Rhythm Nation: Tim Edey

Rhythm Nation: Tim Edey
The folk star, Tim Edey, talks about the songs that have had the greatest influence on him over the years

“The nicest man in folk,” is how Tim Edey, the multi-instrumentalist, was once described by BBC DJ Mark Radcliffe. Born to Irish parents in Kent, he has toured and recorded with many Celtic music greats including the Chieftains, Christy Moore, Natalie MacMaster, Dougie MacLean and Frankie Gavin. He’s also shown great courage in overcoming personal problems including childhood bullying, panic attacks and an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) diagnosis.

“OCD and anxiety often go hand in hand with creativity,” he has said. “The positive thing is my music – music makes it right!”

Edey is currently performing as part of a Music Network tour of Ireland, playing with fiddle player, singer and step-dancer Mairi Ranking and cellist Eric Wright. Here is a playlist of tracks that have inspired him over the years, along with his reasons why.

1. Séamus Begley & Stephen Cooney: The Strathnairn

I learned to play Irish music on the box and guitar from listening to Begley and Cooney’s album Meitheal. Imagine driving east to west, crossing the border from Limerick into Kerry. Take in the view of the mountains and the windmill at Blennerville while you head along the moody, magical peninsula of An Daingean. This set of polkas paints a clear picture of that renowned cultural Gaeltacht for me, no matter where I am in the world.

2. Dougie MacLean: Talking With My Father

I love songs that tell a story and transport you to another place. This one from Dougie’s album Essential Too really moves me. The trouble is, he’s written so many standouts that it’s very hard to pick a favourite.

3. Capercaillie: Maideanan na h-Airidh

Capercaillie have been the constant soundtrack to my life since I was a teenager in Kent, an area not renowned for its Celtic music. My parents and friends were always getting me Irish and Scottish LPs, including Capercaillie’s The Blood is Strong. Karen Matheson’s vocals are very special – she has a gift and a deep connection to her Scottish west coast language.

4. Enda McCabe: If My Skin Was Green

A song that deals with a difficult topic – this one is close to my heart and also perhaps my mother’s. When you have to leave your home nation for work, return visits can be very emotional. That feeling of, “I’m from here but I no longer have my accent”, is something I know many Irish people experience.

5. Pádraig Rynne, Dónal Lunny, Jim Murray, Tara Breen: The Silver Strand / Caha Mountains / McGovern’s (from the album Nasc)

County Clare produces some of Ireland’s best musicians and this compilation is on my driving playlist at the moment. Well played, well recorded – it represents everything good about Irish ceol.

6. The Chieftains: O’Sullivan’s March

My mother’s parents were from Carlow and Cork, but moved to London to find work in the 1960s. When we visited their home on Sundays, the Chieftains or James Galway would often be playing. I got a phone call around 12 years from Paddy Moloney himself, who needed a guitarist for a UK tour – it led to many gigs with them around the world. I will be eternally grateful for his kindness, encouragement and inspiration.

7. Django Reinhardt: I Got Rhythm

I Got Rhythm is probably my earliest musical memory of hearing my dad play guitar. He listened to Django’s music almost 24/7 in those days. I’m definitely a swing gypsy jazz lover, it’s in my DNA.

8. Steve Cooney: An Spéic Seoigeach

As a teenager I would eagerly await the next album that Steve Cooney had produced or played on. I dreamed of the day he would release a totally solo record, and finally he did! Ceol Ársa Cláirsí: Tunes of the Irish Harpers for Solo Guitar is sheer perfection.

9. Mary Black: Schooldays Over

This song by the late, great folk legend Ewan MacColl has been sung by many people, but for me this version really nails it. Mary Black sets a standard for all of us mere mortal singers to follow.

10. Sharon Shannon and Dreamers’ Circus: Harmony Hall

I wouldn’t be writing these words if it wasn’t for Sharon Shannon. Her music is the best natural anti-depressant I have ever found – it’s got me through many dark times. This recent track recorded with Danish nu-folk stars Dreamers’ Circus really gave me hope on the first day of lockdown when it felt like the world was over.

Tim Edey’s Music Network tour with Mairi Rankin and Eric Wright runs from 5 - 13 May with performances at Dún Laoghaire, Stradbally, Baltimore, Clifden, Dublin, Listowel, and Baile Mhúirne. For full details, see musicnetwork.ie. To hear his playlist, visit the Business Post page on Spotify

*Article by Andrew Lynch Sunday Business Post 05/05/2022