I started working on this CD in 2006 right after the completion of a CD for a project that was called MetalKelt. The MetalKelt CD is something at this point I would rather put behind me as a lesson learned. That was what I shouldn’t have done. It is well done, in terms of musicality, vocally…. well let’s just say I needed to refine my vocal technique and style a LOT!
That version of the CD got scrapped because at the time, I started working on putting together Ar Eigean Gael and the time invested in that project took me away from worrying about solo stuff . So I put the CD on hold for awhile. I also discovered that I wanted it to be more than just guitar and vocal. I wanted to add additional instrumentation to give the songs more flavor so to speak.
In between 2006 and now I have put out two other CD’s with two other projects. Good Drinking Weather for Ar Eigean Gael and Running at a Slant for Off Keel. I also had this CD mostly done in 2009 until the hard drive on my Macintosh fried. I lost all of that hard work! I was starting to think that this project would never get done! After recording Running at a Slant, I started working on this CD again, feeling it was time to get it done. I also had a ton of originals lying around that didn’t fit in with what Off Keel is. So I figured I’ll just throw them on this CD.
Now the name of the CD is One October Night, why the title you might ask? A lot of my friends know the story behind the name, but for those who don’t, I started playing Irish music One October Night in 2005 at a gentlemen’s house by the name of Bob Dublin. I had never met him before that night, but at his house I “performed” for the first time. I knew one Irish song (Back Home in Derry) and was asked by Luci Tedesco to play the song with her. Apparently it was a favorite of hers when she played with The Wild Geese band. So I played the song with her and it went over well with everyone there. I was encouraged enough to start learning how to play more songs. So me being here playing this music is all because of that One October Night.
This CD is an eclectic mix in terms of subject matter. The songs range from rebel tunes, paying tribute to our troops and other Fallen Heroes to songs about Hobbits and Elves. So let’s get to the notes about individual songs, I hope that I have made the story to the making of this CD interesting!
Broad Black Brimmer: A good rousing rebel tune! I first heard this song on Terry Griffith’s CD Songs from the Pub. I decided to learn it shortly after. The arrangement on guitar came from a riff I was playing around with and realized that it hooked into this song perfectly. Sue added Mandolin on this track.
Come Out You Black and Tans: Another rousing rebel tune. I’ve always liked this song for its pure energy. It is also one of the angriest rebel tunes ever written. I kept this version pretty stripped down with just guitar, bass and Bodhran. No backing vocals either.
Flower of Scotland: This was a tune I was introduced to by the Brobdingnagian Bards on their CD Real Men Wear Kilts. I rather liked their arrangement and kept mine pretty similar. Sue played fiddle on this tune. I particularly like the kind of floating line she plays between the verses. When Ar Eigean Gael was playing the Pittsburgh Renaissance Faire, we played this at closing gate for Jan Griffith who was Queen Margaret of Scotland. The song itself is about Robert the Bruce.
Ye Jacobites by Name: Written by Scotland’s National Poet, Robert Burns. I like this tune at the tempo I am playing it at, ie a mid tempo song. Sue did Mando on this song, it was her idea to carry the melody at the beginning with it! I love the way it sounds. She also asked to do backing harmonies on the chorus, again she did a fantastic job!
Forest’s Lament: A song based in the Lord of the Rings where the Elves are leaving Middle Earth and going west. This is however from the perspective of the trees. The Elves are leaving and taking their magic with them. The Forest is dying and being removed by Man as the Elves are no longer there to protect it. Sue did Fiddle and backing vocals on this song. She brought a lot of ideas to this song, including the spoken part in Elven at the end of the song. Her fiddle playing conveys the sadness of the trees very well throughout this song. The song, however, is incomplete. At some point the file on my computer went goofy. Thankfully, I had already gotten a good mix down of the song. I was thinking of adding a drum kit to keep time and keys doing ambient effects kind of floating through the song. I may rerecord it again in the future to get the rest of these pieces in.
An Unexpected Party: This is directly from The Hobbit. The title is as I recall the same as that of the chapter. I wrote this song several years ago. Marc Gunn was asking for ideas for Hobbit drinking songs and I sat down on the old Bards forum and wrote this out. The last verse was added later to give the song the feel of someone telling the story much later on. Thus also why Bilbo is “eager” to go on the adventure. Sue did Mando on the song and came up with the bouncy reel in the instrumental sections.
