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The Dawn of The Gloaming

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Thursday August 18, 2011

from The Irish Times

The Dawn of The Gloaming

The Gloaming features some of the great names of Irish music – and an American who cut his teeth as a 12-year-old music promoter. The result is an intriguing supergroup, writes SIOBHÁN LONG

‘THE ONLY style of music I’d like to be identified with is good music,” Thomas Bartlett insists. This Vermont keyboards player and producer is a man of many musical identities. Founder of Doveman (whose members include The National’s Bryce and Aaron Dessner), he has worked with, among others, Antony and The Johnsons, Martha Wainwright, David Byrne and Glen Hansard.

He’s one of the five members of a newly-minted outfit who call themselves The Gloaming, and this weekend he’s joining Martin Hayes on fiddle, Dennis Cahill on guitar, singer Iarla Ó Lionáird and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh on traditional and Hardanger fiddle for a seven-date tour. They plan to play lots of what Bartlett calls “good” music, which may, in all likelihood, fail to conform to any simple definitions of either traditional or contemporary music – but might just nestle somewhere on that spectrum where creativity trumps predictability – with chutzpah.

Bartlett is a musician who revels in the sparks that fly during collaboration. “I have an identity as a player,” he offers, “but since I work with many different musicians who are coming from such different places musically, I wouldn’t want to be too strong a flavour. My job should be to help make stronger what other people are doing, not necessarily to bring too many of my own ideas to it.”

The Gloaming is a reference to twilight, that nebulous part of the day just after sunset and before dark, and there’s a touch of the netherworld to the music the band has begun to create too. Born of a suggestion from singer Iarla Ó Lionáird to Martin that they “should do something together”, The Gloaming evolved gradually, as the pair developed some ideas about what kind of sound they might create. Thomas Bartlett sprang to Martin’s mind, as he had met him as an enterprising 12-year-old boy, when Bartlett booked and promoted a concert for Hayes and Cahill in Vermont.

“It was very unusual,” Martin says, “because we didn’t know that we were dealing with a kid, as we were in contact by e-mail. At that time I met Thomas, he was playing Irish music, and over the years I’ve followed his career and known that he’s really interested in the contemporary music world too.” Martin Hayes is enthusiastic about this latest musical coalition. “I felt we had a compatibility of people and ideas,” he offers. “We didn’t have any big master plan, but some form of aesthetic compatibility was there for sure.

Read the full article here