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The Green House

Sleepy Creek Music SCM 102, March 2001
Grey Larsen: Irish flute, tin whistle, anglo concertina, harmonium, field organ, piano; Paddy League: bodhran, guitar
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By Ken Coles, March 2001

Larsen & League This new recording by Grey Larsen and Paddy League is indeed a welcome contribution from both musicians. Some of you may remember the group Metamora, of which Grey Larsen was a member. I myself got acquainted with his music about 1991, when a reissue of his first recording, Banish Misfortune with Malcolm Dalglish (1976), was the first CD this LP-bound Luddite ever bought. In it Larsen, then newly graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory, demonstrated just a few of his prodigious musical interests. I recently told Grey it is still one of my favorite albums (I play it a lot on my radio show), and he said, "Gee, that was a long time ago." Yet it has aged well and this album will too.

Paddy League plays a fluid and varied sounding bodhran -- it reminds one of the sounds of Indian tabla drums. His guitar backup is equally sensitive to the music. readers will be happy to hear that Paddy also plays anglo concertina (though not on this recording). I heard him in Fr. Coen's Swannanoa class in 2000 and he is already quite good.

Grey alternates between flute and whistle on some tracks and concertina (a 40-button Wheatstone D/A anglo) on others. He is best known for his flute work, and it is indeed outstanding, both the airs and the dance tunes. But I am very pleased that after all these years we have some solid tracks with his concertina. This include a set of slow jigs (track 2), the air Carolan's Draught (track 7, can you play along?), and some original tunes (on concertina on track 8). A little heard member of the free-reed family, the harmonium, is also on several tracks. The recording, made at Grey's studio, is clean and sharp, though the last instrumental track ends with a long silence on my copy. The twelve instrumentals are followed by three historic recordings of melodeon player Michael J. Kennedy, an early influence on Larsen.

Overall this is a very nice album of Irish and Irish-style music. If you are ever in Bloomington, Indiana, check out the sessions hosted by Grey: friendly to all levels and a rollicking good time.

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