Chapter 7

chapter5 Mosaic
Ralph McTell came over from London to talk about the band and play a few songs. Now there was an idea!

Eventually we asked Arty McGlynn, James Kelly and Dolores Keane to join and we rehearsed in Bill's house.

The music was lovely! It was very different music and a very different Planxty at this resurrection! Possibly, in retrospect, we should have called the band by a different name. I think the name bore heavily on some of the new members. At the time, though, Liam, myself and Bill felt that we were the band, the other two having left it…

We played a tour of Britain, finishing off at the Dominion Theatre in London. It was a very good gig , jammed to the gunnels, nobody shouted out ''Where's Christy?'' and we sailed back to Ireland content enough. We played a short tour of Ireland and that was that.

The last codicil of Planxty.

I went to the Balkans after the tour. When I came back I expected that a tour would have been set up for the autumn but nothing had been decided and nothing happened. It simply went silently down the drain.

andy irvine I began to play with Arty McGlynn and Nollaig Casey. I played with a lot of guitar players in my time. They all had qualities that you would not find from one to the next. Without wishing to draw any comparisons, I loved playing with Arty. Loved it.

I had met a number of people in Hungary by this time, whose careers bore a comparison with my own. I mean city people in Budapest who had discovered their folk music, gone out to collect it and formed bands to play it. First I met Kolinda with the beautiful voice of Ágnes Zsigimondi and then I ran into Muzsikás, who would become my firm friends.

I started to play there a lot. I loved the place. I lost my heart to many things there!

I used to play at the Kaláka Festival in an old castle, Díosgyör, near Miskolc. Coming from the west, I found so many good things about peoples attitudes. I was amazed one day when we parked my car down on the Danube with all the instruments on the back seat. I went to lock the door but my friends said ''No, it is not necessary ''.

Years later, when I reminded my dear friend Peter Éri of this he said, with an ironic smile ''Yes, all we were afraid of in those days was the police!''.

I had long had a plan to bring different elements of European music together, long before the so-called World Music took off. I realised, however, that I was not a great organiser and probably nothing would happen with my plan unless I shared it with somebody who could get it together.

I rang Milica in Vienna.
''Oh Andy, this is a very good idea. Well, first of all, what about Hans?''

I had known Hans Theesink for a long time and thought a lot of him. A very good guitar player and singer and married to Milica.

So there was Hans. And then there was Lissa from Denmark who had a lovely voice and played bass guitar and then there was Dougie MacLean from Scotland and Márta Sebestyén from Muzsikás.

One wintry week we went up to Scotland, stayed in a cottage and got the music together. It was a great experience, very positive vibe. We recorded a few songs and tunes to send out to promoters to announce ourselves as, Mosaic.

Alas Dougie decided he couldn't do it. He was a bit dubious from the beginning but we thought we had persuaded him. Unfortunately the prospect of playing ''strange music'' was too much for him and we were left wondering what the hell we were going to do.

A while later I was in Vienna and I said to Milica ''Well, what about John Faulkner and Dolores Keane?''. So we rang them up. I think they were afraid they were going to be asked to play and sing music they thought they couldn't handle. They declined.

So then we decided, ''Let's ask the great man himself''. And we rang Donal and he said yes he'd do it. He brought Declan Masterson, the uilleann piper with him, and we all met up in Vienna to rehearse.

We had about ten days to rehearse and it was a lot more difficult than we thought. Some things didn't sit quite right.

Anyway, we went off and we played. The first gig was a festival in Budapest, and I remember being in a panic, because we were not ready. I think it was probably pretty awful but the people reacted very kindly! I think they knew we were just an under-rehearsed band!

We went off on tour then and the music got better. The main part of the tour was in England and we got an amazing review in Folk Roots. It started off by saying something like, ''Every now and again, in every era, a band comes along that is remarkable. In the Sixties it was the Beatles, in the Seventies…..'' I thought: ''This must be a joke''. It was after a gig in the Southport Arts Centre and it was just one of the best reviews I've ever seen. And it was for this band that we were all thinking, ''Oh my God, we've got the wrong band here''. So I guess we had our moments!

In retrospect, Mosaic was a bit like a throw back to that first summer of Sweeney's Men. We were a very happy band but we had the sense to leave it at just the one summer! Still, I don't think I'll ever forget Márta playing the gárdon, a Translvanian percussion instrument that looks like a stone age cello, on sets of Irish reels!!

I had put together a songbook called Aiming for the Heart about this time. It was published by my German publisher on fine quality paper with a hard cover and good printing. It also had drawings by my old friend Eamonn O'Doherty, illustrating the songs. I've always been very proud of it and though it's out of print now, I feel that it was a good thing to have done. An attractive object where no expense had been spared. Needless to say, neither the publisher nor Eamonn, nor myself enhanced our incomes hugely from its sales.