Gailfean, a word that means “rough weather” in Irish (Gaelic), is an Irish Traditional music group featuring All-Ireland champions Brian Conway, John Whelan, and Máirtín de Cógáin, and renowned musician and festival organizer Don Penzien. We came together in October 2012 at the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in Texas. Toward the end of the festival weekend, Hurricane Sandy landed in the northeast and prevented the four of us from traveling home. It was a remarkable, portentous moment because circumstance put the lot of us together on stage for the first time and we made good on the opportunity, finding tons of shared ground in each other’s music. The audience was delighted and when our set came to an end, we knew we had something special as a group and that a recording project was the logical next step.
The four of us are all well known in the traditional music community. Brian is a cornerstone of the vaunted New York/Silgo fiddling tradition and John grew up a young prodigy in England, who moved to the US and crossed over to the wild side of accordion playing in the 80s and 90s. Although Brian and John gel like brothers in their playing, they’ve never recorded together, so this project is an exciting first. Don, who for nearly three decades programmed CelticFest in Jackson, Mississippi, is the rare sort of guitar talent who plays firmly underneath the melody and never puts a chord in out of turn. He has extensive performance experience with Máirtín, the man from Cork. Máirtín is a renowned singer, musician, and storyteller – a true seanachaí – who channels his youthful energy and guile to evoke the aromatic images and sensory sounds of old Ireland. There’s a lot to love here, and we think we make a compelling combination!
The album will feature 11 tracks of vocal and instrumental music. The plan is to have it in your hands in time for St. Patrick’s Day, le cúnamh Dé. Have a look to the right of your screen and you’ll see a variety of different rewards and patronage levels to choose from that will help this project launch. We chose Kickstarter as our platform because we want to get people involved. It’s an effective way to garner support and to get the message about Gailfean out there. It also gives you fans an opportunity to get behind the band early and be rewarded for your patronage! We’re really excited about this Gailfean album – expect a lively enthralling journey through the Irish Diaspora with this Bonny Bunch of Roses, Oh!
Recording projects are expensive propositions, which is most important reason why we’ve embarked on this Kickstarter adventure. The funds accrued through this campaign will go to pay for studio time, mixing and mastering, artwork and graphic design and manufacturing costs, all of which are significant. Some of the funds will also be used to cover minimal travel costs for Máirtín and Don, who have had to fly (cheaply!) to New York to record. Add to all this Kickstarter’s administrative fees and you can get a sense of the financial mountain we’re climbing! Based on all this, we feel that $10,000 is a conservative figure, really the lowest amount we could raise and still make the album. We hope that you’ll recognize the value in what we’re doing and will want to be a part of our team of supporters!
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenges this band faces are time and distance. We all live in different places – John in Connecticut, Brian in New York, Máirtín in California and Don in North Carolina – and coordinating travel and studio time together has been a nightmare. Truth be told, we’ve been worried about our ability to realize this project from the outset, but months back we decided to test our resolve and get a head start with the recording. We’re happy to say we’ve been productive and already have the raw material for 9 of the 11 planned tracks “in the can”, with one more day in the studio with the full band scheduled for early December. Mixing and mastering don’t require that all of us be present, so we can wrap things up relatively quickly and expect the album to be ready for manufacture early in the new year. Our schedule, we feel, is robust and on track. We feel that we’ve minimized any risk our supporters might perceive and we’re confident in our ability to get this project over the line and out to you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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