Limerick Lassies, The Bird Feeder, The Bank of Ireland & Grampa's Ceili Band — We kick off the album with a lively set of traditional reels, with the exception of The Bird Feeder which was composed by Joanie and Grampa's Ceili Band, a composition by County Calway accordion player, Martin Mulhaire.
Matt Hyland — This is a traditional song that comes from Ulster in the North of Ireland. It dates back to the time in Ireland when one was expected to marry within one's social class and not beneath it.
Harvest Moon, Eddy Moloney's Reel, Martin with the Long Ears & The Tapas Reel — Mary Rafferty learned the first reel (written by the late great Paddy O'Brien), from accordion player Dominic Rooney and the second from her father, Mike. The third tune was written by Siobhan for her family's pet basset hound, Martin. The final reel in this set was composed by Joanie during a recent memorable trip to Spain. We are thrilled to be joined on this track by former member and great friend, fiddler Eileen Ivers.
The Harbor Jig , The Falcon on the Hedge & Jack's Morning Feast — A set of jigs composed by the group. The first Siobhan wrote while living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; the second was named for a phone call Joanie received from her parents about a falcon who paid a visit to the family home in Yorktown Heights; and the third in the trilogy was composed in honor of Mary's infamous cat, Jack.
The Waves of Kilkee — This ballad was composed by Joanie and our producer, Brian Keane, while they were in Ireland to record some tracks for this album. While there, they set out on a mission to find Brian's ancestral home in County Clare. Their drive took them through the village of Kilkee where the breathtaking sight of crashing waves inspired this tune.
The Leader of the Band — This song was composed by American singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg for his father, a high school music teacher. The traditional reel, Devaney's Goat, weaves very nicely throughout the song. We thought the sentiments of this song were a direct correlation with our own musical story. We would like to dedicate this track to our fathers for the gift of music.
Father's Day Medley: The Quilty, Larry Redican's, Drag Her 'round the Road, The Lads from Leitrim & The Bag of Spuds — This set is the first of the family sets on this album. It starts out with a hornpipe played by Mary Coogan on banjo and her dad, Jim, on accordion with some bodhrdn by Joanie's brother, John. On the first reel, Joanie is joined by her father, Joe, on accordion. We then move to the Rafferty segment, beginning with some authentic traditional lilting by Mary's uncle, Paddy Rafferty. Paddy is then joined by Mary's dad, Mike, on flute. Mike and Mary Rafferty follow with The Lads from Leitrim. The families come together for a rousing finish with the old traditional reel The Bag of Spuds, with some step dancing from dancers Eileen and Donny Golden.
John of Dreams — The melody of this song comes from the classical composition of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 (which was in turn borrowed from a Southern Italian lullaby entitled Piva Piva). The words are by Bill Caddick. This track was recorded at Christmas time in Ireland at Liam Clancy's studio in Ring, County Waterford. The Clancy family had gathered for the holidays and it was an opportune moment to catch them all together. This song had been a favorite of the Clancys' for many years. The first verse is sung by Aoife, the second by her father, Bobby, the third by Uncle Liam and the final verse by Aoife's brother Finbar. All the verses are set to a backdrop of Aoife's cousin, Donal (Liam's son), on guitar.
The Nightbird & Mystery's Dance — These two reels were composed by Donna. The Nightbird was written for a little bird that starts singing outside her bedroom window at the top of his lungs at 3:00 AM every night. Mystery's Dance is dedicated to a friend's cat, Mystery, who stands on his tip-toes and dances when he greets you.
Is Fada Liom Uaimi Uaimi (I Long For Her) — This is a South Ulster song that Aoife first heard being sung by Eithne Ni Uallachainln. In it, the languishing lover swears off drinking, pledges to build a house and buy four speckled cows, and would refuse to make a will were he on death's door, until the return of his beloved. The sight of her could bring a dead man back to life or make a young boy out of an old man, could Molly Hollywood of the curls.
Gaelic Air, B minor Reel, The Galtee Rangers & Sheehan's Reel — We begin this track with three generations of the Long family. The opening air is a traditional Scottish tune, for which Donna is joined by her father in a double piano arrangement. Donna's son, Jesse Smith, follows with a fiery Northern reel on the fiddle. Siobhan's family is featured on the next reel with two of her siblings; Roryann on concertina and Seamus on flute. The band all joins in for Sheehan's Reel.
In 1983, I had no idea how one phone call from Mick Moloney and Ethel Raim at the Ethnic Folk Arts Center would change my life. Mick and Ethel were organizing a series of concerts featuring various Celtic women musicians from around the country. They asked me to help them organize and emcee it. I suggested the name of a traditional Irish jig, "Cherish the Ladies," for the series name. The initial lineup was brought together for a ten-city tour in May of 1987. Those ten days have turned into twelve years — and my life's work! Every day, I thank God for that phone call!
Our musical past, our heritage, has always been the source for so much of the musical inspiration of Cherish The Ladies. While searching for repertoire, each member of the group has always reached back into her own musical memories, drawing from the great sources of tunes from our fathers and grandparents. In the past, we have turned to my father, Joe Madden, and to Mike Rafferty, who both hail from East Galway, for their wonderful collection of reels and jigs; to Jim Coogan for polkas; to Bobby Clancy and the Clancy Brothers for songs; to Donna's son, Jesse Smith, for reels; and to Siobhan's Grandma Egan for barn dances. We brought these tunes and songs that have been in our individual families for years to the group, incorporating and molding them to create our own blend and unique sound.
I am thrilled on our seventh release — and on the anniversary of a dozen years together as a band — to have fifteen of our family members join us to showcase the musical tapestry that helped to make us what we are. We call this album At Home; it represents the handing-down of music from our families through us to the future. I hope you enjoy the celebration!