Button Factory, Dublin
As an antidote to this winter of our discontent, the inaugural date of the Button Factory County Sessions, in front of a large and expectant crowd, hinted at great escapes to come. Taking its lead from the renowned Harcourt Hotel sessions of old, these County Sessions celebrate local musical accents, and judging by the volume of punters who turned up for this celebration of Co Tipperary, there’s a voracious public appetite for good traditional music played in a hospitable venue.
Flute-player, film-maker and entrepreneur Conor Byrne gently coaxed his brainchild, the County Sessions, into existence, playing a short solo set and then cracking the bottle off the stern by way of his uncle, Christy Moore. Negotiating an affectionate ramble through a short set that included The Galtee Mountain Boy , Christy was in fine form, relaxed enough to exploit the bantering potential of the odd lyrical slip, and in his element when embroiled in picaresque and adventuresome tales.
Gerry “Banjo” O’Connor brought a wealth of Garrykennedy music to the party, with his son Fiach on bodhrán and guitarist Tim Edey. O’Connor’s family members were the backbone of a sparkling night of music, with his father and uncle, Liam and Donal O’Connor, on fiddle, his brother Mike on accordion and his sister Ann Maria on a fierily flowing tin whistle. Singer Nora Butler and fiddle player Eileen O’Brien added further fuel to the fire, and 4 Men And A Dog’s Kevin Doherty brought along his sublime Mary J to join in the revelry.
Footballer Andy Reid, a former student of the banjo (under O’Connor’s tutelage), delighted in the opportunity to indulge his balladeering instincts. A rambling, commodious start to what just might be a magical season of music.
The Button Factory County Sessions continue fortnightly. The next session, on Nov 24, features Co Donegal music with Altan’s Dermot Byrne and friends
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