THE CHIEFTAINS featuring RY COODER, San Patricio


Videos by American Songwriter

San Patricio


[Rating: 4 stars]

Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains has long loved “the lost trails of history,” as he put it, as has Ry Cooder, and this project brings them together in a glorious union which weds traditional Irish and Mexican folk music with an effortlessly timeless charm that’s as informed as it is inspired. Its based on the history of the San Patricios –-the Mexican-Irish alliance that occurred when a small troop of primarly Irish-American soldiers crossed the Rio Grande to desert the American army in the Mexican-American war of 1846-1848 and fight on the side of Mexico.

Rich with an acoustic merger of Irish folk instruments (tin-whistle, uilleann pipes, fiddle) and traditional Mexican acoustic instruments (cuatro, cajon, accordion, bajo sexto, etc.), it’s performed with faithfully exultant devotion by Cooder, the Chieftains and a colorful array of Mexican bands and artists, including Lila Downs, Chavela Vargas, Los Tigres Del Norte, Los Folkloristas and others, including Linda Ronstadt, Van Dyke Parks, and the actor Liam Neeson, who provides narration for “March To Battle.” This is music of sorrow and celebration mingled, of triumph and tragedy, which makes new musical connections in the world, not unlike new synapses in the brain, that can never be undone. Recorded in studios, as noted by Moloney, from New York to Dublin to Los Angeles, this is a new chapter in world music, songs sung “in a thousand different voices, across dreams broken and begun again….” Stunning, and not to be missed.


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Mark Linkous: 1962-2010

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