Jimmy keane

H O R S E
  • H O R S E
  • H O R S E
  • H O R S E
  • H O R S E
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$60.00

H O R S E is an exclusive and limited, 192 track collection of tunes and songs from 1968 to 2019. The twelve and a half hours of music is delivered to you on a USB Flash Drive encased in an old school cassette tape shell along with 271 full size pages of liner notes, photos, and music transcriptions. Get your order in now before they are all gone...

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Below you can preview the liner notes, opening track, and reviews of 

H O R S E

Enjoy!!

H O R S E

Jimmy "Horse" Keane & Jimmy Keane

Jimmy "Horse" Keane - Vocals

Jimmy Keane - box

The opening track and liner notes....

In 1987, the Horse and I had the notion to record an album together and this is the only track from that session which featured both of us together (at least within the same grooves). Instead of the full length album, we ended up with a five track EP (extended-play) 33⅓ RPM (revolutions per minute) vinyl record with the intention of completing a full length album with the very Irish notion of “near future”. That near future never happened as the Horse was killed in a work-related accident two years later on February 10, 1989. He had just turned 60 years of age on Christmas Eve, just 48 days before his death and about a month after burying his sister Kathy who died suddenly in January of 1989. 

By chance, I was with the Horse and my mom, Mary (The Kerrywoman) at the funeral mass for my aunt Kathy in Los Angeles. Myself, Mick Moloney, and Robbie O’Connell usually did a west coast tour in January so that is where we were at the time. The Horse and the Kerrywoman came to one of our gigs at The Barn in University of California Riverside. As was always the case with Mick and Robbie — if the Horse was in the audience, he’d be up onstage singing one or two songs that gig. It was the last time he sang in public. 

The song An Sagart O'Domhnaill (The Priest O’Donnell) is one the Horse pulled out of the air one time when I asked him to sing something. He told me it was a song he learned as a kid from his mom Máire but known by all as Maimeó (Mom-o) 

You can hear the Horse sing another version of this without any accordion ruining it on track 136 along with a translation. 

The Lough Key is a great slip jig composed by Larry Redican (1908-1975). Slip jigs are in the 9/8 time signature and one of the more rare classes of jigs within traditional Irish music. There are only fifty-six slip jigs in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (which contains 1,850 tunes). Slip jigs are sometimes known as hop jigs — but that has faded as micro-brewers started hoarding hops… ;-) 

I’ve always loved this tune since first learning it along with Liz Carroll and Marty Fahey from a 1970 issue of Treoir, a magazine issued by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCE) which contains tunes, stories, profiles, and news of the Irish music world. While kids our age had Tiger Beat, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, and MAD magazine — we also had Treoir. 

I first recorded the tune in 1986 with Mick Moloney and Robbie O’Connell on the Kilkelly album. You can hear that version on track 81 in this collection — I had forgotten the actual name of the tune, so just called it “Larry Redican’s” at the time — a very common occurrence in traditional Irish music as actual tune names are not often embedded with the tunes. I learned many tunes from other musicians who at the time did not know the name of the tune, so I (along with many others) would reference whom we learnt that particular tune from — such as the case with Larry Redican’s Lough Key. 

April’s Fool is the final tune of this opening track and the first jig I wrote. It was for Liz Carroll, my dear lifelong friend and musical mentor (shh! She still doesn’t know that she is my mentor). Well, why is it called April’s Fool you ask? In late March of 1983, I received a phone call from Liz asking if I’d be interested in playing a good paying gig at a political fundraiser along with herself and Marty Fahey. It was at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. For Bernie Epton who was running as a Republican against Democrat (and soon to be Mayor) Harold Washington. Did I say it was a good paying gig? Did I mention that I was born and raised a Democrat? Did I mention it was a good paying gig? Of course, I said — see you next Friday. April. First. 

After my Ironworker day job at the time, I rushed home, said Hi to my wife Susie, showered, remembered to get the accordion, said Bye to Susie and drove back downtown to the Chicago Hilton and Towers. On Friday. April. First. 

