IONA's Latest Recording - The 31st Anniversary CD
|Back in 1986, Barbara Tresidder Ryan and Bernard Argent teamed up with 2 other musicians to formally play Irish and Scottish music as a band. We needed a name that could be easily pronounced, spelled and associated with the music and Barbara decided on IONA® . This is the name of an island in the Scottish Hebrides where the monk Columcille (Columba) was exiled to establish a colony and work on the illustrious Book of Kells. Long story! It's also a magical place that has captured the imagination of all who land there, AND it's easy to spell! 31 years later, we have crafted a collection of music, spanning the Celtic diaspora, as well as parent countries, and many centuries. Our musical lineup for the past 9 years has been solid: we think we've evolved together rather well. Barbara is still lead singer, plays Celtic bouzouki, bodhrán and pieds; Bernard continues to play flute, whistles, doumbek, cabasa and provides backup vocals; Chuck Lawhorn is still our bass guitar player, also singing harmony; and Jim Queen loves to fiddle around, with his banjo too, and sings in whatever range is needed. We avidly explore the available extremes of all Celtic music and find ourselves drawn to odd time signatures. We also have a well defined signature sound. We are putting our signature on this collection for you...
1. Hai O. 4:39
La Dérobée de Guingamp (Gwengamp)/Hai o eadaraibh o (Eilidh Mackenzie) (Breton/Scots Gaelic)
We lead off this set with La Dérobée de Guingamp, a Breton dance from Guingamp (or Gwengamp in Breton), which is a town in the Côtes-d'Armor department in Brittany. The Saint Loup international festival which ncludes a national competition of Brittany's dances and takes place every year around mid August, ends with this traditional dance. Dérobée means stolen or stealth: the dance originated in Italy, probably imported by the armies of Napoleon. The song which follows, Hai o eadaraibh o, is a paeon to the arts composed by Eilidh Mackenzie a native of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. It is written in traditional puirt-a-beul (gaelic mouth music) style. In a reprise of the dérobée, Bernard provides listeners with a bombard trio for quite the surprising effect!
2. Time Machine Set 5:04
Time Machine/The Auld Country/Back to the Hills (James K. Queen, Round Fiddle Music, BMI)
Clearly, we are fond of unusual time signatures, one of the reasons for the name of our album. IONA's fiddler, James K. Queen, inspired by our enthusiasm, composed this 3-part suite in 15/8, 12/8 and 4/4 to describe the time and continental travels of a bluegrass fiddler from Appalachia. The first tune evokes the complexities of a Time Machine the fiddler stumbles across "somewhere, possibly North Carolina", according to Jim; the second is a strathspey, The Auld Country, referring to Scotland, that inspires the fiddler to return to his own time and country and finally let rip with Back to the Hills, which Jim calls a "reel rondo" in which the central theme is repeated multiple times.
3. Wildwood Flower 4:47
Exile's Jig/Réel de Nez Piqué (Michael Doucet)/I'll Twine Mid the Ringlets. (Irish/Cajun/Appalachian)
This arrangement opens with The Exile's Jig, an Irish slip jig (9/8 time signature) then takes a trans-Atlantic segué to Louisiana and Réel de Nez Piqué, a Cajun tune penned by Michael Doucet of Beausoleil. Why a Cajun tune? When the Breton-based French from Acadia (now Nova Scotia) were driven out by the British, many of them migrated southwards, all the way to Louisiana where "Acadians" became "Cajuns". We continue with a Victorian parlor song, I'll Twine Mid the Ringlets, published in 1860 with music by Joseph Philbrick Webster and lyrics by Maud Irving. It was later adapted to the bluegrass tradition to become "Wildwood Flower" (among other derivative names) made popular by the Carter Family in 1928.
4. Bolero/Galvadeg 6:29
Boleros d'Urbiés/Galvadeg en Tri Kant Mil Soudard (Asturian/Breton)
We learned this spirited Bolero d'Urbiés (Asturian dance from the village of Urbiés) from the playing of the super group, Llan de Cubel. The time signature is impossible to determine: each of us counts it differently! We transition to a powerful Breton lament, Galvadeg en Tri Kant Mil Soudard, for the 300,000 Breton soldiers killed in French wars, defined by Jim's solo coda. He plays it differently every time!
5. Bold Doherty 6:47
Bold Doherty/Bran's Sticks (Barbara Tresidder Ryan)/The Noose and Ghille (Irish/Scottish)
The song, collected by Norma Waterson from the singing of Drogheda singer Mary Ann Carolan, is an odd conglomeration of the adventures of a rake, all over Ireland, it seems: not the whole story, but never dull, we think! Barbara wrote the next tune, Bran's Sticks. Bernard's and her dog Bran's favorite thing in the world was to chase sticks, until he went blind. You will hear his commentary in this tribute. The Noose and Ghille, a Scottish reel, has one of those names that just make you wonder. We THINK it refers to a hunting ghille or attendant and the noose he carries to catch game.
6. Cân Merthyr 4:13
Calenick/Cân Merthyr (Martyr's Song)/Map Rus (Cornish/Welsh)
We start with Calenick, a traditional Cornish tune in 9/8. A tradition that became popular when English began to be spoken in Wales, macaronic verse, or a combination of the two languages, is featured in the comedic song, Cân Merthyr. It is the plaint of a man married to a controlling wife who dictates where he goes, armed with a wooden soup ladle (lletwad), refuses to provide him with tobacco and eats the meat while relegating him to soup - "that's the devil of a partner"! We intersperse the verses with another Cornish tune, Map Rus.
