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Setanta
(Finn MacGinty, Dale Russ, Hanz Araki)

Traditional Irish Music

This talented trio have been touring regularly in the Pacific Northwest and Japan. Dale Russ is one of America's foremost Irish fiddle players, known recently for his recordings with Finn on North Amerikay and with piper Todd Denman on Reeds and Rosin. Finn MacGinty, from Co. Westmeath, Ireland is a longtime band-mate of Dale's from the Suffering Gaels and is known for his lighthearted songsmanship and on-the-money guitar accompaniment. Hanz Araki rounds out the trio as a soulful singer and Irish flute player.


MP3 Music Clips
The Blue Eyed Girl/The Red Door Reels

(original tunes by Dale Russ, performed by Dale Russ on fiddle & Finn MacGinty, guitar)

Tunes

1 Slip Jig and Reels - song
2 Sean Bui/Wallop the Cat from Under the Table/The Legacy - jigs
3 Albatross - song
4 The Blue Eyed Girl/The Red Door - reels
5 Paddy Fahy's/The Tailor's Twist - hornpipes
6 Bogie's Bonnie Belle - song
7 The Gold Ring - jig
8 Rocking the Cradle - air
9 Tom Billy's/Kevin Keegan's - waltzes
10 Gan Ainm/O'Keefe's - slides
11 The Road to Drumleman - song
12 The Yellow Tinker/The Jolly Tinker/The Crooked Road - reels
13 Don't Call Again/The Return Home - song

Reviews

Fiddler Dale Russ has added to an already lustrous discography with yet another superb recording. This time it's Setanta, a trio disc that also features flute player/singer Hanz Araki and guitarist/singer Finn Mac Ginty. As on Russ and MacGinty's North Amerikay, the liner notes are bilingual. Not Irish and English - Japanese and English. That's because Russ & Co. have become minor celebrities in Japan, where the audience for traditional Irish music has been growing tremendously in recent years. You don't have to be Japanese to be impressed with Setanta, however. "On the Fiddle" is a real sucker for flute and fiddle duets, and Setanta features some of the best of these you're likely to hear this year. Russ's fiddling is, as always, awesome. Araki started his musical career on the Japanese shakuhachi, another sort of keyless wooden flute, but has pretty much mastered the Irish variety as well. Both he and Mac Ginty (the only true Irishman of the trio) contribute excellent songs, including an Araki cover of "Albatross," a composition of Dublin-born New Yorker Susan McKeown.
- Don Meade, The Irish Voice

Setanta was the youth name of Ireland's Cuchuliann, the epic hero of the Tain, but this traditional band personifies musical range that comes from maturity and playing together over the years. Seattleites Finn Mac Ginty on vocals and acoustic guitar, Dale Russ on fiddle, and Hanz Araki on flutes and vocals serve up a frothy mix of songs, waltzes, reels, jigs, a slide and an air. The set opens with the contemporary "The Slip Jigs and Reels" with Mac Ginty in fine voice trading off verses with Araki. The Steve Tilson-penned song tells a Billy the Kid kind of story of an Irish immigrant who turns gunfighter and meets his fate in Santa Fe. The group steps further out of the tradition on a terrific rendition of "Albatross," Susan McKeown's poignant song of suffocating love based on the imagery of the Coleridge poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Setanta's ability to explore the full range of emotional feeling is shown beautifully in three instrumentals at the center of the album, starting with the happy jig "The Gold Ring" with Araki's flute fairly shimmering. The melancholic air, "Rocking the Cradle" follows, with Russ's fiddle delicately controlled, yet powered with considerable use of harmony and slurs to give a dark edge to the tune. The sequence finishes with two waltzes ("Tom Billy's/Kevin Keegan's") that put me in mind of easy sauntering around Green Lake on a sunny September day. This is a fine debut album from three of the west coast's best traditional musicians.
- Bill Compton, Victory Music Review

 

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