Sunday, 19 December 2010

Between the Jigs & the Reels

Saturday, 18 December 2010


"As someone who's eternally grateful to be 'making a living doing what I love,' Joanie Madden seems happy to just be at whatever airport or lodging she happens to find herself in, as she dashes hither and yon on a typically busy tour itinerary.

At some point, however, it surely occurred to Madden that Cherish the Ladies had become bigger than the personal happy zones of she and her bandmates in the long-running Celtic musical group — had become, in fact, a family tradition that spanned generations, geographic regions and seasons of the calendar year."

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Storyteller Foley's 'A Celtic Christmas' dances into Bothell

"Tomaseen Foley's past featured memorable musical and storytelling gatherings around fireplaces with family members and neighbors. His life at that time did not include electricity, running water, cars or television sets.

The Irishman, who grew up in the remote parish of Teampall an Ghleanntain ('church of the little glen') in West County Limerick in the 1940s and '50s, will delve into that 'communal way of life' when he brings 'A Celtic Christmas' to the Northshore Performing Arts Center in Bothell at 7 p.m. Dec. 19.

'It recreates my childhood in a way — I lived in very unique circumstances,' said Foley, 63, the show's storyteller who now lives in Medford, Ore., but still regularly visits his family farm in Ireland. 'It's the recreation of a night in a farmhouse before Christmas. We recreate that on stage where the audience are the neighbors.'"

Irish music will be out of this world for first time ever

Matt Molloy, flautist for Irish folk band The ...Image via Wikipedia"Irish music will be out of this world literally today when the U.S. /Russia joint space station mission blasts off from Kazakhstan.

That is because astronaut Catherne ‘Cady’ Coleman has packed a traditional Irish concert flute given to her by Chieftains musician Matt Molloy.

Coleman is a committed Irish traditional musician and told a press conference yesterday that she intended playing Irish music in space, the first time it has been heard beyond the bounds of earth.

Matt Molloy told The Irish Times yesterday that he had met the NASA astronaut ten years ago after playing a concert in Houston.

“We had done a concert and as always we had a tune afterwards with local musicians.It transpired she played the flute and we have been friends ever since,” he told the paper."
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'Irish Christmas in America' almost a flight of fancy

"Christmas in Ireland can be similar to the one in America, but some of it really is for the birds.

Oisin Mac Diarmada, a fiddler and one of the leaders of the Irish group, Teada, says the wanderings of the 'wren boys' will be part of the band's 'Christmas in America' celebration Saturday in Oakland.

'The show will feature the tunes and traditions of Christmas in Ireland,' he says. 'There will be songs like 'Silent Night' and 'Parting Glass,' which all the Americans seem to know, but then there will be songs in the Irish language.'

The concert also will look at the 'wren boys,' who dress up in the rags of pagans and wander about seeking treats on the feast of St. Stephen on Dec. 26. They get those treats because they bring with them a wren -- often simulated these days -- which they have captured because a bird of that type betrayed the hiding spot of St. Stephen.

'It is a way of blending the pagan history and the Christian,' Mac Diarmada says."

Brooklyn Songwriters Exchange

"SONGWRITERS have been translating heartache into melody for centuries, scoring the human condition with weather-worn notebooks and battered guitars. As the Irish folk singer Frank Harte once said, “Those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs.”
In Brooklyn, at least, they don’t have to suffer alone. At the Brooklyn Songwriters Exchange, a free monthly series for aspiring and established songwriters, they can air original work for eager, empathetic ears."

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Thrilling Musical A Celtic Christmas, Airing Dec. 22nd & 24th on TBN

TBN Makes a Song and Dance Over All Things Celtic this Christmas

LOS ANGELES (Dec. 15, 2010) -- Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) – the world’s largest religious broadcaster and a favorite with millions of viewers across six continents – is proud to feature programming complete with all the bells and whistles, and Uilleann pipes and Irish drums, as it goes Celtic this Christmas with A Celtic Christmas!

A hauntingly beautiful celebration of Christmas, A Celtic Christmas is a one-hour program showcasing Irish music and dance going back to the 12th century as well as the most modern Celtic innovations such as River Dance and Lord of the Dance. Thrilling pieces featuring the Uilleann pipes, Irish whistle, Celtic fiddles, Irish drums, along with keyboard and percussion performed by the world-renowned Irish music group The Celts are sure to leave viewers breathless.

Special guest performances include a roster of the world’s best Irish musicians including Dublin piper Ivan Goff, Altan singer and Donegal fiddler Mauread Ni Mhaonaigh, The Gael String Orchestra, The Nashville Irish Step Dancers, and the Celtic Christmas Children’s Choir.

“This is a Christian Celtic Christmas extravaganza,” says Susan Zahn, Christian media expert. “It’s a perfect marriage for TBN and Christian television, and a perfect musical blend when the ancient world meets the amazing innovations of the twenty-first century. A Celtic Christmas showcases carols dating back some nine hundred years, combined with the spicy excitement of modern drum loops and synthesizer work. It’s another TBN must-see program for Christians and music lovers alike.”

