Radio Show – Episode 12 – Last Rose of Summer – Sept. 4, 2016

The days are shifting into the long golden light of autumn, and a crispness has entered the air. Here on Vashon, the school year is about to begin, signaling the beginning of the full blown harvest that is the creative energy of fall. In today’s show we musically enjoy the “last rose of summer.”

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Format: Track Title – artist (CD Title)

“The Briar and the Rose” – Niamh Parsons and The Loose Connections (Loosen Up) 
Niamh Parsons (born in Dublin, Ireland) is a singer of contemporary and traditional Irish music.Niamh Parsons started her professional career in 1990, in Belfast. Having been singing at sessions around Dublin, Niamh first joined the band Killera from 1984-89. Joining her husband Dee with his band the Loose Connections in 1990, Parsons released two CDs with this band.

“One Summer’s Morning” – Dougie MacLean (Fiddle)
Beloved Scottish songwriter and composer. Here is one of his instrumental compositions.

“Waltz of the White Lilies” -Déanta (Whisper of a Secret)
Déanta is an Irish traditional music band from Northern Ireland. The name of the band is the Irish word for done or made. The band, formed in the late 1980s in County Antrim, played together until 1997 and regrouped in 2008

This beautiful tune was written by Kate O’Brien, fiddler of Deanta.

Let’s enjoy a few harp tunes …

“Sir John Fenwick is the Flower of Them All” – Cynthia Cathcart (Alchemy of a Rose)
Cynthia Cathcart is an expert on the Clàrsach, the wire strung harp of Scotland and Ireland, based near Washington, DC,  We also thank her for serving as the columnist on the wire-strung harp, “Ringing Strings,” for many years for the ISFHC’s Folk Harp Journal.

“Captain O’Kane” – Aryeh Frankfurter (The Music of O’Carolan: O’Carolan’s Dream)
From Wikipedia: “Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738) was a blind Gaelic harper, composer, and singer whose great fame is due to his gift for melodic composition. He was the last great Irish harper-composer and is considered by many to be Ireland’s most celebrated composer.  “Captain O’Kane” is said to be composed in honour of a member of “a distinguished Antrim family, a sporting Irishman, well known in his day by the name of ‘Slasher O’Kane’” [O’Sullivan]. Tune used by Robert Burns for “The Chevalier’s Lament.”

About Aryeh: Since 1994, Aryeh has been delighting audiences around the globe with his passionate, enduring and evocative music. Aryeh’s uncommon approach to the Celtic harp and folk harp repertoire, command of the unusual Swedish nyckelharpa (or keyed fiddle) and other stringed instruments. He’s based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“A Place Among the Stones” – Maire Brennan (Misty-Eyed Adventures)
Here Maire performs with three of her sisters and uilleann pipes player Davy Spillane, who I believe served as a producer for this track.

“Soundscape of Relaxing Nature Sounds – Summer in an English Meadow” –Past Tense (youtube)
Lovely nature sounds.

“Blooming Heather“ – Kate Rusby (Awkward Annie)
Kate is an English folk singer and songwriter from Penistone, Barnsley. The more I hear her, the more I love her style of singing! There’s a lovely video of Kate performing this song at the Cambridge Folk Festival that is quite moving. In it, the audience stands, holding each other, swaying, singing softly this familiar and beloved song. And Kate in the video directs the orchestra (String quartet and brass ensemble) with gentle gestures – which as a music director myself I so appreciate. After all, directing is a kind of dance of the hands!

“Inis sui” – Maire Breatnach (Voyage of Bran)
On a quest to the Otherworld, Bran pauses on his travel over the sea at the Isle of Joy ….

Máire Breatnach is one of the most prominent fiddle players in Ireland.

“ The Gold Claddagh Ring” – Andy M. Stewart, Phil Cunningham, Manus Lunny (Fire in the Glen)

From Andy M. Stewart’s website:
(Words and Music: Andy M. Stewart)
“The Claddagh ring originated in an area known as The Claddagh near Galway City in the West of Ireland. The ring has a unique design, that of a heart being encircled by a pair of delicate hands. In this song, the young man’s heart is well and truly in the hands of the girl he admires from afar. On getting to know her better, he falls falls victim to a clever  ploy.”

“Fonn” – Salsa Celtica (The Tall Islands)
Salsa Celtica are a Scottish group that plays a fusion of salsa music with traditional Scottish instruments, including elements of folk and jazz. A surprising mix!

