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Further Down the Old Plank Road

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Album Review

In 2002, the legendary and insanely prolific Irish ensemble the Chieftains released Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions. Utilizing American icons like Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, and Lyle Lovett alongside the blossoming Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, their interpretations of traditional Irish and Appalachian staples yielded a surprisingly lucid bounty. Not surprisingly, the sessions also yielded another record. Further Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions follows the same thread on the neo-traditional loom, pitting the Celtic heroes against such heavyweights as Doc Watson, John Prine, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, while incorporating younger artists like Nickel Creek. The Chieftains, possibly the tightest veteran band still performing, have made a career out of effortless creativity and sheer enthusiasm, especially for projects like this one. On the gorgeous "Chief O'Neil's Hornpipe," Paddy Maloney's bittersweet piping effortlessly segues into Chet Atkins' understated picking. It's like listening to a couple of old friends sharing a beer on a Sunday evening. Emmylou Harris croons "Lambs in the Greenfield" that'll leave a lump in your throat, and Tim O'Brien tears through a version of "Shady Grove," fueled by the ancestral flames of its birth. Only the forced soul of Allison Moorer's "Hick's Farewell" and Don Williams' generic rendering of the classic ballad "Wild Mountain Thyme" keep Further Down the Old Plank Road from being a major achievement.


Formed: 1963 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: World

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The original traditional Irish folk band, as far as anyone who came of age in the 1970s or '80s is concerned, is the Chieftains. Their sound, built largely on Paddy Moloney's pipes, is otherworldly, almost entirely instrumental, and seems as though it comes out of another age of man's history. That they became an international phenomenon in the '70s and '80s is testament to their virtuoso musicianship. The Chieftains were first formed in Dublin during 1963, as a semi-professional outfit, from the...
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