The Chieftains – The Foxhunt–San Francisco 1973-1976
This was the last project Paddy Moloney worked on & was thrilled with the rediscovery of these never-before-issued Chieftains concerts from the 70s. The collection (Disc 1) was recorded at The Boarding House in October ‘74 & then they add cuts from The Great American Music Hall in May ‘76. A total of 17 musical cuts.
The Great American Music Hall date continues (Disc 2) with an additional 12 tracks. Toward the end 2 bonus, non-music cuts include an excerpt of Paddy’s final interview in 2021. The CD package provides annotation in a perfect-bound booklet that’s beautifully designed. Quite an impressive product.
Bear’s Sonic Journals & the Owsley Stanley Foundation present The Chieftains produced by Owsley “Bear” Stanley/Hawk Semins. The Foxhunt – San Francisco 1973-1976 (Drops Sept 2-Claddagh Records/Decca/Universal)
The beginning starts with a lively instrumental but unless you’re a fan of this music it may not hold your attention over 2-CDs. However, undoubtedly, the musicianship & instrumentation is stellar. The players as we know, have skill & clarity. It’s a well-recorded sonic journal document with excellent arrangements throughout.
At times, the traditional elements will be somewhat antiquated but, you can’t update everything without losing some of its spirit. So, The Chieftains opt to maintain the vintage flavor of many of their tunes admirably & respectfully.
The band at The Boarding House (1973) was by personal invitation by the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. It helped me decades ago graduate to the more modern bands that were students of The Chieftains. Garcia’s Old & In the Way, Horslips, Lindisfarne & The Pogues.
The interplay between The Chieftain’s instruments is what’s exciting – the jigs, reels, the infectious memorable melodies themselves helped me understand how bluegrass developed in America. In some songs, enthusiasm can be experienced as musicians shout some nondescript words or instructions. I love it. The human element in the music never needs to be absolutely perfectly played but perfectly experienced. There’s life in these notes as they play & it’s music that doesn’t need lyrics all the time since the instruments sing, sing, sing.
(Live performance from 1986)
Irish-American astronaut Cady Coleman even played Paddy’s tin whistle during a mission to the International Space Station. Maybe one day aliens light years away will hear that tin whistle & may want to hear more. In the booklet, there’s also a beautiful history-lesson essay by bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs.
Highlights – Carolan’s Concerto,” “Kerry Slides,” (both versions), “Opening Medley” (Cut 12-Side 1), absolute fire on “The Foxhunt,” (May 5 performance).
Musicians – Paddy Moloney (Uilleann pipes/tin whistle), Derek Bell (Irish harp/dulcimer/timpan/oboe), Sean Keane (fiddle/tin whistle), Michael Tubridy (flute/concertina/tin whistle), Sean Potts (tin whistle/bones/Bodhran), Martin Fay (fiddle) & Peadar Mercier (Bodhran/bones).
Photo courtesy of Barry McCall. CD @ https://owsleystanleyfoundation.org/bears-sonic-journals/the-chieftains-in-san-francisco/