Inside The Box/Outside The Box
Original Compositions by Mairtin O’Connor
‘Inside the Box, Outside the Box’
A book of original compositions by Máirtín O’Connor
Following many years of requests for the sheet music of his tunes, accordion virtuoso Máirtín O’Connor has finally released a book containing 60 of his own compositions. Supported by the Arts Council and launched at NUIG where only a few months earlier Máirtín was conferred with an honorary doctorate for his contribution to traditional music.
In addition, the book contains a wealth of photographs, some taken by Máirtín himself; stories and anecdotes about the origin of the music and several illustrations by Tony Corr and Joe Boske, lending playful imagery to the some of the tunes. Boske also works his design magic on this project as he has done with many of O’Connor’s previous album releases.
The book encapsulates Máirtín O’Connor’s wonderful personality just as his music does yet in another medium. To be enjoyed by many – not just musicians.
The Irish Echo, New York newspaper Ceol Column 24.8.11
Raised in Barna and now living in Annaghdown, Galway, Mairtin O’Connor was the original button accordionist in “Riverdance” but first gained notice with the folk-rock band Midnight Well in the mid-1970s. The album that put him on the world map of Irish accordionists, however, was his 1979 solo debut, “The Connachtman’s Rambles.” Since then he has made four other solo albums, “Perpetual Motion” (1990), “Chatterbox” (1993), “The Road West” (2001), and “Rain of Light” (2003), and he has recorded or toured with De Dannan, Dolores Keane’s Reel Union, the Boys of the Lough, and Skylark. O’Connor has also formed trios with Desi Wilkinson and Brendan O’Regan, and with Cathal Hayden and Seamie O’Dowd, as well as a quartet with Desi Wilkinson, Frank Hall, and Lena Ullman.
But often overlooked are O’Connor’s compositions, invariably well structured and melodically appealing. “Inside the Box / Outside the Box” should help to rectify the oversight. The book comprises 60 of his tunes, along with photos, sketches, stories, and anecdotes frequently etched in humor.
In the note for his three slip jigs collectively called “Out to Sea,” O’Connor described a Canadian hall where he performed with Reel Union in 1981 as “so crammed with people that you had no room even to turn a sweet in your mouth.”
In an anecdote untied to a tune, he recalled De Dannan’s collaboration with klezmer musician Andy Statman in the U.S. and the late publicist Charlie Comer’s suggestion that “the project be billed as the Leprecohens.”
Another, more serious anecdote explains the inspiration for the strange title of Skylark’s 1996 album, “Raining Bicycles.” After Skylark performed at a subterranean venue in Leipzig, Germany, they were warned not to travel through a courtyard where some neo-Nazi skinheads were hurling down bicycles from above.
In his note for “Shop Street,” a hornpipe dedicated to Joe Derrane, O’Connor acknowledges the “great excitement” generated by the Boston button accordionist’s visit to the Galway Arts Festival in July 1995, and describes his playing as “impeccable” and Derrane himself as “such a gentleman of music.” This graciousness from one esteemed box player to another provides a clear glimpse into the character of O’Connor, perhaps the closest in musical temperament and adventurousness to Derrane.
“Inside the Box / Outside the Box” by Mairtin O’Connor and “Joe Burke Traditional Irish Music Collection” are superb tunebooks that seem destined for heavy dog-earing by Irish traditional musicians everywhere. Earle Hitchner
The Irish Times
‘The book’s inclusion of the stories behind these tunes bears testament to Máirtín O’Connor’s rich emotional investment in his music.’ Siobhan Long
Irish Music Magazine
‘There is music inside the man which seeps out through his many compositional pieces that are rapidly picked up and learnt by his avid following.”An Unassuming Legend’.