Award-winning Boston-based uilleann piper Joey Abarta has
released his second solo album, King of the Blind, available for digital download on Bandcamp, and on CD and Vinyl HERE.
The album is named for the title track, King of the Blind, a tune that Joey discovered in John & William Neal’s “A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes” (1724), which is said to be attributed to the famous 17th century blind Celtic harper, Turlough O'Carolan. Joey’s arrangement of this tune is inspired by the late Liam Og O’Flynn, who recorded it on his self-titled solo album in 1988. “From the first time I knew this record was going to be a reality my thoughts on the subject were: no frills, great sound, low editing, organic solo piping,” Joey said. “There are a handful of squeaks and squawks, everything we love about the pipes. The Japanese art of finding the beauty in imperfection is called Wabi-Sabi. I think this idea embodies the pipes, their music, and their place in traditional music.”
King of the Blind showcases Joey’s high regard for the great piping luminaries from Seamus Ennis to Patsy Touhey to Jerry O’Sullivan, which has distinguished him as one of the most exceptional pipers today. Joey continues to emphasize historical influences and early American piping styles in his playing, often performing together with his wife, old style step and sean nós dancer, Jackie O’Riley, who features on several tracks in King of the Blind. This album represents a snapshot of the tunes Joey has heard, collected, practiced, and recorded over the past decade.
Joey’s discography includes his first solo album, Swimming Against the Falls (2013), which was called a “debut of majestic proportions” by Tradconnect, and a duo album, Copley Street (2016), with Boston-based fiddle player, Nathan Gourley, which was described as “a wonderful album from two stunning young players that adds to Boston’s rich history of traditional Irish music,” by The Irish Echo. Belfast-based flutist and uilleann piper and member of Na Píobairí Uilleann, Harry Bradley, describes Joey’s playing: “In taking an engaged approach to the piping tradition, in lavishing attention on the great recorded heritage of the pipes and absorbing playing techniques, he arrives at his own unique style and proves that anyone anywhere, through his or her own efforts, can contribute to revitalizing Irish musical traditions in creative and meaningful ways.”
King of the Blind was funded, in part, by a prestigious Artist Fellowship in the Traditional Arts from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which this year recognized Joey as a bearer and conduit of a cultural tradition by his peers and the state of Massachusetts.
Swimming Against the Falls Joey Abarta
"In this impressive display of piping ability Joey Abarta demonstrates his commitment to the instrument and, more importantly, to the ways in which the pipes have been played by previous masters. In taking an engaged approach to the piping tradition, in lavishing attention on the great recorded heritage of the pipes and absorbing playing techniques, he arrives at his own unique style and proves that anyone anywhere, through his or her own efforts, can contribute to revitalising Irish musical traditions in creative and meaningful ways. I am very happy to recommend this CD as it represents the very admirable process of a musician finding meaning and modes of expression through closely engaging with those standards of expressive excellence established by our piping predecessors.”
-Harry Bradley, Ireland
Joey Abarta & Nathan Gourley, feat. Owen Marshall
"Boston based Uilleann piper Joey Abarta and fiddler Nathan Gourley are two of America’s great young trad musicians, who have been playing music together daily since 2013. Their debut duo album, Copley Street, featuring Owen Marshall on Greek bouzouki, has an undeniable chemistry and demonstrates a nuanced understanding of each the other's playing. Their music includes offbeat settings of well-known tunes and beautiful pieces that seem to languish in obscurity. "Copley Street" is a wonderful album from two stunning young players that adds to Boston’s rich history of traditional Irish music."
-Dan Neely, The Irish Echo