Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Northern Ireland: Everywhere We Go.

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CD Booklet notes:

Willie Drennan Ulster Folk Band

 Northern Ireland: Everywhere We Go ... is the creation of life long Northern Ireland fan, and Ulster Scots musician, Willie Drennan.
The album is primarily a celebration of Northern Ireland’s fantastic achievement in reaching the EUFA Finals, for the first time, in 2016. It is also a celebration of our wee country: Northern Ireland.
It is a combination of new creations and traditional pieces that reflect the exceptional spirit of both the football team and their fans. You don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy the album – but it will help if you are.

Londonderry Air.
I had to give a lot of thought as to which title to use for this track.  The Londonderry Air is often mistakenly called Danny Boy as this is one of the several songs that have been set to this ancient air. These include a couple of hymns and a beautiful ballad called Derry Vale. There can be no dispute however that Danny Boy is by far the best known and therefore it is understandable why some people assume it is the name of the tune. And fair play to the Englishman who wrote the lyrics of this poignant, heart-wrenching classic but it doesn’t really have anything at all to do with Northern Ireland: and this is what this album is all about – Northern Ireland.
I also recall that in the early 1970’s some musicians began recording this air and naming it ‘The Derry Air’ and lots of people started to call it by that name. People do this sort of stuff in Northern Ireland. So to be politically correct and all-encompassing I considered calling it the Londonderry/Derry Air: or, the Derry/Londonderry Air: or, the Londonderry/Derry – Derry/Londonderry Air. But even that was never going to work and some folk would still be annoyed and offended that Londonderry came before Derry: or vice versa of course.
After having given considerable time in consideration of this I then realised that using Derry Air in this album would be inappropriate anyway as this album is all about Northern Ireland competing in the Euro 16 Finals in France and I learned when I was at school that the French also talk about their derry air but it has a totally different meaning. They possibly spell it different but it sounds the same. Therefore in respect of the French people and their language it could be confusing and considered distasteful.
So, Londonderry Air it is; which was actually my thought in the first place. While this ancient tune was played throughout Ulster, Ireland and Scotland, it was officially given this name when it was first published in Petrie’s ‘Ancient Music of Ireland’ in 1855.  It had been collected and notated by Jane Ross of Limavady, County Londonderry.
 This version has a distinct Ulster twist as it incorporates the Lambeg drum.
Words by Willie Drennan.

A common march played by Irish regiments of the British Army since the 19th Century. It would have been a popular tune during World War One.  In June 2016, one hundred years after the Battle of the Somme, isn’t it wonderful that today’s battles between European nations are being played out only on the football pitch?
It remains a very popular tune in Northern Ireland today as it was played by the Royal Irish Rangers. Its origins however are in Killaloe, County Limerick. So, if Republic of Ireland fans also want to lay claim to this tune that will be most welcomed.  This version includes some vocals. The lyrics may be challenging but once you have learned them you will never regret it. It is sung in the key of Da.

British Champions Evermore                                                                               British Cup

The annual British Home Championships lasted for 100 years and were last played in 1984. Northern Ireland were victorious that year. So, it really doesn’t matter how many goals anyone else ever scores against us we are most likely to remain British Champions for evermore. Yes the IFA still holds the British Cup.   Having said that: we do wish former British Home Championship competitors, England and Wales, much success in the 2016 Euros in France. And best wishes also to our neighbours, the Republic of Ireland. And as for Scotland, well … best wishes for success in 2020.
Words by Willie Drennan. Set to traditional air: “Jolly Beggarman”.

Northern Ireland to the Core (Special Windsor Roar)
Written and produced by Colin Agnew: the featured lead singer is Davy Sloan. This was a big hit among Northern Ireland fans when it was first released in 2009. This song captures the magic of the fighting spirit of the Northern Irish players of the past and more recent times.

St Patrick’s Day

Another tune used by Irish regiments of the British Army: in particular, it is the regimental march of the Irish Guards. It is also a popular Irish dance tune and so perhaps this is another tune that may also be claimed by our neighbouring football rivals in the Republic of Ireland.  They will also claim of course that Patrick is accredited for introducing Christianity to the whole island of Ireland. This is true, but worth pointing out that Patrick spent 6 years as a slave boy in County Antrim: and Down and Armagh was where he was based for his missionary work.
This arrangement brings in fiddle, bagpipes, and fifes with Lambeg drums.
My Aunt Jane
This version of the traditional Northern Ireland street song is for the football fans. Everybody in Northern Ireland has an Aunt Jane or at least a Great Aunt Jane. Don’t they??

Boys of Belfast
A popular fifing tune for the Lambeg Drum.  We’re throwing in this rocky version for the boys of Belfast who follow Northern Ireland.  Featured lead guitarist here is Sam Davidson.

