Mick Sands is a fine fiddle player from Co. Down. But even Mick — almost reverently referred to as 'The Chief' by his family — would agree that the patient tuition he gave to sons Tommy, Colum and Eugene at his knee in their farmhouse home in Mayobridge near Newry nearly 20 years ago surpassed even his high expectations.
For that early introduction to Irish folk-music has produced one of the finest young folk groups this country has ever seen. His characteristically lighthearted approach to a subject close to his heart welded three of his sons and a — daughter — Anne into a dedicated folk group that will undoubtedly take this country by storm — The Sands Family Folk.
Already the Sands have toured America several times, have been to Europe on numerous occasions and are now firm favourites in, believe it or not East Berlin where in the Latter part of 1974 had a number one record with "All the Little Children" a song they — composed themselves and which was inspired by the recent troubles in Northern Ireland. Literally days before this L.P. was released the Sands returned from their third visit to East Berlin within 12 months.
But the glittering nightspots of Europe or America and the adulation of audiences in so many countries has done nothing to curb the enthusiasm of the Sands Family Folk for an Irish audience. Their television and radio performances in several Continental capitals and their success in Europe generally has, made the Sands Family even more determined to carve for themselves a deserved niche in Irish folk music history.
"All the Little Children" is only one of the many songs which has flowed from the pen of group leader Tommy Sands over the last few months. It is also an indication of their wide interest in Folk Music as this will bear out with songs from as far back as the 12th and 14th Centuries. While they inherited a deep love of traditional music from their parents the Sands Family are now devoting much of their time to writing their own material. So far only Tommy and his 22 year old brother Colum have used their talents in this field while Eugene — or Dino as he is known to his friends — concentrates on composing instrumental numbers. Anne, their 18 year old sister prefers traditional songs and her treatment of this material shows a tremendous feeling for the thoughts that the songwriters of the past tried to record.
A fifth member of this talented family — Benny — joins the group 'on several of the numbers on this L.P. An accomplished fiddle and guitar player Benny who is 24 regards himself as a "part-time" member of the group but is always prepared at times such as this to lend his valuable support to family projects.
All members of the group play at least three instruments but 20 year old Dino is the instrumental genius with a collection of instruments from all over the world that would make any musician stumble over his notes with envy.
The release of this L.P. is not only a milestone in the career of the Sands Family Folk but is a tribute to the patience and training of Mick Sands and his wife who gave to the Irish folk music world such talented and versatile musicians.