The Thrilling Musical A Celtic Christmas, Airing Dec. 22nd & 24th on TBN

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Two Reels (Lucy Campbell's & The Sligo Maid)

Fermilab show recreates Irish Christmas customs

"Tomáseen Foley is sharing with American audiences what Christmas was like for him as a boy growing up in 1960s Ireland.

Foley’s “A Celtic Christmas” recreates Christmas Eve in a farmhouse in the remote parish of Teampall an Ghleanntain in the west of Ireland.

It’s a night of community, when neighbors gather together and tell stories, dance and play music. It will be performed at 8 p.m. Dec. 11 at Ramsey Auditorium in Fermilab’s Wilson Hall in Batavia.

“In those days, there were rambling houses. There were homes where neighbors rambled to at Christmastime and they would bring instruments with them,” Foley said. “These were long nights of singing and dancing and storytelling, and we attempt to recreate that onstage.”"

Danu brings a taste of an Irish Christmas to Danu brings a taste of an Irish Christmas to Macky Auditorium | Reverb — Reverb Music — The Denver Post

"Many Americans tend to have a provincial view of the world, thinking that the way things are done here is much the same everywhere else, especially when it comes to holidays. However, as traditional Irish band Danú showed Friday night at the Macky Auditorium in Boulder, Christmas traditions can vary widely.

What else can you make of the “wren dance,” which commemorates a tradition where Irish people hunted wrens on St. Stephen’s Day (the day after Christmas) since a wren betrayed Stephen’s position to a passing Roman garrison? As demonstrated, the ritual seems to part-Samhain, with men dressing in costumes of straw and traveling around from house to house singing and taking tips of beer and other libations."

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The best concert I barely saw

"As emcee and frequent backstage manager, I missed most of the concert tribute to Joe Derrane inside Stage One of the Fairfield Theatre Company in Fairfield, Conn. Despite massive traffic congestion on I-95 that caused a few patrons to arrive late, it was a wall-to-wall, cheek-by-jowl, overcapacity crowd in that theatre, and the e-mail and phone pleas for tickets to the sold-out event were especially intense during the last few days leading up to Nov. 13, the concert date.
The purpose of this “concert for the ages” was fourfold: (1) to pay homage to the life and music of 80-year-old button accordionist and composer Joe Derrane; (2) to celebrate his new recording, “Grove Lane” (Compass), which is his seventh overall since his fabled comeback in 1994 at Wolf Trap; (3) to raise money and recognition for the concert’s sponsor, the Shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society, a not-for-profit organization that has done yeoman work in promoting and presenting the best in Irish traditional music in southern Connecticut; and (4) to provide a surefire incentive for the extended family of Irish traditional performers and enthusiasts to come together in solidarity at one time and in one place."
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Music show brings Irish holiday traditions to U.S.

When Oisin Mac Diarmada leaves for the U.S. this week for his annual "Irish Christmas in America" tour (including a stop at AMSDconcerts on Dec. 1), one thing he'll leave behind on the Emerald Isle is his love of tea.
"I'm not thinking about tea, I'm thinking about coffee!" he said by phone last week from his home in County Sligo. When you've been spoiled by Barry's and Lyons one's whole life, Lipton's is kind of hard to accept.
And if most Americans would readily admit that we can't brew a decent pot of tea to save our lives, he pointed out that we Yanks do know how to make a nice pot of coffee.
Mac Diarmada should know; his full-time band, Teada, tours most of the year, and is a regular on the folk circuit in the States.
He said he started the annual "Irish Christmas in America" tour six years ago as an opportunity to share Irish holiday traditions with Americans.
"It's a more broad show; people come to it who don't normally come to a traditional Irish concert. We get a lot of families as well. It's a nice little mix."
The American holiday tour grew out of an European tour that he played on for a few years, and it offered the participants new artistic possibilities as well as holiday charm.
"I thought it would be fun to put something together in the United States using the resources of Teada. A lot of the guys in the band would also tour, and it was also an opportunity to bring in outside people.
"Teada is primarily an instrumental band, so we've really focused on bringing in vocalists."
Touring the United States so often has given Mac Diarmada an understanding of how differently Americans and Irish view Irish music.
"Musical tastes are quite broad in Ireland. If you say 'Irish music,' that could mean anything, even Irish musicians playing rock music.
"If you used the term 'Irish traditional music,' they would have the understanding that Americans have of Irish music."
While this year's Christmas production has yet to hold its first show, Mac Diarmada said he's already busy planning the 2011 edition.
"A lot of the good venues book up far ahead. When I go out this year, it's good to know what's ahead for next year."
He varies the lineup year to year (although his fiddle is obviously a constant) because the Christmas show often returns to the same venues.
"You don't want to go out with the same show every year," he said, explaining that regulars want to see something different, albeit along the same lines.
This year's featured singer is Seamus Begley (who also plays accordion) of County Kerry. Mac Diarmada said Begley has deep knowledge of some of the older Irish traditions that are being forgotten by younger generations.
"A guy like Seamus has lived through a lot of Christmas customs; he's not just some guy onstage playing music."
The other members of this year's cast are Grainne Hambly on harp, Tommy Martin on Uilleann pipes and whistles, narrator Tristan Rosenstock, dancer Brian Cunningham and guitarist Sean McElwain.
Personality is also an important consideration, Mac Diarmada said, when putting together each year's lineup.
"Only a little bit of time is spent onstage; most of it is spent on buses and in hotels."
But that time together offstage is also important in helping nurture the music.
"A great sharing of knowledge between the generations" is necessary to keep traditional Irish music alive, Mac Diarmada said. "Sometimes it takes a bit of tolerance and understanding."
But he said overall, traditional Irish music is very healthy, with young kids still falling for the music of earlier generations.
"It's a pretty broad church, really. You get people who are very happy to play the music as they learned it, and others who want to push it in new directions.
"There is a lot of room for creativity within traditional Irish music. You won't please everybody, but there's a sort of healthy vibrancy."
"Irish Christmas in America"
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1
Where: AMSDconcerts, 4650 Mansfield St. (Normal Heights United Methodist C

