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Ryan & Brennish Thomson

Updated Feb 2, 2024

About the Newmarket Duets CD

I play music in many different circles: for Irish Ceili dances, cajun dances, contra dances, and in jam sessions anywhere I can find them. Sometimes I'll make music with a particular person and the musical experience is a special treat. For this project I've recorded a series of duets with folks I enjoy making music with, either at gigs, or just for the fun of it. I play fiddle, flute, and accordion.

Several of the tunes in this album are original. Its a real kick for me when someone else likes my tunes enough to want to learn to play them. Here is a list of of my friends who appear on this album, in alphabetical order:

Steve Brown - I've been jamming with Steve for around 20 years. We've played lots of styles of music together: in Saint Patrick's Day Irish bands; Romanian and latin tunes; swing and blues; etc., and for the past 11 years he has been the drummer in my cajun band, the Crawdad Wranglers. He plays a number of instruments well, but I'm particularly crazy about his bones playing. 

On this album he accompanies me on an Irish flute tune - The Red Haired Boy, a medley of French Canadian reels, and my original tune, The Dangerous Jig. This tune was named after I began coughing and choking violently one time while playing this tune for friends, who were preparing to do CPR to rescue me, before I recovered!

Fred Carne - I've been playing with Fred for several years at Irish traditional music sessions in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He plays several instruments but I've been particularly intrigued by his Jaw Harp playing. He shows his stuff on my tune - Sole's Reel, which I wrote in 1978 for my friend Ken Sole as a birthday present. 

Regina Delaney - Regina and I have played together at numerous Irish gigs for the past 3 years. We've been the house band for the past two years on Saint Patrick's day at the local Irish Pub, and have enjoyed working on traditional Irish tunes together. On this album we play Give Me Your Hand as a fiddle - harp duet.

Dave Hallowell - I met Dave just recently at the Irish pub session I've been leading for the past 3 years on Thursday nights at Biddy Mulligan's, in Dover, New Hampshire. I liked his playing from the first strum I heard him make on the guitar. He likes my original tunes, and so has been coming over to my house to play them. We did two of them together for this recording. Shannon's Slip is for my niece Shannon. 

The tune title is a bit of a play on words since the tune is in the form of an Irish "slip jig", but really was named to commemorate the unfortunate incident of her slipping and breaking her leg! J.R. is my father's first two initials, and also a nick name that some of his friends use for him, thus the title of JR's Jig.

Conor Makem - I met Conor at Biddy Mulligan's also, where he has been a regular late night night jammer for several years. We've often played together in the pub until well after midnight, and he has worked up a great tenor banjo version of my tune - The Funky Jig.

David Surette - I've been playing with David for 15 years or so. We've done many contra dances and various gigs together. He's a wonder at accompanying the old timey and french Canadian tunes on this album: Arkansas Traveler, Soldier's Joy, Kitchen Gal, and The Growling Old Man and Woman.

Paul Mangion - I've been playing with Paul over 23 years in various bands, and he has been my regular cajun percussionist for 11 years in the Crawdad Wranglers. Besides contemporary cajun and zydeco, we also play a good number of traditional cajun two steps on fiddle, including this tune - The Port Arthur Stomp on which Paul plays Triangle. We often get requests for polkas, so I wrote this accordion tune which I've dedicated to my nephew Sean - Sean's Squeeze Box Tune. Paul plays Guiro on this one.

Bob Paul - After I went to Tucson, Arizona to collect fiddle tunes from a native american fiddle band, the Gu-achi Fiddlers, Bob picked right up on one of my favorite tunes of theirs, Purple Lilies. For the past ten years or so, Bob and I have been playing the tune together, at music parties, jam sessions, and whenever we meet.

Mary Paul - I've been jamming with Mary for years at various musical gatherings, and I really appreciate her fine harp accompaniment for Irish tunes. She Beg She Mor is one of my favorite tunes to play on flute.

Don Wessels - Don and I share an intense passion for creative music making, and have had some great jam sessions at my house. For the past couple of years we've been playing Irish music whenever we get together. On this album we play two of my original hornpipes: The New Hampshire Hornpipe; and the Long Winding Road to Elkins

Don's a bit humble, but he's really a virtuoso on the chromatic harmonica. Don enthusiastically learned my first hornpipe immediately after first hearing it. We then discovered that we had both driven the same highway to Elkins (West Virginia), and when I played the second hornpipe for Don, he dove right into it, and we worked up a great fiddle/harmonica version of both hornpipes in a medley.

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