On the last day of the first half of the year, I said goodbye to my retail job. I used to be the store manager for County Emmet Celtic Shop, where I was able to stay connected with my passion for Irish music by selling a variety of primarily Irish and Scottish merchandise: sweaters, jewelry, housewares… you name it! It was a wonderful little shop on the edge of town with a view of Little Traverse Bay on my daily commute. In the summers I even got to play my fiddle outside on the porch to draw customers inside.
There were many things I enjoyed about working at the shop, and many lessons that have shaped me into a person who I like very much. Ultimately though, retail work is not for me. Not a lifelong passion and not something that fills me up at the end of the day. That role goes to my music career.
Needless to say, the last month or so has been extremely busy for me as we worked to close the shop! However, I hardly ever go more than a couple days without taking the fiddle out (and if it’s longer, my mood definitely gives me a big hint) — so I was still able to take time to record videos this month for y’all! It is finally warm and humid enough to play outside with a wooden acoustic instrument, so naturally I plopped myself down on the garden wall outside our family cottage in Michigan with tripod and fiddle in hand!
If you read last month’s recap, you’ll recall that I saw Kevin Burke play at a house concert in my area. I was absolutely blown away by his musicality, technical prowess, and ability to carry off a one-man show successfully. He’s long been a role model of mine, and this concert just confirmed why in so many ways. Needless to say, I’m still on a Kevin Burke high this month, so the first set of tunes I recorded for y’all are ones I got off a couple of his albums, “If the Cap Fits” and William Coulter’s, “Celtic Sessions.” The tune names are “Caisleán An Oir” and “The Star of Munster,” which I transposed down to g minor to fit the key of the first tune.
For the second set, I chose a couple of polkas — surprise! The first is called Nell Fee’s, and I owe a huge thank you to fellow fiddler Stefan Fraser in Belfast for being so sharp on all the tune names I can’t recall! I followed it up with one of John Walsh’s polkas, which always brings me right back to sessions at the Blarney Castle Hotel (click through to see a promo video my friends and I were in for their website).
There’s not much time that goes by when I’m not thinking back on my experience studying in Cork. There are so many amazing musicians there, and the tunes are always close at hand every night. One of my favorite pub sessions to go to was right in Cork City Centre at Án Spáilpín Fánach. The guys there always made me feel so welcome, and we were a happy mix of locals and expats sharing tunes and songs til the wee hours of the morning. So for my last video, I’m revisiting a set that I got from a couple members of The Thirsty Scholars — a lively mash of reels to round out this month’s tune recap!
Lastly, I had this crazy burst of adrenaline so y’all get a bonus video! Here’s an Appalachian tune and a Scottish reel. Happy July!