The prospect of hearing not only The Dubliners, Luke Kelly, Paul Lenihan and Dave Phillips, but also such great traditional instrumentalists as Margaret Barry, Michael Gorman and Jimmy Power, filled the newly opened Folksong El Toro to capacity on 29th June, 1964. The engineers checked their mike channels. The humming air conditioner was turned off, and we were away.
The disc opens with two characteristic pieces by the Dubliners. First Ciaron Bourke leads off with the jog trot Little Beggarman, followed by Barney McKenna's fantastic plectrum banjo on the jig The Sweets of May.
Luke Kelly then leaves the Dubliners to join Dave Phillips in the McPeake family's famous Wild Mountain Thyme. Luke and Dave's unusual blend of tenor quality voices is heard again in The Gentleman Soldier at the end of the evening.
Following a bit of Ulster nonsense from Paul Lenihan, the first half ends with the Dubliners corncrake-extraordinary, Ronnie Drew, telling two stories, the first of Wapping during the last century, the second of Kimmage during this.
The second side starts with Ronnie Drew, in fine but unbelievable voice as usual, singing Peadar Carney's Down By The Liffeyside (Carney, uncle to the Behans, wrote many good songs, including the Irish National Anthem).
Michael Gorman and Jimmy Power, two of the great fiddle players, with Margaret Barry, play Margaret's jig The Stray Away Child. Paul Lenihan returns, this time with a somewhat apocryphal story from the scriptures. He returns to religion later with a blustering anti-Orange song.
For their last appearance of the evening, The Dubliners sang an Aberdeenshire song, prefacing it with the remark that it probably comes from Ireland anyway. The evening roared to a close. The air conditioner was switched on before any actual loss of life was suffered. And a cheering audience proclaimed that for many British folk fans, the new-fangled Hootenanny will never replace the good old Ceildih.
The Dubliners, who appear by permission of Transatlantic Records Ltd., comprise Ronnie Drew (gravel voice and guitar), Ciaron Bourke (vocal and flageolet), Luke Kelly (vocal and banjo) and Barney McKenna (banjo). This grouping of four of Ireland's most talented artists first came about at the 1963 Edinburgh Festival. Since then they have become the rage of Ireland and have made many B.B.C. television appearances.
Paul Lenihan, since organising a well-known South London folk club, has become a favourite of English as well as Irish audiences.
Dave Phillips hails from Birmingham. He was originally a member of the Ian Campbell Folk Group but went solo nearly two years ago.
Margaret Barry, Michael Gorman and Jimmy Power are three of Ireland's greatest traditional instrumentalists. Margaret was discovered singing and playing in fairgrounds by the collector Alan Lomax; Mike, from Sligo, is acknowledged as one of the great Irish Fiddlers as is Jimmy Power.