THIS AL­BUM CHANGED MY LIFE TOMMY PEO­PLES & PAUL BRADY – ‘THE HIGH PART OF THE ROAD’ (1976)

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THETAKE CRITICS’ CHOICE -

Sam Ami­don

When I was 14 years old, I was at a folk-mu­sic camp in up­state New York. My fid­dle teacher Sue Stern­berg sim­ply said to me, “You have to hear Tommy Peo­ples.” I bought the CD, brought it back to my tent, put it in my Dis­c­man, head­phones on, and closed my eyes.

The sec­ond track that came on was the slip jig The Kid on the Moun­tain, with Paul Brady on gui­tar. Tommy’s tone was hol­low in a way that sug­gested end­less depths be­low; his rhythm was deeply swing­ing; and he had a way of push­ing and pulling the melody with his phras­ing that made you feel like the meta­phys­i­cal struc­ture of time it­self was be­ing al­tered and shifted. He had those deep, cut­ting triplets that tick­led the base of the spine each time. He was play­ing tra­di­tional melodies and not vary­ing them greatly, yet some­how the mu­sic felt ut­terly per­sonal, orig­i­nal, im­pro­visatory. It had a raw, hard­core qual­ity and yet was also light and lyri­cal. An­cient to the fu­ture, tra­di­tional and some­how ex­per­i­men­tal and alive.

De­spite the fact that my al­bums have on the sur­face lit­tle to do with Tommy Peo­ples – I sing and play gui­tar and banjo on al­bums of re­worked Ap­palachian folk songs with ex­per­i­men­tal el­e­ments and col­lab­o­ra­tions with mu­si­cians of var­i­ous stripes – I still con­sider Tommy my fun­da­men­tal in­flu­ence, his phras­ing on the fid­dle af­fect­ing mine as a singer, his abil­ity to con­vey his per­son­al­ity through pre-ex­ist­ing melodies a fun­da­men­tal inspiratio­n to what I have tried to do in my way on my al­bums.

Sam Ami­don tours Ire­land in June, with dates in Inish­bofin , Tralee,Clon­akiltyandL­im­er­ick. Forde­tails,seesamami­don.com

- In con­ver­sa­tion with Niall Byrne

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