Ronnie Drew - The Last Session A Fond Farewell


Ronnie Drew's ‘The Last Session’ is no more, nor no less, than the great man’s musical epitaph, the music he wanted the public to hear after a lifetime of playing and recording in the world-renowned style of the Dubliners and their associates. This album is different, the musicians backing Ronnie are jazz players, the duets are with some of our leading singers in a diversity of styles, including classical; and Hugh Buckley inspired arrangements place Ronnie in a setting he has never had before. It is also something of great historical importance; Ronne Drew's last record, made between November 2007, and May 2008, three months before he died of cancer. The idea was born-from an interview Aengus Fanning did with Ronnie for the Sunday Independent in August 2007, not along after his wife Deirdre's death, also from cancer, a few months earlier. Ronnie had over the years been a frequent caller to jazz gigs at JJ Smyths in Dublin where he sat in with Hugh and Richie Buckley, and Myles Drennan. Around the same time, he frequently came to the late Peter O'Brien's gigs and did shows with him in the National Concert Hall in jazz style. He loved the idiom and on more than one occasion he lamented the fact that he had spent most of his life playing what he called 'diddly aye' music. After that heartbreaking interview in Dali's restaurant, Aengus suggested to Ronnie that, if he could get sponsorship, they might enlist Hugh Buckley's musical genius and get a record done in that style. Michael Fingleton of the Irish Nationwide Building Society came up with £25,000 and the show which became 'The Last Session A Fond Farewell' was on the road. On a cold morning in November 2007, Aengus picked Ronnie up at his Greystones home to drive to Gavin Ralston's studio in Newtownmountkennnedy. 'I'm fucked' said Ronnie as he sat into the car. 'In the long run, we're all fucked,' said Aengus. An hour later, Ronnie was as happy as Larry in Gavin's studio, surrounded by his friends Hugh, Myles, and Dave Fleming, working with dedication, love and fun on Kurt Weill's 'September Song.' Over the following seven months, there were eight sessions in all with the initial band being joined by Richie, Paul Sweeney, and Ciaran Wilde, and singers as contrasting as Damien Dempsey, Mary Coughlan and Emmanuel Lawler. Hugh recalled the unique atmosphere in the intimate studio during the sessions. 'We were all friends and there was a great vibe of mutual respect in the air. 'Each day in the studio was full of that wonderful feeling that something special was happening.' All the guest singers loved the project and were honoured to record with Ronnie. Damien said "Now, I've finally made it. I've recorded with Ronnie Drew. Emmanuel said afterwards: "This was one of the very best days of my life." Mary said it was a once in a lifetime thrill." The choice of songs was Ronnie's call. Hugh Buckley's brilliant and sensitive arrangements breathe new life into even the best-known of these songs, and the musicianship of Richie Buckley, Myles Drennan, Dave Fleming, Hugh Buckley, Paul Sweeney and Ciaran Wilde imbues the album with a unique quality that Ronnie loved when he heard the playbacks.

1. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out 2. September Song 3. Rainy Night In Soho (duet with Damien Dempsey) 4. For Ronnie (guitar solo Hugh Buckley) 5. The Last Wave 6. We Had It All (duet with Mary Coughlan) 7. The Auld Triangle 8. Molly Malone 9. Loves Own Sweet Song (duet with Emmanuel Lawler) 10. Inspiration For The Bards - 'Until Spring' (poem)