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DAVE SHERIDAN - Drivin' Leitrim Timber

DAVE SHERIDAN - Drivin' Leitrim Timber
Private Label LTCD9009

Following up on his Sheridan's Guesthouse release of a few years back, a collaborative venture with several Leitrim musicians, Dave Sheridan presents undiluted Leitrim flute music on what is effectively his solo debut. There's plenty of fine accompaniment from the likes of Michael McCague, Neill Lyons, Brian McGrath and Kevin Doherty, but with the exception of a bonus tenor guitar solo and a couple of cameos from Rick Epping, Dave maintains the melody on solo flute. Both timber and timbre are solid enough, an excellent example of the flowing Leitrim style with occasional percussive passages. Tackling big reels mostly, there are a few technical imperfections but the soul of the music is wonderfully expressed. Famous Ballymote, John Blessing's, Colonel Frazer, The Sunny Banks and more, each tune is a delight. Dave breathes life into jigs and hornpipes too: Fisher's, The Whinny Hills of Leitrim, O'Dea's, Ryan's, and that well-known Leitrim phenomenon The Flying Wheelchair. There's a bravura performance of PJ MacNamara's Reel, lovely deep crans on a very pipey version of The Leitrim Quickstep, and bags of atmosphere for the haunting reel Lough Allen.

I gather Dave Sheridan is something of an evangelist for Leitrim music. Teaching and performing, his county's flute tradition is clearly a passion. On his previous recording, Dave was sparring with the button box alongside the flute: here he finishes with a flourish on tenor guitar, perhaps a sign of things to come. Along the way, he has become a very fine fluter. His own tune Grey Ridge Breeze, dedicated to Leitrim, is a fine addition to the body of Leitrim music and a charming contrast to the faster sets on this CD. Not that the reels and jigs drag on Drivin' Leitrim Timber: quite the opposite. Tunes like The Morning Dew and The Boys of Portaferry are handled with a skill and energy which is simply beautiful to hear. I Buried My Wife - a personal favourite of mine - leads off a storming set of jigs, while the final Martin Rochford selection combines the grace and lyricism of that great East Clare fiddler with the spark of Leitrim dance music. As with good whiskey, the timber is very important - but so is the spirit, and Dave Sheridan's spirit is exactly what Leitrim music needs. Find out more at - apparently they do a great breakfast too!

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 88 of The Living Tradition magazine.