The Unwanted: Music from the Atlantic Fringe (Whirling Discs) is an excellent new release that bridges the ocean separating traditional Irish from oldtime Appalachian music. The Sligo-based band consists of Dervish frontwoman Cathy Jordan, former Dervish member Seamie O’Dowd, and former Californian Rick Epping.
Historically, tunes and songs have crossed back and forth ever since Irish people first came to the New World. Many immigrants came across to get out from under the boot heels of landlords, priests, and factory bosses, and when they found similar situations in the big cities of the East Coast, they moved up into the Appalachian hills, where they could find the freedom they craved. There, the fiddle-based tunes they brought with them absorbed African blues influences to become what we now call old-time mountain music, then bluegrass, and eventually today’s country music. The old songs became unaccompanied ballads that shared melodies and verses with their Old World ancestors. Now we see a reverse flow from Appalachia back to Ireland, where musicians and fans are reviving the old-time American repertoire like never before. The Unwanted are an example of the Irish showing us Americans how to do it right.
This song is the hybrid of an air composed by New England fiddler Pete Sutherland, and traditional lyrics that date back to the Civil War, found in a book called “Ozark Folksongs.” Three cheers for the Unwanted! Fiddlefreak recommended.