It was years ago, 1979 to be exact, when I would take out the album at night. The next day was to be an invitational cross country meet. Our team, the Marian Central Hurricanes (why we were the Hurricanes in the Midwest, I never quite understood) was a high ranked team. We had one of the top runners in the state, the great Daryl May who led our pack. I was a toward the back of the pack, a pusher in cross-country parlance. In other words, I pushed our runners to get toward the front of a race by merely trying to outrace them.
I wasn’t the slowest runner, but I wasn’t the fastest either. But I could worm my way toward the front of a race if I just could keep a steady gait. That was why I would take out the album, the Chieftain’s #9, Boil the Breakfast Early. I would listen to the title track over and over to get myself ready for the race. There was something about it that just reacted with my Irish DNA, that sound of the bodhran and the fast pace of the pipes that made my legs do what they should do.
Walkmen were not yet invented, so I had to play that melody in my mind. Which I did; as soon as the gun went off, I would race with the Chieftains. As the years went by, little did I know that I would someday be performing with the Chieftains. And so, last Saturday, the day before St. Patrick’s Day, I had the honor of playing with my heroes.
Years before, Brian and I had met Matt Malloy, the flautist for the band and had become friends, playing at his pub in Westport, Co. Mayo and sharing the stage with him there. But here, in Tyler Texas of all places, I had the chance to be with the full band. And it was a great sensation, sort of like meeting old friends.
I always think how important it is to touch souls with our music. The Chieftains touched my soul. And it certainly made a knobby kneed kid run as fast as he could. And my hope is that my music has inspired like they inspired me.
American Roots & Celtic Soul