Now that Celtic Music has been embraced by the burgeoning acoustic audience in this country, expectations for touring bands have risen significantly. Sighting the link with blue grass and "Old Timey Music" we expect Irish musicians to match the virtuosity of Bill Munroe, wring the emotions like the "Blue Sky Boys" and entertain like "Uncle Dave Macon", without losing any of the ethnicity that makes Irish music so unique.
Over in Ireland, in the meantime, Stockton's Wing has been honing their craft with an eye towards America. Beginning in 1979, they developed a distinctive style around the instrumental talents of three All Ireland Champions. "Paul Roche — Flute; Maurice Lennon — Fiddle, and Kieran Hanrahan — Banjo, Mandolin and Bouzouki" and an extraordinary percussionist "Tommy Hayes — Bodhrán and Bones". The effortless grace of their playing combined with the driving rhythms, gave the traditional tunes on their first album, Stockton's Wing "Tara 2004", a special flair.
Stockton's second album Take a Chance "Tara 3004", introduced Kieran's brother, Mike Hanrahan, on guitar and vocals, his singing and song writing skills was strongly influenced by American Country Music, and his contemporary ballads brought heightened emotional quality to the group's repertoire. Their traditional arrangements took on an added freedom, as the band's reputation spread throughout the folk audience in Ireland. Appearances at the leading festivals brought out a new sophistication on stage to complement their growing musical maturity.
Stockton's third album, Light in the Western Sky "Tara 3009" extended their popularity into the pop market as well, with several "hit singles", TV appearances and a raft of new performing venues throughout the British Isles and Europe. Their instrumental arrangements expanded in scope and substance, the vocal harmonies grew more lavish, and Stockton's ability to entertain a whole variety of audiences became part of their sky rocketing popularity.
Now in 1984, Stockton's Wing is coming to the United States for their first visit, poised to meet the expectations of the American listening audience. The flash, the grace and the heart are all in place, as the prospects for a lasting relationship hover tantalisingly on the eve of their debut tour. To celebrate the occasion Shanachie Records is pleased to present this special compilation album, which contains a selection from each of Stockton's Irish releases.
From the earliest versions of "Sonny Brogans" and "Queen of the Fair" to the sophistication of "The Belltable" and "Dirt Track to the Sky", this is the music that has brought Stockton's Wing both critical and popular acclaim. It is a continually evolving paean to the band's creativity, and a harbinger of the exciting future we can look forward to sharing, here in America with Stockton's Wing.