Session Tunes volume 1

by Slowplayers

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This is a recording Angeline and William did in 2006 (before calling themselves Castlerock) on the request of Michael Duffy of, who wanted a CD to recommend for learning and practicing tunes.

There are very few copies of the CD left so we decided to make it available here.

Here are the original liner notes:

Cooley's Reel is strongly associated with the Galway accordion player Joe Cooley who along with Kevin Keegan had a tremendous influence on the Irish music scene in San Francisco. The Earl's Chair also comes from Galway and was made famous on the highly recommended album "All Ireland Champions - Violin". A slightly different version of Chief O'Neill's Hornpipe also appears on that record, but we play the more common version here. It was named for Chief Francis O'Neill of Chicago, who collected thousands of tunes for publication around the turn of the last century. We don't know who Miss Monaghan was, but her namesake tune has been popular for decades. Congress was apparently written in the 1930s and commemorates the World Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.

Maids of Mt. Kisco was possibly written by the great Sligo/New York fiddler Paddy Killoran, who was frequently recorded in the early 1900s. Another great Sligo/New York fiddler Michael Coleman made The Tarbolton, The Longford Collector, and Sailor's Bonnet popular as "The Tarbolton Set" which is still frequently played today. Garrett Barry was a legendary piper from Inagh. His music was passed down to the famous Clare piper Willie Clancy through Clancy's father; a recording of Clancy playing Banish Misfortune on whistle can be found on the internet. I Buried My Wife and Danced on Top Of Her has been recorded often; Martin Hayes has a version only a little faster than ours. Rambling Pitchfork and Sporting Pitchfork comprise a classic set credited to Patrick Kelly, a fiddler from Clare. Jimmy Ward's is often played in our neck of the woods with The Mug of Brown Ale as "the Clare Jig set." Saddle the Pony is another oft-recorded tune and is apparently popular in the New England contradance repertoire as well.

The Rights of Man has too much history to go into here; briefly, the name comes from the controversial pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1791. There are many versions of Toss the Feathers in various keys, but two are most common - we've chosen to play the E minor one from Clare. Rolling in the Ryegrass is another tune with many versions and many names, and we chose to play the one we've most commonly heard at sessions. The brother and sister duo Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford from Co. Kerry made the Ballydesmond polkas famous on their classic album "The Star Above the Garter." Taur and the Glen Cottage polkas have been recorded by the San Francisco band Tipsy House, from whom we learned the latter two.

Angeline and I recorded this CD in our living room on instruments which, like the tunes we play, are far older than us and most people we know. We hope that you will enjoy it, find it useful, and that you will be inspired to seek out the sources. Special thanks to Michael Duffy and Kelle Deforrest for asking us to record it, to Kelle for the cover art, The Fiddler's Companion website for information on a few of the tunes, and the many fine musicians we've had the opportunity to play with and learn from in the San Francisco Bay area.


released December 31, 2006

William Bajzek - flute, production
Angeline LeLeux - fiddle



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Castlerock Mt Vernon, Washington

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