“River of Sky” – Jami Sieber (Timeless)
From her promo:
“Electric cellist and vocalist Jami Sieber reaches inside the soul with compositions that are contemporary, timeless, lush, and powerfully evocative. An innovative musician, Jami’s music moves beyond the surface, seeking and re-seeking her truth by creating musical bridges and connections. Her life-long commitment to the environment, social justice, and the healing arts is at the heart of her music, reflecting a deep dedication to the arts as a medium of exploration and awareness of the interconnectedness of all beings.

Jami has always done something unique – employing electronics and looping techniques to create sounds never before associated with the cello she transforms her solo instrument into an orchestra of sound that opens the heart, defies the mind, and at times, sets the body dancing.”

Jami is performing on Vashon, and I’m looking forward to the concert! See and hear her:

Friday, Oct 14, 7:30 PM
Vashon High School Theater

Tickets at Vashon Intuitive Arts, Vashon Bookshop; online at Brown Paper Tickets
Sponsored by Women’s Way Red Lodge. More info: at Jami’s website.

“The Last Rose of Summer“ – Celtic Woman (Celtic Woman: A New Journey)

From Wikipedia:
“The Last Rose of Summer is a poem by the Irish poet Thomas Moore, who was a friend of Byron and Shelley. He wrote it in 1805, while staying at Jenkinstown Park in County Kilkenny, Ireland, where he was said to have been inspired by a specimen of Rosa ‘Old Blush’. The poem is set to a traditional tune called “Aislean an Oigfear”, or “The Young Man’s Dream”,which was transcribed by Edward Bunting in 1792, based on a performance by harper Denis Hempson (Donnchadh Ó hÁmsaigh) at the Belfast Harp Festival.”

Méav Ní Mhaolchatha and Hayley Westenra of the group Celtic Woman sing this version.

Radio Show – Episodes 9, 10, 11 – Mid-July through August, 2016

Wow, something mysterious happened, and my posts regarding these three episodes have vanished from WordPress. Here are the play lists, but, alas, I don’t think I can recreate the program notes.


July 17th, 2016 – Episode 9 – Island Life

12:00: Harper Tasche – Nostalgia
12:04: Solas – Crested Hens
12:09: Forest Halls Celtic – Live
12:10: Lunasa – Morning Nightcap
12:15: Silly Wizard – Isla Waters
12:19: Forest Halls Celtic – Live
12:22: Seumus Gagne – O Is Toil Agus Gu Ro Thoil Leam
12:25: The Owner’s Daughter – Blow the Candle Out
12:29: Forest Halls Celtic – Live
12:31: Afro Celt Sound System – Eireann
12:36: Maire Brennan – Against the Wind
12:41: Enya – Athair Ar Neamh
12:45: Forest Halls Celtic – Live
12:46: Sakaue Masume – Rosemary
12:52: Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac  – If You were Mine
12:55: Spookytree (Deb Knodel & Jane Valencia) – Lochaber No More
12:56: Cossu, Scott – Vashon Poem

Show 10 - harpcorn

August 7th, 2016 – Episode 10 – First Harvest

In the Celtic Wheel of the Year, this is time of the First Harvest – the beginning of the harvest season, and of the gathering of community in various ways: through festivals, markets, and so on. In this episode we’ll be enjoying a kind of musical gathering, in which various musical styles, from traditional to modern, intermingle. So, I invite you to listen today for elements of jazz, rock, folk, and ballad, and more in our wanders through the forest. We’ll also stepping outside the Celtic realm of the forest into a neighboring area of myth and magic, with that of a pair of folk-indie-pop songs from Iceland.

12:01: Catriona McKay & Chris Stout – Smugglers Set
12:08: Andy M. Stewart, Phil Cunningham, Manus Lunny – Nil Si I nGra
12:12: Tristan Le Govic – Jag tanker sa titt
12:14: Johnnie Lawson – Excerpt 5
12:18: Live – Forest Halls Celtic
12:18: Plethyn – Breuddwyd Glyndwr
12:21: Golden Bough – Song of the Wandering Aengus
12:25: Listenbee – Nottamun Town
12:28: Johnnie Lawson – Excerpt 6
12:31: Jochen Vogel – Give me Your Hand (Tabhair dom do Lamh)
12:34: Capercaillie – Nil Si I nGra
12:39: Gaelic Storm – Scalliwag
12:42: Live – Forest Halls Celtic
12:45: Seabear – I-ll Build you a Fire
12:45: Seabear – I’ll Build You A Fire
12:48: Of Monsters And Men – Mountain Sound
12:52: Spookytree (Deb Knodel & Jane Valencia) – Lochaber No More
12:52: John Renbourn – The Mist Covered Mountains of Home-The Orphan -Tarboulton
12:59: Live – Forest Halls Celtic


August 21st, 2016 –Episode 11 – Selkie

The legends of the Selkie – remarkable people who are seals in the sea and humans on land – are haunting, often sad, and strangely compelling. Today we take a deep dive into the music and magic of the Selkie with tales and songs arising from the coasts and islands of Scotland and Ireland, and the Orkney and Shetland Islands, as well as some contemporary expressions.

