Born in Kerry and raised in West Limerick, Tim Collins has been based in Clare for the last decade or so, but his musical heart lies in the Sliabh Luachra region. Surprisingly, however, though he has brought many a slide or polka to the Kilfenora Céilí Band during his membership over the last few years, ten of the tracks on his debut album, Dancing on Silver, feature reels, jigs or hornpipes. Indeed, the remaining five tracks include only one set each of slides, polkas and slip jigs, plus two slow airs.
No matter, for Dancing on Silver reveals a delightfully dextrous musician with a keen ear for a tune and one ever content to absorb himself in each melodic twist and turn without ever losing sight of its essential rhythm. All such combines, for instance, on the reels Seán Mháire Mhicilín, First Month of Spring and Ann McKeekney’s. The first of that trio derives from another superbly talented concertina player, Micheál Ó Raghallaigh, with whom Tim shares the ability to transform the instrument into an exquisite medium for the playing of airs. One such tune, Ní ar Chnoc ná ar Ísleacht, is simply spellbinding and was learnt from the Leitrim piper Brian McNamara whom himself features on a skittish set of reels.
Indeed, Tim has chosen his musical partners wisely and his guests include Alec Finn on bouzouki, pianists Brian McGrath and Padraic O’Reilly, harper Fionnuala Rooney and Kevin Murphy on bodhrán, not forgetting his own wife, accordionist Claire Griffin.
As for those aforementioned slides, look no further than a scintillating set featuring Tim’s own tune The H Note, while the polkas include Tom Billy’s.
The liner booklet includes a two-page introduction from Gearóid Ó hAllmurháin and extensive notes on all the tunes, providing a fitting complement to this utterly engaging album.
17th January, 2005
Tim’s website is www.timcollins-concertina.com.