Ulster Boy
Absolutely nothing to do with football but this is for the female football fans of Northern Ireland and of course the WAGS . Should give them something to contemplate and chatter about.  The writer has requested anonymity.

The Term ULSTER and Identity
For many people the term Ulster is synonymous with Northern Ireland: especially among Northern Ireland football fans. Others will challenge this, pointing out that three of the counties of Ulster are actually in the Republic of Ireland. This is of course accurate as Ulster is one of the four ancient provinces of Ireland. It has nine counties and with partition, in 1922, six of those counties became Northern Ireland while Counties Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal became part of the Free State  -  later the Republic of Ireland.

This explains why Loyalists from East Belfast and Irish Republicans from Tyrone or Cavan both see themselves as Ulster people. This can sometimes be contentious but for me this commonality should be highlighted as it demonstrates the sharing of an ancient identity.  After all, most of us were raired on the Ulster Fry for breakfast.
 Regardless of political beliefs, religion or cultural identity we should all be celebrating the fact that we are ALL Ulster people.

Song for Northern Ireland.
Celebrating the counties and marvellous geographical features of Northern Ireland  - as well as its marvellous football team.
Words and Music by Willie Drennan

 An Ulster Ode to All Europe 2016  [Ode to Joy by Ludwig Van Beethoven]
 Adopted by Council of Europe, which has 47 member states, in 1972.  It was later also adopted by the European Union with its 28 member states. We dedicate this Northern Irish version to all 54 nation states which are signed up to EUFA. In other words: to all the countries in Europe that have a football team. Can’t let the politicos grab all the good tunes.
While Beethoven may turn in his grave at the notion of his beautiful composition being played on Lambeg drum and fifes, I suspect he would have been favourable to having it connected to all people in Europe, as opposed to it being claimed by a political entity.
 This arrangement by Willie Drennan and Davy Angus features the Ulster Lambeg drum and fifes plus John Trotter on Trombone.

Spirit of the Bann
The River Bann flows right through the core of Northern Ireland. It arises in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains, flows through Lough Neagh and enters the Atlantic Ocean between Portstewart and Castlerock.   Five of the six counties of Northern Ireland: Down, Armagh, Tyrone, Londonderry and Antrim enjoy its glorious sight. Tributaries also form close to Fermanagh whose bountiful waters must surely at some point also seep or splash to impact upon the mighty Bann. And if not, water from the Fermanagh clouds certainly do. It therefore takes no great stretch of imagination to connect the Spirit of the Bann to the spirit of the people of Northern Ireland.
Words and music by Willie Drennan.

Sing along with Aunt Jane, everywhere we go.

A medley of tunes for some of the popular songs of Northern Ireland fans [Not Brazil/Steven Davis/ Bouncy/Everywhere We Go].  If you’re not sure of the words consult your Aunt Jane. Special thanks to artisan and Northern Ireland fan, Norman Quinn, for sharing his recording of “Everywhere We Go”, as sung by just about NI fan who attended the game against Hungary at Windsor Park. [https://www.facebook.com/NAQuinnPhotography/]

See LYRICS for words of new songs on this album.

Produced  by Willie Drennan for The Ulster Folk

Assistant producers: Davy Angus and John Trotter.

Engineered by Davy Angus and Sam Davidson.

Booklet design by Micah Jones: www.micahtjones.com

Recorded at Beachmount Studios, Donaghadee and Holywood Studios, Dundonald

Reproduced by CPR Studios, Bangor.

All new music and lyrics by Willie Drennan, except Northern Ireland to the Core: Colin Agnew.

Other music: Traditional.

Primary musicians:

 Willie Drennan: Vocals, flutes, banjolin, mandolin, fiddle, rope drum, Lambeg.

Davy Angus:  Flute, fife, double bass, vocals.

 John Trotter: Trombone, accordion, fiddle, fiddle.

 Other Featured Artists:

Sam Davidson: lead guitar on Boys of Belfast.

Davy Sloan: Lead vocals on Northern Ireland to the Core.

Ian Burrows: Highland Bagpipes on St Patrick’s Day.

Roger Ellis: (Nova Scotian singer/songwriter). Vocals on British Champions and Spirit of the Bann.

Caroline Drennan: Lead vocals on Ulster Boy.

Other Musicians Include:
Derek Montgomery: Vocals, drums and percussion.
Jim Cuthbertson: Drums and percussion.
John Wilson: Drums.
Gareth Fulton: Flute, vocals.
Klara Nelson: Vocals.
Choir of Windsor Park, Northern Ireland fans at Hungary game.

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