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David Algeo Smith | Thais To The Irish:  Fiddle Tunes From The Street

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Country: Old-Timey Folk: Irish Traditional Moods: Solo Instrumental
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Thais To The Irish: Fiddle Tunes From The Street

by David Algeo Smith

This disc--nominated in 2006 for the Just Plain Folks Music Awards in the Solo Instrumental Album category--features the 2004 Indiana State Hot Fiddle champ David Algeo Smith fiddling tunes from the U.S., Ireland, and Thailand. . .
Genre: Country: Old-Timey
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Derry Dream
1:45 $0.99
2. The Rites of Man
5:18 $0.99
3. Effigy
3:35 $0.99
4. Bats Eatin' Bananas
2:52 $0.99
5. Buskin' on the Ferry
3:12 $0.99
6. Ballad for Sarah and Laura
3:23 $0.99
7. Patrick on the Interstate
2:14 $0.99
8. Zoom Lao Fan
3:25 $0.99
9. Cuckoo's Nest
2:07 $0.99
10. Red-Haired Boy
1:43 $0.99
11. Long Mae Ping River
3:24 $0.99
12. Runaway Twins
2:20 $0.99
13. Devil's Dream
4:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
David Algeo Smith started as one of the first Suzuki violin students in the U.S.A. and spent most of the 1970s studying classical violin before hitting the road from Chicago to New York and London to Paris in 1983. From there he soon hooked up with various buskers and street bands, finding collaboration and inspiration with EuroAmerican megaband The Overexcited (which featured, at various times, acid jazz 8-string guitar wizard Charlie Hunter, tap-dance master Tamango, New York bassist Dom Richards, and the late great alto saxophonist Calder Spanier); street rat phenomenon The Rhythm Pygmies (with Marseille gypsy powerhouse Christian Fernandez on guitar/vocals, New York guitarist/songwriter Marc Bouchard, San Francisco vocalist Belinda Blair, tenor saxophonist Scott MacIntosh, and Canadian Gilles Leocard on bass); the world famous Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band (with songster/washtub bassist Danny Fitzgerald, Gene Clarke on trumpets/keyboards, and celebrated jazz chanteuse/guitarist Madeleine Peyroux); and many other great impromptu formations from the heady summers of mid-to-late '80s France and Switzerland. During that period Smith also found fruitful collaborations in New York City with French film composer Mader and his Biarritz Ensemble, camp torch singer/comedienne JasmineVegas, and controversial busker/singer/comedian Tommy Tortellini. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent advent of America's ominous "new world order," Smith sought refuge in the relative tranquility of Northern Thailand where he was immediately recruited by Chiangmai's incomparable Banjoman Band--at that time the Land of Smiles' premiere "country and eastern" string band. Twelve years and half a dozen albums later, this expatriate American fiddler decided to strike out on his own with a solo album of fiddle tunes collected from his many travels and friends. "Thais to the Irish: fiddle tunes from the street" is the final product of those efforts. Produced and recorded at Thomas van Nes's Studio Thomasso in Sankhampaeng, Thailand in March 2001 and released the week before 9/11, this kid friendly, adult oriented collection of tunes is rightly regarded as "top-notch solo fiddling for the ages."

Now back in the U.S. for eight years, Smith currently teaches Suzuki violin and fiddle in Oshkosh, WI, and he has a side project, ThisBigStringBand, an old-time music trio featuring Chicago banjoist Steve Noel and Florida guitarist Jim Marks which released its debut album "The Next Small Thing. . ." to critical acclaim in 2004. In recent years he has found some success on the American fiddle contest circuit, taking top tier prizes at state level competitions in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio and Nevada. In 2002 he placed fifth at the Appalachian String Band Festival, Clifftop, WV, and most recently he placed fifth in the Adult division at the National Old-Time Fiddlers' Contest in Weiser, ID (2004) where he also served as a judge the following year.

Smith has become a popular guest clinician at Suzuki workshops throughout the Midwest, teaching fiddle at clinics in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri. He also has taught at both the South Carolina and Colorado Suzuki summer institutes (2004-08) and at the Montessori School in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (2007). Smith has completed and registered his Suzuki Association of the Americas(SAA)sanctioned teacher training of Suzuki Violin units 1-4 under Nancy Lokken, Patricia D'Ercole and Edmund Sprunger at the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, WI in 2004-08.

In February 2003 Smith arranged and performed (with ThisBigStringBand guitarist Jim Marks) the period music used for the Chicago Prop Thtr's world premiere production of G.Riley Mills's "Raising Blue," a Civil War drama centered around the story of the Hunley, the world's first submarine warfarer. This project was the latest of a long series of theater productions in which Smith has had a musical hand over the years--projects which include stints as the fiddler in the Chicago Goodman Theater's annual "A Christmas Carol" (1984-85) as well as an open run in Ohio dinner theater La Comedia's 1985 adaptation of "Fiddler on the Roof."

"Thais to the Irish: fiddle tunes from the street," which was originally conceived as a busking product to be sold on the streets of Europe, has remarkably gained a new lease on life on the World Wide Web where it is now available for sale at dozens of music download companies including Apple iTunes, Napster, DigiPie, and MP3Tunes.com. Most recently, in September 2006, the disc was nominated for the Just Plain Folks Music Awards in the Solo Instrumental Album category--placing David Algeo Smith in direct competition with virtuoso bassist Michael Manring, Canadian accordionist Kim Darwin, alt-styles cellist Gretchen Yanover, and Celtic harpist Lily Neill among several other outstanding nominees.

