The Wheels of the World - Colin Harper, John McSherry
The Wheels of the World: 300 Years of Irish Uilleann Pipers - Colin Harper with John McSherry
THE LATE JEAN RITCHIE DOING THE FIELD RECORDING ON THE COVER
One chanter, three drones, three regulators, thirteen keys, too many near-extinctions to mention and 300 years of heroes: that, with a frisson of fairies on moonlit knolls, is the Irish uilleann pipes. The Wheels Of The World presents an epic tale of triumph and survival, where the soulful heart of a nation has been kept alive across ages by a slender thread of guardians blind men, eccentrics, self-aggrandisers, noble heroes, bloody-minded revivalists and at least three people compared to Jimi Hendrix.
Uilleann piping is Ireland's equivalent to the story of the blues in America, save that here the trail of legends and lore is richer and deeper by far. It is the sound of eighteenth century blues a micro-tonal virtuoso machine wielded by misfits and geniuses, often one and the same.
This is the story of a continuum, from John McSherry, a 21st century luminary, backwards in time through his three formative heroes Paddy Keenan, Liam O'Flynn and Finbar Furey and thence to Seamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Johnny Doran, Leo Rowsome, Patsy Touhey and a litany of unrecorded legends before them. It is also a snapshot of professional Irish traditional musicians, after the goldrush of the late 20th century, keeping calm and carrying on.
A history of an instrument and its players, from the present day back through the dawn of recorded sound into Irish musical history, lore and legend.
Interviewees include Finbar Furey, Eddie Furey, Paddy Keenan, Liam O'Flynn, Andy Irvine, Bob Davenport, Donal Lunny, Peggy Seeger, Martin Carthy, Paddy Glackin, Reg Hall, Michael McGoldrick, Brian Vallely, Bill Leader, Kevin Burke, Helena Rowsome, Patrick Sky, Wilbert Garvin, Neil Martin and many more. Research was carried out at: BBC Written Records Archive, Caversham; British Library, London; and Irish Traditional Music Archive, Dublin. Nearly 60 images, many unpublished, are included.
New and highly accurate transcriptions of 25 John McSherry tunes (both original and trad arr) made by John Riddell
Extensive discographies and sessionographies of many of the pipers profiled in the book, including much hitherto unpublished information
Authorised reprints of two Melody Maker in-depth features by Colin Irwin: The Bothy Band (1976) and Liam O'Flynn (1978)
Colin Harper wrote professionally on music for The Independent, Irish Times, Mojo and other titles during the 1990s. He is the author of Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British folk and blues revival (Bloomsbury, 2000; revised 2006 and 2011) and Bathed In Lightning: John McLaughlin, the 60s and the Emerald Beyond (Jawbone, 2013). John McSherry has been a leading professional piper for the past 20 years. A founder member of Lunasa and Coolfin, he continues to tour internationally with his bands At First Light and The Olllam.