"a stunning album"
-- Frank Hennessy, Celtic Heartbeat, BBC 
Wales
April 2016

Philadelphia, April 2016 Issue
Dan Possumato
 
Mostly Melodeon 
 

    Accordion is one of my favorite instruments, especially the melodeon. And Dan Possumato is one of the finest exponents of the instrument currently playing. There is a warmth and strength in his approcach, the old style push-and-pull, that holds your attention and sets your feet s-tapping.  

    This compilation draws on his previous three releases and includes a strong selection of appealing tunes. From the intricate “Da Eye Wifey,” into the old time “Land of Sunshine” and on to another 14 tracks, here are 54 minutes of top-notch playing. 
  
    Joining Possumato are almost a score of musicians, including the likes of fiddlers Kevin Burke, Vince Burns and Brongaene Griffin, piper Eliot Grasso, Jerry Mulvihill and Brian McGrath on banjo and many more. There is a reason why some of the top players on Irish music on both sides of the Atlantic feature on his albums. If you don’t have any of the earlier releases, get this one and hear why this is some of the best traditional Irish music you’ll ever hear. 

    Go to Possumato’s website and click the video links to see him playing with Kevin Burke. www.danpossumato.com 

Reviews & Comments on 3 Previous CDs (detailed quotes follow)

Irish Music Magazine

The first impression one gets from handling this new CD production of box player Dan Possumato's is that there's no expense spared, nothing left to chance, and it was all prepared with loving attention to detail. While it's a celebration of music and associated friendships, there's a note of sadness there, as well. One of the musicians featured is Dan's good friend, mountain climber Gerard McDonnell, the 37-year-old from Kilcornan, Co Limerick, the first Irish person to reach the summit of K2 the second-highest mountain on earth. Sadly, Ger and ten other climbers didn't make it back and died in the descent.

Listening to Dan's new CD, Pulling Out the Stops, is like a return visit with an old friend because I had the pleasure of doing a write-up of his 2007 CD Land of Sunshine, and now once again the sentiments I experienced then are evoked once more in this new album. This production has the honesty and genuineness of an old-time session of friends and neighbours gathered in for an evening's entertainment. Among the musicians are his good friend, fiddler Kevin Burke, the London-born son of Sligo parents, now resident in Portland, Oregon, where Dan lives, and Mick Mulcrone (vocals, flute, bouzouki) from Ohio, who like Dan, is the son of immigrants. Other friends are, Quentin Cooper (banjo, mandolin, bouzouki), Andrew Dall (bodhrán), Brongaene Griffin (fiddle), Elizabeth Nicholson (Irish harp), Bob Soper (guitar), and Teresa Baker (piano). Incidentally, Dan plays the one-row melodeon and the two-row button accordion.


Gerard McDonnell is heard on two tracks: he sings Molly Brannigan unaccompanied, a song he often sang at festivals and concerts. Ger's sense of humour is revealed in his treatment of this song of unrequited love which, he once told Dan, is about someone who feels a bit too sorry for himself. In the recurring line at the end of each verse are the words, '…she left me all alone here for to die' followed immediately by Ger lilting "didlle-dee-eye-dee-die-dee-die…" and so on, with emphasis on the word die. The other track in which Ger plays a bodhrán solo was recorded 'live' in April 2002 at the Alaska Folk Festival when he and Dan were members of the group Last Night's Fun.

Mick Mulcrone is a dab hand at the singing and gives us three songs: The Boys of Mullaghbawn, Stephen Foster's Hard Times, and Welcome Paddy Home which he got from the singing of Cathal McConnell. The tunes range through jigs, reels, hornpipes, and Planxty Dermot Grogan, composed for the man named in the title by Mayo harpist and concertina player Holly Geraghty. A final note: Dan has arranged for a donation from the sale of each CD to go to Ger McDonnell's memorial fund to provide assistance to the children of the Sherpa and Pakistani porters who died that day. That would be reason enough to buy this CD, but it stands on its own as a fine example of what Dan's friend Mikey Beglan said of the musicians featured and what they represent: '…regardless of their individual talents they were servants of the collective tradition' they all loved and respected.

Aidan O'Hara , Irish Music Magazine, July 2010


 

The Living Tradition (Scotland)

Dan's a Pittsburgh-born box player, who as far as I know is currently based in Anchorage, Alaska; his playing style is both nimble and pleasingly full-toned: honest and easy, I guess you could term it homey and old-fashioned but it's engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable for all that. Dan is here joined, on the follow-up to his well-received 2006 CD Land Of Sunshine, by a small handful of musician friends for what seems intended to approximate the format of a convivial, laid-back session (i.e. mostly tune-sets but a few songs thrown in for good measure and contrast)…this is an appealingly enjoyable record which majors on the heartwarming, life-affirming power of good craic and reliable musicianship.

