Category: Archive

Ceol: Circle unbroken for Chieftains

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The spark for “Another Country” can be traced back even further, to a one-track experiment, “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” the group recorded on “The Chieftains 10” in 1981. The musical bridge erected between that country dance tune and the Irish traditional reel “The Mountain Top” made for some spirited hijinks on “The Chieftains 10,” and the band, joined by then neo-traditionalist country star Ricky Skaggs, reprised the track with the same loose fervor on “Another Country.”
I suppose it’s inevitable that “Down the Old Plank Road” will be critiqued in light of the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack phenomenon. Even the liner notes are by the same person, Robert K. Oermann, whose grasp of Irish traditional music is much less assured than his grasp of country music. Oermann’s claim that “Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch & David Rawlings sound as if they’ve been strolling on the seaside rocks of Donegal all their lives” is just plain stupid and suggests he needs a crash course in that county’s tradition-rich music.
But dumb liner notes can’t dim the luster of the inspired links forged by the Chieftains with a host of real-deal luminaries in country, bluegrass, and alt-country. Platinum-selling country star Martina McBride sings a bittersweet 19th-century waltz, “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight,” with a simple, all-enveloping sway. Vince Gill, another country chart mainstay who’s played in the past with Bluegrass Alliance, Boone Creek, and Byron Berline’s Sundance, digs back into his Oklahoma roots for a compelling rendition of Merle Travis’s “Dark As a Dungeon,” nimbly fleshed out by B

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