We could call this my St. Paddy’s Day special. And this time I’m reaching even further back in time to Spring, 2002, when five non-Irish people formed an Irish traditional band, and called themselves, “Raar,” meaning “strange” in Dutch… of course.
The band was a palindrome. Same backwards and forwards. Tom Spackman (USA) played mandolin, guitar, and bodhran, and opposite him was Robin Turk (UK) with the same arsenal. Move in one place and you have Stella Rodrigues (Holland) on fiddle, and opposite her was Emma Small (South Africa) also on fiddle. I landed in the middle of the group with my freak instrument. All of us sang, all of us played with all of our heart. We had two phenomenal gigs, and that’s all. By the summer, we all kind of scattered and went back to our other pursuits. I still listen to these recordings and think, “Dang, we were really good.” And we sure did put a ton of time into items like arrangement. What if we’d had more time together? What if Cork really was home to all of us?
The following are all of the sets we performed at the UCC Traditional Music Society student concert at An Spailpin Fanach, Cork, Ireland, May 2002. Introduction by Mel Mercier. Special guest, Elin Skoglund (Sweden), on nyckelharpa.