Thursday, 30 June 2011

Utah Irish Music Festival tickets on deep discount Thursday

"Lovers of Irish music (especially lovers of the Young Dubliners) can get tickets the the Utah Irish Music Festival Thursday for just $9.87, thanks to a promotion with KBEE 98.7FM.
It all starts with Todd and Erin in the Morning and will go on until midnight.
People can go to any Smithstix outlet, to or to the station at This promotion is for tomorrow only."

Danny Burns at the Kerry

Despite dwelling in the thick of mainstream French Quarter tourist draws, the Kerry Irish Pub is more cozy local music den than tourist trap.

The pub has performers scheduled most nights with many traditional Irish acts among them. That’s what seemed to be on offer just the other night when I dropped by, too. From the back of the long, narrow room I could hear a guitar giving way to what I thought was a bodhrán, the traditional Irish drum with its distinctive, galloping beat.

It just sounded that way, however. In fact it proved to be a telling trick from the man on stage, Danny Burns.

The singer/songwriter was performing solo on the Kerry’s tiny stage, and at the crescendo of this particular song he whipped his much-worn, hole-pocked acoustic guitar into such a frenzy that it indeed sounded like a bodhrán in action. This was Danny Burns all over. A native of Donegal, Ireland, and now well rooted in New Orleans, his music can be by turns traditional or of-the-moment contemporary. He’s a roots rocker with a brogue and a sound that argues for a closer listen.

I was first clued-in to Danny Burns by a friend who pointed me to his new body of work, a forthcoming album called “Off the Grid” (the album isn’t out yet, but you can hear it online here). My friend had described him as an Irish songwriter, and I’ll admit that, at first, I expected something closer to a folk act. So I was surprised (and impressed) from the first track on. Reflective yet still rollicking, articulate and original though accessible and at turns downright catchy, his sound struck me as something like a harder-rocking Jackson Browne mixed with perhaps a Celtic version of Anders Osborne.

These “Off the Grid” tracks are polished and sound well produced, but of course seeing Danny Burns perform live and solo at the Kerry the other night was a different experience. Here, it’s just the man, the guitar and the mic (and the tip bucket. . .there’s no cover charge at the Kerry). His treatment of a few eclectic covers was revealing – like Richard Thompson’s "Beeswing" and the Pogues’ “A Pair of Brown Eyes”. They told a story of his influences. But what I enjoyed most was hearing the original material I’d gotten to know already from his recordings, here stripped down to their essence, revved up with the intensity you need to hold a pub’s attention by yourself and put out there in the easy, intimate setting of the Kerry. His songs are filled with hope, disappointment, defiance, yearning and fulfillment, and each one seems to take you on a little ride as it goes.

Danny Burns is in the midst of a solo acoustic series at Kerry Irish Pub that began this past weekend, with the show I happened to catch. It continues this Friday, July 1, and also on the following Friday, July 8, and again for a Sunday show on July 17. He has more gigs booked this month, including a show at the Hi-Ho Lounge, on July 30 that will feature his full band. Check his show schedule for details and updates.

