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Review: "Never Say No To a Jar"
by Bridget Haggerty
We'll be honest - we had never heard of singer/songwriter Michael Snow or his music until we were asked to review the final installment of his "Skelly Trilogy". Previous installments included "Here comes the Skelly", released in 2000 and "The Rats & The Rosary", released in May 2001. From the reviews we've read so far, and in listening to the music ourselves, "Never Say No to a Jar" appears to be the best of the three.
For those of you who may not know - and we didn't, ourselves - the term "Skelly" is the affectionate slang nickname for Liverpool's large Irish population. It was here in England's largest port city, that Michael was born and raised and it was here that his more than 40 years in the music business began.
His credentials are impressive. We were surprised to learn that he wrote "Rosetta" which was a number one hit in nine countries; he is a well-regarded touring and session musician and he has worked with Chuck Berry, Dusty Springfield, Badfinger, John Lennon, just to name a few. And, his expertise on bodhran, accordion, and tenor banjo has been utilized to add a Celtic flavor to many popular recordings.
But enough about his background - what about this latest CD? According to one reviewer it is "arguably his most melodic, lyrically powerful offering yet." Since we had never listened to his work before, we were a bit apprehensive. We needn't have worried.
"Dandy Vernon", the opening number, sets the stage for a series of rousing songs that make you want to grab a pint and sing along. In fact, drinking songs is an apt description for many of the tunes. But, there's a bit of sameness in the arrangements and we suggest that it would be better if the songs are mixed up with cuts from other Irish CDs. Taking it all in at one sitting, one cut after another, isn't the best way to listen to Michael Snow - at least, not in our our opinion.
As in the previous recordings in the series, Michael is joined with fellow Brit. Pat McInerney on drums/percussion and Cuban bass and cello standout Ron de la Vega - both of the Nanci Griffith Band. The stellar line-up also includes many other outstanding touring/session musicians, among them master fiddler Craig Duncan, Buddy Connolly (All-Ireland Accordion Champion) and Celtic instruments specialist John Mock (Dixie Chicks). An exciting addition this time around is English folk-rock legend, Clive Gregson, who contributes piano, acoustic guitar, Hammond organ, banjo, accordion, mandolin and live harmony vocals
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our introduction to Michael and his music. As the All Music Guide put it - "Snow has a whiskey tenor, and his musical style is Celtic Folk rock. This turns out to be an excellent combination for his thematic collection of songs with an autobiographical frame. "Never Say No to a Jar" is a personal story, but in execution it is full of feeling and universal meaning."
The man himself sums up his "Skelly Songs" and his latest CD explaining - "Never Say No to a Jar" is very much about the musical cultural links between Ireland, Liverpool and the States, and the expression of my thoughts on the whole Irish immigrant experience."
This CD as well as Volume's 1 & 2 are available for purchase online through Amazon.com:
There is also a great website where you can learn all about Michael and the evolution of his "Skelly Songs"
Michael's photo "borrowed" from his website. We don't think he'll mind as long as you pay him a visit!
Fri, Nov 3, 2017
The Round Towers
The Round Towers of Ireland are remarkable among the world's ancient monuments; one author has called them 'Elegant, free-standing pencils of stone.' Today, 65 survive in part or whole. Hand-crafted in native stone and cemented with a sand, lime, horsehair and oxblood mortar - a technique imported from Roman Britain - it's said by many historians that they were built by monastic communities to thwart Viking invaders. And yet, there's reason to believe that the towers were built long before Christianity came to Ireland. Whatever their origins, monasteries did indeed flourish where the round towers existed. And why not. These imposing edifices provided a watch tower, a keep and a refuge.
Image: By kind permission of Stephen Cassidy, The Cassidy Clan.
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A magnificent pictorial tribute to the splendor of Irish gardens, featuring more than 200 color images.
Eclare ushers readers into spectacular Irish garden settings...
Equally captivating are the book's gorgeous photographs of plants, beautiful stonework, outstanding statuary, and the voluptuous floral compositions that adorn Ireland's great castle estates, rural herb growers, country guest houses, and quaint cottages.
Click for Glorious Gardens.