Red Knot
Reviews from the Atlanta Celtic Quarterly
Red Knot

All reviews by David Marcus unless otherwise noted.
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Dermot Byrne
Dermot Byrne (button accordion and melodeon); Stephen Cooney (guitar, keyboard); Trevor Hutchinson (double-bass); Donal Lunny (bouzouki; guitar; bodhrán). Green Linnet 3113. 12 tracks, 45'45".
Audio clips, track listing & order info
While there are many button accordion players whose albums I enjoy, this is the one that I always come back to when I want to hear the very best. It is a quiet album that presents Irish music in a simple relaxed style. You have to listen twice to hear the simple virtuosity. Dermot Byrne doesn't play the accordion; he plays traditional Irish music and he simply happens to be an accordion player.

I had an opportunity to talk to Dermot recently after his performance with Altan at the Variety Theater last fall. Thanks to promoter Steve Harris for arranging this. Thanks should also go to Steve for being the only promoter to continue to bring big-name Celtic bands, such as Altan and Boys of the Lough, to Atlanta. Dermot, 27, of County Donegal, has been playing the button box since he was 5. He doesn't really remember doing anything else; unlike many musicians, he's chosen to focus all of his energy on a single instrument. Why the button box? Because that's what was given to him. Both in person and on this album, Dermot seems a person who is very comfortable with himself and with what he's doing. When I asked him how he sees his music changing in the future, he told me that while he listens to almost all kinds of music, he has no desire to change what he is doing: playing Irish traditional music in a traditional way with a traditional band (Altan) and with other friends and musician.

Dermot Byrne has a nice assortment of music, ranging from the haunting Paddy's Rambles Through the Park, a seldom-heard air from The Northern Fiddler, to familiar tunes such as Pigeon on the Gate and Hardiman the Fiddler. The album ends with its only non-traditional tune, Tico Tico, a rousing Latin American-sounding piece for which Dermot pulls out all the stops in a breath-taking and hair-raising live performance.

The accompaniments on this album are light and, like Dermot's playing, extremely tasteful. Tempos are never too fast, and it is a cleanly engineered recording with a warm, accurate sound. The only complaint I can make about it is to say that, like most Green Linnet CDs, the liner notes don't tell you anything about the music or the performer.

This is an album that makes me smile whenever I hear it and I recommend it very strongly.

David Marcus  
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