The Wolfe Tones
A comment from Tomás Mac Anna (Artistic Director, Abbey Theatre)
The Wolfe Tones have become something of an institution over the years they have been entertaining us on Radio, T V., Records and the Concert stage, bringing as they do, an entirely new dimension in the modern electronic medium to the traditional folksong and the Patriotic ballad.
There is no mistaking that distinctive Wolfe Tone sound, strong and melodious; there is nothing in Irish music and entertainment quite like it, and to hear it just once coming from the radio, or from a record shop, or from a wayside tavern or a packed concert hall, is to recognise it afterwards in an instant and become one more fan among the many, many thousands of fans already entranced by it.
Their approach to the ancient art of the balladmaker and the balladsinger has proved to be original and exciting, something entirely new in Irish music. Their extensive repertoire of songs and melodies has an international appeal but this because it has been always truly national, whether a quiet love song, or a rousing tavern chorus; a ballad of Irish rebellion or the quest for nationhood; or a sadder sombre recollection of famine times and emigration. This new record is very much in that distinctive mode, a new addition to the Tones' treasury of evocative folksong, original pieces mingling with the traditional and patriotic, and not neglecting the comic side of things, for comedy and fantasy have always been a part of the balladmakers craft.
The Wolfe Tones are the strolling players of our time, not at all unlike the wandering minnesingers of the middle ages, whose merchandise was delight, or the Druith Rioga and the Royal Performers of ancient Tara who played before the High Kings. Wherever they go, in Ireland and abroad, they bring the Irish bardic tradition with them, the art of the poet Rafteri and the harper Carolan as well as that of the storyteller and the reciter, their own particular interpretation of things past but still vivid in the folk-memory. They are at once our musical ambassadors and our star performers, wherever they go they bring with them, in their songs and their melodies, a vivid and lasting image of Ireland.