Parked the car and went into the hotel. Headed to the lower level and thought — I must have the wrong floor as there is no one here. No. One. Here. I started walking around looking for someone to ask when all of a sudden I hear my name being paged: Would guest Jimmy Keane please pick up the white courtesy phone? On Friday. April. First. Did I mention that? 

Hello? Hi Jimmy, it's Liz. I’m with the gang at the 6511 Club. Come over for drinks. Oh, and Happy April Fools’ Day!!!!! 

I never did see Marty that night. I don’t think he spoke to Liz for a few months after that. I, of course, headed to the 6511 Club (formerly Frank’s Place, but also known as Flanagan’s after it’s then owner Tom Flanagan) and drank. With my dear friend and mentor Liz Carroll. Did I mention that?

H O R S E
  • H O R S E
  • H O R S E
  • H O R S E
  • H O R S E
In cart Not available Out of stock
$60.00

H O R S E is an exclusive and limited, 192 track collection of tunes and songs from 1968 to 2019. The twelve and a half hours of music is delivered to you on a USB Flash Drive encased in an old school cassette tape shell along with 271 full size pages of liner notes, photos, and music transcriptions. Get your order in now before they are all gone...

Read more… close

Reviews...

Accordionist Keane is a fine writer, too 

September 28, 2021 

by Daniel Neely 

“Horse” is the new project from the great Chicago accordionist Jimmy Keane.  A collection of recordings chronicling Keane’s musical experience 1968 to 2019, it was conceived as a response to the pandemic, a time in which Keane, like many musicians, lost gigs.  What he was able to do with this project is breathtaking: a bold, magisterial work that honors his family and friends, all the while telling his own story.  It’s a project that speaks as significantly to the “tradition” in traditional music as it does to the musical life of the individual behind it. 

 The presentation is noteworthy, as it’s disguised as an old-fashioned cassette.  There are two photos of Jimmy and his father on the J-card, one in which he’s a toddler (inside) and one as an adult (outside), both looking happy out.  The album itself, which includes 192 MP3s, a PDF file of liner notes, and a JPG of album art – is contained on a thumb drive that swings out of the cassette itself.  In the world of Irish music, it’s a very unusual approach, but one I would love to see more artists explore, as it allows for great creativity. Plug it into your computer’s USB drive, and you’re ready to start rolling, unconstrained by the limitations of a CD or LP…or cassette, even. 

 The collection starts, really, with Keane’s 271-page liner notes PDF.  In size, scope, and quality, the only thing I can compare this to is “A Few Tunes of Good Music,” the 1,014-page PDF that accompanied Reg Hall’s 2016 collections “It Was Mighty!” and “It Was Great Altogether!”  Both tell a story of place – Hall of London and Keane of Chicago – but while Hall’s approach is objective and that of an academic historian (his work is structured around “social systems” as an analytic area, and is lavishly footnoted and full of citations), Keane’s is entirely subjective and reads like a memoir.  It is a deeply personal narrative filled with humor of all sorts, sometimes self deprecatory, sometimes teasing, sometimes clowning, but always, always engaging. 

 Turns out, Keane is a great writer.  If you’ve met him, you’ll immediately recognize his personality in his approach, but really, he tells a good story.  The things he says about his music, about his friends, and about his parents are full of love, reverence, and friendship and make these notes engaging and very often moving.  They paint an incredible picture of how someone starts in the music, develops around it, and perseveres over time. 

 I’m particularly drawn to how he writes of his father, Jimmy “Horse” Keane.  As listeners will hear, the Horse was a magnificent sean-nós singer and he stands as a legendary character to musicians young and old.  But here, we have continual, touching remembrances of a son, proud of his father.  It’s especially apparent in the photos included in the PDF, which are lovely and shed more light on Keane’s life. 

