The Hot List: March 16, 2000

It's almost time for St. Patrick's Day again, and besides lots of green clothing, shamrocks, and leprechauns, Celtic music is a big part of the celebrations. Irish Music is popular at any time of the year thanks to the fame of step dancing and many pop artist who incorporate tin whistles and bodhran into their sound.

But it is always at this time of year some great Celtic CDs are released. This year is no different. A lot of what has come across my desk in recent week is of the traditional variety. Four albums in particular from the Claddagh/Atlantic label. One is Come Dance with Me in Ireland which has jigs, slides, and reels from a cross-section of the Claddagh catalogue. Carolan's Receipt: The Music of Carolan Volume I by harper Derek Bell, a member of the Chieftans, features most of the musical work performed on a metal strung harp. The album is a tribute to the composer Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738), and Bell is accompanied from several of his Chieftan bandmates including Paddy Moloney.

Speaking of Moloney, this founding member of the Chieftan's teamed up with other founder Seán Potts for Tin Whistles, and album which features . . . you guessed it -- the tin whistle. And some very virtuoso work it is!

In addition to the tin whistle, the bodhran, a large skin drum, is an instrument often associated with Irish music. Seán Ó Riada is credited with reintroducing the bodhran back into Irish music. Ó Riada's Farewell is an ominous work which was recorded shortly before his death in 1971, and is theonly album on which he plays traditional Irish music on the harpsichord, solo.

Tin Whistles, Carolan's Receipt, and Ó Riada's Farewell are all re-issues and are availble for the first time domestically in North America.

On a more contemporary note is Whirligig's Spin (Prime CD). The New York based acoustic musicians draw heavily upon Irish music, but also infuse sounds and style from other cultures such as Klezmer and Eastern Europe. Whirligig is know for energetic live performances that match the intensity of the music. The band is about to head out on a nine month tour -- be sure to look them up in your area!