The Muse

Cassidy’s Ceili, Andy Irvine, Rens van der Zalm at the very welcoming Merry Muse, Friday 18th March, 2011.
by Jim Williams.

Unfortunately the preceding day of St Patrick’s day events left Cassidy without a voice and unable to front the band. This unfortunate event, however, gave us the opportunity to enjoy the great talents of the musicians in the band. We are indeed very lucky that Canberra is the home to so many fine musicians.

Sandy Gibney showed his skill and versatility on the violin taking us from traditional Irish and Scottish tunes through to ragtime, tango and even a czardas (a Hungarian folk dance).

Sandy was complimented by the playing of Ian (bass, saxophone and stylophone), Jon (percussion) and Pete (guitar). Together they showed the joy and humour of playing excellent music at a level which does not pale when compared to better known overseas acts.

Having whetted our appetites for good music we moved on to one of Ireland’s finest exponents of traditional and not so traditional music, Andy Irvine. He was accompanied by Rens van der Zalm from Holland. These accomplished musicians blend beautifully to generate a tightness seldom heard from two stringed instruments. Andy plays Irish bouzouki, a strange but very suitable introduction of the Greek instrument into Irish traditional music. It’s symbolic of Andy’s interest and ability to play a wide variety of music styles not just limited to Irish music. He has travelled widely and also plays, for instance, Baltic tunes.

Andy also has a collection of contemporary songs in his repertoire and he plays and sings them with conviction and at times a sly humour. Alone he is well worthwhile as a performer but the addition of the stunning accompaniment from Rens on mandolin or guitar makes it so much better. The timing of these two fine musicians is a wonder to behold. Even in the fastest of tunes they played in complete synchronousness, adding layer upon layer of harmony to the pieces.

For those who thought the night would be only Irish in content it would have been a very pleasant surprise to be transported to many places both geographically and emotionally. The defining Irish trait was the love of music and the humour that allows everyone to have a good time.

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