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World Music CD Reviews Celtic & Irish

Paul Brock & Edna Scahill

By Paula Kirman
Published January 14, 2008

Humdinger
Compass

Early Irish music in the United States brought together people from a common culture in taverns and dancehalls, as much as it preserved musical tradition. Paul Brock and Enda Cahill present the music of Irish immigrants on Humdinger. Instrumentally stripped down, it’s also a revolutionary recording in a way: it’s the first CD of traditional Irish music performed on the melodeon (akin to a button accordion) and the banjo. Bolstered by Ryan Molloy on piano and Tommy Hayes on percussion, Humdinger is an album that contains some tracks fans of Irish music will recognize, such as the oft-covered “I’ll Tell Me Ma,” but the arrangements bring a freshness to the genre. There is, of course, a definite folk influence, as well as jazz, swing and other styles with which Irish-American musicians would have become familiar after coming to America. Humdinger is much more than music—it is a history lesson.