CD Review, Irish Music Magazine.SHASKEEN
Walking Up Town
Own Label CDFA3515
Formed in London in 1970, at a time when Irish Traditional Music was at its peak, Tom Cussen responded to a request from the owner of the Oxford Tavern in Kentish Town to put a band together to play on Friday nights. Now hundreds of Friday nights later they are still a force in live music.
It’s not easy to sum up the thirty-nine years of music making and entertainment that Shaskeen have been at the forefront of Irish Traditional Music. Listening to their new CD, ‘Walking Up Town‘, it is clear they are going to be leading the way for quite a while yet.
Having been caught up, like many musical groups, in the whirlwind of the set-dancing era, Shaskeen’s last four albums were of music for the sets. Now they are making a change to concert style performances. At the core of the band are Tom Cussen on banjo, Eamonn Cotter on flute, Patsy McDonagh on accordion, Johnny Donnellan on bodhrán, Pat Costello on banjo, mandolin and guitar, Pat Broderick on pipes and whistle, Tony Howley on flute and saxophone and Geraldine Cotter on piano. Geraldine accompanied Shaskeen on all their recordings for the sets and is now a regular in the band. Pat Costello has a long involvement with Shaskeen having produced many of their recordings before becoming a regular band member.
This CD is produced by P.J. Curtis and engineered by by Martin O’Malley/Paul Mulligan in the west of Ireland (Kinvara and Miltown Malbay). The band welcome guests Seán Tyrrell and Seán Conway on board for some songs but, at the heart album, number fifteen marks a return to their original musical formula. It’s an album ‘for listening to’ and features a generous collection of jigs, reels, waltzes, polkas, barndances, and songs. The title tune ‘Walking up Town‘ is an American ‘breakdown‘, a fun rag-style tune. It’s probably the best summing up the band could ask for.