Kerry Irish Pub
331 Decatur St., New Orleans, 504-527-5954

Danny Burns at the Kerry - After Hours - June 2011 - New Orleans, LA

Non-stop 'craic' (fun) in Galway

Eyre Square is at the centre of the city.Image via Wikipedia

The Irish love of a party was evident everywhere in Galway City during the couple of days we were there.
We arrived during the 57th Annual International Oyster Festival -a celebration that coincides with the crustacean's harvest season. It's location on the banks of the River Corrib at the bend of Galway Bay which empties into the sea makes it a prime place for such an event.
The festivities of the Oyster Gala evening had begun earlier in the day with a rollicking street parade, featuring energetic strains of traditional Irish music, fancy vintage cars and the crowning of the comely Oyster Pearl, who presents the mayor with an oyster -a tradition since 1954.
That evening, at the gala, we witnessed what looked like a mob dance, but this one occurred not in the streets but rather in a formal dining hall, replete with white-clothed tables and guests in cocktail dresses and tuxes. Without prompting, but as if on cue, hundreds of people stood on their chairs, twirling white cloth napkins to sing along to pop songs. There were plenty of sing-alongs in this manner, but the most unforgettable was the 1970s Neil Diamond hit that everyone knows the words to: Sweet Caroline.
As the party wore on into the wee hours, our Irish hosts kept asking us, "Are you havin' any craic yet?" Craic, pronounced "crack," is the gaelic word for fun. Who wouldn't be, with such an uninhibited outbreak of joviality?
The Galway International Oyster Festival is an annual event that brings people from around the U.K. to sample oysters raw and shucked or bobbing in the deliciously thick and smoky seafood chowder. The festival is but one merrymaking event in this the city unofficially dubbed Ireland's festival and arts capital.
As you wander along Shop, Quay, Middle, Mainguard and High streets, you're likely to stumble into a jubilant crowd hoisting a pint or two in the bustling pedestrian zone along narrow streets. Here are a few suggestions of to check out:
3 p.m. -Once you've checked into your hotel (See If You Go sidebar), take a walking tour in what poet W. B. Yeats deemed the "Venus of the west."
Galway is home to the Northern University of Ireland and students make up 30 per cent of the city's 75,000 souls. That may help explain the degree of partying and drinking, our tour guide Conor Riordan of Legend Quest Tours ( tells us. His 90-minute tour begins in Eyre Square in the centre of the city. (It's also known as John F. Kennedy Memorial Park because U.S. president of Irish descent stopped here on his way home from Berlin in June 1963, months before he was assassinated.)
Riordan tells us tales of lynchings, and we learn that the word lynch was coined in this city -actually a last name of one of the 14 families which once ruled the roost in Galway City. We ambled along a boardwalk between the canal and river, where industrial mills once stood, but which have been gentrified into trendy condos or homes.
5 p.m. -Not a fan of Guinness, the national stout? Try one of the local craft brews like Galway Hooker Beer, or a local cider like Bulmers (known as Mangers internationally), a refreshing option on a warm day. Of course, there's always the Irish whiskey.
Then pick a pub, any pub, out of the hundreds. Tig Coili is just the place to get into the Irish spirit. If you stick around until about 7: 30 p.m. you'll be treated to the Irish musical version of a kitchen party, when musicians raise their fiddles, flutes and bodhran drums.
Most pubs have ceili nights, but the Tig Coili breaks out the jams every night.
8 p.m. -Head to another of the many pubs, not only known for what's on tap, but also for tasty pub fare. The Quays Pub and Restaurant is notable for its fresh oysters.
Or, there's the King's Head perhaps the best known pub in all of Galway. It's famous for several things: its selection of beers, the atmosphere and bar food -mainly pizzas and old-fashioned Irish fare.
The building's been around since the 1600s. There's entertainment nightly. Find a comprehensive list of the city's best pubs at
9 a.m. to noon -For breakfast or brunch, head to Griffin's Bakery Tea Rooms on Shop Street, an institution since the 1800s for its artisan breads, baked breakfast goodies, including yummy quiches, buns -even pizza -and a good selection of caffeinated drinks. Sit inside the cosy tea room if it's raining or, if the sun's out, enjoy the patio under the green awning -a prime perch for people and busker watching.
Chances are you'll strike up a conversation or share a table with an affable local.
11 a.m. -Since you're on Shop Street, you might as well shop. If you're looking for good quality traditional Irish goods, like knitwear, head to the famous O'Mailles Woolens and Such. The storied store is noted for its Aran sweaters (from the Aran islands just west of Galway Bay and hand-knitted by 170 regional knitters). Caps, sweaters, scarves -for men, women and children are pretty reasonably priced, and there also cashmere capes and wraps.
Stop by Thomas Dillon's Claddagh Ring Museum, which handcrafts the rings which date back to medieval times. Once the traditional wedding band of the community, the rings have two hands holding a heart with a crown.
They are stamped "original" and made on the premises, which has been a Galway institution since 1750.
Prices start $50. 3. p.m. -For another pub stop, try Taafes for its friendly atmosphere, good grub and live music.
Then be sure to head out for a tour of the winding roads of western Ireland, its rolling or rugged hills, fields of limestone rock, crumbling castles and port towns.

Non-stop 'craic' (fun) in Galway

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Girsa Entertained Enthusiasts With Their Traditional Irish Music

As a true testament to their love for traditional Irish music and their Irish heritage, eight young girlfriends got together and formed their own band they named "Girsa" - which is Gaelic for "young girls." Although the girls have been grown for some time, they still remain close and continue their tradition of making Irish music.

Since their start in 2005 in their hometown of Pearl River, New York, the members of Girsa have released two albums. The first one, "Traditional Irish Music," was followed by the second, more recent release called "A Sweeter Place."

Audience members at the Woodbridge Middle School - Irish or not - were mesmerized by the girls' rhythmic music instrumental talents, and surprising vocal range.

Joan Brennan, a resident of Woodbridge who is of Irish heritage, was truly moved by the girls' show. "They are very good, I thought they were so good that I bought their CD," said Brennan, who purchased the disk from the tables outside the schoolauditorium.

"My daughter is a musician, too, so this is all interesting to me. Their particular style reminds me of the Titanic music," Brennan said.

Bill Brandenburg, who is in charge of the bookings for the Mayor's Summer Concert Series, said he aims to get diverse performances every year. "These performers are really from all over the world," said Brandenburg. As a loyal music listener, Brandenburg constantly indulges in new and different types of music.

"I am a music fanatic. I go to concerts all the time to check new music out. If I see a group and they're great, I try to bring them to Woodbridge," Brandenburg said. Girsa actually attended the Mayor's Summer Concert Series last year to see the Irish performance. "Bringing these girls here to perform was Larry's idea," he said, referring to his fellow township colleague, Larry McCullough. "When I looked at their website and heard their music, I thought, wow these girls are really good. All of them play an instrument and all of them can sing," Brandenburg said.

McCullough, who took particular interest in the girls' musical talents, previously performed traditional Irish music with some of the girls' parents. "I am Irish and the music touches me, but all the music touches me," said McCullough, who helps book acts for the Summer Concert Series.

"We try to get as many different types of music as possible. This year, aside from Irish, we also have Reggae, Latin, and African groups from the area and from around the world," he said.

Girsa Entertained Enthusiasts With Their Traditional Irish Music - Woodbridge, NJ Patch

Friday, 24 June 2011

Burren weaves magic on singer Seán

The Burren, County Clare, IrelandImage via Wikipedia
Galway singer/songwriter Seán Tyrrell has spent the last month touring the country with fellow musicians Ronan Browne and Kevin Glackin to promote their new collaborative CD And So the Story Goes – a selection of songs, jigs and reels. In his newly published book about the Burren, writer and journalist PAUL CLEMENTS interviewed Seán at his home at Dooneen near Bellharbour where he explained how influential the area has been to his musical career.
Born into a musical family in Galway in 1943, Seán Tyrrell’s playing pedigree stretches back to the 1960s when he performed in the Fo’castle Club in the city. He emigrated in 1968 to the US playing professionally and singing in Irish bars in New York and San Francisco on what he calls ‘the corned beef and cabbage circuit’.

