In keeping with their preference The Chieftains have recently teamed up with a host of other artists, including their old partners in crime, Ry Cooder, for their first album in over six years, which is due out in March. The concept album San Patricio tells the story of the Wild Geese who deserted the US Army to the better paying Mexican Army during the American-Mexican War 1846-1848 (though most either died or were executed in 1847).
Last week, a live -media only’ performance previewing this release reached the RTE studios. The public debut actually premiered a few nights earlier at the Celtic Connections in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, but that, of course, did not detract from this wonderful and lively performance in the bands hometown.
The stage, level with the audience, was filled with a wealth of instrumentalists. There were bagpipes, harp and the multi talented Mexican-American trio Los Cenzontles, plus a Los Angeles Dance troupe. All these and more, alongside the two undisputed stars of the evening, Paddy Maloney and Ry Cooder. Perhaps not surprisingly what followed was an evening of folk and traditional music from Mexico and Ireland, plus a few new numbers. In the middle of it all sat a cool, calm, collected Ry Cooder who strummed away to Paddy Maloney’s command. Cooder really came into his own though when he performed his self penned vocal track -The Sands of Mexico’, a celebration of the Irish regiment in the war. Meanwhile tracks like the vibrant and upbeat -La Iguana’ were excellently executed and fun, whilst more sombre instrumentals like -March To Battle (Across The Rio Grande)’ complemented the musicianship of all involved. The traditional Mexican Jarabe Tapatio dance style blended with Canadian tap of the Pilatzke brothers worked well with the tracks. The sentiment and depth of feeling from the fiddle of Sean Keane was exceptional whilst the tap and fiddle (at points simultaneous) of Jon Pilatzke were enthralling in their intricacy and their speed.
Overall a great hour of music that bodes well for the forthcoming release.