 The really remarkable thing about these notes is the way Keane reveals truths about traditional music and how he’s able to connect them to the recordings themselves.  Sometimes this is through how things sound.  For example, there’s a track from 1973 of Keane playing “Kit O’Mahony’s" in his kitchen.  It is, in a very visceral sense, the sound of home.  You have the sound of the accordion in the Keane family kitchen, a sound environment that would be personal in the first place.  But in the background, you have the vague sound of Keane’s mother Mary – “The Kerrywoman” – speaking.  This is the sound of music and life happening for real, and something a listener can relate to. But when Keane writes the kitchen was “where my Mom told me that if I ever got nervous when playing in public […] to just close my eyes and pretend I was sitting” it makes an intimate, powerful – but again, relatable – statement about what this music means. 

 Sometimes these truths lie how things happen.  Like when we learn how Keane’s first reel “The Charleston” got named.  Or where we learn a tune came out of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s magazine “Treoir,” and find out he learned it with Liz Carroll and Marty Fahey because it was the “Tiger Beat” for Irish music nerds in the early 1970s.  Or the track “As I write The Rath Cairn Reel” from 1974, on which we hear a young Keane actually composing a tune.  It’s a working track, not one intended for posterity, but that it’s here and demonstrates process says so much about the journey.  There are several recordings from various fleadhanna over the years (many with Liz Carroll), complete with crowd noise, chatter, and various whisperings.  (The effect is not unlike the cash registers you hear on live session albums.)  Occasionally, things come together in haphazard ways, but sure – doesn’t it happen that way all the time? 

 The truths here also grow out of who Keane learned from and made music with over the years.  The music with Carroll and Fahey inspires.  I love the tracks that include Mick Moloney and Robbie O’Connell, because they add so much to how one hears their studio albums.  It’s fascinating to hear the original, unedited version of the bohola track “When The Cock Crows It Is Day …” and the 17 (!) minute live version of “Doherty's March / …,” a favorite bohola track of mine.  It’s an incredible performance and reminds me of how utterly taken I was with the band when I saw them at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House, back when concerts still happened.  And hearing Keane talk about the likes of Kevin Henry, Johnny McGreevy, Cuz Teahan, Eleanor Neary, Joe Burke, Joe Cooley, and others, it gives definition to these names, even, I would imagine, for the people who knew them by passing on small bits of knowledge that seem insignificant, but in context have incredible relevancy. 

 The bottom line is this: I don’t know how traditional musicians can afford to not have “Horse.”  There’s so much music here to draw from and be inspired by, but it’s also a major story about Irish America.  Anyone who has been a fan of Keane’s music or of the groups he’s been a part of will find this album fulfilling.  If you’ve ever competed in a fleadh or been to an All-Ireland, you will relate to this album.  If you’re from Ireland and hear home in this music, you will relate to this album.  It’s importance is on a Gradam/Grammy/Smithsonian-type of level and really should not be missed or overlooked.  An artistic statement and an instant classic, this is one musicians and all will be talking about for years.

Highly, highly recommended.  

The Irish Echo...

H O R S E
  • H O R S E
  • H O R S E
  • H O R S E
  • H O R S E
In cart Not available Out of stock
$60.00

H O R S E is an exclusive and limited, 192 track collection of tunes and songs from 1968 to 2019. The twelve and a half hours of music is delivered to you on a USB Flash Drive encased in an old school cassette tape shell along with 271 full size pages of liner notes, photos, and music transcriptions. Get your order in now before they are all gone...

Read more… close

On the Upbeat

By Maryann McTeague Keifer

Irish American News

November 2021

 

I can remember when I was very young, my dad coming in a bit later from work than usual and saying, “Helen Marie, sorry I’m late.  Stopped for a quick pint and the Horse gave a song.”  It was many years later after having the privilege of getting to know Jimmy Keane, that I realized my dad had stayed to listen to his dad, the Horse, sing. I can only imagine how, after a long day’s work, his singing added enjoyment to that on the way home pint. 

