of the Moon
liner notes for Dark of the Moon, by Grey Larsen
1. The Cat that Ate the Candle/Petticoat Loop/The Corry Boys
Tommy Reck's rendition of The Cat that Ate the Candle can be
found on his 1977 recording "A Stone in the Field" Green Linnet
Records SIF 1008. Reck. from Dublin, played uilleann pipes in the "close"
or "tight" style, featuring a great deal of staccato playing.
We learned Petticoat Loop from the great fiddler James Kelly,
who got it from the playing of Johnny Doherty. The title refers to "Petticoat
Luce", a Dublin prostitute and serial
killer who dispatched her unfortunate patrons with a straight razor.
The tune is sometimes called Strop the Razor.
Co. Leitrim flute player John McKenna recorded his rendition of The
Corry Boys for a 1925 78-rpm US release for the O'Byrne De Witt
label. It was reissued by the John McKenna Traditional Society on their
compilation cassette "John McKenna, His Original Recordings",
and is currently available on the 1990 compilation "Fluters of
Old Erin, Flute, Piccolo and Whistle Recordings of the 1920s and 30s",
produced by Harry Bradshaw, Viva Voce 002. The B side of the 78 was
The Sailor on the Rock.
McKenna was one of the most influential flute players of the 20th century.
He was born in 1880 near the village of Tarmon in Co. Leitrim and died
in 1947 in New York. After working for some years in the Arigna coal
mines, in 1911 he emigrated to New York City and worked at first as
a fireman. His first records, recorded in 1921, list him in fact as
"Fire Patrolman McKenna." Through the thirty 78-rpm recordings
that he made between 1921 and 1936, McKenna had a great deal to do with
establishing the flute as a prominent instrument in Irish music. These
recordings also brought a number of Leitrim tunes into the common repertoire.
His duet recordings with fiddler James Morrison are especially cherished
by traditional musicians.
A meticulous transcription of his recording of The Corry Boys
appears in Grey Larsen's comprehensive book The
Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle, to be published
by Mel Bay Publications in July 2003.
2. John Stenson's Reel/Palm Sunday
John Stenson's Reel is associated with Co. Donegal. It feels
like it is related to Scottish music, and it's small melodic range could
make it playable on the Scottish highland and lowland pipes. It fits
very naturally on the flute in the key of G, though the original key
of A is not bad either.
Palm Sunday appears in Captain Frances O'Neill's massive 1903
tune collection, "O'Neill's Music of Ireland". I learned it
by ear however, while on tour with Kevin Burke in 1981, listening to
him perform it every night.
I first recorded it with André Marchand on "The Orange Tree".
Paddy League was so enamored of the guitar accompaniment from this first
recording (arranged by André and myself) that he learned it himself,
playing it not in the standard tuning, as André had done, but
in DADGAD. So, the present rendition of the tune is a tip of the hat
3. Michael J. Kennedy Jigs: Untitled/Untitled/Haste
to the Wedding
Michael J. Kennedy was one of my foremost influences in learning Irish
music, and I count myself extraordinarily lucky to have known him. I
met him when I was 18 and played with him every chance I got until his
death, of cancer, five years later.
The following is from the liner notes to "The Green House".
Michael was born and raised on a farm near the village of Flaskagh,
three miles northeast of Dunmore in North-East County Galway. Until
emigrating to the U.S. he had never traveled beyond a ten mile radius
of his home. At age 11, greatly inspired by the melodeon playing of
two village girls, Maggie McGee and Winnie Dowd, Michael went to Dunmore
and bought a melodeon for the equivalent of $1.50. He always played
a one-row, ten-button melodeon in the key of G. Michael used to say,
"There was never anybody as crazy for a melodeon as I was."
In 1923, fed up with the hard labor of farming, he emigrated to Cincinnati,
Ohio, working for 42 years for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.
He lived out the rest of his years there, and just across the Ohio River
in Covington, Kentucky. Michael's repertoire was unchanged by his years
in America, being entirely composed of tunes and settings he had learned
in his native locality.
