In 1995 I spent a month or so in Munich with some Irish friends. At that time the Deutsche Mark exchange rate was very favourable to those using the pound and the punt and a fair few Irish students would head to Bavaria for the summer to work in the car factories and the beer festivals. I tagged along and managed to get some work at the world famous Oktoberfest, feeding Maßkrüge (litre beer glasses) into a glass cleaning machine in the kitchen of one of the smaller ‘tents’, the exclusive Käfer’s Wies’n-Schänke.
Over the coming months I’m going to attempt to transcribe, record and post many of the tunes that I have composed. I started writing tunes pretty early in my traditional music ‘career’. I was travelling around a fair bit and didn’t have access to recordings or notation so I just made tunes up. I’ll try and post them in chronological order but I don’t remember all the dates of composition so will have to guess some.
I think I first heard Barlow Knife when hanging around with a bunch of old-time musicians from Wisconsin one long musical weekend in Sligo back in the mid 90’s but the memory is hazy so I can’t be certain. Four Men and a Dog recorded a more Irishy version of it but it’s the old-time versions that I like best. I got most of this version from an early 70s recording by The Fuzzy Mountain String Band with a few tweaks of my own to suit my mandolin playing.