Earlier this year I was at the Buffalo Irish Festival and had a blast playing lots of music and meeting some great acts including the Steel City Rovers and The Spain Brothers and even played some hurling. Before we left myself and The Byrne Brothers (super-talented family band) went to see The Sullivans naval vessel DD537 which is now docked in Buffalo.
Shamrock on the Deck of USS The Sullivans DD537
We were intrigued by the painting of a Shamrock on the deck and knew there must be an Irish connection. While we were aboard getting a tour, the unique story of the Sullivans Brothers was told to us, how Iowa brothers joined the navy in WW2 after Pearl Harbor, how they stuck together and served together on the Juneau and all went down together too. Tragic. Tommy (The Byrne Father!) said “Enda I feel a song coming on!” (Thanks Tommy!) and by the time I got back to Michigan I had a chorus.
I did my research then and the song took shape. It turned into a sea shanty and felt right sung acapella. I got some feedback from Paul and Shane in the Buffalo Naval Park which helped ensure that I had the story right.
The Sullivans at Sunset with buffalo Skyway
When recording it I did multiple overdubs to make it feel like the 5 brothers singing but somehow that just wasn’t working so I went back to acapella, which is what you’ll hear on the recording. I had the good fortune to be able to share the song at The Milwaukee and Michigan Irish Music Festivals thereafter. Someday it’d be magic to hear a group of brothers singing it!
The 13th of November is the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the Juneau, the ship the Sullivans served on, so I am releasing it just before as it seems a commemorative occasion to do so.
I’ve been putting melodies to Yeats’ poetry since my leaving cert and I’ve been lucky to perform some of those works around Ireland, England Denmark, India, Tokyo and now at Irish festivals in the USA.
Album cover for the new WB Yeats album
My WB Yeats collaborations have been with Stephen James Smith, Cathal Quinn, Guthanna Binne Síoraí, Gabriel and Tristan Rosenstock, The Mongrels, Séamus Barra Ó Súilleabhán and Mary Tyler. I thank them all for the insights I gained while working with them.
To The Waters and The Wild is a selection from all those projects some of which you may have heard on the Bandcamp-only release Whorls. Others such as September 1913 and The Lake Isle of Innishfree have been added by popular demand and a new one The Faery Song with bodhrán is in there to freshen it up a bit!
I think it makes for a stimulating 30min listen and hopefully it will open the door for you to the world of WB Yeats if you aren’t familiar with him, or give you a different perspective if you are already familiar.
Add to your playlists on Spotify, share and enjoy, thanks! For the CD and download go to the Album page!
I performed this at last weeks Live Stream and thought why not put it on Spotify for you all to listen to. I’ve been focused a lot on the Live Streaming and the videos so I’ll be refocusing on the audio in future. This old chestnut as someone called it earlier is a great song by Percy French and deserves more singing!
That feeling of excitement that we got as kids in the run up to Christmas is a special thing, going to meet family, religious events, cards coming in the mail all building up to the excitement of Christmas Day. With events happening on zoom and delivery vans dropping by every hour and plenty of various restrictions no matter where you are in the world this year is different but even in this context I hope you feel the excitement of the days counting down.
Conceived, written, recorded and mastered by myself in 13 days in Dec 2020. I began to write the songs for this Christmas Album in a hospital carpark (due to Covid restrictions) in Michigan as I was waiting for my wife’s procedure to be completed.(All went well and she is recovering!) So what brought on the Christmas Songs? It’s been a few years since I wrote a Christmas Song, (Some of you might remember Christmas Wings?), so in the back of my mind I guess I was looking for angles to tackle the subject. And then in the course of a few days the concepts came out and were developed in the studio with overdubs etc. I wasn’t sure if all five new songs would make the cut but I’m proud of them all so I hope you like them. It’s important for me to be as truthful as I can about my beliefs and I didn’t want to do a one dimensional Christmas album. As I mention in one song “I’m not sure if I believe in Christmas” but that doesn’t mean I can’t join the chorus and enjoy this traditional celebration. I hope this collection of Christmas songs gets you in the spirit of Christmas and makes you think about your connection with it.
The fact that I won’t make it home to Ireland this year is tough but then again does it really matter where we are in the world with lockdowns etc. happening due to covid? We need to stay connected with friends and family in the new ways imposed upon us and keep enjoying the music old and hopefully new. Happy Christmas Everyone!