In 1976 he returned home and went to live in Kerry before moving to Clare where he was appointed caretaker at the UCG research station at Carron. One day he was walking with a friend at Eagle’s Rock in the heart of the Burren when something about the place spoke to him.
“It was only then that I began to realise what the Burren was all about,” he reflects. “I was ignorant of its importance and the significance of it prior to that as I never visited it as a child. I remember a tangible feeling came over me and I said to myself I have finally found my spiritual homeland. When I lived in the States I had at least four or five different homes but I knew that this was the place – and especially Bellharbour – where I wanted to live.”

Seán looks back on how his poetic-musical life took off. One night he was asked to play in a pub in Lisdoonvarna.

“The barman said he wanted some songs so I was flicking through a book of poems and Bagpipe Music by Louis MacNeice caught my imagination. I found it hilarious and knew immediately this was the song for me. I sat down and quickly produced some of the most amazing lyrics – incredible stuff and unquestionably being in the Burren influenced that. I started to sing poems and realised this was what I was looking for. I didn’t want to do The Wild Rover or Black Velvet Band – they’ve been done to death and have become an abomination but I wanted to find other things.”

The Burren gave Seán the chance to develop a connection between poetry and music which is his passion. The range of poetic voices he has tapped into stretches from the eighteenth-century Clare poet, Brian Merriman and C.D. Shanley through Yeats, MacNeice and Kavanagh up to Seamus Heaney and Paul Durcan. This standing army also includes Michael Hartnett, Mary O’Malley and Rita Ann Higgins.

Like so many creative artists who live in the area, Seán has experienced numerous magical moments.

Burren weaves magic on singer Seán | Galway City Tribune |

Bodhrán makers suspected as goats go missing

A 2 month old goat kid in a field of capeweed.Image via Wikipedia
A reward of €1,000 has been offered for information on a herd of wild goats that has gone missing from Co Waterford.
Around 20 goats disappeared from hills around Passage East one night a few weeks ago - they have not been seen since.
Searches of the area, including some by the local search and rescue helicopter, have proved fruitless.
Gardaí are investigating, as is the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. A wild goat herd has been on the hills above Passage for at least 200 years.
Gardaí are investigating reports that the goats were rounded up by sheepdogs and loaded onto a lorry. Those who took the goats left behind one puck and seven kids.
There are reports that they will be - or have already been - killed to make bodhráns.
A local resident has now put up a €500 reward for information leading to the finding of the goats, with the Passage East car ferry company matching that amount.
Anybody with information is asked to contact gardaí at Passage East.

Bodhrán makers suspected as goats go missing - RTÉ News

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council hosting an evening of champagne, an Irish supper and Celtic music

Clarksville, TN – The Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council is hosting an evening of champagne, an Irish supper and Celtic music at the Customs House Museum at 6:00pm on Friday, June 17th.
Irish country music will be performed by Vintage Wildflowers, stopping in Clarksville as part of their first tour, highlighted by a Washington, D.C., performance for the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage Concert Series.

With their vibrant blend of three-part harmonies backed by Celtic harp, Irish flute and fiddle, Vintage Wildflowers has developed an enthusiastic legion of fans. Acclaimed for their instrumental prowess, onstage charm and soulful vocals, they are equally at home on a huge festival stage, formal concert hall or in someone’s living room.
Vintage Wildflowers features Dana Fitzgerald Maher on Celtic harp, vocals and bodhran; Melissa Schiavone on Irish flute, whistle, lead vocals and banjo; and Abby Bozarth on fiddle, mandolin, vocals and guitar.

Tickets are $25.00 and may be reserved online via the AHDC website at, or by calling 931-551-8870. The Customs House Museum is located at 200 South Second Street in Downtown Clarksville. The deadline for reservations is Tuesday, June 14th.
For more information on Vintage Wildflowers, visit their website at
This performance is sponsored in part by Clarksville Foundry, Inc.

The Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council hosting an evening of champagne, an Irish supper and Celtic music » Clarksville, TN Online

James Joyce Fans: Here's How To Celebrate Bloomsday in New York

Bloomsday performers outside Davy Byrne's pubImage via Wikipedia James Joyce, author of the epic novel 'Ulysses,' has amassed a following of epic proportions since his novel's 1922 publication. On Thursday, Joyce enthusiasts around the world will convene for Bloomsday, an annual celebration of the novelist and his work. Named after the book’s protagonist Leopold Bloom, Bloomsday has been taking place each year since 1954 on June 16, the single date on which the novel, set in Dublin, Ireland, takes place. This year, the 107th Bloomsday, holds particular significance for Joyce fans since it falls on Thursday, the same day the novel takes place.

Following is a guide to Bloomsday celebrations around the city this Thursday:

A Bloomsday Invitation: Ulysses Meets Twitter 2011 Joyce enthusiasts can now celebrate this annual event from the comfort of their homes and Wi-Fi hot spots, train cars and cubicles if they're on Twitter. Steve Cole, who is the brains behind "Ulysses Meets Twitter 2011," has asked social networkers to tweet this epic novel in excerpts of 140 characters at a time over a 24-hour period. Cole launched a blog and Twitter account to announce the experiment in January, saying Joyce "broke down the typical narrative structure of novels and somehow found ways to show more about people than I had seen before.” Since January, nearly 70 “cast members” from around the world have assumed responsibility for “tweading” the tale, which was split up into 96 parts for the occasion. Twitter users can wake up and fall asleep to these excerpts by following @11ysses. The cast of "tweaders" includes a Brooklyn comedian and writer, a Northeastern University student, a writer based in Sydney, Australia, an artist living in the Basque Country of Spain and a number of English Literature majors and professors. As for Cole, he’ll be celebrating Bloomsday in a high-tech way, making sure that each tweet goes out on time. “That will be my job on Bloomsday, all 24 hours of it. Crazy,” he said. Segments will begin on the quarter hour and end on the next quarter hour, with the event kicking off at 8 A.M. Dublin Time (3 A.M. ET) on Thursday.

