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T o m m y... S a n d s

outlaws and dreamers
Tommy Sands
Let the Circle be Wide



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“Tommy Sands has achieved that difficult but wonderful balance between knowing and loving the traditions of his home and being concerned with the future of the wholeworld . . .”    – Pete Seeger

track listing

1. Young Man's Dream itunesbuy
2. The Song Sings On (Ballad of Tommy Makem itunesbuy
3. The People Have Spoken itunesbuy
4. You Will Never Grow Old itunesbuy
5. Send for Maguire itunesbuy
6. Keep on Singing itunesbuy
7. A Stor Mo Chroi itunesbuy
8. Rovers of Wonder itunesbuy
9. Make Those Dreams Come True itunesbuy
10. Ballyvalley Brae itunesbuy
11. Time for Asking Why itunesbuy
12. Fields of Daisies itunesbuy
13. Rambling Wild and Free itunesbuy
14. Carlingford Bay itunesbuy
15. Let the Circle be Wide itunesbuy

Born in the North of Ireland, an area bitterly divided by opposing religious and political issues, singer-songwriter- activist Tommy Sands has spent his life using music to spread hope, healing and inspiration, as well as entertain-ment. Since the ’60s with his brothers and sisters in The Sands Family, as a solo performer, and most recently with his daughter and son, Tommy has been bringing traditional Irish songs and original, socially relevant material to audiences all around the world.

On the new Let the Circle be Wide, his seventh solo album, Sands continues to write and perform wise, moving, sometimes rollicking songs infused with his deep but clear-eyed love of his imperfect homeland. The CD reflects some of the changes resulting from the historic 1998 power-sharing Belfast Agreement; Sands’ spontaneous performance of his songs with a group of Catholic and Protestant school children outside those agreement negotiations was called “a defining moment in the peace process.”

Unlike the early Gaelic bards who wrote songs, stories and poems in praise of their own clans alone, well-known Irish musician and folklorist Professor Mick Moloney has dubbed Sands an “enlightened bard,” who “says and writes words that are more likely to bring people of diverse backgrounds together than to keep them apart.” The 15 songs on Let the Circle be Wide ring with Tommy’s warm brogue, the poignant Irish lilt of uillean pipes, fiddles, and whistles, but also carry the influence of different cultures, such as the unearthly vocal buzzes and drones of Mongolian throat-singing on “Rovers of Wonder.”

Sands, who plays guitar, whistle, banjo, and dotara, a stringed Indian instrument, as well as singing the lead vocals, shares his music’s power to heal (the high-spirited “Send for Maguire” and ethereal “A Stór Mo Chroí”), to rally (“Make Those Dreams Come True,” “Time for Asking Why”), to pay tribute to the departed (“The Song Sings On: Ballad of Tommy Makem,” “You Will Never Grow Old,” a gentle farewell to Sands’ late brother Dino), to fight prejudice (“Keep On Singing”), to unite people (the title song), and to celebrate Ireland’s natural beauty amid ongoing social change (“Fields of Daisies,” “Carlingford Bay”). The CD’s misty, welcoming opener, “Young Man’s Dream,” is Tommy’s “translation/part transcreation” of an ancient Gaelic song which would much later become Ireland’s most famous ballad, “Danny Boy.” This dream song, so apt for today, dates back more than 500 years, drawing us to “an island dreaming where the heart is free,” where “the dream of love, it belongs to all.”

Sands’ musical inclusiveness extends to enlisting his daughter Moya (fiddle, bodhran, whistle, vocals), son Fionán (banjo, mandolin, backing vocals), his Sands Family siblings and additional musicians including guitarist Arty McGlynn (Van Morrison, Patrick Street, Christy Moore), guitarist/bassist Steve Cooney (Sinead O’Connor, The Chieftains, Chuck Berry, Dolly Parton), and co-producer/multi-instrumentalist Tom Newman (who worked on Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells), among others, to perform on Let the Circle be Wide. With a new CD, a busy international performance schedule with Moya and Fionán, a weekly show on Irish radio, periodic tours with The Sands Family, and his involvement in social justice projects including peace concerts and educational programs in schools and prisons, Tommy Sands exemplifies the idealistic musician as a strong but gentle agent of tradition and change, a carrier of hope and solace, and a man of dreams and reality in the spirit of America’s Pete Seeger, Scotland’s Dick Gaughan and other giants of musical activism.

Lyrics to several songs from Let the Circle be Wide were omitted from the CD's booklet due to spatial constraints. Follow this link to the missing lyrics, complete with Tommy's notes about the songs.



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The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol 1
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