This "Kilty" album is a brilliant follow-up to a 2005 release, with a similar core lineup of fiddlers.

Piper Touhey to be memorialized over weekend of April 29-May 1

Uilleann pipers are traditionally an insular bunch.  They have their own customs, their own habits and a way of interacting with one another that seems to center around the nuances of reeds and reed making. If you know any pipers, you’ll know that they’re some of the soundest of people you’ll ever meet and they’re good craic to be around.

     One of the things about pipers is that they like to gather, and as you might imagine there are pipers gatherings (often called “tionols”) that happen at different points during the year in various parts of the country.  For many years there’s not been one in Massachusetts (that I know of, at least), which is a shame considering the strength of Irish music in that neck of the woods.  However, in a month’s time all this will change.

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     Enter the Patsy Touhey Weekend, which will take place April 29-May 1 at the Canadian American Club in Watertown, Mass.  (For those of you unfamiliar, Watertown is part of the greater Boston area, just west of and a short drive from downtown.) The weekend is “a gathering to memorialize Patrick J. Touhey, one of America’s finest uilleann pipers,” the event’s website promises. “Workshops, presentations, concerts, and recitals given by some of the finest pipers and historians in America, taking place in the American birthplace of Touhey, Boston, Massachusetts.”

     Piper extraordinaire Joey Abarta is the weekend’s organizer and he’s accumulated a stunning lineup of impressive pipers, makers, and historians that includes Seán Gavin, Michael Stribling, Fionnán Mac Gabhann, David Quinn, Nick Whitmer, Richie Piggott, Barry O’Neill, and Jeff Ksiazek, ensuring a musically and intellectually enriching weekend will be had by all who attend.

     If you’re a piper (or someone interested in Irish music history in general), this is an event that will be worth your while in every way.  Abarta’s vision for what this weekend should be is well grounded and should interest pipers and non-pipers alike – check it out.   Learn more and enroll at

     In other news, I’ve been listening to an impossibly gorgeous album all week called “Within A Mile of Kilty, Volume 2: Traditional Music from North Leitrim” and have fallen in love.  It features the fiddle playing of John Gordon (fiddle), Ben Lennon (fiddle), Charlie Lennon (fiddle and piano), Brian Rooney (fiddle), Maurice Lennon (fiddle), Seamus Quinn (fiddle), and Brian Lennon (flute) and satisfies in every way – it is one that will leave traditional music lovers buzzing.

     (The album also includes several additional musicians who deserve mention in their respective roles, including Brian McGrath, piano; Chris Dawson, bouzouki; Ciara Brennan, nyckelharpa; Anthony Gordon, piano; Paul Gurney, piano; and Garry O’Briain, guitar.  Each excels where they appear and add substantially to the album’s overall quality.)

     This second “Kilty” volume was preceded by the original, which was released in 2005 and featured a similar core lineup of fiddlers.  In his excellent review, Earle Hitchner, my predecessor here at the Echo, described that first volume as “pure drop by the bucketful, music to sip and savor,” and not only was he right then, his appraisal is entirely appropriate to this new set as well.

     Like Volume 1, Volume 2 is a collection of previously recorded material.  The twenty tracks here represent music from each decade since the 1950s and consist exclusively of instrumental music.  The playing is pristine from track to track, not only highlighting the musical connectedness of the Lennon family, but also reflecting positively on the way people in the area approach the music in general.

     Every track here is a revelation, so it’s kind of hard to point out favorites. John Gordon’s playing absolutely incredible, his approach to “The Primrose / The Bluebell” is lyrical and lovely and just gorgeous to listen to.  Seamus Quinn and Ben Lennon rendering of “McCormack’s / Dunphy’s” is thoroughly charming.  I quite like Maurice Lennon’s “Sally’s Smile,” which is a lovely feature, as is Brian Rooney’s “Humours of Scariff.”  Ben and Charlie Lennon’s take on “Bonnie Kate / Jenny’s Chickens” is superb, but there are so many tracks that show Ben and/or Charlie’s brilliance that a top choice really comes down to personal preference – there’s a lot to choose from.

     This new “Within a Mile of Kilty” is simply brilliant.  Great credit is due to David Lennon for curating this excellent collection – the music here is nothing short of perfection.   This is a must-have for lovers of traditional music, it’s simply outstanding.  Volume 2 of “Within a Mile of Kilty” is available through Cló Iar-Chonnacht.  To learn more and purchase, visit