Turlach Boylan & Eddie Edwards
Things fall apart; we know that. For The Tae Company’s Eddie Edwards and his 1970’s Gibson guitar, the experience is close to home. During a 2016 festival appearance, the peghead popped right off the instrument, leaving him wordless mid-song. A borrowed guitar finished the set, and after some emergency repairs Edwards and the reborn acoustic were re-united on stage the next day.
The guitar, a J45 dreadnought, is the model favored by Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Donovan, and James Taylor. Eddie’s constant companion since the early 1980s, it came by its resilience honestly. One of his few possessions salvaged from a house fire, it was carefully pieced together at Mass Street Music in Lawrence KS.
Turlach Boylan’s 19th century flute has a parallel tale. During a moment of horseplay in Ireland, his younger brother sat on it, shattering the bottom joint. Lacking access to proper repairs, the fragments were superglued together in a workable but brittle patchwork. For more than a decade, until it got expert attention, the foot joint would periodically separate from the rest of the instrument.
We encounter life’s calamities, glue the pieces back together, and call it character. It’s no coincidence that The Tae Company sings about coping with challenge and hardship. In When I First Came To Caledonia an emigrant miner tries to eke a living from a barren island in Canada, unable to afford true love or even tea. A Close Shave features a New Zealand goldminer with a pragmatic response to being deceived and robbed during a drunken tryst. Eddie’s self-penned Many Roads is an anthemic call to endure and adapt, for optimism over all. We collect the fragments, re-manufacture ourselves, and move forward. The songs might come from different countries, but they have a common humanity. It’s the diversity that makes it authentic, true to a culture transformed by emigration, distant influence and homecoming.
When Turlach was a youth working in the family fields in Ireland, his mother would visit with a laden cardboard box. Peeling back the tea towel cover revealed a pile of sandwiches and glass milk bottles filled with hot tea, fortifying sustenance and relief. We’re a long way from that farm, and from the rooftops where Eddie worked construction and craved iced tea in the South Carolina sun, but we know the restorative value of stout concoctions. We brew strong music for overworked souls.