Bending the Banshee's Ear

Musicians and Notes

Karen Curry
harp, vocals, concertina, whistle

Michele Dulson
bodhran, vocals, spoons, dumbek, flute

Steve Dulson
Appalachian dulcimer, guitar

Dan Dwyer
vocals, bones

Catherine Kerry

June McIntire
hammered dulcimer, vocals

Ben Russell

Tim Weed
fiddle, mandolin

Jack Wingard
flute, whistle

Special guests

Connie Allen
Grace the bass on Paddy's Gate
Appalachian dulcimer harmony on Parting Glass 

Michael MacKimmey Williams
Great Highland Bagpipes on Twa Recruiting Sergeants and Dark Island 

Dino Maddalone
Dumbek on Spancil Hill.

The Music

Banshee Devil/Morning Dew

The ancient Irish legend of the Banshee inspired our own Karen Curry 
to write this lively song. An apparition in the form of a woman, the 
Banshee foretells the death of those who hear her keening cry, but 
some refuse to go quietly. Listen to the lyrics, and you'll understand 
why Karen chose to follow Banshee Devil with the traditional reel The 
Morning Dew. 

The Bergen

The Bergen was far from her home port when she ran aground off 
the northeast coast of England in the late 1800's. The victims of 
the wreck were buried in the churchyard of the village where Jez 
Lowe grew up, and their lonely graves inspired Jez to write this song. 

An Buachallin Ban/Smash the Windows/Mug of Brown Ale 

Laurel Twomey, our much-missed whistle player and a founding 
member of the Tinkers, found An Buachallin Ban in Traditional Slow 
Airs of Ireland by Tomas O'Canainn. She tacked two jigs onto the end 
of it and ended up with a traditional set that starts out slowly and 
then quickly picks up major steam. 

Paddy's Gate

John McMorrow of Phoenix wrote this song to celebrate the memory 
of his uncle, Paddy Cleary of Milltown, County Clare. Milltown is on the 
main road from Galway City to Sligo. 

Twa Recruiting Sergeants

Dan learned this traditional song from Alex Beaton who was kind 
enough to patiently untangle some of the more obscure Scottish 
terms for him. Obviously, the tactics used by army recruiters have 
changed little since the days of the Napoleonic wars! Our friend 
Michael MacKimmey Williams joins us on the pipes. 

Broom of the Cowdeknowes

It has been suggested that the Cowdeknowes of the title is a sheep 
path (which might explain why we couldn't find it our atlas of Scotland). 
The Broom is a brilliant yellow flower that dots the heather in Spring 
and Summer. And the "yowes" are sheep or, more specifically, ewes. 
What's all that got to do with a lovely traditional song about love and 
loss? Give it a listen. 

Siul A Ruin

Popular since the time of the failed Irish Revolution of 1798, this 
song recalls the anguish of the loved ones who were left behind when 
anquished rebels were forced to flee to France to seek employment 
in the armies of Napoleon. Karen Curry wrote the fiddle arrangement 
that accompanies this traditional song of parting. The chorus translates: 

Go, go, go love. Go smoothly and quietly. Go to the door and escape with me.
And may you go safe, my darling. Goodbye. 

The Slip Jigs and Reels

England's Steve Tilston was inspired to write this song when he 
saw the photograph of an Irish gunfighter of the Old West. How 
did Steve know he was Irish? In addition to the usual accouterments 
of the desperado's trade, this young man had a fiddle strapped 
to his saddle. Several of the incidents in this song are taken from 
the real life of the quintessential Irish gun slinger, Billy the Kid. 

By The Hush

When Steve heard this on Bonnie Carol's "Celtic Caribe" CD, he 
new it was perfect for the Tinkers. The protagonist warns his 
countrymen who are still in Ireland to think twice about emigrating 
to Amerikay in the early 1860's. The General Meagher (pronounced 
Mar) who is mentioned in the song was the commander of the 
famous Irish Brigade which sustained the highest casualties of any 
Union Army unit in the Civil War. 

True Lover's Farewell

This traditional English song has a definite renaissance feel to it. 
We're grateful to our friends in the Seattle-based duo Telynor from 
whom we have "borrowed" it. 

Spancil Hill

So many young men left Ireland sure that they would return with 
riches in a few short years. For most of them, the return trip 
came about only in their dreams. But some of those dreams have
left us with moving songs like this one. 

The Blarney Pilgrim/Drowsy Maggie/The Wind That Shakes The Barley 

Cathy learned the jig The Blarney Pilgrim from her friend and 
fabulous bouzouki player Brian Ogihara at the Renaissance Faire 
years ago. One night during a Tinkers session, she added a pair 
of traditional reels to it, and one of our favorite sets was born. 

Jack Dolan/Hobarts Transformation

Jack Dolan is one of the numerous versions of the Wild Colonial 
Boy legend that grew out of Australia's fascination with the 
bushrangers, convicts who escaped their imprisonment to live off 
what they could steal. To some they were Robin Hoods; to others 
they were merely brutes. The traditional Irish tune Hobarts 
Transformation seemed like a natural companion piece. Hobart 
is the capital of Tasmania, the dreaded Van Dieman's Land of 
transportation days. Robert Hughes' book The Fatal Shore gives 
a full account of Australia's founding, including the story of Jack Dolan. 

The Parting Glass

Steve learned this dulcimer arrangement from Michael Hubbert's 
playing on the "Pacific Rim Dulcimer Project" in the 1970's. Dan 
already knew a more familiar version, so we decided to combine 
the two. This is a song that might have been sung at an "American 
Wake" on the night before an emigrant set out for the New World 
with little hope of ever seeing his family and friends again. 

The Dark Island

Michael Williams pipes us out with this tune attributed to I. 
McLaughlan of Creagorry, Scotland, a tiny, ancient settlement on 
the island of Benbecula, in the Outer Hebrides. There is a Dark Island 
(Eilean Dubh, in Scots Gaelic) at the mouth of Loch Broom, on the 
sea-ferry route from Ullapool on the mainland to Stornoway, Isle of 
Lewis, but it is as likely the tune alludes to any of the storm-shrouded, 
legend-rich islands, real or imaginary, that jealously guard the northwest 
shores of the Scottish Highlands.