12:00: Spookytree – Lochaber No More
12:02: Carolyn Allan, Jenny Keldie, Phil Cunningham – The Great Selkie of Sule Skerry
12:05: Kim Robertson – The Selkie
12:08: Heather Dale – The Maiden and the Selkie
12:16: Jean Redpath – The Song Of The Seals
12:20: Patrick Ball – The Seal
12:23: Mason Daring and the Secret of Roan Inish – The Roan Inish Theme
12:25: Mason Daring and the Secret of Roan Inish – Fiona Explores
12:30: Seamus Byrne – Ocean Surf
12:37: Anne Roos – The Mermaid’s Tears
12:43: Mary McLaughlin – Sealwoman-Yundah
12:47: Knodel and Valencia – The Fisherman’s Song for Attracting Seals
12:55: Tori Amos – Selkie

Radio Show – Episode 8 – July 3, 2016 – The Power of Music

Today’s show is devoted to the Power of Music and its ability to enchant. Irish myth describes “Three Noble Strains” of music, known as the geantraí – song of joy/merriment, the goltraí – song of sorrow, and the suantraí – song of comfort/for soothing. You’ll hear expressions of all three “strains” in the music and stories played and told today.

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Show 8-Power of Music

12:00: Spookytree (Deb Knodel & Jane Valencia) – Lochaber No More
12:01: Heartstring Quartet – Patrick Bellew’s March / An Cailin Rua Gaelach
12:05: William Taylor – Macpherson’s Testament
12:08: Paul Machlis – Darkness Falling
12:13: Dagda – Harp of Dagda
12:16: Johnnie Lawson – Natural Sound of the Forest Birds Singing
12:20: The Chieftains & James Galway – The Red Admiral Butterfly
12:25: Maire Ni Chathasaigh – Carolans Farewell to Music
12:29: Johnnie Lawson – Excerpt 2
12:32: Fiona Davidson – Deirdre of the Sorrows
12:49: Anuna – Sleepsong
12:52: Julie Fowlis – Cadal Ciarach Mo Luran
12:57: Spookytree (Deb Knodel & Jane Valencia) – Lochaber No More

Format: Track Title – artist (CD Title)

Geantrai – song of joy and merriment

“Patrick Bellew’s March / An Cailin Rua Gaelach” Heartstring Quartet (Heartstring Sessions)

The Heartstring Quartet brings together two famous Irish duos: Arty McGlynn & Nollaig Casey, Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman. Nollaig and Máire are sisters who play fiddle and harp, respectively.

“Macpherson’s Testament” – William Taylor  
Bill (William) Taylor researches, performs, teaches and records the ancient harp music of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. He is one of very few players interpreting these repertoires using gut-strung medieval harps, renaissance harps with buzzing bray pins and wire-strung clarsachs.

In this show, I (incorrectly) stated that I thought that Bill Taylor was a harpmaker for Ardival Harps. But that isn’t so. He is a harper-in-residence for Ardival Harps. The actual makers are Zan and Alex Dunn and associates.

My friend and colleague, singer-songwriter and harper, Verlene Schermer writes:

“There is in Irish folklore, a story about the three sacred strains of music. The three strains are known as the goltrai — song of sorrow, the suantrai – song of comfort, and the gentrai – song of joy (Walton). The Dagda Mor, (the good god) is the leader of the Tuatha De Dannan, (the Fairy Folk – who are gods themselves), and it is his harp, Uaithne, that has the magical ability to bring listeners to tears, to put them to sleep, or to cause them to dance.”

Here we enjoy the story itself …

“Harp of the Dagda” – Irish Myth retold by Barra the Bard (Barra Jacob-McDowell) – read by Jane Valencia/ Music: “Darkness Falling” Paul Machlis (Greenwoods) 
Barra the Bard received her name from the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides off the West Coast of Scotland and her love of storytelling from her maternal grandmother, Abigail Jones Dangler. With a repertoire of over 5,000 stories Barra specializes in tales from the Celtic nations (Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany, & Spain). She also enjoys telling stories from other ethnic traditions as well as family stories of her own.

