Who on earth would want to buy a CD of a solo artiste playing a concertina with no support from other musicians? Probably only somebody who is also a concertina player! That was my initial thought when I was first handed the CD Cormac Begley I was concerned as to how I would be able to fairly assess such a ‘limited’ production.
Oh, how wrong I was to be concerned. It did not hit me on the first few tracks but by the time I was on track five, it had me. I listened again to the full CD and wondered why it had taken me so long on my first listen to ‘get into it’.
Cormac Begley is from Co Kerry and is part of the famous Begley family. The Irish Times described his concertina playing as “a masterclass in timeless musicianship” and he is quite simply, brilliant. Unlike many instrumental folk albums currently being released, there is no drummer battering hell out of his drums, no piper wailing along or fiddlers playing at speeds previously unknown to man. This is a superb solo artiste with feeling, introducing amazing timings, drama, humour and obvious dedication to his craft. The fact that all tracks were recorded on their first take with absolutely no desk-top engineering required, shows just what a talented man he is. There is a whole list of groups and duos that he plays with so he is in great demand.
In his media information sheet, there are many arty-farty descriptions of his music which mean nothing to me. The fact is that the CD is excellent and a joy to listen to. Each time I’ve listened to it, I have enjoyed it a little more, and that is coming from a ‘song man’. He plays bass, baritone, treble and piccolo concertinas which helps create a huge variation track by track. I have to admit that I did not know there was such a thing as a bass concertina and the sound it gives out is fantastic. Cormac Begley creates so much rhythm when playing that there is simply no room for anybody else to be involved.
A great album which may take a couple of listenings before you are hooked, but hooked you will be.
Artist’s website: www.cormacbegley.com
PS Yes, it is packaged in a hexagonal sleeve held together with a tag and string. (Editor)
Cormac live at the album launch gig: