Moving, nostalgic, captivating. A "must" listen !
Christi Serrao | Toronto, Ontario, Canada | 07/13/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Chieftand are known for their adventurousness and in the past they have matched their rousing Irish traditional playing with styles from across the world, recording with Spanish musicians, Chinese folk bands or country, bluegrass and rock celebrities from Alison Krauss to Van Morrison or the Rolling Stones.
The Chieftains' new album "San Patricio" (Spanish for St. Patrick) is a musical tribute to the Irish volunteers known as the San Patricio battalion who defected from the US army to fight with the Mexicans in the US-Mexico war in the mid-19th century, and who were later executed as deserters.
As a result, it has everything on it, from traditional Mexican musicians to Linda Ronstadt, Los Tigres Del Norte and actor Liam Neeson. And The Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney brews up a winning mixture.
"San Patricio" is very much a Paddy Moloney's project: he has had the San Patricio story working away in his imagination for almost 15 years, "thinking all the time there would have been music and in the music there'd be a shared history".
He has always been a musical wanderlust, intrigued by the journeys of the Irish Diaspora. The San Patricio story has given him an opportunity to work with a host of original Mexican artists from both sides of the border. Their vibrant music - embodied in thriving local traditions - embraces myriad irresistible folk styles.
The resulting meeting of Irish and Mexican cultures reveals that the two countries have a shared affinity for haunting melodies and catchy dance rhythms played on fiddles, harps, guitars, flutes, whistles, brass and percussion of all sorts. It is a cross-cultural mélange that Celtic Connections was born for.
The Californian guitarist Ry Cooder and the Irish folk heavyweights are seasoned and inveterate globetrotters.
Moloney and Cooder have collaborated before, notably in 1995 when Cooder added his distinctive slide guitar sound to the Chieftains' "Long Black Veil". Moloney later played flute on Cooder's "My Name Is Buddy (the Cat)" project.
It was while they were recording together in Havana in the 1990s that the Irishmen introduced Ry Cooder to Cuba and to the musicians who would star in his nostalgic world music bestseller, the Buena Vista Social Club.
Clearly enjoying himself, Cooder blends happily into the crazy mixture of Mexican, Irish, Spanish and Scottish all around him. His new song, the splendid "The Sands of Mexico", an imagined soldier's letter home, is a lovely slip-sliding thing, and he also plays a beautiful instrumental version of an old Mexican song about exile and longing before the band takes it up.
The music blends Irish uilleann pipes, whistle and fiddles with Mexican guitars, banjo and trumpets, and the cast of singers ranges from Linda Ronstadt (with a song learned from her Mexican grandfather), the legendary arranger Van Dyke Parks, the sensational Mexican singer Lila Downs, Moya Brennan from Clannad, the extraordinary, passionate 90-year-old ranchero star, Chavela Vargas and battalions of crack instrumentalists.
Among the highlights are the ribald capering of Latin Grammy winners Los Tigres del Norte, and the mournful, sashaying bolero sung by Chavela Vargas.
A beautiful, moving, nostalgic, captivaing album!
Many Grammys are in the cards!
Long Black Veil
My Name Is Buddy
Buena Vista Social Club
Canciones De Mi Padre"
Covers Important Part of Irish American History
John Fielding | Glen Cove, NY | 08/21/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD helped me to appreciate the situation of the Irish Americans who served in the US Army then decided to join the Mexicans. When the Irish first came to America they faced the oppression of the Protestant majority. Political parties such as the 'Know Nothings' did not want Irish Catholics in the US. When these Catholics join the army they faced discrimination from the Protestant troops. When they were sent to the Mexican/Texan border they identified with the Mexicans because of their common religion and also there historically dislike for the English.
Books such as "The Rogue's March" by Peter F. Stevens and "The Irish Soldiers of Mexico by Michael Hogan give good descriptions of why these soldiers joined Mexico. They were not really deserters. Rather they were joining the army they could most identify with. The barbarism and cruelty show by the US command to these soldiers only reinforces the correctness of the decisions made by these proud soldiers.
Later in the US civil war in their desire to join in and become part of America the Irish were very brave and proud soldiers on both sides.