FolkWorld Live Review 01/2005 by Adolf "gorhand" Goriup

Eoin Duignan and Karan Casey Band
Irish Nights, November 11th 2004 at the Kammgarn, Schaffhausen, Switzerland

The Irish Nights at the Kammgarn in Schaffhausen took place from November 10th to 13th and offered a very interesting program. Wednesday was cinema time with "All about Adam" and "Waking Ned", Thursday they hosted Eoin Duignan and Karan Casey with band, Friday was party night and finally Saturday three bands were scheduled, An Lar from Switzerland, Solas from the USA and Airla from Ireland and Switzerland. Unfortunately Schaffhausen is a four hours drive from my home and thus I only could go there one night. Even though I had seen Karan Casey 8 days before in Germany I decided to see her again on Thursday night (or may be exactly therefore). You can read my review about the gig in Germany in the German issue of Folkworld.

The Kammgarn was brilliantly decorated, there were whiskey and Guinness bars, the fire place spread the wonderful smell of peat and you could choose from different typical Irish dishes. I had a delicious shepherd's pie and a few pints of Guinness. When Eoin Duignan from the west of County Kerry came on stage the audience already was in a good mood and couldn't wait to hear the sweet sound of Ireland's music. He plays the uilleann pipes and whistles and was accompanied by Jon Sanders on keyboards and guitar and Robbie Harris on percussion. They played a set full of the most beautiful tunes, reels and set dances as well as slow reels.

Eoin Duignan is a very gifted piper and whistle player who produces a very particular sound. His music reminds me of Flook, a brilliant fusion of Irish music and different influences of world music. With regards to Robbie Harris, who was playing for years with Riverdance, Eoin had brought along an excellent bodhrán player as well. Robbie certainly is one of the best bodhrán players I've ever seen on stage and he can be compared with the likes of John Joe Kelly (Flook), Rónán Ó Snodaigh (Kíla) or Kevin Crawford (Lunasa). The sound of Jon Sanders' piano was wonderful and harmonized perfectly with the low whistle and when John took the guitar he completed Robbie's breathtaking rhythms.

Eoin recently released a new album called 'Lumina' and he added two of those beautiful tracks to the set-list, 'Child's Play' and 'New Beginning'. The album is a six part musical suite inspired by the Harry Clarke windows in Díseart Chapel, Dingle and reflects Eoin's musical talent as well as his artistic nature. My favourite track of his set was 'Pure Afghan' with Eoin on pipes, Jon on guitar and Robbie on cajon, brilliant stuff.

Karan Casey, photo by Adolf 'gorhand' GoirupAfter a short break to prepare the stage for Karan Casey and band, the audience gave a big hand to welcome one of Ireland's most beautiful voices. Karan started, just like in Germering, with Curra Road, but what we heard wasn't the same. The band now playing together for more than a week surprised me with an unbelievable sound and Robbie Overson's solo introduced us to the musical highlights we were bound to enjoy.

Karan sang several new songs that will probably be recorded as soon as she returns to Ireland. 'When will we all be free' is one of Karan's own compositions and was dedicated with a twinkle of the eye to George W. Bush. Another hauntingly beautiful new song by Karan which will according to her probably be called 'I sing this song for you' was dedicated to a great man who had died the same day, Yassir Arafat. A third self composed song with the temporary title 'Stars' proved that Karan not only is an excellent singer, but also a great composer. With 'Waiting for the snows', 'Lady Marianne' and Woodie Guthrie's 'Pastures of Plenty' Karan added some more amazing new tracks to her repertoire. I also loved to hear 'Who put the blood' with Paul Meehan's terrific mandolin playing and Chris McCarthy's brilliant double bass.

In the midst of the set Karan left the stage to her musicians who played some great instrumentals. Robbie Overson introduced us to 'Maguire and Patterson', a track from his newly released solo album 'Overdue'. It was played by the trio, Robbie on guitar, Chris on double bass and Paul on mandolin. Then the guys left Paul alone to play a stunning set of polkas from the south west of Ireland on his guitar.

Whilst in Germany my favourite track was 'Ballad of the Accounting', here in Schaffhausen the Irish blues 'Buile mo Chroí' was played with so much groove and Robbie's guitar playing added a real touch of jazz, no doubt the absolute highlight of the evening.


Photo Credit: Photo by Adolf "gorhand" Goirup

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