A Bloomsday Breakfast in Bryant Park Start your day off right with a Bloomsday Breakfast sponsored by Culture Ireland and the Irish Arts Center. First, head to the Upper Terrace at Bryant Park and eat a complementary Irish breakfast courtesy of Tommy Maloney’s in a recreation of the novel’s opening scene. The event features readings from the book and musical performances by Songs of Joyce. Readers include James Newman, “Tony” from this year’s MTV production of Skins; Terry George, director and Academy Award nominated writer of Hotel Rwanda; and Isaiah Sheffer, founding artistic director of Symphony Space. One hundred copies of "Ulysses" will also be donated to the New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Bryant Park reading room. And if that weren’t enough to get you in the Bloomsday spirit, event organizers are encouraging attendees to arrive in Edwardian vintage attire that Leopold Bloom might have modeled — anything from a cane or parasol to a white suit or floor length white dress will do. The event is free, and although walk-ins are welcome, prospective attendees are encouraged to RSVP to or to (212) 757-3318 ext 202. Starts at 8 A.M. on Thursday, in Manhattan.

Ulysses’ Folk House Bloomsday Celebration Ulysses’ Folk House, an aptly named bar in the financial district, is celebrating both Bloomsday and its eighth birthday this Thursday. Special literary guests are slated to make appearances and readings will take place throughout the day. From 5:30 P.M., the bar will host an event entitled “Just a Song at Twilight,” featuring live DJ sets. If your appetite goes beyond the pages of the classic novel, make sure to take advantage of the bar’s Carvery Lunch from 11:30 A.M. to 3 P.M., which offers patrons tastings from Dublin and a complimentary glass of Burgundy and gorgonzola. Two rounds of complimentary drinks are also up for grabs from 4 to 5:30 P.M. and from 12 to 1 A.M. Although the festivities kick off at 11:30 A.M., the event has been designated for adults only. On Thursday, in Manhattan.

Iabany Bloomsday Celebration The Irish American Bar Association of NY is putting a legal spin on celebrating Joyce’s literature. Rather than read "Ulysses," the Bar Association will produce a re-enactment of USA vs. One Book Called Ulysses, the historic 1933 obscenity case concerning the novel. The Hon. Gerald E. Lynch will play Judge John Woolsey, who, on the grounds of the First Amendment, dismissed claims that the book was pornographic and obscene. District Attorney Chales J. Hynes will perform as prosecutor Sam Coleman and General Counsel Lynn Oberlander will play defense lawyer Morris Ernst. Preceding the re-enactment, keynote speaker and former Dean of Stanford Law School Kathleen Sullivan will deliver the John Quinn Memorial Address entitled “Our Extravagant Free Speech Tradition.” The event will take place at 60 Centre St. at the NYC Supreme Court Rotunda. Although it is free, prospective attendees must RSVP to Kicks off at 6 P.M. on Thursday, in Manhattan.

Staten Island OutLOUD Bloomsday Celebration Hosted at the Everything Goes Book Cafe on 208 Bay St., this annual event attracts a diverse group of Joyce readers and is free and open to the public. Unlike its counterparts, this celebration is comprised of participatory readings of "Ulysses," meaning that anyone who attends the event will have the opportunity the read a portion of the epic. Music performed live by Caroline Cutroneo and Bobaloo Basey will complement the book and its early 20th century Irish setting. Cutrone will perform two songs that are mentioned in "Ulysses," while Basey will improvise musical interludes on the Irish penny whistle in between each chapter of the novel. Staten Island OutLOUD has specified the evening as an adult-only event. Kicks off at 7:30 P.M., on Thursday, in Staten Island.

Bloomsday at the Lyceum This free event at the Brooklyn Lyceum features excerpts from the novel read by Joycean scholar Emmet Mc Gowan. Organizers have ironically dedicated the evening to The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, which broached a campaign to keep the book out of the United States because of its supposedly obscene content. Attendees are encouraged to bring along their own copies of the book, and drinks will be available beginning at 8 P.M. on Thursday, in Brooklyn.

If you are looking to find out more about Bloomsday, features a number of resources for novel readers and experts of the novel alike. If you're on the site on Thursday, you won't be the only one, according to one of the creators of the site, Enam Hoque.

“With little to no advertising.... [the] site increases in traffic every year,” he said. “We’ve even had server issues this year, which I consider to be a sign of success.”

Hoque, who read "Ulysses" as a sophomore in college (and has read it a few times since), is an exemplary Joyce enthusiast.

“It’s just a great story, a superb piece of writing and, at least to me, a wonderful tribute to love,” he said.

WNYC will also be celebrating Bloomsday in collaboration with Symphony Space for the 30th annual Bloomsday on Broadway. This marathon reading event will feature over 100 actors and all 18 of the novel’s episodes. WNYC will begin to stream it live on WNYC 93.9 FM at 8 P.M.

