Chieftains' Irish Tex-Mex San Patricio: Cooder, Neeson, Ronstadt
The Chieftains' new album San Patricio combines Irish traditional root melodies with southwestern and Mexican songs to breed a new hybrid of Tex-Mex, Nortino music.
The ancient connections between the Spanish and the Irish, and the musical souls of two modern nations, Ireland and Mexico, are movingly brought to life.
Artists Featured on San Patricios
San Patricio features Ry Cooder as co-producer, along with musical guests:
- Los Tigres Del Norte
- Lila Downs
- Moya Brennan
- Linda Ronstadt
- Liam Neeson
- Carlos Núñez
- Los Cenzonties
- and many other celebrated Mexican, American and Irish musicians and singers.
The CD cover art features the legendary Mexican icon of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, holding a young Irish soldier dead in her arms, reminiscent of Michelangelo's La Pietà, depicting the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother after he had been taken down from the cross.
Sean O Riada & The Chieftains' Origins
Irish composer Seán Ó Riada (1931-1971) is remembered as the most influential figure in the renaissance of traditional Irish music, and the founder, in 1960, of the group Ceoltóirí Chualann, which included Paddy Moloney (who later found The Chieftains) on uilleann pipes and tin whistle, Sean Potts (still with The Chieftains) on tin whistle, John Kelly on flute, and Sonny Brogan on accordion.
Seán Ó Riada was the first composer to arrange harmonies in keeping with Irish musical tradition, using traditional instruments: harpsichord, bodhran, piano, fiddle, accordions, flute, pipes and whistles.
In 1962, Paddy Maloney launched The Chieftains, with the initial line-up featuring himself, (uilleann pipes and tin whistle), Seán Potts (tin whistle), Martin Fay (fiddle), Michael Tubridy (flute, concertina, tin whistle), and David Fallon (bodhrán).
They signed a record deal with Claddagh Records, and released their first album, The Chieftains 1, in 1963. By the time they'd released their third LP in 1971, The Chieftains 3 (with sleeve notes printed in three languages), they had achieved a world-wide audience. Over the last 40 years, they've been nominated 18 times for Grammy Awards, and they've won 6.
The Chieftains have become well known for their multiple collaborations with popular musicians of many genres, including, Galician traditional music, Newfoundland and Cape Breton music, American Rock and Country roots music.
The Fighting Irish of the San Patricio Battalion
By the end of the 1840s, the Irish Famine was in full force. While the English exported abundant crops, millions of native Irish men, women and children died, and millions more immigrated, as refugees, to America.
In this unprecedented blend of the musical heritage shared by Ireland and Mexico, San Patricio represents the story of the San Patricio Battalion, the legendary Fighting Irish, Catholic refugees from the Irish famine, who joined the army upon arrival in the USA.
They had survived the journey on 'death-ships' from Ireland, because they couldn't find employment. At the time, everywhere they went, signs were posted: "No Blacks, Dogs, Irish need apply."
Irish Join Mexican Catholics Mexican-American War 1846-1848
Hundreds of Irish soldiers deserted the Army to join the Mexican side in the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, when they discovered they were expected to fight against Mexican Catholics. They were offered payment in land and gold and, most important, they were offered generous hospitality and respect by the Mexican people.
Read more about the Irish-Mexican history that inspired The Chieftains' recent release San Patricios, or download the album on iTunes or buy the disc and hear history in song and in the making.