Jimmy Keane spent his pandemic isolation putting together an epic project that includes 192 tunes and songs along with 271 pages of liner notes, photos, and scores that give an enjoyable and informative history of Chicago’s and America’s traditional Irish music journey.  Titled HORSE, it is a heartfelt tribute to his father, an ironworker, who was taken from him too early in a construction accident while building the 900 North Michigan Avenue building in February of 1989 when only 60 years old. 

Jimmy was born in London when his parents, his dad from Connemara and his mom from Kerry, had moved there for better work opportunities. They moved back to Ireland, then to Chicago, then back to Ireland before permanently settling down in Chicago in 1965.  As those of our ages and older give where in Chicago we lived, he was from St. Sabina’s and then St. Nick’s. Jimmy started playing when he was very young and by age 13 was playing gigs in pubs.  He took accordion lessons initially from CF Marsh, but then learned most of his music by ear. 

HORSE treats us to and honors Jimmy ‘Horse’ the beautiful sean-nos singing of his dad, and the progression of Jimmy’s musical career via his narration in the liner notes, and especially through musical cuts where Jimmy is playing with those he grew up in music with, Liz Carroll, especially, as well as Marty Fahey, Michael Flatley, Dennis Cahill, Pat Broaders, Mick Moloney, Robbie O’Connell, and Lefty Bassetti among others. I love the tales he tells of learning and playing at the knees and alongside of Kevin Henry, Johnny McGreevy, Cuz Teahan, Eleanor and Jimmy Neary, Joe Shannon, Joe Burke, Joe Cooley, and so many who were keeping the pubs, living rooms and kitchens alive with Irish traditional music. 

I have to admit, I am not quite through the entire collection.  I keep replaying so many of the musical cuts that are so exciting to hear. Some are from studio recordings, but many are from home or pub settings with occasional conversation in the background.  It is fascinating! A few times when I was quite young, my grandmother took me to a couple of those house sessions.  I remember well Eleanor’s lovely dresses with skirts that twirled when she’d get up from the piano bench.  She was always playing the piano facing the wall, but had a beautiful smile when she’d turn around. I was usually in the kitchen with my gram and others not playing watching the tea being made in copious amounts.  I was  an occasional viewer; Jimmy lived this, and through this album, we also get to live these memorable times and events. 

It is impossible to start mentioning favorites and highlights as they are all worthy.  I have replayed several times, The Horse singing “An Sagart O’Domhnaill” (The Priest O’Donnell), “Suilleabhain’s Sean” (Sullivan’s John), The “Little Cuckoo,” and the concluding cut, “The Rocks of the Bawn.”  Jimmy and Marty playing “Rabbit in the Field/Mooncoin Jig,” he and Dennis playing “On the Eve of Christmas,” Bohola’s “Piper on the Hob,” Green Fields of America’s “Hunting the Boyne/Maid of Galway,” so many with Liz, and of course, “Horse Keane’s Hornpipe/The Charleston Reel” will keep you mesmerized.  Their talent is palpable. 

Jimmy's descriptions, history, and tales, both humorous and at times sad, fill the tome of liner notes he has included.  If you know Jimmy, it is so special to read as you have his voice and manner in your head while you read the story that goes with each piece of music. Jimmy has always told a captivating story, but who knew what a talented writer he also is?  We live the times he, Liz, Marty and others spent in the 6511 Club and Hanley’s House of Happiness.  We can laugh again and again at the April Fools joke Liz Carroll played on he and Marty Fahey sending them to a supposed well playing political gig only to find it was Liz’ wicked sense of humor, and led to his composing of a delightful tune in its memory.  There is a collection of photos that help tell the story and keep it in your mind, and often your heart.  

A five time All Ireland winner on the piano accordion, Musician of the Year, Decade, and so many more awards, Jimmy has been described as “the savior of the piano accordion,” and “one of the true greats of Irish traditional music in the past 50 years.” He has always been a person we go to for background and history.  This project is an example of why we look to him.  He is a wealth of information, experience, and love of the music.  HORSE passes this onto us in spades. Delivered in a clever flash drive packaged in an old-fashioned cassette, it, like its content, well represents the old merging with the new.  Well done, Jimmy, and thank you!