James Joyce Fans: Here's How To Celebrate Bloomsday in New York - WNYC Culture:

Surviving an ordeal, a week to study music and humming through Irish

"I never have to speak Irish ever again YAAAAAAY -- Sarah

Love how I spent Irish Paper 2 humming George Michael to myself instead of actually doing work -- Jennifer

Only two exams left. My mind is blown. How on earth have I survived this ordeal? -- Ellen

Irish Paper 2 was easy, total of 17 pages wrote, so proud of myself! Nearly there now, three exams then a week off to study music -- James

Business was alright, if I had done more study it would have been amazing! -- Tony

Now I don't regret only doing Business Studies in one year. Used the whole book and had to ask for more -- Laura

Business was good, and the Junior Cert isn't half as bad as I thought it would be! Hopefully this keeps up -- Sinead

Ah sure it's just the Junior Cert -- Niamh

Irish Paper 2 was grand, hopefully I pass now! But the most important thing is that I NEVER HAVE TO SPEAK IRISH AGAIN -- Soccymonster

Beautiful beautiful Sean O'Riordan, thank you for appearing on Irish Paper 2!! -- Oenone


Jazz-trad fusion at Matt Molloy’s

GrádaCover of Gráda
GRÁDA are one of Ireland’s most successful touring bands, performing over 150 concerts across the globe annually at major festivals and venues such as The National Geographic Headquarters in Washington DC, The Royal Glasgow Concert Hall and the Sydney Opera House.
Their sound is deeply rooted in the Irish tradition, but also layered with fresh, jazzy tones and strong rhythmic grooves.
Indeed, The Washington Post recently said that Gráda “is Irish music what Arcade Fire is to Indie - informal, prodigious and full of spirit”.
The band has released three critically-acclaimed CDs to date and have just finished recording their fourth in Nashville with bluegrass and Grammy Award-winning icon and producer, Tim O’Brien.
The album also features the legendary John Gardner on drums and US banjo great Alison Brown.
Some of the musicians in the group include Nicola Joyce (vocals, bodhrán), who hails from Galway and Gerry Paul (guitar, banjo, vocals) who is well known around Ireland, having played and recorded with the likes of Gerry O’Connor, Sharon Shannon and Alan Kelly. He is also well regarded in the American music scene, where he plays with bluegrass icon Tim O’Brien.

You can catch this exciting trad group in Matt Molloy’s, Westport on Tuesday, June 28.

MUSIC Jazz-trad fusion at Matt Molloy’s

The wonder of Ireland transcends time

The Burren, County Clare, IrelandImage via Wikipedia
This was my third trip in five years to Ireland.

It was unique because I traveled with two of my daughters, with the desire to connect them to their Irish heritage. When a country the size of Ireland has been populated for 5,000 years, it is understandable people see a thread that weaves through generations.

My first visit was pure adventure and restorative a week with my wife and some 30 other sojourners who shared a time with poet David Whyte in thatched-roof cottages in Ballyvaughn, County Clare.

We pondered the words of poets about life and spirit and the truth many of us seek. We hiked in a soft rain on an ancient limestone path of the Burren to an old burial site where large tumbled blocks of stone marked a civilization that reached back 1,500 years. One Irishman called upon the spirit of his father, believing we never are disconnected from our past, and that we are better for such.

Something about the country wrapped around me warmly like one of those Aran Island woolen blankets on a cold night when the wind from the Irish Sea wants to blow clear through to your bones.

Was it the way the land was formed more than 300 million years ago, with 700-foot cliffs that face off against the pounding sea, or 900-foot mountains that invite every man to climb and experience the unembellished ruggedness of the country?

Was it the rolling, green hills carved into squared-off fields with rock fences, a symbol of humankind’s ability to encounter this ecological wonder and make of it a place to live with sheep and cows and crops that fit the climate?

Was it the colorful tongue of the Irish from the storytelling to the straightforward way of talking that often ends with a catchy, summarizing phrase and that lilt of Irish laughter?

Was it the night of gathering at the pub with the fiddle, the dry pipes, the tin whistle or the bodhran drum that set aside the day’s work and the day’s worries for a glass of Guinness and music that is unique enough to be called Irish music?

Gazette.Net: The wonder of Ireland transcends time

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Get your Irish up this weekend on Staten Island

NYC - Staten Island - Sailors' Snug Harbor: Ma...Image by wallyg via FlickrSTATEN ISLAND, NY -- The Staten Ireland Irish Fair will celebrate its lucky 13th this weekend. Packed with a full slate of entertainment for all ages, the two-day event will feature plenty of shamrock sounds, Green Isle grub and Celtic crafts and even a kiddie zone called Leprechaun Land.

Founded in 1999, the event supports the St. Columcille Irish Cultural Center’s ongoing goal to raise enough money to purchase property for a new building. The organization is currently operating out of a shared space at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Livingston.

“It’s really blowing up this year,” said John Leary, the fair’s marketing director. “It’s become so well-known that the acts are contacting us now.”

Organizers stepped up the profile this year, reaching beyond Staten Island via postings in bars and restaurants, print ads and on the ferry billboards. They even created a Facebook page — 4,000 friends strong — that managed to catch the attention of the large Irish community in East Durham, N.Y. A group from the town has chartered a bus to take them on the three-hour trip to S.I.

Of course, the big draw will once again be 17 bands will play on three stages: The Main Stage for headlining acts, a Pub Tent for acoustic singer-songwriters, and a Traditional Tent for Irish and Celtic tunes.

Among the touring acts, Derek Warfield & the Young Wolf Tones are once again coming all the way from Ireland. Formed in 1963 as The Wolfe Tones, the band has had much success across the pond. A 2002 BBC poll saw their song, “A Nation Once Again,” voted as the world’s favorite song.