7.Les Cousinages 5:17
11/16th Hour(Jon Bewis)/Les Cousinages (from the repertoire of Québécois singer and National Treasure, Jean-Paul Guimond) (Scottish/Québécois)
We open with 11/16th Hour by Jon Bewis, an amazingly innovative Scottish fiddler whom we know, from his playing with the band, Cantrip, with whom we've shared stages. As we delve into odd rhythms, this composition, with its 11/16 time signature, had to be included! We pair it with a wonderfully sly song, Les Cousinages, from the repertoire of Québécois singer and National Treasure, Jean-Paul Guimond. Is is about a newly married man whose beautiful wife has a surprising number of male relatives. He quickly finds out that her "cousins" are horny admirers - even the curé (priest) of St Cyr is not exempt! Barbara provides "pieds" the quintessentially Québécois foot percussion.
8. Carls o' Dysart 4:53
Carls o' Dysart (Robert Burns)/Muñiera De Tormaleo/Walking the Floor (Jack Chisholm) (Scottish/Asturian/Scottish)
This Scottish drinking song by Robbie Burns, celebrates the life of the old 'Carls' and 'Kimmers' - and the young - the lads and lassies of the town of Dysart. The phrase "Ca' thro" was the cry from a fishing boat approaching a crowded shore that would have been heard along the coast at that time. This song was first printed in The Scots Musical Museum, vol.4, 1792 and is thought to be "an old Fifeshire fishing song." Burns may have collected this song when passing through Fife in the late autumn of 1787 at the end of his Highland tour. Although it is not certain that Burns improved it, the editors say "this song does appear to have been tightened up by Burns" and the "deceptively simple clarity of lyric would appear to be his handiwork." We follow up with an Asturian dance, Muñiera De Tormaleo, in 6/8 from one of eleven parishes in the municipality of Ibias. The final tune, Walking the Floor, is by Jack Chisholm who was the son of P/M Bill Chisholm of Inverness and grew up in a piping family. He served in North Africa during the war and afterwards was in the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band. He then emigrated to Washington D.C. around 1956/7 where he was Pipe major of the Washington Scottish Pipe Band. In effect, this is one of our "local" tunes!
9. Une fille de Rose 5:26
Une fille de Rose (Girl of rose)/El 15 De Xineru(the 15th of January) (Breton/Asturian)
The first tune is a Breton hanter dro that was suggested to us by our dear friend and Breton singer, Nolwenn Monjarret. It is a dance in 6/4 time that we performed here as a song, and a woeful tale it is! It's the story of a young girl who finds herself in the family way and decides, heartbroken, to drown her baby in the River Nantes, not knowing what else to do. A neighbor sees her and reports to the gendarmes. They go to her home, where they find her mother, who pleads for her daughter's life, beside her on the bed. Unfazed, they march the girl off to be burned at the stake at dawn. Meanwhile, the dancers step merrily as this unfolds! We finish off with a lovely Asturian tune, also in 6/4, El 15 De Xineru, (the 15th of January).
10. Jock Stewart 3:16
Jock Stewart (I'm a Man You'll not Meet Every Day)(Scottish)
Bernard has been singing this traditional Scottish/Irish Music Hall, I'm a Man You'll not Meet Every Day, song for around 30 years and getting audiences to join in choruses! Written from the point of view of a rich landowner telling the story of his day while buying drinks at a public house, the song is an Irish narrative ballad that has been shortened to an Aberdeenshire drinking song.
|Total Running Time - 51:03
Barbara Tresidder Ryan: lead vocals, bouzouki (Doug Dieter, Kennaquhair Stringed Instruments), bodhrán (Belgarth), pieds
Bernard Argent: wooden flute (Chris Wilkes), whistles, vocals, bombarde (Jil Léhart),cabasa, doumbek
Chuck Lawhorn: bass guitars (David King), vocals
Jim Queen: fiddle (Brucr T. Myers), banjo (Nechville Phantom), vocals
Kathleen Larrick: vocals on I'll Twine mid the Ringlets and Cân Merthyr; cabasa and doumbek on Cân Merthyr.
Bran Ryan-Argent: barks
Produced by Barbara Ryan and Bernard Argent
Engineered by Scott Shuman at Shuman Recording
Photography by Cynthia Loden-Dowdle (Loden's Green)
Design by Bernard Argent
Liner notes by Barbara Tresidder Ryan
With many, many thanks to Nolwenn Monjarret for providing so much research into Breton songs; to Scott Shuman and Mary Baker for opening their home and hearts; to Kathleen Larrick, our beautiful dancer who had to retire in September 2016; to our ever patient and supportive families and to all of you who come out to performances and support our music. A special nod to Cheryl Mitchell, dear friend and Welsh consultant.
Management by Barnaby Productions, Inc.,
Fairfax Station, VA 22009 703-426-1450
All titles traditional, except where noted. All arrangements © 2017 IONA®.
For bookings, please contact us through the web site
or call Barnaby Productions, Inc. at 202-258-7602.
Copyright © 2017 Barnaby Productions, Inc.