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RAISING THE BAR Trad band Rake The Ashes reflect on live-streamed session from famous Dublin pub

The recording of the show has now been released as a double CD album and DVD called Lockdown At Cassidy's - St Patrick's Night 2021


Trad band Rake The Ashes

Trad band Rake The Ashes

Trad band Rake The Ashes

Irish ballad group Rake The Ashes was born out of raucous sessions in a world-famous Dublin pub.

But last March 17 they had the bizarre experience of performing in a deserted Cassidy's of Camden Street for a worldwide live-streamed music session.

The recording of the show in former American President Bill Clinton's favourite Irish hostelry has now been released as a double CD album and DVD called Lockdown At Cassidy's - St Patrick's Night 2021.

"It was definitely weird to be playing in an empty Irish pub on St Patrick's Day, particularly as we're used to Cassidy's being jammed for our sessions," singer Chris O'Donnell tells the Sunday World.

"Rake The Ashes emerged from our Sunday night sessions in Cassidy's. Sunday night in Dublin used to be a quiet night in the pub, so my father, James, who is one of the owners, asked me to step outside the bar and start doing a ballad night.

"At that time it was an open session and we could have had 10 or 11 lads all playing together. Eventually, we sat down one night and decided to form Rake The Ashes with just the five of us. "

Chris, who is a nephew of Irish country music legends Margo and Daniel O'Donnell, told how the group were also touring successfully at home and abroad, including Germany, before the pandemic shut down entertainment.

"We were due to play the Electric Picnic last year and obviously that got cancelled," Chris says. "This year we have a planned trip to Germany in September, which hopefully will go ahead. We usually go to Germany twice a year, to Dusseldorf and Stuttgart.

"The German fans are really attentive audiences. The first time we went over I couldn't believe how much they were into it."

The group, which includes Fran Deffew, Alan Ryan, Weg Timbs and Paddy Kiernan, teamed up with Ireland's top production team, Stream Engine, to broadcast and record their Paddy's Day session in Cassidy's.

"Stream Engine do the Other Voices stuff down in Dingle," Chris says. "There were 25 cameras set up in Cassidy's and audio microphones everywhere. It was a top-class recording and good enough to go on an audio CD.

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"We're delighted with it because it really captures what we do as a group. It has everything from Whiskey in the Jar and Spancil Hill to Seven Drunken Nights, Grace, Monto and Dirty Old Town. It's all the old classics that we do in a live set in Cassidy's."

• Lockdown At Cassidy's - St Patrick's Night 2021, is out now.

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