Attended an interesting concert at the Glor Theatre in Ennis on Sunday night. It featured three box players, Josephine Marsh (pictured above), Derek Hickey (ex-De Dannan) and Dermot Byrne (Altan). There were accompanied by Ed Boyd (guitar) and John Jo Kelly on bodhran (Flook). It is part of a concert series featuring accordion, fiddle, banjo and singing. Glor is a nice theatre with very good sight lines, lighting and sound.
Unfortunately, a smallish crowd was in attendance but they were very receptive to the lads and lassie.The weather (rain - what else...), Sunday night, and possibly the over abundance of free music available in Ennis (and Clare in general) may have contributed. Also, a few miles away, the closing night of the Feakle Trad Festial was in full swing
The three box players played together and in a series of duets and solos. It was a blending of three distinct styles: Josephine (Clare), Derek (Limerick) and Dermot (Donegal). Josephine played more of the “straight man” during the trio selections with Derek and Dermot playing more harmonies and octave work on those joint selections. Nerves aside, they all played very well. The highlights were the solos, with Derek kicking off his first one with a fine rendition of an unnamed waltz he learned from box player Jackie Daly (I know the tune but cannot think of its name either). Josephine played a couple of reels (could not catch the titles but heard the tunes before) with great gusto. Dermot’s selection was a Michael McGoldrick (flute) composition (title unknown -- the MOST popular tune title...). It was one of those nicer off-kilter new tunes which was played extremely well by the box phenom.
(Aside: I first saw Dermot play, funny enough, in Ennis at the All-Ireland Fleadh in 1977. He was only a very young kid (maybe seven or younger) on the lawn outside the Old Ground Hotel, sitting on his accordion case with the top of his red fullsize Paolo Soprani box coming up just below his eyes. His Dad (I believe) was holding the accordion straps at his back to keep the box on. Dermot’s wee fingers were barley able to get around the edge of the keyboard, but he was playing up a storm - mimicking a rake of Finbar Dwyer tunes one after another. I was astonished by his playing abilities. I must dig up that tape and post a bit of that day at some point...)
Overall, a very good night of music. Hopefully they will join forces for another night of “box-ing” sometime down the line...