Local bands like Sonas and Staten Island Pipes & Drums will also be on hand. The Moonshiners, who’ve played just about every fair since its inception, have the distinction of being the final act on the Main Stage because of their roots and longevity.

“At one time, we were probably the only Staten Island band playing Irish music,” said founding member and drummer Bobby Moller, dubbing the The Moonshiners sound a fusion of rock and traditionals.

Other highlights include a “seisun,” the Irish word for a jam session, at the traditional tent. The seisun will be led by The Wild Goose Players, but fair-goers are welcome to bring their own instruments and join in. Instruments typically include fiddles, flutes, and accordions.

Get your Irish up this weekend on Staten Island |

Tannahill Weavers headed to Worcester

The Tannahill WeaversCover of The Tannahill WeaversWhen The Tannahill Weavers released their first album “Are Ye Sleeping Maggie?” in 1976, they were about to rouse some people from a slumber.

While The Tannies, as they are known to many, perform Scottish traditional music, the traditional music scene was about due for a wake-up call, suggested original member and guitarist and vocalist Roy Gullane.

“I think we came along at a time when the traditional music was in need of a breath of fresh air. It was getting bogged down in the quasi-Scottish thing.” On the BBC (or more specifically, BBC Scotland), it was not uncommon to see performers “dressed in tartan and singing in an operatic manner. Young people were turning off,” Gullane recalled.

Enter The Tannies. “We took it back a step and added guitars,” Gullane said. “We were at the age where we could do something to it without getting away from the origins of it.”

As one review noted, the music was old-time Celtic (and not operatic Celtic) but the drive was almost akin to rock 'n' roll.

The drive continues. The Tannahill Weavers are scheduled to take a plane out of Edinburgh today to embark on their latest United States tour. It's a short but busy itinerary that includes the group's first visit to Central Massachusetts when it comes to the Worcester Hibernian Cultural Centre at 8 p.m. Saturday. The tour will also include stops in California and three performances at the Alaska Highland Games in Anchorage.

“Our feet are not going to touch the ground,” Gullane said in a pre-flight telephone interview earlier this week.

The same sort of sensation could be said to have been experienced by audiences at a Tannahill Weavers concert.

“Scotland's Tannahill Weavers play acoustic instruments, but the atmosphere at their shows is electric,” said a Boston Globe reviewer.

The group draws on the music of the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands, and has also embraced modern composers. Their arrangements combine the alternating haunting beauty and exuberance of traditional melodies with the power of modern rhythms. In addition to the guitar, the band added full-sized highland bagpipes to its performances, and is widely credited with being the first professional Scottish folk group to successfully do so.

Band members are Gullane, founder and original member Phil Smillie (simple system flute, tin whistles, bodhrán, vocals), John Martin (fiddle, cello, viola, vocals), and Colin Melville (Highland bagpipes, Scottish smallpipes, tin whistles).

Worcester Telegram & Gazette - - Tannahill Weavers headed to Worcester

Harpist, percussionist, mime dancer at Norwood Green concerts

Cross harp. Picture taken by Erika Malinoski a...Image via Wikipedia
NORWOOD -- The Norwood Village Green Concert Series welcomes Adirondack harpist Martha Gallagher, percussionist Brian Melick and mime dancer Karen Montanaro, and legendary Irish music family band McPeake to the band shell over the next several days.

On Thursday, June 9, Gallagher, Melick and Montanaro will give two shows, first at 1 p.m. for Norwood-Norfolk Elementary, and then at 7 p.m. for the public.

A singer, harper, composer/songwriter, arranger and recording artist, Gallagher has gained international renown, changing the way people perceive the harp and harp music. She has taken the instrument through and beyond it’s stereotypical boundaries of classical and traditional music, into the territories of blues, jazz, world and contemporary music.

Melick has been actively involved with music for the past 30 years and has developed a wide range of experience as a drummer, multi hand percussionist, and as an educator.

He has been a featured artist on over 300 commercially recorded works and has been produced by major as well as independent record companies.

Montanaro is a world-renowned dancer and mime artist, an award-winning choreographer, and the innovator of “mimedance” (the fusion of two classical art forms). She has danced professionally with the Ohio Ballet and the Darmstadt Opera Ballet in Germany. For more than a decade, Karen toured and taught internationally with mime master, Tony Montanaro.

McPeake will take the stage Thursday, June 16 at 7 p.m. For generations of folk music enthusiasts, the name of the McPeake Family of Belfast has stood for one of the most distinctive sounds in Irish music

Francis McPeake IV, the fourth generation of this world-famous musical dynasty and one of the few authentic uilleann pipers in the world today, has put together a revived band, 'McPeake', which is unique in the world of music with its fusion of original Celtic compositions and contemporary rhythms and styles.

Each McPeake member is an artist in his or her own right. Each has performed with many international artists including Van Morrison, Mary Black, Ronan Keating, Riverdance, John Hurt, Denis Hopper, The Chieftans and more.

Admission is free but audience members will have a chance to contribute as “the bucket” is passed.