Ballad of Robin Hood: I get ideas for songs sometimes when I am half asleep. This was one of those occasions. Ar Eigean Gael was performing at the Ren Faire and we incorporated this song pretty quickly. It has an audience participation part that we wanted to include. The first verse and chorus were running through my head at about three in the morning or so and wouldn’t leave. I knew I had to get out of bed and start writing it down. (mental note put notepad next to bed!) Sue recorded fiddle on this track and I’m really wishing I had left her room for a solo. Listen closely to what she is playing, it absolutely rocks! She did a great job playing this for the CD. This is another tune that may get redone down the line to include a lead break for her to show off a bit!
Return of the King: I originally wrote this song as a simple story. The rhythm is based upon a song by Falconer called Quest for the Crown. This song took on additional meaning to friends of mine. John did the spoken part of the deposed, then reinstated King in the song. He also added his vocal talents to the choruses. Sue again did fiddle. I particularly like her playing in between the verses. A great lead!
Spancil Hill: I first heard this song on a cassette of an anonymous band. I fell in love with the tune. After some messing around with it I finally found the right key. This song is tough for me vocally and there are times it gives me fits. I think I rerecorded the vocals four or five times to get it right. Certain sections probably close to or over a dozen takes! Sue did the fiddle on this song. I remember when we were recording it. She did a lead break that neither of us were feeling was quite right. I kind of explained what I wanted the solo to convey, that being longing and dreaming for a lost love. She ripped the solo and that is the take that is on the CD.
Fighting 69th: A civil war tune about the 69th New York regiment of the United States Army. They were given their nickname by Robert E. Lee. It was said at the end of the Civil War (War of the States if you prefer) that the reason the North won was that they had more Irish fighting for them! The guitar part at the beginning, middle, and end of the song are a riff I came up with. The song carries the same melody as Star of the County Down. For me the martial feel of this riff made it a perfect addition to this tune! Sue did two fiddle takes. I used both of them in those sections and switched back to one track for the rest of the song.
The Lady Banshee: The Banshee is a creature out of Irish legend. The closer history of the Banshee (bean sídhe in Irish) reveals that they were closely associated with certain families and would foretell the death of a family member. My lyrics are more in line with the fantasy interpretation, that being an undead creature that can kill with its keen.
The Yarnspinner: This is the third song I wrote after starting to learn Irish tunes. I had read a book called Ireland: A Novel by Frank Delaney. I liked the idea of the roaming storyteller. I didn’t know what they were called, Bob Dublin supplied me with the title of the song. Bob was in his own way a Yarnspinner. He knew many tales and myths of Ireland and posted many of them on an Irish forum a friend of mine had started. This song is dedicated to him.
Scotland the Whiskey and the Moon: This started off at the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival two years ago. Sean O’Donnell was playing the pipes and I asked if I could join him. The only tune we knew in common was Scotland the Brave. I would play guitar and he would pipe the tune. He came to me in 2010 and asked if I could do Whiskey in the Jar in Bb. Shortly after that we started jamming from Scotland the Brave into Whiskey in the Jar. A couple weeks later I heard him doing Rising of the Moon/Wearing of the Green. We modified it to the way I play Rising of the Moon and the trio was born! I was pretty much done with the CD at this point, it was going to be a 13 track CD. I wanted one more and asked Sean if he would like to record it. He said yes immediately. I brought him in to record the pipes and he nailed it!
Fallen Heroes: This song was written shortly after three Pittsburgh Police Officers lost their lives in a senseless episode of violence. The song encompasses those who serve the public, often without thanks. For the first verse I am recalling storming the beach at Normandy where Allied forces started to turn the tide of the war. The second verse has a personal feel to it. My family lost a house to a fire in 1998 and the Firefighters are people I always admire. Thankfully there was no loss of human life that day, but it does happen. I played this song at the Harp and Fiddle a few weeks after it was written. One of my friends who was in the audience came over to me and told me her father is a firefighter and that the verse is very accurate. Last verse is directly about what happened in Stanton Heights. The officer dies for no good reason, but to protect innocent lives. If guns were used wisely by all who carry them, things like this would never occur!
Return of the King (Metal Version): I grew up listening to Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. This will be reappearing on my pending CD Renaissance Steel. I wanted to record this song for a while this way. I love the bells that are in the intro and outro. The opening section with the 12 string reminds me of the Megadeth tune “In My Darkest Hour” The galloping section in the middle was directly influenced by a song called “Quest for the Crown by a really cool Swedish band named Falconer. My favorite line in the song is still the first line of the chorus. Just makes me smile when I hear it or sing it!