Saturday, November 8, 2008

Micho Russell

Micho Russell (March 15, 1915 – February 19, 1994) was an Irish musician and author best known for his expert tin whistle performance. He also played the simple-system flute and was a collector of traditional music and folklore.

Russell was born in Doonagore, Doolin, County Clare, Ireland. Russell came from a renowned musically family, his mother played the concertina, and his father was a sean-nós singer.He had two brothers, Packie and Gussie, who were also musicians. He also had two sisters. He never married.

Russell taught himself to play the tin whistle by ear starting at age eleven. The 1960s revival of Irish traditional music brought him attention and performance opportunities. In 1973, Russell won the All-Ireland tin whistle competition[citation needed], which further increased demand for his performances. Like Séamus Ennis, Russell was also known for his spoken introductions to tunes in his live performances, which incorporated folklore and legend. His knowledge of tradition extended past music to language, stories, dance, herbal lore, and old country cures.

"Micho Russell's Reel," his only known composition, is a variant of an older tune he called "Carthy's Reel." He told Charlie Piggott, "...So Carthy was beyond anyway and he heard the old tune from a piper playing it and he had the first part but only three-quarters of the second part. So when Séamus Ennis came around collecting music, I put in the last bit. That's roughly the story of the tune."[3] The reel has been recorded by other artists such as Mary Bergin. His best-known songs were John Phillip Holland and The Well of Spring Water.

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