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Chris Smith: Words & Music

Jigs: Up Sligo/Dr O Neill/Tom Billy's #1

(Chris Smith (banjo), Randal Bays (fiddle), Roger Landes (bouzouki))
2005-09-13
I think we played this version of “Up Sligo” in order to get a mock-Baroque LP version, by a certain eminent “chamber-Irish” band, out of our heads. John Kimmel and Michael Coleman both recorded this tune, and it appears in O Neill’s 1850 as #969.

“Dr O Neill” (O Neill’s 1850 #701) is just a beautiful, expansive jig, apparently first introduced to Chicago musicians by fiddler Edward Cronin, from whom Chief O Neill sourced a number of other tunes as well. Tommy Peoples also recorded it, but I think this is another I got from Bloomington sessions.

“Tom Billy’s” was collected from Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford in Breathnach’s CRE III as #13, and comes originally from the repertoire of an 18th century Sliabh Luachra teacher called Tadeen the Fiddler. Tom Billy Murphy (1879-1944), a blind native of Ballydesmond about whom some wonderful stories are told, passed it on to Padraig O’Keeffe, the last of the traveling fiddler masters. Our version is another tip of the hat to De Danann: the tune appears, in an astonishing version played on two National steel guitars by Johnny Moynihan (I think) and Charlie Piggott, on that Galway band’s classic Mist-Covered Mountain. Also the first trad tune I ever played in Ireland, 20 years late.