a champion of the Irish language and released two albums almost entirely in Irish, "The Gaelic Hit Factory" and "Irish Songs We Learned at School", respectively.

I invented a new style of music called sean-nós blues. It was a fusion of Gaelic traditional singing and African rock-and-roll blues.


Artist Video

Howard Marshall with photography by Ben Taylor, Out of Darkness - The Blind Piper of Inagh. Cottier Press, 2016, ISBN 978-0-9955054- 0-7, pp424, €45.00

Garret Barry

Joseph Laredo / Howard Marshal / Ben Taylor "Out of Darkness - The Blind Piper of Inagh"

Interposed with text and images ‘Out of Darkness – The Blind Piper of Inagh’ tells the story of one of the torch bearers of the Irish piping tradition, Garrett Barry (1847 – 1899). The book highlights the significance and influence the Co. Clare piper has had, and continues to have on the Irish music tradition.

Garret Barry's Reel

Garret Barry's Reel

 Listen to Garret Barry's Reel from:
       Willie Clancy, Gealbháin/Fearghaíl, Tiarnán O Duinnchinn, Liam O'Flynn, Shantalla

 Watch Garret Barry's Reel from:
       Mike Rafferty, Michael Stribbling, Tomoyuki Koshi

Willie Clancy Heaney/O'Flynn Tiarnán O Duinnchinn

Garret Barry's Jig

Garret Barry's Jig

 Listen to Garret Barry's Jig from:
       Brian Berryman, Donal Clancy, Willie Clancy, Patrick D'Arcy, Katrien Delavier,
       Bobby Gardiner, Kosky/O'Kane, Brendan Lynch, Moran/Scahill

 Watch Garret Barry's Jig from:
       Michael Eskin, John Jewell

Patrick D'Arcy Kosky/O'Kane Willie Clancy

John Spillane has said:

What is music, anyway, reader, only a magical, invisible, untouchable material that we don't really understand at all, but that means so much to us? Music is therapeutic, relaxing, engaging. It takes you away on journeys through the air. It is beautiful stuff, this music. It floats around you like a magical substance, intangible, unassailable; it has no scent or any real substance. It is wonderful. It is always a pleasure to make music, to command these magic notes to rise and fall. Hey, I think I'll make a song out of that!

Photo Credits: (1ff) Book/CD Covers, (6) John Joe Kelly, (7) Nomos, (8) John Spillane, (9) Bruce Cockburn, (10) Garret Barry (from website/author/publishers).

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