Music show brings Irish holiday traditions to U.S.

Celtic Thunder's Global Appeal

As I sit down in Radio City Music Hall, I think I know exactly what I’m getting myself into. I’m here on a Friday night to see Celtic Thunder, yet another Irish musical export that has exploded in popularity across the United States. Since their formation in 2006 by creator-producer Sharon Browne and composer Phil Coulter, Celtic Thunder has released four extremely successful albums and appeared on numerous PBS specials. Like their female counterparts Celtic Woman, they seem to have particularly captivated the Irish-American audience, with their careful balance of Irish traditional songs and updated classics."

Sound Choice: Lindsays release colorful CD

"Catch some of the joy of the Irish at the Lindsays' CD release concert for “From the Green to the Blue” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Navigator Coffeehouse, 55 Ashumet Road, Falmouth.

The husband-and-wife Celtic duo has been making music together for 10 years and performs an eclectic fusion of Irish ballads and traditional jigs and reels with contemporary rock and folk. Susan Gedutis Lindsay plays saxophone, Irish flute and whistle, and Dublin native Stephen Lindsay plays guitar and sings.

Their music is inspired by the Dublin ballad tradition, but is blended with world percussion instruments, from Middle Eastern frame drums to African water drums."

The fabulous brand of the Emerald Isle

By Ilkka Malmberg

Finns like the Irish (in much the same way that they like the Greeks, as it happens). You know, those jolly fellows of the Emerald Isle with their red hair and freckles, and their moustaches white with Guinness foam - people with whom you can sing in a pub, nursing some inexplicable yearning for something.
Who would have anything bad to say about the Irish?
Who could be so heartless, listening to a tin whistle over a dewy heath, while watching a flock of sheep, with the aftertaste of whiskey lingering in the mouth?
But what happens after these half-dozen or so clichés of Ireland run out?
What comes after St. Patrick, the shamrocks, and the sacred potato?

Familiar Irish brands include Guinness, Jameson, Bushmills and Baileys, but if we leave out the booze, no Irish products come to mind immediately, unless we throw in U2 and Bono.
Yes, and then there is the cut-rate airline Ryanair, which caused an upheaval in air transport throughout Europe, and later threatened to charge people for using their loos.
For a few years, people flocked to Ireland to work and study, especially from the poor countries of Eastern Europe. The edges of Europe curled up toward each other.

Now that seems to be over. But the Irish brand will certainly prevail.
An Irish pub is as important a fixture in a small Finnish town as a kebab restaurant run by a Kurd, but the only part of Irish cuisine to have reached Finland is the relatively modern invention of Irish Coffee, and that is also an alcoholic beverage.
An Irish breakfast refers to a solid bacon breakfast with oatmeal added.
And what about an “Irish table” or "Irish bench"?
Many do not know this one. It is part of an obstacle course for military athletics: a table two metres high, which the competitor must climb over somehow.
Quite why it is associated with Ireland is somewhat unclear.

Irish terriers and Irish wolfhounds are familiar breeds of dog, and two unfortunate dogs - Lola and Tessa - who made news recently when they were thrown off a balcony in Finland following a domestic dispute - were Irish setters.
An “Irish kiss” is a word for a smack in the face.
It is interesting that a laid-back and relaxed attitude, rather than terrorists, predominates in the image that people have of the Irish.
The men with the bombs are not the same people with whom we link arms to sing Dirty Old Town.

The Irish are Catholic and their families are large. With that in mind, it is surprising that the population of Ireland is smaller than that of Finland. So many have emigrated.
Many famous people have their roots in the small nation. The best-known person of Irish origin would seem to have been John F. Kennedy, or might it have been Bono after all?

There is no point in even trying to list all of the Irish musicians and bands. This is a country that has won the Eurovision Song Contest no fewer than seven times.
There have been countless writers, even after we round up James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and William Butler Yeats.

No branding committee of the sort Finland has put together could match this achievement.
For a brief moment, the Europeans will grumble at Ireland and its humungous debts and how we have to shoulder them, and then - hey presto! - a little green man, a leprechaun, peeks from behind the tree, and all the cares end up like snowflakes that melt in the black waves of the Shannon Estuary.

Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 21.11.2010

Helsingin Sanomat - International Edition - Foreign

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Give a little whistle at traditional music workshops

Bught Park, Inverness. Taken at 9.15 in the ev...Image via Wikipedia"YOUNGSTERS were hitting all the right notes at musical workshops held to celebrate an international sporting competition in Inverness.