There are three recordings of Michael that appear as bonus tracks on
"The Green House". They come from recordings made by John
McCutcheon on October 26, 1976 in Cincinnati, Ohio. These recordings
resulted in the now long out of print LP, "Michael J. Kennedy:
65 Years of Irish Music", issued in 1977 by June Appal Records
of Whitesburg, Kentucky. The small but avid audience heard whooping
it up in the background consists of Grey Larsen, Malcolm Dalglish, John
McCutcheon, and John Herrod. In the first of these three tracks Michael
tells of the endearing and odd habits of his beloved cuckoo, demonstrates
its call, and performs a snatch of lyrics that go with the tune. In
the second, he plays the hornpipe The Cuckoo's Nest. In the
third he reminisces about his youth in Flaskagh before emigrating to
the U.S. in 1923.
4. The Blackbird/The Gold Ring
I learned this beautiful air from the playing of several players, notably
uilleann piper Paddy Keenan.
I, like many other fledgling flute players in the 1970s, was hugely
inspired by Matt Molloy's first solo recording, Matt Molloy", first
issued on Mulligan Records. On this recording, Molloy gives a fantastic
rendition of a six-part setting of The Gold Ring. For many
years I have played it as well, and by now have given it my own shape
and spirit. Many people play a seven-part version of the tune, but,
as much as I like the seventh part, I have always preferred the balance
and proportions of the six-part version.
5. Michael J. Kennedy Schottisches: Untitled/Untitled/Pretty Molly Brannigan
Michael was particularly fond of schottisches and had quite a few in
his repertoire. Pretty Molly Brannigan is nearly the same as
the tune The Green Fields of America.
6. Another Jig Will Do/The Ship Doctor/I'm the Boy for Bewitching
I believe I first heard Another Jig Will Do played by members
of The Boys of the Lough in the 1970s.
The Ship Doctor (An Dochtuir Longe) appears in uilleann piper
Breandán Breathnach's beloved tune collection, "Ceol Rince
na hÉireann". He lists himself as the source of this tune,
but gives no further information. Could it be that he composed it?
7. Sliabh Geal gCua na Feile/The Drunken Gauger
A "gauger" was an official who worked undercover in the pubs
of Ireland. He would order a shot of liquor and, without being seen
(he hoped), would pour it into his gauge to measure the amount being
given by the publican. Of course it was his duty to remain inconspicuous,
so he would drink the evidence. After making his rounds of numerous
pubs, one can imagine that his professional judgement might become somewhat
9. The Day I Met Tom Moylan/Josie McDermott's/The Collier's Reel
I learned the first and third tunes in Cleveland, Ohio from flute player
Tom Byrne and fiddler Tom McCaffrey. Since the mid-1950s Byrne and McCaffrey
were pivotal members of the vibrant Cleveland Irish-American community,
where they have taught, inspired and encouraged scores of young musicians.
In 1974, while a student at the nearby Oberlin Conservatory of Music,
I got to know them at Irish music sessions in the homes of various Irish
immigrants who were members of the Cleveland Irish Musicians' Club.
"The Toms" welcomed me into their lives and their families,
and so began lifelong friendships full of music and laughter.
Tom Byrne, (1920-2001) was born in the parish of Geevagh in County Sligo
and worked as a coal miner (i.e. collier) before emigrating to Canada
in 1948. Soon he moved on to Cleveland, where he met Tom McCaffrey in
1957. Byrne had begun playing tin whistle at age seven, and flute soon
thereafter. Grey received his first Irish flute as a gift from Tom Byrne.
Tom McCaffrey was born in 1916 near Mohill, County Leitrim and worked
the family farm until coming to the U.S. in 1955. At the age of eleven
he began learning the fiddle from his father. Like his father, once
Tom had mastered the instrument he found himself in high demand for
dances and musical occasions of all kinds. A fine singer, a renowned
jokester, and seemingly a committed bachelor, Tom surprised everyone
when, at age 83, he married Alice Kelly. He says simply that he finally
found the right woman.
These two men, and Michael J. Kennedy, welcomed Grey into their lives
and into the heart of Irish music and culture in a profound and joyful
way. Byrne and McCaffrey can be heard on three releases on Smithsonian
Folkways Recordings, produced by Richard Carlin between 1977 and 1979.
