The 21st Salon Concert featured Manx trio Barrule, whose lineup includes Tomas Callister, a truly mighty fiddler, Adam Rhodes, a clever and inventive accompanist whose main instrument is a guitar-bodied bouzouki, and Jamie Smith, easily one of the finest piano accordionists the Salon Concerts team has ever seen play live.
Manx music? What’s that? Manx music (and Manx people) hail from a small island in the Irish Sea, roughly halfway between Northern Ireland and the northernmost parts of England, called the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is one of the Celtic Nations, and the Manx language is a Gaelic language akin to Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Manx music also bears many similarities to Irish and Scottish traditional music with its emphasis on dancing and the types of dance tunes it includes. Manx traditional music is especially rich in lovely jig melodies as well as swift and driving reels, which the Barrule lads were able to demonstrate with great skill for our enthusiastic crowd.
Highlights of their set included their arrangement of “Mylecharaine’s March,” a fine and lilting traditional Manx melody that should instantly imprint itself in the memory of any lover of Scottish and Irish melodies. Like many of Barrule’s arrangements, the tune featured clever interplay between Callister’s fiddle and Smith’s piano box, employing a wide range of dynamic and rhythmic effects and creating a great deal of variety while never losing its beautiful melodic thread. The modern Manx composition “Kinnoull,, by Peddyr Cubberley, a sweet, lyrical, and wistful melody arranged by Barrule, featured winsome fiddling and gentle piano accordion basses over a pulsating bouzouki accompaniment, augmented with looping to create layers of textured sound and the illusion of multiple instruments playing simultaneously. They also lit the hall up with their incendiary jigs and their driving reels, notably “The Laxey Reels.”
Chicago denizen and fellow Manxman, blues rocker DAVY KNOWLES, was present for the event (with his fiancee Amber) and had nothing but praise for his countrymen in recommending the show to his fans on Facebook: “These guys are just amazing, good time guaranteed, and musicianship like you’ve never seen.”
Longtime Salon Concerts Master of Ceremonies Terry Bermes was also impressed, calling the trio “A breath of fresh air.”
Our crowd was also treated to a fine performance by the young performing group from the Academy of Irish Music who yet again demonstrated progress in their musical development with clever new wrinkles in their arrangements.
The Salon Concerts Chicago Team wishes to thank: Meg Buchanan, Geno Cooney Mike Shevlin, Dave the soundman, Terry Bermes, Kathy O’Neill, Mary Moore, Theresa Choske, Mark Piekarz, Barb Malone, Nancy Moore, Mike Haman, Rick the chef, Irene Higgins-Hruby in the gift shop, the Academy of Irish Music and their parents, Patrick Cannady, Noel Rice, Karen Cook Cannady, Shay Clarke for having us on the Blarney on the Air radio show to play Barrule’s music and discuss the show and talk about the upcoming Gavin/McCarthy/Costello Salon Concert, the Irish American Heritage Center and our many patrons who continue to support this series. It would not be possible without your kindness and generosity!