Check out my Article for the Folk Harp Journal, Be A Bard: Start Down an Ancient Path, which features an interview with Barra.

Read Barra the Bard’s “Harp of the Dagda”.

“Harp of Dagda” – Dagda (Celtic Trance)
A review on says:
“If you’re not looking for “Traditional” Irish jigs, reels, lyrics, ballads or tunes, but rather a tightly put together selection of songs with a modern, mystic, Celtic “flavor” and a dream-like quality, with a nice heavy bass beat…then this is a CD for you!”

Danceable rhythms overlaid with string arrangements and lilting Celtic melodies compose the sound of Ireland’s Dagda, the collective moniker for producers Red Keating and Phillip O’Rely.

Johnnie Lawson -Natural Sound of the Forest Birds Singing 
Today’s forest sounds are from Johnnie Lawson. He writes: “I search out tranquil, quiet places in nature where we like to go when we want peace and calm, away from the stresses of modern day life. I capture the sense of beauty and tranquility of each location in sound and vision. It is my pleasure to bring these healing videos to you, free for you to relax with at any time of the day or night, anywhere in the world.”

On Forest Halls Celtic, we’ve heard several versions of the Irish slip jig, The Butterfly. A slip-jig is in 9/8 time, but we’ve heard it also in 11/8 and 5/4. In this next version, we hear yet another rhythmic variation, that of 12/8 tim.

“The Red Admiral Butterfly” (slip jig) James Galway & The Chieftains (James Galway & The Chieftains in Ireland)
Douglas Hadden writes:
“The Chieftains” and James Galway play an arrangement of the Irish slip-jig, “The Butterfly”. Possibly the best-known “slip-jig” [ in 9/8 time ] in Irish traditional music. It was made popular by “The Bothy Band” on their first eponymous album. It is often thought of as an original composition by Dublin fiddle-player Tommy Potts, but it is generally accepted these days that he “re-arranged” parts from other traditional tunes, and possibly only the 3rd part is original. In any case, a great tune. “The Chieftains” arrangement plays the original – a great introduction by Matt Molloy – and then change the time signature into 12/8.”

Goltraí – song of sorrow

“O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music” – Máire Ní Chathasaigh (The New Strung Harp)
From Wikipedia:
“Turlough O’Carolan (1670 – 25 March 1738) was a blind early Irish harper, composer and singer whose great fame is due to his gift for melodic composition. Although not a composer in the classical sense, Carolan is considered by many to be Ireland’s national composer. … Some of Carolan’s own compositions show influences of the style of continental classical music, whereas others such as Carolan’s Farewell to Music reflect a much older style of “Gaelic Harping.”

Reputedly the last song composed by O’Carolan — perhaps even on his deathbed! — Carolan’s Farewell to Music is an expression of goltrai — a song of sorrow.

Máire Ní Chathasaigh is an amazing Irish harper, and one I listened to carefully when I first began learning harp.

“Deirdre of the Sorrows” – Fiona Davidson (The Language of Birds)
The Celts know all about beauty, passion, tragedy, and grief. In this story we experience how music gives voice to this Irish myth. This is a tragic tale, but so beautifully and richly told.

Fiona Davidson had quite a career as a harper, storyteller, and bard, and performed in Iona, a progressive Celtic rock band from the United Kingdom, during its early years. These days, she goes by the name Fionntullach, and is devoted to the path of the Celtic spiritual tradition, the Céile Dé.

Suantraí – song of comfort, for soothing, lullabye

“Sleepsong” – Anúna (Invocation)
This absolutely gorgeous song was written for a tale that contains elements similar to the preceding tale of Dierdre.


“The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne (Irish: Tóraigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne or Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Gráinne in modern spelling) is an Irish prose narrative surviving in many variants. A tale from the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology, it concerns a love triangle between the great warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill, the beautiful princess Gráinne, and her paramour Diarmuid Ua Duibhne. Surviving texts are all in Modern Irish and the earliest dates to the 16th century, but some elements of the material date as far back as the 10th century. …”

The princess Gráinne is to wed the aged great warrior Fionn, but she falls for the young warrior, Diarmuid. They run off and are pursued.

They hide from Fionn in a forest near the River Shannon, where in this greenwood shelter Gráinne soothes Diarmuid with a lullaby.

“Cadal Ciarach Mo Luran (Sleep Well My Beloved)” – Julie Fowlis  – (Gach Sgeul – Every Story)

Scottish folk singer Julie Fowlis sings a “sleepsong” along the same lines as the preceding song.

Sleep well my beloved,
Sleep well my beloved,
Sleep well my beloved,
I’ll always be with you …