The Day I Met Tom Moylan is a setting of the tune more popularly
known as Man of the House. Tom and Tom were great admirers
of Paddy Carty, the Co. Galway flute player, and I believe that the
chromatic twist that Tom and Tom put in the A part of the tune was inspired
by Carty's playing. Carty played regularly at Moylan's Pub and perhaps
named this tune for his friend Tom Moylan.
Tom Byrne was a collier in Co. Sligo, so his version of The Collier's
Reel always had special meaning for me. Tom died of emphysema in
2001, a disease which probably had its origin in the coal mines where
I learned Josie McDermott's from Josie McDermott himself (1925-1992)
when I visited him in 1979 at his home near Ballyfarnan, Co. Roscommon.
I have since learned from Co. Offaly button accordion
player Paddy O'Brien that the tune was composed by flute player Paddy
Taylor (1914-1976) of Loughill, Co. Limerick. Some call the tune Paddy
Taylor's or Katie Taylor's.
Josie McDermott didn't have a name for the tune. I memorized the tune
and then kept lilting it to myself, so as not to forget it, while I
got a ride on the back of Michael Byrne's tractor (Tom Byrne's brother,
a neighbor of Josie McDermott's) back to Michael's farm where I was
staying. For years I referred to the tune as The Ride on the Tractor,
a name that delighted Tom Byrne and Tom McCaffrey.
10. The Slopes of Mt. Storm/Hurry the Jug/Dark of the Moon
As a child, my favorite sledding slopes were those of Mt. Storm Park,
not a long walk from my home in Cincinnati, Ohio. I spent a great deal
of time in this beautiful spot, in all seasons, walking, daydreaming,
reading, biking, and of course speeding down the snowy hills in the
I learned the set dance Hurry the Jug from my dear friend and
mentor Tom McCaffrey. The tune is normally played in E Dorian. I lifted
it up to G Dorian so that it fits better the range of the flute. Not
many play Irish flute in G Dorian, as it presents some technical challenges
requiring the use of keys. But I love the unique sonority the flute
takes on in this mode and in this part of its range.
The name of my tune Dark of the Moon came from numerous conversations
with my dear friend and old-time fiddling mentor, Joe Dawson. Joe, born
in 1928, grew up on his grandparents' farm, straddling Brown and Monroe
Counties in southern Indiana, near Bloomington, the town I have called
home since 1981. The phase of the moon had great meaning and import
in this older way of life, and still does for Joe, and many others,
The "dark of the moon" is the period starting
the day after the full moon and ending the day before the new moon,
as the moon is waning or darkening. It is widely thought that flowering
bulbs and vegetables that bear crops below ground should be planted
during the dark of the moon. But many other aspects of life also unfold
or behave differently according whether they occur during the light
or the dark of the moon. I have much to learn about the subtleties of
this, but I will generalize and say that things behave in a more stable,
calm manner in the dark of the moon, whereas they can get unpredictable
and volatile in the light of the moon. Here's one example from southern
Indiana moonlore: If you dig a hole in the ground during the dark of
the moon, you will be able to put all the dirt back in and it will fill
the hole just right. If you do this during the light of the moon, the
dirt will fill the hole and then a bit more. It won't "lay down"
These three tunes run continuously into the next three, forming in actuality
a single medley of six tunes. We separated the into two CD tracks simply
11. Child of My Heart/The Star Above the Garter/My Love in the Morning
I learned Child of My Heart from O'Neill's 1907 tune collection,
"1001 Gems, The Dance Music of Ireland". Its title captured
my imagination immediately, and I have loved playing this tender tune
The Star Above the Garter is a well-loved slide from the repertoire
of Dennis Murphy and Julia Clifford of the Sliabh Luchra region of southwest
Ireland. I was very struck by fiddler Randal Bays' slower and more lyrical
rendition of the tune that he recorded with his Portland, Oregon group
Wild Geese, on their self-title d recording from the 1980s.
I learned My Love in the Morning from Breandán Breathnach's
"Ceol Rince na hÉireann", and unconsciously modified
it a bit to suit my playing.