Friday, July 24, 2009

Ptarmigan - 2001

This is Charlie Gillen with 'Ptarmigan'

Way back around 2000, Charlie Gillen approached me to come up with some suitable music for a Tape of North Antrim Rhymes he was working on. 

However, rather than just play myself, I decided to ask a few musicians if they might like to get involved in the project and fortunately they all agreed, so a new group 'Ptarmigan' was formed.

I hunted around for suitable tunes that would reflect the variety of traditional music which was favoured throughout the North Antrim area and I then proceeded to arrange the music to suit Charlie's Rhymes and the varied instruments of the musicians involved.

The musicians I chose for this project were:

Dick GlasgowFiddle, Banjo, Concertina & Mandola.
Robert WattScottish Small Pipes & Whistles
Valerie QuinnPiano Accordion
Emma CulbertPiano Accordion & Tin Whistle
Sabine GlasgowClarsach
Gregory Gault: Acoustic Guitar
Kevin GlasgowAcoustic Bass
Paul McAuleyBodhran

The resulting Tape and CD were called 'When a' the Kye Had Names'.

I even experimented by arranging three waltzes to be played in behind Charlie's Rhyme on one track, and many folk have said since, that this is actually their favourite track.

Here's a review of ' Whun a' the Kye Had Names' 
by Sean Laffey - Irish Music Magazine
November 2001

Charlie Gillen & Ptarmigan
'Whun a' the Kye Had Names'
Rhymes in the North Antrim Tongue and Scottish Traditional Music
Own Label, 11 Tracks.

"Charlie Gillen is a North Antrim Rhymer, a composer of poems in the North Antrim dialect, and an able reciter of the same. He is joined on this album by Dick Glasgow's band Ptarmigan, who provide musical interludes between the poems. Dick plays Fiddle, Banjo, Concertina and Mandola, he is joined on Scottish Small Pipes and Whistles by Robert Watt, Valerie Quinn and Emma Culbert(Piano Accordions), Sabine Glasgow (Clarsach), Gregory Gault (Guitar) and Kevin Glasgow(Acoustic Bass) and finally Paul McAuley on Bodhran.
The poems reflect their author's Ulster Protestant backgrounds, but apart from the name Wullie and the accasional reference to Pipe Bands (Ten Poun Passage), the themes will be familier to anyone who has lived anywhere in rural Ireland. Tales of lost youth, lost opportunity & lost love, the spectre of emigration, the loss of place, almost universal motifs of course, but here they are given a particular Irish context, & one we all understand. It is not all bible black doom. Take Liza Jane's Pig for instance, which is a story of an unusual country courtship.
Musically this album is a little treat, & don't be put off by the "Scottish Traditional Music" in the title, the tunes here have a definite Irish accent. The Kiwi & the Braes of Knocksaughey (both Strathspeys) are clearly Scots pieces (the twin Piano Accordions come in with the Scotch Snap as the second number kicks off). Nice Small Pipes playing on Over the Hills & Far away treated as a single reel. There are some unusual tunes too. My love She's gone away (a quadrille). Jenny Pawned her Bonnet (a fling) Dick Glasgow's The Hazel (a March), Cave Hill Side & Jenny Put the Kettle On (2/4 marches), each taken at a sensible dancing pace and all are worth learning. They also point to the wealth of the musical tradition we share across the two communities.

Here's the CD's Track List

1. Whun a' the kye had names (written by Charlie Gillen)

2. The Fiddlin' Man (written by Charlie Gillen)

3. Bees among the Heather (Traditional Hornpipe)

4. Wullie at the Pictures (written by Alec McAllister)

5. My Love she's gone away (Traditional Quadrille)

6. Tam (written by Charlie Reynolds)

7. Farewell to Ballymoney / Long Cookstown (Traditional Air & 2/4 Marches)

8. Wullie's Motor Car (written by Alec McAllister)

9. Jenny pawned her bonnet (Traditional Fling & Reel)

10. Oot here mae lane (written by Charlie Gillen)

+ Rathlin Sound, Rathlin Ferry & Angela's Waltz (written by Dick Glasgow)

11. The Batchelor (written by Alec McAllister)

12. Cave Hill Side & Jenny put the kettle on (Traditional 2/4 Marches)

13. Ten Poun Passage (written by Frank McLernon)

14. The Hazel (6/8 March by Dick Glasgow)

15. Liza Jane's Pig (written by Alec McAllister)

16. The Kiwi / The Braes o' Knocksaughey (Strathspeys written by Dick Glasgow)

17. The Big Wumman (written by Alec McAllister)

18. Ower the hills an' far awa' / Goodnight an joy be wi' you a' / Come let us dance & sing

(Traditional Single Reels)

19. Niver loas heart (written by Charlie Gillen)


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