For more information, visit

Harpist, percussionist, mime dancer at Norwood Green concerts | NorthCountryNow

This week's music CDs | The Australian

Andy IrvineCover of Andy Irvine
ABOCURRAGH is Irish folk doyen Andy Irvine's first solo album this century. The aberration is partially explained by his insatiable thirst for travelling and touring, and his involvement with the revered ensembles Planxty, Patrick Street and Mozaik. Irvine, who recently completed his umpteenth tour of Australia, has used the talents of members of two of those bands for his latest release, multi-instrumentalist (and set producer) Donal Lunny predominantly. With Lunny and uilleann pipes master Liam O'Flynn lending their expertise, the evocative opening reading of Three Huntsmen certainly carries the legendary Planxty imprimatur. The fiddles of Rens van der Zalm and Bruce Molsky, on the other hand, invest one of the other traditional songs, James Magee, with a Mozaik feel. Another member of that multicultural quintet, Nikola Parov, on kaval (Balkan flute) and nyckelharpa (a stringed Swedish instrument), combines with a foot-defying time signature to lend The Demon Lover an exotic edge. Annbjorg Lien's hardanger fiddles provide appropriate accompaniment in Oslo, which details a boozy winter week in the Norwegian capital, before the piece segues Planxty-style into the traditional Norwegian Mazurka. Other originals, The Spirit of Mother Jones and Victory at Lawrence, espouse another subject close to Irvine's heart, 19th-century American workers' struggles and rights, and evoke the spirit of the author's hero, Woody Guthrie. With the self-penned The Girl From Cushendun and the well-thumbed standard Willy of Winsbury, he draws heavily on Irish and Scottish folk traditions. Both songs represent the perfect integration of the man and his mandola and are good vehicles for Irvine's unmistakable vocal delivery. Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton, one of Australia's best young folk duos, blend exquisitely with the lead vocalist on Emptyhanded, the title of George Papavgeris's song alluding to convicts in Australia being cheated of their land rights. Mairtin O'Connor's accordion can be heard to better effect in a more stripped-back antipodean offering, New Zealander Bob Bickerton's The Close Shave, a sailor-duped-by-prostitute parody with a twist in its tail/tale, and the accompanying trad tune, East at Glendart. Irvine's prowess as a storyteller pervades and the contributions of the guest instrumentalists galvanise listener attention in the longer songs.

This week's music CDs | The Australian

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

End of 'Ulysses' copyright may breathe new life into Bloomsday

James JoyceCover of James JoyceTHE EXPIRY of the copyright on James Joyce’s Ulysses next year will liberate the text from the “notoriously restrictive” instincts of his grandson Stephen Joyce, the co-ordinator of the Bloomsday festival has said.

Stacey Herbert said those trying to organise celebrations of the book often found themselves without permission to do so by Joyce’s Paris-based grandson.

To date the only place where public readings of Ulysses are allowed are on Bloomsday in the James Joyce Centre in North Great George’s Street.

As organisations and individuals as diverse as the State, the Abbey Theatre and Cork University Press have found, the Joyce estate, whose main trustee is Stephen Joyce, is fiercely protective of the writer’s work.

Ms Herbert said this year’s Bloomsday celebrations, which take place on Thursday, June 16th, will be the last where such restrictions will be observed.

She said the lifting of the copyright restrictions would be celebrated by a flash mob next year which would perform from each of the 18 chapters in the novel, while it would also allow for a proliferation of musical and dramatic representations of Joyce’s most famous work.

This year’s Bloomsday festival events begin today with the launch of a book of Joyce-inspired photographs by Japanese photographer Motoko Fujita.

Kathryn Claire and Hanz Araki play live Celtic music

"ASTORIA, Ore. and LONG BEACH, Wash. - Violinist Kathryn Claire and flutist Hanz Araki will play two concerts on the coast June 10 and 11. The Old Long Beach Train Depot at 102 N.W. Third St. in Long Beach, Wash. will host the duo from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 10. There is a $5 cover charge. The two move on to Astoria Saturday, June 11, to play at 9 p.m. at Hazel's Tavern at 1313 Marine Drive. There is no cover charge for this concert.
Irish flute player Araki is the quintessential world music musician. He has performed around the world with the Juno Award-winning Paperboys, The Bridies, Casey Neill and an all-star tribute to The Pogues called KMRIA. He has played with the Seattle Symphony, the University of Washington Wind Ensemble and is featured on more than a dozen recordings and soundtracks, from feature films and documentaries to popular video games."

Enniscrone set for country and céilí festival

ENNISCRONE, CO.MAYO - OCTOBER 24:  - OCTOBER 2...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
BEAUTIFUL Enniscrone of the magical sunsets is all ready to host its third festival featuring country and Irish music as well as céilí dancing. The Diamond Coast Hotel will host the Country and Céilí Welcome Home Festival from Sunday, June 12 to Thursday, June 16. Hundreds of revellers are expected to descend on the small Sligo coastal town from home and abroad.
The five-day festival will gets under way with Dermot Hegarty on stage from 3pm to 5pm on the Sunday. Dancing on the Sunday night will be to Patsy and Majella and Lisa Stanley and the Enjoy Travel Band while Triogue play for the céilí.
Kieran White plays the afternoon session on Monday with Safire and TR Dallas on stage for the dancing later in the night. Céilí Time provide the music for the céilí and set dancers on both Monday and Tuesday nights.
A new feature this year is the concert with Ray Lynam on Tuesday night, followed by dancing to the Ger Long duo and Pat Jordan and the resident band. Ally Harron and Marian Curry will perform at the afternoon session.
On Wednesday afternoon, Dermot Hegarty and Seamus Shannon will provide the entertainment. Country dancing that night will feature Valerie Seale, Mary B and Paul Gallagher, and the Showband Sounds. The Annalee from Longford will entertain the céilí dancers on both Wednesday and Thursday nights.
The festival will draw to a close on Thursday with Pat Jordan on stage in the afternoon and dancing that night to Dermot Hegarty, Seamus Shannon, Shunie Crampsey and Johnny Carroll.
Apart from the nightly dancing, which starts at 9pm and goes on ’til 1am, there are sessions hosted by Mick Mackey from Clonmel; all are welcome to drop by and sing a song, play a tune, perform a recitation, or whatever tickles their fancy.
Various events are held throughout the day, including workshops for jiving, set dancing and other dances. The all-day pass is €20 while the night-time pass is excellent value at just €10. Looks like Enniscrone will be really buzzing next week!