More than 20 children from primary five to seven, attended the free sessions at Inverness Ice Rink on Saturday before Scotland and Ireland faced off in the shinty and hurling match at Bught Park.

The children were given the chance to learn traditional songs on the accordion and tin whistle and play a game of shinty.

The events were organised by Feis Ros in partnership with the Camanachd Association. David Nisbet, a science teacher at Kingussie High School, took the accordion workshops."
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Review: 'Dancing at Lughnasa' captures the music of memory

Lough Anna. In the Brian Friel play, Dancing a...Image via Wikipedia"t's been an Irish autumn on Seattle stages. Both Seattle Repertory Theatre and ACT Theatre have mounted plays from the heart of the Emerald Isle by lauded Irish dramatists.

But the gentle, rural Mundy sisters in Brian Friel's award-winning 'Dancing at Lughnasa' at the Rep are from a different planet, let alone another era, than the thick-as-planks, trigger-happy desperadoes in Martin McDonagh's 'The Lieutenant of Inishmore' (which just closed at ACT).

The Friel play (previously seen at the Rep in 1995) is a far more sentimental portrait of humble Irish country folk, yet a more intentionally realistic one, too. Director Sheila Daniels and her fine ensemble have given it a fond, wistful patina, with stabs of sharp anguish and fleeting exhilaration."
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Benaroya Hall Welcomes Untraditional Celtic Artists 2/4/2011 2010/11/18

"t's one of the finest assemblages of world class Scottish performing artists ever, and Benaroya Hall may never be the same. Spines shiver at this annual event as the sound of pipes drums and fiddles fill the breathtaking 2,500-seat hall in unimaginable ways.

Watching piping virtuoso Fred Morrison RAWK OUT Meatloaf-style on his Scottish smallpipes with a basic nine note range is truly a thing of wonder. His free-flowing expressive pomp on the Scottish Borderpipes shatters all perception of what a bagpiper can do. By 30 seconds into the piece, he is generally physically incapable of sitting still. And 2 minutes later his passionate delivery reaches a level that, many times, results in the accidental and uncontrollable pipe spit!

In contrast, Dr. Gary West, award-winning piper and host of BBC Radio Scotland's show Pipeline, brings a very different version of the Scottish smallpipes to the hall along with his impressive knowledge of Celtic folk music and bagpiping history."

Battlefield Band plays musical chairs

After more than 40 years of music-making, Battlefield Band has become one of the most respected, influential units in Scotland's folk establishment. The band has reinvented itself more than once, and fans get a chance to catch them in the midst of another personnel change this weekend.

When Battlefield Band plays Festival Place today, it will have five instead of the usual four musicians, reflecting an impending switch of musical chairs. The group's only remaining original member, Alan Reid, 60, is leaving at the end of this year, but the veteran keyboard, accordion and synth player, singer and chief songwriter is still on board for one last tour, along with new member Ewen Henderson, 23, who sings and plays fiddle, bagpipes, whistles and piano.

They've made one final album as a quintet, and you'll hear tunes from that new disc, Zama Zama ... Try Your Luck (Temple Records).

"Having a few generations involved in the band has always enriched what we do," observes Mike Katz, 41. A master of the large and small pipes, bass and guitar, he's been with Battlefield Band since 1997, along with other current members, Alasdair White (fiddle, banjo, bouzouki and bodhran), and Irish-born Sean O'Donnell (vocals, guitar). Katz feels the age range has also given them wider audience appeal and a more versatile sound.

Since their modest start in the Glasgow suburb of Battlefield in 1969 and a decade or so of searching for their own identity, the band has become a proud example of how to update the folk tradition, using fresh combinations of old and new instruments, mixing vocal and instrumental tunes, and traditional pieces with their own compositions. The themes in their songs are also often in step with the times. A continuing thread on Zama Zama concerns the pursuit of wealth.

"We came up with the idea of collecting songs about gold and gold mining, but it grew into something bigger. Luckily or unluckily, the whole banking debacle happened at the same time, and all kinds of crazy stories started coming out."

Over 14 tunes, the group covers a lot of history. For instance, a number about the robber barons of old is followed by Bernie's Welcome To Butner, a song about New York financial scam artist Bernie Madoff going to prison.

The title Zama Zama is a reference to pirate gold miners in South Africa.

Katz says few groups have been as important as Battlefield Band in focusing Scots back toward their own folk history, starting with the way they brought bagpipes into a concert-band context around 1979.

"Thirty years ago almost everyone was looking out to America and other places, rather than paying attention to their own music. I think the Irish bands like Bothy Band and Planxty, and then the Scottish bands like Battlefield Band and Tannahill Weavers made young people realize there was this huge richness of culture. We showed them that it's culturally valid."

Tonight's show at Sherwood Park's Festival Place is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30, $34 or $36, from the box office (780-449-3378), or online at


Saskatchewan's rocking Rattle Snake Romeo pulls in this weekend at the Commercial Hotel's Blues On Whyte room, Sunday through Tuesday. Edmonton's own Big Hank and his Fist Full Of Blues take over the same venue Nov. 24 to 27.