-- David Kidman

The Irish Edition (Philadelphia)

"Dan is one of the finest old style button accordion players currently around and this, his second album, Pulling Out The Stops, captures the magic of his playing to perfection." -- Jamie O'Brien

Irish American News (Chicago)

"Kevin Burke leads a host of guest stars whose very presence tells you this is good stuff, and indeed it is! Lots of tunes and songs---all trad and all solid!! "

-- Bill Margeson

fRoots (London, England)

Dan is an American accordionist who favours the Jackie Daly and Paddy O'Brien approach to box playing over flashing arpeggios. This album is solid, beefy and devoid of showmanship. Some old favourites and choice new tunes with guest slots from Kevin Burke and a bodhran solo from the late Gerard McDonnell.

Delightful meat and two veg traditional music of the old stock.

-- Aug/Sep 2010, Nos. 326/327

Victory Music Revue (Seattle, WA)

Traditional Irish music in the early 21st century is far removed from its rowdy dancehall roots. Most Irish musicians today play in the fast and flashy "session style" that actively avoids and disguises the beat. But there is a small community of old-school Irish musicians still playing for dancing and looking to bring the music's beat back. Surprisingly, a fair number of these musicians are located right here in the Pacific Northwest and especially in Portland, Oregon. On his new album, Pulling Out The Stops, melodeon player Dan Possumato involves some of Portland's best Irish musicians, from legendary Irish fiddler Kevin Burke, to Irish harp and guitar duo Elizabeth Nicholson and Bob Soper (of the Portland band Stringed Migration); he even has an introductory note of appreciation from Mikey Beglan, the famously cantankerous owner of Portland's Alberta Street Pub (the heart of Portland's Irish scene).

Throughout, Dan's melodeon playing leads the pace of the album. The melodeon, a one-row accordion (or style of playing a button accordion on one row of buttons) has a funky and choppy sound. Since each button sounds a different note on the push or the pull, I've often likened playing the one-row melodeon to the feeling of wrestling a wild animal.

The feel of Dan's CD is that of an Irish hooley, or house party; a gathering of friends to play music, sing songs and tell stories. I give Dan props for involving so many different musicians in the album and for allowing them to have the space to show their talents as well. There are some nice gems on the album: like a gorgeous spot of lilting (mouth music) on "Molly Branigan", and a lovely group of jigs, "Boys of Tandragee/Jackson's Morning Breeze/John McKenna's", that really features Dan's melodeon playing. The tunes chosen for the recording are lesser-known gems and fit nicely together.

All in all, this is a great introduction to Portland's lively Irish music scene and a fun listen.
-- Devon Leger

BBC Radio Ulster (Belfast)

"Some great tunes and songs" -- Colm Sands, Folk Club, BBC Radio Ulster, Belfast

Radio Telefis Eireann (Irish Public Radio)

"(He's) …a great accordion player."" -- Ellen Cranitch, Grace Notes, RTÉ Lyric FM, Dublin, Ireland

Sing Out!

The second tune on Dan Possumato’s latest CD is Billy McComiskey’s “The Controversial Reel.” That’s apt in that melodeon/button accordion artist Possumato, like McComiskey, favors bold playing in which the notes roll across the room in waves. There are recent compositions sprinkled amid the traditional tunes, but this is mostly old-style Irish music – the kind that doesn’t pretend that jigs and reels are stage spectacle. As a result, it is timeless music rather than flavor of the month. This is not to say that the album is sparse – Possumato’s pulled and pushed notes are the album’s centerpiece, but he has enlisted a top-drawer guest list that includes Kevin Burke (fiddle), Teresa Baker (piano), Mick Mulcrone (flute, bouzouki,vocals), Quentin Cooper (banjo) and Elizabeth Nicholson (harp). What is billed as a squeezebox album is really an ensemble piece that has the intimacy of a late-night session in which the musicians are perfectly in synch. Possumato honors the sessions spirit by mixing the pace and mood. For example, a flute/melodeon jig set (“Dermot Grogan’s”) segues to a song (Mulcrone on “Boys of Mullaghbawn”), slides easily into some Irish reels (“Miss Langford’s”), and gives way to a Breton an dro. Later Possumato devotes one of the album’s 16 tracks to a bodhran solo from Andrew Dall. Like all great sessions, though, the big reel sets are there to stir your blood right after you’ve been pacified by whatever came before it. Check out the “Tommy Peoples” set and you’ll know what I mean. — RWeir