MUSIC Enniscrone set for country and céilí festival

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Summer starts to heat up - Irish music events in New York

View of Catskills looking over Hudson River fr...Image via Wikipedia"When you are immersed in the field of entertainment either for business reasons or cultural ones, it is very easy to overlook people who fly under the radar for getting ink, airwave or digital attention for their efforts, but on closer examination things would not succeed without them.

For my purposes I would like signal out just a few here on my periscope on the cultural side of things because of a timely nature.

I’m just down from the Catskill Mountains from the first harbinger of the summer season in East Durham, that being the 34th annual East Durham Irish Festival over the Memorial Day Weekend.

Shepherding it all those years has been its director, Tom McGoldrick, who has been a Catskill legend since his family ran one of its more popular resorts for many years, the Weldon House on Route 145 in the heart of the important and historic Irish American village."

All-female Irish band will give three concerts

RANGELEY — Girsa, an eight-piece, all-female Irish band based in New York, will make its first tour of Maine in mid-June.

Performances will be at Lakeside Theater on Tuesday, June 14; Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in Carthage on Wednesday, June 15; and Unity College Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, June 16.

The women of Girsa, who are from the Pearl River, N.Y., have been playing traditional Irish music, dancing and singing together for most of their young lives. Many are the daughters of musicians and Irish immigrants. All have had the distinction of representing the United States at the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann and several hold titles in various instruments.

They have all known each other since childhood and started Girsa, which means “young girls” in Gaelic, a little more than four years ago.

The group holds numerous titles, including first place at a busking competition at the Festival in Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick in May 2005.

"Now that I'm home from college, I play music almost every day," said singer, fiddler and mandolinist Deirdre Brennan, a nursing major at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

"I think you can have a normal career outside of music and still have music at the center of your life," she said.

All-female Irish band will give three concerts | Sun Journal:

Friday, 3 June 2011

Irish Trad Music Website - Sweden

Irish  and traditional music news in Swedish:

Irländsk folkmusik webbplats

Painting Westport’s grass blue

Westport Mayo Bridge Street 2007 08 12Image via Wikipedia"With over 10 free gigs, one headline event and a whole lot of foot stompin’, who needs a tent when you have Irish pubs? Top-class local, national and international folk and bluegrass acts will be playing a plethora of free gigs in venues throughout the beautiful town of Westport over the last weekend in June. Musicians and singers near and far are tuning up their instruments and soaking their vocal cords in honey (or whiskey) in anticipation of the annual Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival.

Now in its fifth year, the festival will once again treat music lovers to a host of free gigs, as well as a music workshop, a musical lunch and a great big dollop of fun. The Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival began life as one man’s dream to create a unique festival in the town in which he lived. After running into a brick wall when trying to book singer/songwriter Jimmy McCarthy for a one-off gig in the town, Uri Kohen decided enough was enough. Westport needed to be seen as a live music destination, and he would make damn sure it would be seen that way. It might be a small place on the western edge of an island on the edge of Europe – but that didn’t stop Uri from thinking big."

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Top-Of-The-Range Irish Music At Winter School

The main street of Maleny, QueenslandImage via WikipediaMaleny rings with the sound of fiddles, flutes, harps and drums when the third Celtic Winter School happens on June 17 -19.

Its winter on the range, a time of sparkling days and flying fiddles. In Maleny, a town with a long musical history, the Maleny Ceili Band is excitedly preparing to play for the dance, and musicians of every ability are coming to learn from world-class teachers. The Maleny Celtic Winter School is a weekend of classes at all levels, and local musicians organise it with one great aim in mind: to get everyone playing music together.

"Irish music is social music," said Nicole Murray, organiser and this year's singing tutor. "Its welcoming, its huge fun. You don't have to play well to start joining in, so its very satisfying from early on. And we have brilliant tutors coming to show us the art of great playing."

The teachers at this year's school will be working with raw beginners, right through to top players. Kristen Kelly, from the Barleyshakes, renowned Irish band from Noosa, will introduce total beginners to their fiddle. At last year's class, these total beginners were playing a tune by the end of the lesson. Raw beginners in tin whistle also get a class, and can start to play this affordable and portable instrument straight away.

"We keep everyone busy with lots of activities over the weekend,"said Nicole Murray. "Fiddle players learning intermediate or advanced Irish fiddle in the mornings can fill out their repertoire with Scottish fiddle and Quebecois fiddle in the afternoons." The Quebecois teacher, Pria Schwall-Kearney, is coming up from Melbourne to teach crazy Canadian tunes and foot percussion, after studying this music while living in Quebec.

Brisbane is very rich in top Irish players at the moment, with many young musicians working in the city. "We’re pretty excited to have Maria Cafferkey, an All-Ireland Banjo Champion, taking the banjo class," said Steve Cook, another Winter School organiser. "And the sessions at Finbar's Lounge Bar will be really cranking. This is the dream, really, to have all this great music happening right here where we live.”

The idea for the Winter School was born when a small group of musicians on the Blackall Range dreamed aloud about recreating the sort of sessions and summer schools they had all attended in Ireland, Scotland and southern Australia. “We thought Maleny was the perfect home for this music, because we live here and we love the music!” said John Thompson, whose determination has helped locate venues and tutors and inspire the group to take the risk and run this not-for-profit event. “Any money we make goes into getting the best teachers in Australia for our Winter School,” he said.


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