Meanwhile, over at Rusty Reed's House of Blues at 124th Street and 118th Avenue, you can catch The Rault Brothers Friday and Saturday. Alberta's great guitar ace Amos Garrett plays there Nov. 26 and 27.

Garrett is also set to lead his jazz trio at the Yardbird Suite Dec. 4., while Chicago blues singer Shirley Johnson will head up two nights at the Yardbird Dec. 10 and 11.

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
Battlefield Band plays musical chairs

Friday, 12 November 2010

Masters Bill Whelan and Athena Tergis for IAC series

It was another very successful musician who decreed that “the times they are a changing” over four decades ago, and when it comes to Irish music today that is certainly the case.
One of the biggest catalysts in changing the landscape and the prism in which Irish music is seen and heard is composer Bill Whelan of Riverdance fame. While the success of the popular dance show scored by his musical genius has been unparalleled, this Limerick man prefers to work in solitude and not directly under the spotlight of center stage.
So it will certainly be intriguing to see him come out of the shadows in his first performing role in a few years as he engages fiddler Athena Tergis in the fourth edition of the Irish Arts Center’s Masters in Collaboration from November 17-21.
As in the previous series initiated by the IAC in 2008, a veteran artist with a long string of achievements is matched up with a promising artist whose resume may run a bit shorter.
Whelan, best known for his Riverdance music, has also had great success composing for film, theater and producing music for other artists.
Tergis is a very familiar figure around the IAC in recent years, appearing in a super-sized version of Green Fields of America that was turned into the PBS and DVD video production called Absolutely Irish. She also appears at the annual Christmas shows, and she finds the IAC a very creative environment for the arts.
Whelan and Tergis have crossed creative paths before through Riverdance when she performed in the Broadway production in 1999.
And even more recently Tergis toured with the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra and along with Cora Venus Lunny, a classical violinist, interpreted Whelan’s composition “Inishlacken” from his Connemara Suite that will be part of the IAC program.
They will compose other material together and perform with a nine string ensemble, a percussionist (Robbie Harris) and Irish dancer Mick Donegan.
One of the critical aspects of a joint effort like this is daring to be different and innovative when working closely with another artist in a confined space and time frame.
Whelan, whose traditional lineage goes back to Planxty, doesn’t fear innovation, and actually embraces it.
“The music can’t be kept in a box only to be opened at holidays or just repeated over and over. Playing on your own in a cottage in Clare or on a Saturday night at the local pub long ago isn’t the same for the young people now who are exposed to so much on the Internet. The music has to change or it will cease being interesting and will die,” Whelan told me in a phone interview.
The Masters in Collaboration series will follow the same pattern as the others, with a behind the scenes midweek interview with both Whelan and Tergis by Dr. Mick Moloney, who has shepherded this project he initiated with IAC executive director Aidan Connolly, on Wednesday, November 17 at 8 p.m.
No one is more skillful and knowledgeable at drawing out his subjects and helping to put their respective accomplishments in perspective and perhaps shed light on the direction that the end performances might take. It remains one of the more novel approaches to witnessing art in creation while maintaining some suspense about what we will witness in the finished product in the weekend performances.
The Donaghy Theatre at the IAC is an intimate laboratory for this type of observation, and there will be two final performances on Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. Seats are limited and higher than the usual prices, but these pairings have the potential to be history making.
Visit or for tickets or 212-868-4444.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Joe Derrane plays at his own pace

"It remains one of the most compelling and fascinating stories in traditional Irish music that rises to the surface every time there is the occasion to trumpet the achievements of Joe Derrane, one of the finest accordion players to ever play Irish music.

And since his stunning return to prominence in Irish traditional music circles in 1994 at the Washington D.C. Irish Folk Festival at Wolf Trap, those occasions have been numerous thanks to the prolific and technical brilliance of the native Boston musician."

Friday, 5 November 2010

Experiments in musical texture

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh has earned acclaim for his eclectic musical collaborations, but the fiddler and composer says his goal is to let the music do its own talking

BOUNDARIES CAN serve a raft of purposes. For some, they give licence to conform to the limits they pose. For others, they’re the fodder that lure individuals to taste of what life can offer on both sides of the divide. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh is a fiddler, a composer, a multimedia artist – and if he had the time or inclination, a theoretical physicist, who’s most at home when crossing, straddling and often simply ignoring boundaries.

On the face of it, Ó Raghallaigh is a fiddler whose roots can be traced to the world of traditional music. He’s worked as an uilleann pipe maker and as a traditional music archivist; he’s in his element when sharing a tune with former TG4 Traditional Musician of the Year Paddy Cronin or Breanndán Begley, but he’s equally comfortable collaborating with saxophonist Seán Óg, US dancer Nic Gareiss and Swedish percussionist Petter Berndalen on his Dublin Fringe Festival showcase, Four on the Fringes of Folk . In between, he can be found noodling with Icelandic avant gardists Amiina, delving into the fiddle style of Norwegian Hardanger fiddler Nils Økland or trading tunes with Martin Hayes and Peadar Ó Riada, with whom he released an album of newly composed Ó Riada tunes titled 3/Triúr earlier this year.

