When The Chieftains arrived in San Francisco from Dublin, Ireland in the fall of 1973, they weren’t exactly superstars. The traditional Irish folk band didn’t have a #1 record or its name on billboards. What they did have, however, was one very special fan named Jerry Garcia who personally invited them to open for his bluegrass band Old & In The Way at the Boarding House on October 1st, 1973. They also had another fan in sound engineer Owsley “Bear” Stanley who was in attendance that night and recorded the entire show. That and another concert from 1976 will be featured on the latest installment of the Bear’s Sonic Journalsarchival series, The Foxhunt – The Chieftains Live in San Francisco, 1973 & 1976, due out on September 2nd. The album’s title track arrives today exclusively via Live For Live Music.
Taped in the same room where Old & In The Way’s iconic 1975 self-titled debut was recorded a week later (also by Bear using much of the same equipment), The Foxhunt finds The Chieftains on their first-ever U.S. tour. Through thick Irish brogues, Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts, and Derek Bell bridge the cultural divide between the centuries-old Celtic traditions and the American bluegrass music that would immediately follow during the headliner’s set.
“The nature of the songs is like what the fathers of country and western music, American music, grew up singing,” Garcia said of traditional Irish music’s influence on American country and bluegrass during a broadcast with The Chieftains on Tom “Big Daddy” Donahue‘s KSAN radio show ahead of the concert. Garcia’s radio interview, in addition to an excerpt of Moloney’s final recorded interview with the Owsley Stanley Foundation before his death last October, are found on CD and digital copies of The Foxhunt.
In addition to the landmark 1973 show, the new Bear’s Sonic Journal release also hosts the band’s triumphant return on May 5th, 1976 at Great American Music Hall. The sonic differences between the two shows are subtle yet significant, as The Chieftains move from the intimate club environment of the Boarding House into a grand music hall.
“I love them both! They contain lovely subtleties that don’t normally happen. They’re wild, with fire and personal touch,” Paddy Moloney said in August 2021, after auditioning Bear’s complete Chieftains tapes. Moloney had long wanted to issue a live Chieftains release from the early 1970s but was unable to find tapes that properly captured the band’s full sound until he heard Bear’s.
The Foxhunt – The Chieftains Live in San Francisco, 1973 & 1976 will be available in a variety of formats including digital download, a 2CD set, and vinyl. The digital and CD versions feature the two complete concerts from 1973 and 1976 as well as interviews with Garcia in 1973 and Moloney in 2021. The vinyl edition will host the entire Boarding House show from October 1st, 1973.
Listen to the title track to The Chieftains’ upcoming Bear’s Sonic Journals release, The Foxhunt, below and click here to pre-order the album from the Owsley Stanley Foundation.
The Chieftains – “The Foxhunt” – 10/1/73