ATHY musician Brian Hughes is rightly acclaimed as one of the very best exponents of the tin whistle.
Now Brian is bringing the music back home at a free concert in Athy Library on Saturday 14 October when his new album This Day 20 Years will be launched.
The October 1997 release of his widely acclaimed Whistle Stop album established Brian in the world of traditional Irish music.
Since then he has recorded five albums, one of which was a major musical suite which he composed for uilleann pipes, whistle and orchestra. Each album was met with huge critical acclaim.
His new album is a fantastic celebration of his 20 year recording career and features a selection of tracks from the albums that span his recording career.
Whistle Stop was released on the Gael Linn label and was a major success, receiving fantastic reviews from critics at home and abroad. From that moment on, the name Brian Hughes was to become well known particularly among whistle players far and wide.
The spotlight however, and the inevitable attention he would receive, never sat comfortably on his shoulders, and he was once described by a music critic as an amazing musician who is “seldom heard and lesser seen”. Never the less, Brian Hughes has now produced the greatest body of whistle music ever recorded. He is a deeply rooted musician, and is certainly regarded as one of the greatest exponents of the tin whistle worldwide.
Now 20 years on from that stand out debut recording the new album includes tracks which Brian recorded on uilleann pipes. Newly composed tunes sit comfortably alongside tunes from the depth of tradition. The fluency and empowerment of his playing sparkles on the reels, jigs and polkas, and his inexplicable lonesome touch and magical phrasing on the airs, unlocks the haunting beauty of these amazing, mystical melodies.
Brian explained why he made the recording.
“The album 20 years ago did very well and sold really well here in Ireland, across Europe and in the United States. It also led to me being established as a highly rated whistle player. Because it is 20 years it was said to me that because I had recorded so much stuff that I should do something to mark the occasion,” said Brian.
“Some of the tracks on the new album are whistle tunes and some are pipe tunes. I have been lucky enough to have played with some excellent musicians over the years and on the night of the concert some of them will join me at Athy Library on 14 October. One of those is Seán McElwain, a guitar player from the band Teada and another is bodhrán player Colm Murphy from Portlaoise.”
Local musicians will also be joining him at the gig. “These would be musicians I would have played with over the years in sessions and I am looking forward to playing with them again. The album includes a mixture of trad stuff that I have recorded over the years to classical stuff that I would have done for the Shackleton project. I want to issue an invitation to everyone to come along to the free gig to come to celebrate having recorded at that level.”
Following the launch in Athy Brian will travel to London where he will have a UK launch for This Day 20 Years at the Return to Camden Town music festival where he will also teach master classes on the last weekend of October.
The CD will be available for purchase on www.cic.ie for the general public and in record shops nationwide.