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Media Quotes and Reviews

Aidan O'Hara

"Sing a song, hum a tune, do a dance, or leave the room," is a saying in Newfoundland when the party (or 'time' or 'kitchen racket') is getting under way. It means that the floor is open to anyone who wants to perform, and those words are meant as encouragement to all present to do something to contribute to the occasion. And reflecting Newfoundland's seafaring culture, you'll hear the line, "He's not much of a hand to sing but he's a great hand with his feet." It isn't a party at all there unless someone 'does a few scuffs' and when dance music is played - on 'the box' inevitably - it's for dancing to.

Tony O'Leary is a resident of Western Bay Newfoundland and he is very much in the mould of the typical musician/performer of the Irish/Newfoundland music style of playing on the box. His love of music started at a young age when he began playing the accordion and as he got older he picked up the mandola, mandolin and guitar. Tony tells us, "The new CD, Pump the Box, is dedicated to all the transient workers both past and present who travelled many miles to earn a living for their families. It just ain't easy."

Featured on the CD are some of east coast Canada's top musicians, Ian Chipman, Jerry Strong, Mike Doyle, Glen Hiscock and Rob Brown. Rob plays the uilleann pipes, and the CD notes have this very special piece of information: "The pipes on this CD were made by Neil O'Grady of Carbonear, Newfoundland. It marks the first time that locally-made Irish pipes have appeared on a local Newfoundland CD." This is indeed a momentous event, because when I lived in the province in the seventies, the pipes were not seen or heard except on the rare occasion when visiting pipers came to the island. I remember well the impact piper Eamonn Curran made when he was guest of the Irish Week committee in 1978. He was there with Reel Union who included Dolores Keane, John Faulkner, Jackie Daly, and Jackie Small.

The mix of material on the CD reflects very well the trad music taste of Newfoundlanders and consists of familiar Irish songs and dance tunes, and locally composed numbers. Tony has written two of the songs himself, and a couple of dance tunes, as well. There is no region in North America that is so rich in traditional music, song, and dance as Newfoundland and Labrador (the official name of the province). The survival of a strong folk tradition can be attributed to the scattered settlement pattern along the island's 6,000 miles of coastline, and the fact that people have lived there for upwards of four hundred years relatively isolated from the outside world. Tony's CD is proof that the tradition is alive and well.

Congrats,and I hope you have great success with it.

Copyright © Tony O'Leary.
All Rights Reserved.
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