Ó Raghallaigh’s music has attracted the attention of many listeners who would not consider themselves fans of traditional music. Uncle Earl’s Kristin Andreassen counts herself among that mix of listeners in thrall of Ó Raghallaigh’s highly energised work.

“It’s like if you untangled an Irish session and hung up the choicest bits each in front of its own glowing Christmas light and viewed through 3D glasses made of paper and cellophane,” she says.

His earliest memory of listening intently to Irish music was hearing The Marino Waltz , composed by The Dubliners’ John Sheahan (and used extensively to soundtrack a Bórd na Móna TV ad in the 80s). Later, he heard Martin Hayes play, and for Ó Raghallaigh, “it was the first window into the magic of music”. It’s the fizz of collaboration that often sets his music alight, he admits.

“Music is communication,” he says. “With Breanndán , either he or I throw something at the other, and we’re off! We immediately respond, amplifying whatever the other has played. It’s so dynamic playing with him. There’s no fear. We can go to crazy loud places or incredibly quiet places. It’s all an adventure.”

He and Begley have just released an unfettered album, Le Gealaigh/A Moment Of Madness , recorded over the past few years whenever the mood took them.

“I don’t really subscribe to this sterilised studio thing at all,” Ó Raghallaigh says. “I don’t think it offers us as humans what we need. What I need from music is the rough edges. I need to feel the grain in the wood. I need to see the dirt under the finger nails. And that’s the approach Breanndán and I took on the record.”

One of the most distinguishing features of Ó Raghallaigh’s music is its ability to transcend genres, to exist outside the boxes which can often corral a musician.

“One of my favourite records is Tony McMahon’s I gCnoc Na Graí/In Knocknagree ,” he says; recounting a conversation he had with MacMahon many years ago. “What’s the difference between playing a tune with heart and without? I remember asking Tony about that, and what he told me was that it has to come from living. You have to live the highs and the lows, and then you put them into your music. That was a huge step: my transition from thinking of great musicians just as musicians, to thinking of great musicians as people, and that the music comes from the entire way they look out of the lenses of their eyes at the world. It’s not just the way they think about music.”

Ultimately, Ó Raghallaigh’s goal is to transcend the emotions, to let the music do its own talking.

“A lot of artists see the music coming from something beyond themselves,” he says. “For me, that’s even more interesting than harnessing emotions. It’s when you actually subtract yourself from the equation altogether and you’re just trying to let the music flow, without any filters.”

Ó Raghallaigh plays the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, whose distinctive double notes and deep tones have almost become his trademark. Sound worlds and textures are what he trades in, rather than simple notes and melodies.

“You can take the bow off the strings and the sound continues. I love silence and I love space so that’s a huge attraction for me. It’s as if you send a note out, and then you sit, and wait for the next one. As a solo instrument, that’s a huge plus.”

Ó Raghallaigh’s music is distinctively his, and not a facsimile of what he’s heard before. For him, that’s at the heart of his approach to playing and making music.

“The material has to be yours,” he enthuses. “If the material isn’t yours, then why are you playing it? The notion of music preservation isn’t interesting to me. You have to be at that point where new ideas are brought into existence. That’s the whole idea behind creativity. For any artist, you want to be at the coalface, the cutting edge where ideas are being formed in music. Where the sparks are coming out of the pick at the face of the rock. That’s the only interesting place to be.”

Ó Raghallaigh’s ability to stretch and bend music so that it doesn’t conform to any conventional notion of rhythm coincides with his alternative perspective on time itself.

“Instead of time being a metronome, think of time as a reaction to gravity,” he suggests. “For Breanndán , time is what happens when you’re dancing sets. So it’s not a straight line. It’s rotating. Centrifugal time is completely different to linear time. The second is a completely arbitrary division. It’s fine if you want to make a business meeting, but for walking in the mountains or playing music it’s not very relevant.”

Experiments in musical texture - The Irish Times - Mon, Oct 25, 2010

Limerick Hosts WinterSolas Series

"WinterSolas features free concerts and other shows by some Ireland’s best known traditional performance artists, including choral group Anuna, poet Eileen Sheehan, uilleann piper Maire NiGhrada and singer Noirin NiRiain.

Arts Officer Joan MacKernan explained: “WinterSolas is a programme of concerts and heart warming events which are organised and funded by Limerick County Council Arts Office. These Sunday afternoon events are free to the general public and feature musicians, singers, poets and actors, all who have forged a national and sometimes an international reputation.”

The WinterSolas series commences on Sunday 7 November with an event entitled “The Poet, The Piper and The Singer”, which will be held in All Saints Church Castleconnell. The event will feature performances from poet Jo Slade, uilleann piper Maire NiGhrada and singer Roisin Elsafty.

On Sunday 14 November the series continues with a performance by Fidil 3 in the Desmond Complex, Newcastle West. This group of three traditional fiddlers has taken the music world by storm and is in huge demand in America and Europe."

De Dannan launch WonderWaltz with no looking back in anger

"WonderWaltz, the new offering from de Dannan is being launched this week.

This is the de Dannan that boasts two founders of the original group, Alec Finn on bouzouki and Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh on bodhr�n, as well as Derek Hickey on accordion, Brian McGrath on banjo and piano, and Eleanor Shanley on vocals – all three were members of the band at different stages. The fiddle player is Mick Conneely, who frequently served as the group’s replacement fiddle player in years past and “knows more about the band than any of us”, according to Alec Finn.

