Denver Celtic Music

Colcannon’s new CD is a hit!

Written on 15 April 2017   By   in Albums, Celtic music, Irish music

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Colcannon out with a new CD, Wild Orchid. Photo courtesy of

Colcannon out with a new CD, Wild Orchid.
Photo courtesy of

Just got the new CD from Colcannon, “Wild Orchid,” and it’s classic Colcannon virtuosity that shines like new.


The opening (title) track sets the tone. Starting out slowly, with some excellent guitar work, it suddenly explodes into a full blown Colcannon instrumental extravaganza. This is quality Irish music music at its best, and really shows off the musical talents of this extraordinary group.


But Colannon are not just talented instrumentalists, as amply demonstrated by track two, that starts off with a touching folk song featuring the band’s frontman, Mick Bolger, called The Reason I Left Mullingar. A classic Irish tale of woe and poverty, it offers the essence of what Irish music is all about, and Mick is the storyteller/bard to carry it off. This is well-paired with another instrumental called The Left Handed Mill.


Track three is a classic reel set featuring McFadden’s Favorite, Castle Kelly, and Buckley’s Fancy, carried off as usual by the talented instruments of Colcannon. This set prominently features the band’s newest member, talented flautist Cynthia Jaffee, well-backed by the rest of the band in energetic fashion.


Then comes the lament. What else would you expect in Irish music? A sad tale of unrequited love, False, False echoes the cry of the jilted lover, and again features the voice of Mick Bolger, who can carry off a sad song as easily as the humorous ones he so enjoys.


Then we’re back to Cynthia’s flute talents, with Never Too Soon, a charming tune that will lighten your spirit, paired with The Blue Ducks, showing off the mandolin talents of Brian Mullins. A pair well worth a listen.


Botanic Endgame is an entertaining song, full of veiled references to the IRA, couched in a song purportedly about a chess match. If you love metaphors, this is right up your alley; and if not, it’s still a great song. See how many layers you can peel back.


Next we come to a fantastic arrangement of Turlough O’Carolan’s tune Planxty Irwin, which the multi-talented Mike Fitzmaurice has arranged into a fugue, and performs on the upright bass for which he is so justly famous. He’s put lovely accompaniment to the simple tune, featuring the very talented Jean Bolger on fiddle, along with Cynthia and Brian on flute and mandolin. If you ever wanted the baroque touch in Irish music, this is it.


If you’ve ever enjoyed an Irish seisún, Highlands will lighten your heart and get your toes a tapping. Quite a rousing set, and features all the band members blending their enthusiasm for this music in a very enjoyable way.


Then we have a contemplative song in the plaintive voice of Mick Bolger called January Man. It’s kind of an ode about the meaning of life, using the seasons of the year as a progressive metaphor to tell the story of the life of a man. This one will get you thinking (and feeling).


Shins by the Fireside and Red Stockings take us back to the instrumentals, but not in the manic mode of Highlands. These deceptively simple tunes really show off a deep appreciation for the heart of Irish music, something this group obviously values.


In An Paistín Fionn, Mick reminds us that he’s a native Irish speaker. This paean to the singer’s one true love speaks of her as the fair-haired one, and is very romantic. Mick carries it well, making the sentiment accessible even to those who don’t understand the Irish. Quite a brilliant song altogether.


Cynthia and Jean start off Ah, Surely, with their usual flair. This old Sligo reel is named after a man named Willie Snee, who purportedly played in as the last tune in a contest to see who had the most tunes. He claimed he had learned it from the little people, and you can hear their spirit in its music. It’s paired with an enjoyable reel called The Reconciliation, played ably by the group as a whole. An enjoyable short set.


We finish off this excellent album with a Colcannon original, Planxty Vicki Levine. There’s got to be a story behind that, which I hope Mick will add to the comments below. It’s a very soothing tune, again featuring all the artists, including Mike on the bass once again. A fitting conclusion to an excellent collection of music.


Visit Colcannon’s web site, where you can listen to and buy their music, and learn more about one of the most talented Irish bands in the Rocky Mountain west; maybe beyond. Their latest offering is only part of a long history of excellent music by this talented group. Check them out.

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