******Album notes by David Algeo Smith******

“Thais to the Irish: fiddle tunes from the street” is a collection of tunes I picked up from various sources over the course of my extensive travels from 1984-1998. The idea for the album began to take shape in 1995-96 during a period when I was busking solo in Bangkok, Singapore, and Tokyo, then later in Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago. I wanted to have a CD with the tunes I was playing on the street. This would be an album “of the street and for the street,” and my plan was to take the final product to Switzerland where I’d had a lot of previous experience playing solo, in the open air, in the shopping streets and platzes of the towns and cities in that country.

In 1997 I returned to Thailand after a year-long hiatus in the States. This was the beginning of a period of much travel and some listlessness. The Banjoman Band made a stressful move from its base in Chiangmai to the relatively quiet and provincial Phrae—the original hometown of many band members--and I went with them, but unfortunately the move was the beginning of the end for the group. A few key members were not happy in Phrae and elected to return to Chiangmai to pursue other interests. Then, in 1998 we tragically lost our accordionist Kasem “Kai” Chaiwan to complications from AIDS. Kai, who had been my closest friend in the band, had taught me almost everything I had learned about Thai “classical” music—a style that we in the West think of more as “traditional” music.

Around the same time my mother also died suddenly and I had to return to the States. For the first time in years I wasn’t playing in a regular band. The Banjoman Band was tottering on its last legs, and it didn’t seem all that urgent to get back to Thailand. After spending my summer busking at art fairs in the Midwest, I hit the road again for a two-year solo voyage that took me to Mexico, Ireland, France, and Switzerland. By Christmas 2000 I’d been fiddling solo in Zurich, Lucerne, Basel and other Swiss cities for about 3-4 months, and I had loads of tunes to play, but I still had no product “of the street and for the street.”
Now suddenly, in January 2001, it seemed urgent to get back to Thailand in order to record. I had more than enough material to choose from, and all of it was rock solid from daily repetition on the street. And it was important to me to finally document a lot of what I was playing at the time.

Several of the tunes on “Thais to the Irish” are traditional ones I learned by ear but before I ever managed to learn many of their titles. Thus in the studio I had to give each a working title. “Derry Dream,” the opener, is one such tune. I first heard it, probably on a cassette tape recording, about twenty years ago, and I’ve been playing it ever since. During periods when I was solo fiddling daily—as in Chicago in 1996 and Switzerland in 2000—I opened every street “pitch,” or set, with “Derry Dream.” To this day I still don’t know its “true” title.

2.) "The Rites of Man"--I performed this as a medley with "The Road to Lisdonvarna," a popular combination of two popular tunes.

3.) "Effigy"--This is a traditional American oldtime style tune. Later I learned that it's a modal version of the standard "Blackberry Blossom."

4.) "Bats Eatin' Bananas"--This Thai "classical" piece is probably about 200 years old. Called "Khang Khao Kin Kluay" in the Thai language, it is an instrumental number and one of the most popular in Thailand even today.

5.) "Buskin' on the Ferry"--The only original tune on the CD is one I wrote in the mid-1980's during a period when I made my living primarily by playing for tips on the Staten Island ferry.

6.) "Ballad for Sarah and Laura"--This is my arrangement--for two of my nieces--of the Irish tune "The Lark in the Clear Air."

7.) "Patrick on the Interstate" is my updated arrangement of "Paddy on the Turnpike."

8.) "Zoom Lao Fan" is another of the many instrumental Thai classical pieces taught to me by my friend Kai. His tragic passing at a young age helped inspire me to finally record this disc.

9.) Dedicated to another one of my nieces, "Cuckoo's Nest" is one I learned by ear from another fiddler who was busking in San Francisco at the same time I was in 1996.

10.) "Redhaired Boy," for my nephew Matthew, was one of the first fiddle tunes I learned in 1984.

11.) "Long Mae Ping River," named after northern Thailand's Mae Nam Ping river--one of four major tributaries of the mighty Chao Phya which empties into the Gulf of Thailand--is a popular song heard and sung all over the Land of Smiles.

12.) "Runaway Twins"--inspired by two more nieces--is my arrangement of the American oldtime tune "Cousin Sally Brown."

13.) "Devil's Dream" is a very popular American fiddle tune. This arrangement is one that I learned from another American fiddler in Thailand, Kate Bond.



to write a review

David B

Wonderful Traditional Solo Fiddle
If you're looking for the full sound of a band you might try The Irish Experience, but if you want to have your soul lifted up and carried along on a beautiful melody this album is the one. This is a virtuoso fiddler playing an inspiring blend of traditional Irish and Thai tunes. All fiddle, no vocal or other instrumentation, it's clearly a labor of love. Buy this album, but better yet buy this one and two more for only five bucks apiece at CD Baby - and they're wonderful folks as well! Listen to the samples if you're not sure - what a great resource.

MSc. Jorge Poveda

Wonderful Traditional Solo Fiddle
I found a tune play in Youtube by a violinist from Thailand. Nice tune. The tune is Long Mae Ping and the post said "author unknow". Do you know who is the autor...?
Thanks you in advance,
MSc. Jorge Poveda
Costa Rica