Dale Russ and Finn MacGinty
Taste the great fiddling and guitar backing on this
MP3 Music Clips
Mulcahey's/The Rose Bush/Seamus Creagh's
polkas (excerpt, 845k)
The Ash Plant/The Woman of the House/The Man
of the House reels (1.7 meg)
Dale Russ, one of North America's premiere Celtic fiddlers, known
for his extraordinarily tasteful Irish fiddle playing, is joined by
his old friend, Irish singer and guitar player Finn MacGinty, for
a lovely album of Irish fiddle tunes and songs. The album features
Dale's powerful and expressive fiddle playing on old chestnuts and
unusual tunes alike, backed by Finn on guitar, and a variety of songs,
some humorous and others heart-rending and classic, including the
title song, "North Amerikay."
Dale's detailed, driving fiddle launches the recording with four
tunes, including two original, "The Clips of Mohair" and "The Slightly
Less-Well-Informed Maid." The top level Irish fiddle playing continues
throughout the recording with other reel highlights such as "The
Ash Plant/The Woman of the House/The Man of the House" and two
sets of exceptionally infectious Irish polkas that play more like
acoustic rock and roll. Songs include Finn's original, witty creation
The Shamrock along with Heather on the Moor and Far Away in Australia
and others, sung in an easygoing, natural style.
"...It's funny - North Amerikay isn't a Dale Russ solo album,
though one tends to think of fiddle/guitar albums belonging to the
fiddler. Instead, it feels like a duet. That's partly because of its
structure, which is a back-and-forth of tune sets and songs...
Many people I've spoken with claim to have fallen in love with North
Amerikay on first listen. That Dale and Finn sold every one of the
hundred copies they brought to Fiddle Tunes [in Port Townsend, WA]
attests to its popularity and positive reception.
As a fiddler, I noticed Dale's playing first. It's fresh and dynamic,
expressive and easy. His style is refreshingly wild here, inventive,
creative and inspired. It's easy to picture Dale and Finn engaged
in the music together, with Dale's concentrated energy and Finn's
fiery style. In choosing the tunes, Dale considered his Fiddle Tunes
audience as well as his audience in Japan. He wanted to include ones
that well-known bands hadn't recorded recently. He wanted the tunes
and the album to be accessible not just to Irish music aficionados,
but also to those relatively new to Irish traditional music.
North Amerikay treats us to some classic sets - including a great
chain of reels ("The Gooseberry Bush/Julia Delaney/Mother's Delight/Patsy
Hanley's"); some variations on classics ("The Slightly-less-well-informed
Maid," for example, a takeoff on the familiar Wise Maid); a lovely
O'Carolan air called "Blind Mary," which brought some audience members
to tears at the Fiddle Tunes concert; and two originals, including
a very compelling and heartfelt waltz, 'Lullaby for Rory.'
Fans of the Suffering Gaels, a local [Seattle] band of which Dale
and Finn are members, might recognize several of the songs on North
Amerikay. Many occupy a special place in our hearts. Finn deliberately
included familiar songs: he tends to develop and, in his view, improve
songs as he tinkers with them over time, and wanted to offer these
newer versions. Songs like "North Amerikay" and 'Heather on the Moor,'
while basically familiar, feature new twists. Finn was especially
pleased with the rhythmic latter tune - and indeed several people
I've spoken to cite it as a favorite. It features Hanz Araki, who
appears throughout the recording on flute, whistle and backup vocals.
Dale and Finn shine with energy. That, combined with thoughtful
tune and song choices and sincere effort to produce a quality recording,
indicates musicians with true integrity and talent. And both Dale
and Finn acknowledge the help they received from Hanz, PJ Newman (who
was great on the recording end), and other guest musicians Tom Creegan
(uilleann pipes), and Orville Johnson (an "institution in Seattle,"
according to Dale), who plays dobro on 'Lullaby for Rory.'"
-Una Pett, Victory Music Review