The Long Hard Road is Tom McElvogue’s debut album and our album of the week! What’s unusual about this album is that Tom has been composing tunes for over twenty-five years for the likes of Michael McGoldrick, Kevin Crawford, Karen Tweed, and Kathryn Tickell. To say this album is long awaited is an understatement. Blood sweat and tears have gone into it’s making, Tom’s attention to detail and perfectionism has resulted in a perfectly recorded legacy for the future which will finally introduce his music to Irish music lovers worldwide!
The Long Hard Road is a drop of the pure stuff, it features both traditonal and new compositions played on Flutes with Bouzouki, Guitar and Bodhrán accompaniment from Paddy Kerr. The album kicks off with Master McDermott’s / Gan Ainm / Swaggering Jig, your initially thrown and imagine more instruments than flute and guitar, an illusion granted by the depth and colour of Tom’s playing. Paddy’s guitar playing provides perfect accompaniment which lifts the flute allowing it to really shine and create a great drive and rythmn with no need for percussion.
When the bodhran does make an appearance it is just as respectful, Charlie Mulvihill’s never sounded so good and the flute playing on Colonel Frazer has such depth the like of which I’ve never heard before. The pace of the album offers variety from the slower to the racier tracks such as Thrush in the Storm.
When I spoke to Tom I wanted to know more about the struggle he had in recording the CD, this is the shortened version:
The title seemed fitting due to the problems and delays we encountered in getting the CD to a finished state. The CD started about 20 years ago in Newcastle when Paddy and I both lived there. We then parted company for a number of years and decided to pick up on it again in 2002/2003. From there we recorded everything in my flatmates bedroom when he was on tour with Dervish (Tom Morrow – fiddle player in Dervish was my flatmate at the time).
The first mix sent for mastering was rejected due to digital elastics in the mix, the second mix crashed the Roland desk it was living on. I had to repair the Roland desk in order to get the mix off. When we got the masters back, I had to remix again and then remaster.
Whilst taking the photographs for the cover, I got stranded in the mountains of Dublin and had to be rescued by passers-by. In order to fund the whole project I had to sell several prized flutes, and to top it all off, the celtic tiger lost its teeth and I lost my job.
It has been a long hard road getting this CD to market and finally it is done.
What I love about this album is that there is nothing fancy about it, no special effects, no egos, but there is masterful playing from both Tom and Paddy. Anyone who listens will come away with a new found respect for the Irish tradition, Tom McElvogue and Paddy Kerr.
You can buy the album through Tom’s website here which includes more detail and soundclips: www.tommcelvogue.com/
For those of you that can make it, the album launch is on Sunday 30th January at 4pm. The Venue is the Oliver St John Gogarty Pub, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland. The CD launch is also being featured as part of the Temple Bar Tradfest which starts today and runs until Sunday evening.
Born of English parents in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Tom’s passion for Irish music was realised during the repeated practise sessions of his sister ’s Irish dancing. They had been introduced to Irish dancing via the local school which had a large proportion of Irish children. While this may seem strange at first, it made per fect sense to Maureen (Tom’s mother) whose paternal Grandfather was from Connemara, a link which she has been very proud of to this day.
While his sisters were practising their dancing to Irish music records, Tom was able to learn the music by ear and play it back on the recorder. His parents were advised to enroll him in music lessons with the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in order to develop this talent and from this point on, he progressed from recorder to tin whistle and then flute where he won almost every competition he entered culminating in the Senior All Ireland Flute title in Sligo in 1990.
Over recent years he has focused on writing music rather than per forming, mostly due to work commitments and concentrating on recording and producing this long-awaited CD. Many of his tunes have since made their way into the tradition, having been recorded on dozen’s of CD’s across the world, which is a testament to their quality, authenticity and popularity.