Brian Conway


First Through The Gate


Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40481; 56 minutes; 2002



Born in New York, Brian is widely acknowledged as one of the best Irish-style fiddle players in the US and as a leading exponent of the so-called New York Sligo style, inherited from great players of the 1920s like Michael Coleman, James Morrison, Paddy Killoran, and Lad O'Beirne through the next generation of players represented by Andy McGann and Martin Wynne. Conway's highly ornamented, fluid, yet bouncy playing is in evidence throughout, and his choice of tunes makes frequent references to the early sources of his music, the 78 recordings of the great Sligo masters.


A magical sound is heard on the duets with Andy McGann, one of his mentors, or Patrick Mangan, a former star pupil who won the All-Ireland title at age 10, and on the trio tracks where Conway combines forces with both McGann and Mangan. Conway pays tribute to the late Martin Wynne, another most important influence in his development as a fiddle player, by playing four reels composed by Wynne. Throughout, stellar accompaniments are provided by Felix Dolan (piano), Mark Simos and John Doyle (guitars), Pat Kilbride (cittern), and Myron Bretholz (bodhran, bones). An exceptional album of genuine traditional music.


This review was written originally by Philippe Varlet for his Celtic Grooves newsletter and the CD is available from Philippe at that site.



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