Too Fond of Walking
Phil O'Flaherty experienced emigration from Ireland as an eight year old. 'My job was to carry a bag of shoes and an old mandolin. We literally carried our music with us and managed to stay in touch with the music scene in Ireland'. Even as a teen in the late seventies and early eighties, O'Flaherty rejected the music enjoyed by his peers in favour of the folk and traditional sounds emanating from his native land. 'Music was important to me, but I wasn't finding much inspiration in the established popular music of the late seventies'. Those were exciting days for Irish music. Bands like Planxty and the Bothy Band,and singers such as Paul Brady were creating arrangements of traditional songs,reels and jigs that were driven by guitar, bouzouki, mandola and mandolin. 'When I heard that [music] my imagination was ignited and I knew it was something I had to try myself'. It wasn't until the early 90's that Phil, along with Greg Hooper, Conan Daly and Cam Keating formed Scatter the Mud, one of Canada's most traditional, yet innovative Celtic bands. Before the band dissolved in 2001, they had recorded two CDs and toured Canada from coast to coast. Scatter the Mud was the band that the Celtic craze of a few years ago missed. 'When we started playing, it was a hard sell. It seemed that few really cared that much for Celtic music. Suddenly bands from the East coast were doing really well playing Celtic influenced folk. There was a lot of pressure, especially when playing the pub circuit, to jump on that band wagon but we didn't. The rest is obscurity'. These days Phil is concentrating on song writing and a solo career. Phil's first solo CD, Too Fond of Walking, is a mix of traditional and original songs. There is not, however, a clear delineation of where traditional interpretation ends and original song writing begins. 'Some of the traditional songs are only left with the original lyrics. The melodies to WildRover and Dowey Houms of Yarrow, for example, are my own creations but the words, of course, are the originals'. When asked about a Celtic influence in his new recording, Phil says, 'Irish music, particularly the song tradition, informs everything I create musically, but so does pop music, bluegrass and jazz although not in any obvious way. Any song I perform or record is carried in my own baggage. The new recording is Celtic for sure, but a lot more than that as well. It reflects where I'm at presently. Perhaps it's a transition, but I think I'm always in transition'.