The Genius of Peter ConlonOldtime Records ****
Oldtime Records’ latest opus is a double CD collection of the recordings of a 19th-century Galway melodeon player. A musician of steely determination and focus, Peter Conlon has been lured from obscurity through the investigative efforts of a coterie of acolytes. But the real beauty of this collection lies in its marriage of music and history, with biography and repertoire interwoven in a richly researched booklet that conjures a world of adventure, much of it located around New York, where Conlon emigrated in 1912. The surge in interest and availability of Irish music from the 1920s was partly inspired by the vigorous playing of Conlon, as well as the more widely known Michael Coleman and James Morrison. A labour of love, this treasure trove will feed the repertoires of musicians in search of fresh inspiration – at home and away.