The Celtic Cafe is
grateful to Keltika Magazine of Italy for sharing some of the work of Alfredo
De Pietra, its Music Column Editor, translated into English. Click
here for Alfredo's bio page at the Celtic Cafe, with links to some of
his other features available here at CelticCafe.com.
McCabe and "The Peace Within" -- a CD of "Celtic Blues"
do you get when you bring together Barry McCabe and Davy Spillane, one of the
world's most famous uilleann pipers? Celtic Blues!
to over half of "The Peace Within" and co-wrote two of the tracks. It
also gave him the chance to delve fully into the Blues/Celtic connection. He had
just hinted at it on "Atlantic Bridge" and later on in "Out of
the Air," an "electric blues" CD with many members of Davys
former band "Moving Hearts" and Rory Gallagher, who was a huge musical
influence on Barry. "The Emigrant" on "The Peace Within" CD
is dedicated to Rory, and is absolutely brilliant.
Barry is as expressive
on the classical guitar on this lovely instrumental as he is on the most rocking
of blues tunes with his searing electric guitar. The passion and feeling comes
through, complemented perfectly by Davys low whistle on this piece. Barrys
vocals and songwriting skills are also showcased on another terrific track, "Gotta
Let It Go." This CD has a lot of variety, and all of it good! The version
of Peter Greens "Oh Well," a classic of the early Fleetwood Mac
era, with Davys uilleann pipes added, is like icing on the cake!
to sound samples of "The Peace Within" at CD Baby by clicking
here, and learn more about Barry McCabe and his music in the following
interview with Barry by Keltika Magazine's Music Column Editor, Alfredo
tell us something about the title of the album: you insist very much on the concept
Well I don't know if your question loses something in
the translation because I'm not insisting on anything, and I don't think peace
is a concept, but yes, you are right the CD in general and the title song in particular
are talking about peace. You see, I think people have been trying to find peace
in the wrong way up until now - which is probably why many of them haven't found
it. Bombing a country that you are fighting with and then calling it peace when
the war is over or won has absolutely nothing to do with peace. In fact it's probably
the exact opposite. True peace can only come from within. When you are at peace
with yourself you will be at peace with the world, and then you'll have peace
in the world. So the only person you can work on is yourself. That's what "The
Peace Within" is all about.
You talk about "a new musical
direction". How did you and your music meet Irish traditional music?
I am Irish, so even though I never played traditional music up until this CD I've
been listening to it my whole life. So even if I didn't want it, it's there in
my brain subconsciously. Like a lot of teenagers I got into rock music and fell
in love with the music of Rory Gallagher and the blues in general. The power of
it spoke to me. Traditional music at that time of my life didn't seem to have
that. Of course I've realised in the meantime that it is indeed very powerful
music, it just comes at you in a different way. I listen a lot to The Bothy Band
now and I'm amazed that they recorded a live album in '72 (just like Rory did)
but I was completely unaware of it at the time.
At one stage in my life
I needed to really find out who I was inside - not what my family or country told
me I was. Through that period of self-analysis I discovered that traditional music
in fact held a lot of the same qualities as blues music. It could be very meloncholic
and yet it could be upbeat as well. I think I really connected to the emotional
content of the two styles. And then amazingly, I discovered that even musically
the two styles were very close to each other. I suppose they are both roots music,
born out of the desires and sadness of both races - the blacks living in slavery
in America and the Irish being governed by somebody other than themselves.
what about your musical experience with Davy Spillane?
Davy is a really sweet person and a super musician. That was the first time I'd
been that close to a set of uilleann pipes. Can you believe that? In Co. Cavan
(where I come from) traditional players favoured more the fiddle and accordion.
Davy is really professional to work with, so from that point of view it was quite
easy. In some cases he asked me beforehand what I wanted for the song and in other
cases he just knew instinctively what the song needed. He wasn't big-headed about
it at all. I mean can you imagine, here I am in Davy's own studio working with
a man who is without doubt the most famous uilleann piper in the world! Before
working on my CD he had played with the likes of Van Morrison and Chris Rea and
right after my CD he played with Bryan Adams.
Another funny thing about
the whole CD and mixing the blues with Irish traditional music is that I didn't
know that the pipes work best in a limited number of keys and strangely enough
the songs I wrote with Davy (and his pipes) in mind were all written in keys that
suited the pipes. I think the Gods were leading me by the hand when I was working
on that CD.
Is it easy put together Irish traditional and blues? Which
are the common points, which (if there) the problems to join together these two
I think I might have answered this question already
in the other questions. I have to say that my marriage of blues and traditional
on "The Peace Within" CD is quite a loose one. I think it's the overall
thing that works. Some songs do marry the two styles a little closer and it's
something I'd like to work further on for the next CD. I think songs like my version
of "Istanbul Blues" mix the two styles together quite well. "One
Of These Days" manages quite well to have that blues feel off it but then
the pipes come in real nice at the end to take it of in a slightly different direction.
tell us something about your Italian experiences...
Well I just
love Italy! I suppose I'm lucky in that I have a very good promoter in Italy,
so ever since the first concert things have gone really well for me there - and
happily the Italians seem to like my music, so it's a two-way thing. I like the
fact that the Italian people are so outgoing, so emotional, so loud. I suppose
it's all the things Irish people aren't. We tend to be more reserved, quieter,
etc. so maybe it's also the difference that I like. I also love sunny weather
(you know about our weather, right?) and I love the food! I've played all over
Italy (not just the north) and in fact I remember playing way down south and the
people were so happy we travelled all the way down there to play for them. Those
were some of the most enjoyable concerts I've played there. I still have such
great memories from that trip. In fact just writing about it now makes me feel
like going back over there to play!
Finally, some words about Rory
Gallagher and your dedication to him of "The Emigrant"
like I said earlier, I fell in love with Rory's music around the age of 14. That
was the first record I ever bought and I remained a fan right up until the day
he died. After working on "The Peace Within" CD (and adding the traditional
music to it) I can now hear traces of Irish music in Rory's music as well. Perhaps
it was a subconscious thing with him too, although he had a knowledge of traditional
music and was recording more traditional stuff just before he died (working with
The Furey Brothers, The Dubliners, etc.). After he died I wanted to write a song
for him but I didn't want to end up writing some bad lyrics and that's when I
decided to just write a piece of music for him. Davy is very much responsible
for that track (it's co-written) and while we were recording it I was looking
out through the window of his studio at the Atlantic ocean. Just as he finished
I could hear his whistle waving on and on and it felt like the waves to me. It
also triggered the realisation that a lot of Irish people left home and sailed
across those very same waters to became emigrants in other countries, and that
Rory in fact had had to do the same thing. That's when I came up with the name
for the piece of music. Rory actually played on one of Davy's CDs, so in a way
the circle had been completed.
the official Barry McCabe site at: BarryMcCabe.com
Spillane site: DavySpillane.com
advantage of CD Baby's special $5 offer on Barry's CDs:
here for Alfredo De Pietra's section at the Celtic Cafe and click
here to go directly to his own site.
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