THE SONGS OF PADDY CAULFIELD
Paddy and Ros live at Napoleons, in the countryside outside Ballarat, Victoria. Paddy was born in 1947 in County Monaghan, in Ireland, a county up near the border with the North. He grew up on a farm in a family where traditional singing and fiddle playing were commonplace. The picture below shows a 5 year old Paddy with his fiddle, tapping his foot alongside his Uncle Tommy out the front of the family home.
Paddy sang a lot in pubs and family gatherings as a young man. When he and Ros met, they ended up coming back to her homeland, Australia. As life proceeded, singing became a less important thing. Getting his carpentry and building business going, and indeed building their own mudbrick home, took all their time.
When he retired from building, his sister at home suggested he should get back into singing. Paddy began to practice the old repertoire a bit and finally plucked up the courage to sing in public for the first time in around 40 years, at the Irish music session which takes place every Sunday afternoon at Irish Murphy's pub in Ballarat. After a few outings there, he and Ros became members of Creswick Folk Club, and he took his songs to another audience.
At the time, I was setting up the show about the life of local Creswick traditional musician Simmy McDonald, and I realised if I wanted the show to have some real traditional singing in it, Paddy could be the man!
Luckily, he agreed and we have shared the telling of Simmy's story at a few CresFest events now. One day, he mentioned to me that he had never heard his own voice, that he had never been recorded. I thought I could easily do something about that.
So a couple of days were set aside, and Paddy came to our home and sang around 20 songs, unaccompanied in the traditional style. We had a great couple of days recording, singing and chatting about the songs.
Many of the songs are from the border area around Co. Monaghan, and Paddy sings them as items of local historical importance from his family's own history. In the same way that most families have old photos of grandparents, Paddy has this repertoire of songs which reflect back on the history of that area and his family, where right into his grandparents' time, violent interactions with the 'Black and Tans' of the English army were commonplace, to say the least of it. As you'll hear Paddy say, there is a direct parallel between the behaviour of the English in Ireland and the terrible and shameful treatment of indigenous Australians happening at the same time.
This project started as a means of letting Paddy and his family and friends hear Paddy's voice, but by the time I had spent two full days listening to the beautiful, thoughtful and moving interpretations Paddy recorded, and listening to him talk about his songs and their history, it seemed to me the recordings were worthy of wider attention.
I added guitar, piano and a second voice to some of the songs, and Judy (Turner) added fiddle and viola. The experience of adding guitar and piano parts, from our rickety old upright piano, to free-form traditional singing is worthy of a few words. Suffice it to say, when singers are given the freedom to sing, to emphasize words and timing as the feeling takes them, then 'accompanying' is exactly what is required. Whereas in pop or country music, for example, the guitar player's job is to set up a regular timing for the singer to fit 'on top of', in this recording, my job was to listen hard as Paddy varied the length of lines and the way emphasis fell. It was a lovely and moving task. Paddy set the musical scene and Judy and I did our best to fit into it.
So now we have 14 songs ready for your attention.
You can listen to them on Spotify here. Be prepared for ads after every 15 minutes.
Or you can download them all for free here. https://www.neiladamandjudyturner.com/shop
Paddy and I hope you enjoy the world they take you into.
Neil Adam and Paddy Caulfield
Mungo Park Music, Newlyn, Victoria, Australia
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ANOTHER CRESFEST INITIATIVE