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Chris Smith: Words & Music

Slides: Star Above the Garter/Denis Murphy's/Denis O Keeffe's

(Chris Smith (banjo), Randal Bays (fiddle), Roger Landes (bouzouki))
2005-09-08
Three classic Sliabh Luachra slides. Initially we weren’t sure of two titles: in a session, slides blast by so fast, and they’re so quick to pick up, that one tends to learn and play them on the fly, and then promptly forget them until reminded the next time. However, correspondents from Sliabh Luachra (thanks Paul de Grae!) quickly put us to rights, if marveling that anyone would need a title for such common tunes.

Conversely, the “Star” has one of the most beautiful titles in Irish music. Some think it’s a reference to the physical design of the Order of the Garter, but others prefer to think it’s an anatomical reference. Hard to play them right, but we tried to get the best mixture of lilt and stomp.

“The Star” comes from the great Sliabh Luachra sibling fiddlers Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford; it also appears in Bulmer & Sharpley II as #59. I got the second tune not from Denis but from bouzoukist Roger Landes, and the third tune, associated with the father of the traveling fiddle master Padraig O Keeffe, comes from box-player Johnny O Leary (RIP).