The third co-founder of the original band, Frankie Gavin is not part of this line up, having set up his own group, Frankie Gavin and de Dannan last year."

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Competition to honour fiddle legend Gow

"THE 2010 Amber Fiddle Award has received a welcome boost in the shape of a �1250 grant from Perth and Kinross Council, matching the contributions of the Award’s existing sponsors Birnam CD, Bonskeid Music, Butterstone Studios, The Fiddle Tree and Fiona Ritchie Productions.
As a result of the council’s grant, the prize money for this year’s prestigious event has been boosted to reward the second and third place finalists.
As in previous years, the first prize will be �1000, and this year there will be additional cash prizes of �500 and �250 for second and third places respectively. The winner will also receive a copy of the Niel Gow Tophy which was commissioned for the award and resides in Dunkeld.
Other prizes include a two-year subscription to ‘Fiddle On’ magazine, which will also run a feature on the winner and publish his/her tune in the magazine."

Irish uilleann pipe makers in increasingly short supply | News from Ireland | IrishCentral

"There are some things that Ireland will never have a short supply of, such as rain, 'grand soft days' and Guinness.

But this week the country learned something truly shocking: Ireland is real danger of losing the craft of uilleann pipe making, if it does not invest more in training the craft to potential pipe makers.

Like the harp, the uilleann pipe is almost a symbol of Irishness itself. Capable of producing plaintive sounds that can melt the hardest heard from one thousand yards, it's moving notes have been heard in films as various as Titanic and Lord of the Rings."

And on the seventh day . . .

"After a lifetime of playing with tropical island musicians, renowned guitarist Bob Brozman decided to try six days of trad music, writes Siobh�n Long�

IT WASN’T EXACTLY a proposition to die for: six days, three musicians who haven’t played as a trio before and a raft of unfamiliar music to contend with. This was the challenge posed by executive producer Brian Carson of Belfast’s Moving On Music – but the truth is it led to sparks flying in directions none of the musicians could have anticipated, with the results of their intensive lockdown captured on a new album, Six Days In Down�.

Bob Brozman is a prolific recording artist, ethnomusicologist, master of the Hawaiian slide guitar and this year was voted “Best World Guitarist” by the readers of Guitar Player�magazine."

Mayo musicians to duet in Leitrim

"WESTPORT harpist Laoise Kelly, celebrates the launch of her long-awaited second CD, ‘Ceis’ at Carrick-on-Shannon’s The Dock venue on Wednesday, October 27, where she will be accompanied by Clare fiddle player Michelle O Brien.��
And as an extra special treat, Achill tin whistle/flute player Des Cafferkey, guitarist Seamie O’Dowd and bodhran player Junior Davey will perform during the first part of the night.��
Laoise, who recently represented Ireland at the World Harp Festival in Paraguay, has pioneered her own unique style of harp playing, using a combination of techniques, by playing the thirty-four gut strung Irish harp with fingernails as opposed to finger tips.
Her sheer talent and technical brilliance is very much to the fore on her new album, through her remarkable interpretations of the old and new tunes she has chosen.�
‘Ceis’ breathes a fresh lease of ife into ancient harp airs, previously unheard for centuries, alongside lively west Kerry polkas and new compositions from legendary fiddler Tommy Peoples.�"

Music Q&A: Enda Scahill of the Brock-McGuire band

"Chattanooga Times Free Press entertainment reporter Casey Phillips spoke with Irish tenor banjo player Enda Scahill of the Brock-McGuire band about his love for American music, why cheekiness was his inroad to playing the banjo and how playing with accordionist Paul Brock has influenced him, musically.

CP: Were you born in Galway or are you just from Galway?

ES: I was born in Galway, yeah. I live in Galway City. I was born about 20 miles from Galway City.

CP: That's a hot bed for traditional music now. What was it like growing up there? How early were you exposed to music?"

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Hingham coffeehouse offers evening of traditional music

"Jane Gilmartin and Lynn Feingold will share an evening of traditional music at Old Ship Coffeehouse off the Square at 8 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 16. The Coffeehouse off the Square is at Old Ship Church Parish Hall, 107 Main St., Hingham.

As Feingold grew up in the folk music renaissance of the 1960s, music was everywhere, but what really caught her attention were the old traditional songs and ballads of England, Ireland and Scotland. She enjoyed the singing styles of folk icons like Joan Baez, Jean Redpath and Judy Collins and was tutored by their recordings. From many sources she collected ancient ballads, tender love songs, hearty drinking songs, and songs of love lost and chances taken. Whether performing for an historical society or a coffeehouse, Feingold draws her audience into the fun with her wit, high energy and good humor. Visit for more"

Friday, 8 October 2010

Leading Irish musicians and dancers for Haiti fundraiser

"Galway’s newest live music venue, Monroe’s will play host to a collection of the very best of Galway’s Irish music and dancing talent on Saturday, October 23. The night will be a celebration of the many popular acts which Galway has been producing and hosting over the past few years.

