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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 8:52 pm 
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Micho Russell's playing just moves me so much. He doesn't play with the virtuosity of somebody like Mary Bergin, and his playing is actually quite simple in comparison, but he just comes across as so soulful. It's like his personality comes out in his playing, and it immediately picks you up. Of all the whistle players, his playing seems to just grab me the second I hear it. It's hard for me to describe to people. It kind of reminds me of a feeling of child-like glee, or youthful joy. He just has this uncanny ability to pick my spirits up with his playing.


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 1:37 am 
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There's a lot to be said but as he put it n his own words:

'[..]'I am playing the tunes according to my own way of thinking. I am more of a music maker, trying to bring them out, mostly by ear at the time. Maybe through a mistake I might change a tune. I think myself you learn this gift, whatever it is. John Kelly, from Dublin [...] he said that you get this gift from 'hardship' and hard work and getting wet in cold weather. That's the way he described it. And lonesome lives. You'd learn the sad way, people living alone and maybe your relations to die. All that comes from that source, that's the way he described it. It comes down out of the heavens, he said, in showers. The gift of music.

I think he was just being Micho.

Here's a nice character study of the Russells that Bill Ochs sent me shortly before his death. It was meant for the book, now sadly left unfinished. We were trying to find out who took the shot. It sums them up so nicely: Pakie looking out the window, contemplating life, Gussie in the corner playing to himself and Micho putting on the coat, ready to go out and meet the world.

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See also Steve Bliven's Micho Russell bibliography and discography

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 7:47 am 
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For me, its the simplicity of playing. Micho seems to sound like he is playing to himself for the enjoyment of music without a care in the world whether anyone else is listening. Simplicity of playing!

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 8:10 am 
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When I first starting playing, I listened, and still do, to as many whistle players as I could find. Well, any instrument for that matter. I found a couple of Micho's CD's at some festival we were playing at. First time finding them but I knew of Micho of course. This was before the youtube craze when it was hard to find certain recordings. I listened to the Micho's CD's on the plane. I can remember thinking to myself, This is the guy who is such a famous whistle player? I too, in my youthful musical "arrogance", thought the music was very simple and plain and I just didn't get all the hype. I was comparing him to Mary, Sean, Vinny and the like. That was until I got a chance to "mimic" Micho's playing. TBH, I stopped trying to "play like Micho" as I was unable to come close to learning the tunes he played let alone pick up any of his "style". I was confouned honestly. What I thought was a simple style of playing turned out to be some of the most intricate, confounding ornaments and playing I've ever come across. He truly has a unigue style all to his own. Anyone who thinks Micho'splaying is simple and basic, I challenge you to try and replicate it. I've picked up bits and pieces of all my favorite players but I have never been able to gleen anything from Micho's playing that I could put into my own playing. It may sound simple but, as far as I'm concerned, it is very far from simple. I've given up trying to pick up some of Mico's touch and now listen to him with the utmost admiration and respect. RIP Micho.


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 8:32 am 
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Quote:
some of the most intricate, confounding ornaments and playing I've ever come across


That's an interesting sort of a statement. Image

Micho Russsell's playing was highly personal. I have known a few people from roughly the same area who could in a way emulate the spirit of his playing without trying to imitate him, the late Liscannor fluteplayer Gerald O'Loughlin had some of those moments where heplugged into that and I remember Michael Hynes playing during a play about Micho's life (from which I quoted above) and touching on the core of Micho's music without ever trying to imitate him.

I also met a guy from France at one point who had absorbed Micho's playing to an extend it made me a bit queasy. He had the approach to a melody down but it was like he was trying to speak with someone else's voice. You can't be someone else, playing will have to reflect your own experiences and influences and blend them into a personal music.

I don't think I can agree with you about the intricacy of Micho's ornamentation though. His music is surely not as simplistic as some think. Best leave it at that.

And if anyone has some cash to spare: A few hours ago I drove by the house Micho and Gussie spent their final decades, it's up for sale.

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 8:58 am 
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I've a really good ear Mr. G. I can't read music nor make any sense of ABC for that matter so I need one :) Good enough ear to "hear" the different stye that Micho has. The concertina influence for example. I could certainly work out his tunes if I needed to, for a play for example. The point I was making is that his style, though it may sound simple, is very unique. To say the least. I had all the "standard" ornamentation when I came across Micho's CD's. What I noticed is that Micho's ornamentation was not what I was used to listening to so when trying to play along, my "standard" ornamentation didn't "fit". The confounding part. I love Micho's playing. Mostly for the personal flavour that he adds that is his alone. I've no desire to sound like Micho. And yes, after years of playing one is bound to develope their own "style" I am quite happy with mine. :)


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 9:01 am 
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Fair enough and I understood that. Yet you spoke of 'some of the most intricate, confounding ornaments and playing I've ever come across' and it's there that you lost me.

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 9:06 am 
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More confounding than intricate I s'pose :)


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 9:18 am 
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I suppose it is all in what you're used to hearing. When encountered first Irish music can be a bit baffling. And ditto for styles you're not used to.

And as you could see, I was agreeing with you on trying to play like him. I do think there are lessons to be learned from his playing.

[added:] Also, it's about forty years since I first encountered his playing and I probably underestimate to what extended his approach had me mystified at first. So bear that perspective in my mind too, when reading my reaction.

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Sun May 14, 2017 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 9:20 am 
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whistle1000 wrote:
I just didn't get all the hype.

I still don't. But it's nothing to do with arrogance. There are just other players I prefer to listen to, just as I prefer to play other instruments to some much-hyped ones. And I'm not looking for fast and furious when (for example) I love the non-driven lift of Noreen O' Sullivan's 'The Quiet House'.

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 10:11 am 
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I can't claim to "know" Irish music, but I do know that I just like to listen to Micho Russell's playing. It comes across to me as the expression of a man who was a born (or well-developed) entertainer in the sense that he played comfortably for himself and projected that comfort in his playing to others. I don't mean to imply some mystical, new-agey thing, just that he plays tunes and techniques that I can relate to (but not that I could emulate). I always find it a pleasant listen....which is enough for me.

Best wishes.

Steve

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 1:55 pm 
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I came across this recording of Micho on youtube

ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrpLZSPSfxk

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 1:58 pm 
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I envy you for that life experience Mr. G. What a delightful image you painted once of Micho often knocking on your door to borrow your Gen. C that he so admired. Your first hand experience sounds wonderful. I just went back to look at some of PL's :wink: transcriptions to see if there was any Mcho there and sure enuff, there is. I'll have a closer look when I have some time to give it. I did pick up alot from those transcriptions over the years. I ended up recording those Donncha hornpipes even. Not the exact same mind you. I find that no matter what "trick" I learn, my fingers play the way the want to anyway and I'm ok with that. I think I had "given up" on the Micho style at the point and never paid them much notice. I'm really looking forward to working on those transcriptions even more so now. I hope to understand Micho's playing a bit more after having done so. What a treasure those transcriptions are!


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 2:08 pm 
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What a treasure those transcriptions are!


I wouldn't say that, take them as an encouragement to listen closely. Not anything more than that.

I had done a list of which tunes of his appear in Breandán Breathnach's collections, those notations are probably more useful. I don't know immediately where that list went though.

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 4:02 pm 
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That's what I like about them! The close listening that was involved ...as I said, i don't read music. I have a rudimentary knowledge of the notes that are on the lines All Cows Eat Grass if you will, but it is everything else that I jus t can't follow. Knowing what the note are, at least, help when listening to the tunes. Your detailed transcriptions have always impressesd me. Treasure or tnot. Thank you for sharing those!


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