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BENNY MCCARTHY - Press And Draw 

BENNY MCCARTHY - Press And Draw 
Private Label BMAC001

Box-man extraordinaire Benny, from County Waterford, is a well-loved figure in Irish traditional music. He was mentored by accordion legend Bobby Gardiner several years before co-founding Danú back in 1995 (with Daire Bracken, Donal Clancy and Donnchadh Gough); he still plays with the band to this day. He’s also been a member of other bands over the years (Cordeen, Rattle The Boards, Raw Bar Collective, Tin Sandwich Band and Pure Irish Drops).

He’s the epitome of the consummate box connoisseur, evidenced by the fact that on Press And Draw, which (astonishingly) is his debut solo record, he plays no less than 15 different instruments (button accordions, 10-key melodeons, you name it! – of a bewildering variety of vintages). And, most intriguingly, an equal number of different tune types, all nestling within the ambit of traditional Irish music! This unusual slant makes the album unique among solo box CDs, as it allows Benny to demonstrate not only his versatility on a range of individual boxes but also his method of expression through tasteful decoration and (interestingly) greater use of the left-hand (bass) buttons. Key to all this is Benny’s acute understanding of the need for varying technique and sound on different forms of tune with (inevitably) different distinctive rhythms and structural characteristics (and quirks). Everything you can think of, and more! Jig, reel, march, fling, barndance, hornpipe and polka; song melody, waltz and air.

Benny’s packed a wealth of information onto the digipack too, specifying the actual box played on each tune as well as detailing his sources for the tunes. In truth, this unpretentious solo box CD proves something of a revelation, and not just for accordion aficionados.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 134 of The Living Tradition magazine