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The fairy wind of Irish lore reminds one of invisible and mysterious forces in nature... and wind, like music, is unseen yet wields profound influence upon our lives, giving glimpses into a magical world that ever eludes us.
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When I was six years old my father had a year’s sabbatical and took us to Jamaica where I first heard this song. This traditional Haitian melody is here arranged with a little slack-key influence, reflecting two tropical island cultures.
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We heard these jigs on a recent trip to the west of Ireland and have given them our classic Magical Strings romp. The first is a slip jig, Hardiman the Fiddler, followed by two jigs, Paddy Taylor’s and Mairseail Alasdraim.
3. Barbara’s Cottage
A former harp student invited us to stay in her beautiful cottage beside Lake Mask, Co. Mayo. In this picturesque setting we composed a piece for her, our patron, in the style of 17th century Irish harper, Turlough O’Carolan.
4. Fairy Wind ~ Si Gaoithe
While sitting on a high bluff overlooking Ballinskelligs Bay at the 5th century monastic site, Cil Riallaig, I was seeking inspiration when the wind began to blow and created organ-like tones in multi-layered harmonics upon my harp strings. My imagination carried me across the sea to a high ledge at the edge of the world, where a monk sought wisdom in solitude, and I began improvising with the wind. Our hostess that evening responded to my story by exclaiming “Ah, that was the fairy wind. It happens in Ireland, you know!”
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After spreading my mother’s ashes along the trail to her hermitage, a mountainside cabin in Colorado, I found there on a bookshelf the Appalachian dulcimer I had made for her so many years ago. To my surprise it was in perfect tune, so I began to play and this medley came forth.
6. Celestial Winds
Our dear friends, George and Celeste, sold their home and possessions and bought a sail boat to explore the seas. They invited us to play for their wedding on Vancouver Island and to come a day early so that Pam could share some of her sailing expertise. Alas, there was no wind, so we composed this tune instead and played it the next day for their wedding aboard Nereid.
7. My Lovely Lady by the Sea
During a winter’s sojourn on Maui, Pam found a beautiful koa ukulele for me, so I composed this love song for her on my new instrument. Can you hear the evening breeze in the palm trees and the waves gently sounding on the sand?
8. The Hermit’s Cave
Concealed in a grove of hazelnut trees on a mountainside midst the Burren region of Co. Clare, we found the cave of 6th century hermit St. Colman Mac Duach, as described to us by our friend, Declan of Fergus View. Within this small dark space, while reflecting on the colorful legends of his seven year penance, I began a musical meditation on mystery and transcendence.
9. Cape Clear
We spent a heavenly few days on this beautiful island off the southwest coast of County Cork. This haunting air fills us with longing to return.
10. Love’s Sweet Journey
The magic of our 38 years together, sharing music, love and an incredible family is something I cannot easily put into words, so let the harp’s own voice suffice.
11. Lullaby for Elise
While playing the harp by my mother’s bedside as she was preparing to dance off among the stars, this lullaby came forth.
12. The Blue Irishman
I was a blues man in my youth until I became irreversibly smitten by Irish music via the dulcimer and harp in the early 70’s. It just happened that one day I ‘heard’ a Mixolydian jig morphing into a 12-bar blues.
13. Galloping Gertie/Caught in the Rain
The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge became famous on a fateful day in November, 1940 when nature’s mighty winds created the perfect harmonic resonance to bring her crashing into Puget Sound. Even during construction she made the workmen nervous by her gyrations in the wind, hence the name, Galloping
Gertie. You can hear the creaking girders as I bend the dulcimer strings over the bridge! The second tune describes a rain storm on Cape Clear where, on our return journey across the island, we became soaked to the bone while wading through rushing streams which earlier in the day had been lovely trails.
14. Tigh Eamon
Eamon was a simple yet saintly man who lived in a small cottage (tigh) on the Burren. During the day Eamon would leave his door open for the birds to fly in and then feed them upon his table whether they be robin or crow, and in the evening he would listen intently to the traditional music of his famous brother, who often rehearsed with his band in the cottage. Declan and Mary, who now own the cottage, invited us in and shared many a story about this man.
15. The Lonely Boat
When I play this soulful air, learned from the playing of piper Joe McKenna, I imagine a lone monk setting himself adrift in a coracle and allowing the elements to take him to a place of solitude and inspiration.