Johnny has retained the push-and-draw method of the old fashioned melodeon and he uses that system with fine effect to articulate the music. Some triplets are executed as tight as any piper’s and nelodic embellishments which subtly affect the rhythm are deftly and tastefully introduced into the tunes. To satisfy the dancers in Kerry the music must be played fast and strongly and speed and vigour are features of Johnny’s playing. But he is always in control and the sustained pulse and forward thrust which are noticeable in his dance music make dancing compulsive for his listeners.
The tunes presented here were recorded at a recital to members of the Folk Music Society of Ireland. His anecdotes and comments between tunes were no less entertaining than his music performance. Musicians now legendary, Dinny Tarrant, Tom Billy Murphy, Pádraig O’Keeffe, Denis Murphy came to life with their music of which Johnny is now the national custodian.
At the heart of The Four Star Trio’s sound lies the interplay of fiddle and accordion — probably one of the most agreeable combinations of instruments in traditional music — with a subtle underplay of guitar. They draw their repertoire from throughout Ireland and, indeed, beyond. They have a particular interest in the music of Sliabh Luachra, that musical kingdom which loosely straddles the Cork/Kerry Border.
The Four Star Trio have appeared throughout Ireland, and have played together across Europe, taking the occasional foray to Asia on the ever-developing traditional music world-wide network. Apart from live work, they have undertaken extensive television and radio work.
Their album The Square Triangle (Craft Recordings CRCD02) is now on release. There is a strong emphasis on Sliabh Luachra, not alone in the customary polkas and slides, but in reels, jigs and hornpipes associated with the area. Johnny McCarthy contributes two beautiful love songs: the atmospheric Idir Corcaigh agus Dúghlas, and the sparse, yet powerful, The Banks of the Lee. Con Ó Drisceoil gives two comic songs of his own composition: The Miltown Cockroach, a heart-felt — if unscientific — treatise on the wildlife of West Clare and Hymn to St. Finbarr, which attempts to assign to Cork’s patron saint some of the mythic status usually afforded to St. Patrick.
The Four Star Trio are:
Johnny McCarthy is a fiddle and flute player with great vitality and drive, and an accomplished classical flautist. He studied at Cork School of Music and at the Zurich Conservatory under Jean Poulain. He holds a degree in Ethnology from UCC and is currently completing post-graduate studies in Ethnomusicology at the University of Limerick. He teaches at Cork School of Music.
Con "Fada" Ó Drisceoil is a native of Skibbereen. He plays the C#/D accordion, a grey Paolo Soprani which he bought from the famed Jackie Daly, in a style which is strong yet subtle. He is also a fine piano player and a writer of comic songs.
Pat "Herring" Ahern began his musical career with the innovative Coppinger Stang. In ther intervening years, he has been involved in many musical forms. He is a sensitive accompanist with an ability to drive the rhythm along powerfully.