Music at the Crossroads, Celtic Rhythm, The Hession school of Dancing, Dance of Desire, Emma Brady and more will all be coming together on one stage for the first time ever. The talent will include Connacht, All Ireland and World champion musicians and dancers.
The night is organised by Irish dancer Fergal Costello who is raising €4500 to fund his involvement with The Haven Partnerships Build It week. 600 Irish people will be travelling to Haiti with the group across two weeks in October and November."

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Music is family affair for Sandses

"Tommy Sands grew up in Ireland, but his musical influence was American folk singer Pete Seeger.
'He sang songs about real people in real situations,' he said in a phone interview from Reno, Nev., to promote his concert Friday in Lincoln. 'His songs were like a lesson, like a history lesson.'
You can imagine how excited he was to meet the legend in person.
'It was in the wintertime, and I was over here touring,' he said. 'I met some friends of Pete's who were aware of how fond I was of his music.'
He learned that Seeger knew about him as well. Sands, after all, had been making a name for himself as a singer, songwriter and social activist, performing the music of his native land.
Sands, with his wife and two small children, met Seeger at his log cabin by the Hudson River in New York.
'He is so big,' Sands said, remembering Seeger, who is more than 6-feet tall. 'He gave us all a hug at one time. We stayed for a few days and had a great time. We got on very well. It was a very special time.'"

Irish folk singer Paul Brady to perform at Madison High School | | Daily Record

"MADISON: Paul Brady will perform Sunday at Madison High School to raise money for the district's marching band and music program.

Brady recently released a new album, 'Hooba Dooba,' of Irish folk and contemporary music. Brady has been honored with lifetime achievement awards from the Irish Recorded Music Association, The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters and BBC Radio 2's Folk Awards."

Maggie's Music Releases Maggie Sansone's Twelfth Album, Wind Drift: Celtic Grooves, Mystic Moods

Maggie Sansone is America's premier hammered dulcimer player and recording artist. She has been featured on CBS-TV's 'Sunday Morning', NPR's 'All Things Considered', 'Performance Today', 'The Thistle and Shamrock' and Sirius/XM radio. With more than a half million recordings sold, her releases include: A Celtic Fair, Celtic Meditations, Mystic Dance, A Traveler's Dream, Dance Upon the Shore, Ancient Noels, A Scottish Christmas (Vol. 1 & 2), Mist and Stone, and Traditions."

Brian Finnegan

NCT COMMUNITY NEWS, Thursday, October 7: "SAN MARCOS ---- Master Irish flute musician Brian Finnegan and Grammy Award-winning guitarist William Coulter will perform a concert of Irish music at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 in Arts 111 at Cal State San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road. Tickets cost $10 for general admission and $5 for students with ID. Parking is available on campus, with fees ranging from $3 to $9, depending upon length of stay. Call 760-750-4409."

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

KCT Concert: Oisin MacDiarmada

"An Island autumn brings vigorous austerity, scrubbing away the frivolousness of summer and getting to the bones of what matters. It's a season to come to our senses and listen to small, keen music that can mean a great deal. KCT Concerts will contribute to our yearly woodsmoke-tinged ritual by bringing Irish fiddler Oisin Mac Diarmada to Katharine Cornell Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 9 at 8 pm.

Mr. Mac Diarmada has been a favorite of Island audiences for nearly 10 years. His first performance in this country was on Martha's Vineyard in 2001 with the (then) newly formed band Téada, which has gone on to become one of Ireland's most successful and highly respected bands. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Mr. Mac Diarmada founded Ceol Productions Ltd. in 2001, which has provided management services to a number of Irish traditional artists, including Téada."

Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Tin Whistle Tunes and Tutorials
Irish Traditional Music Mp3, Video and Sheet Music Download
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The Chieftans, Grammy-award-winning group, perform benefit concert for Haiti

"Beloved in Ireland and a six-time Grammy-award winner, music group The Chieftains held a foot-stompin’, toe-tappin’, hand-clappin’ benefit concert for Haiti at the Singletary Center for the Arts on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington on Monday night.

The concert blended the best of traditional Irish music with the strains of Bluegrass and Haitian folk tunes. The concert benefitted work being done in Haiti in the wake of January’s devastating earthquake."

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Music Fan

"In literature, the figure of James Joyce casts a long shadow. That his influence also extends into music should come as no surprise, given the musicality of the language employed by the Irish writer, who was also an excellent singer and an accomplished pianist. But the creator of some of the most iconoclastic and difficult works of 20th-century fiction was surprisingly conservative in his own musical tastes. Joyce liked opera—especially Bellini—and Elizabethan lute songs. 'He was one of these creative figures who limit their experimentation to their own field,' says Leon Botstein, who on Wednesday will lead his American Symphony Orchestra in a Carnegie Hall concert that focuses on Joyce's musical universe."

Best of What's Next: Points North

"HOMETOWN: Jamaica Plain, Mass.
ALBUM: I Saw Across the Sound
BAND MEMBERS: Christopher North Alspach (vocals, octave mandolin, guitar), Regina Peterson (vocals, Irish and silver flutes, reed organ, tin whistle), Evan Foudray (bass synthesizer), Dylan Clark (drums), Kate Lee (piano, vocals), Sam Potrykus (upright bass), Josh Dean (vocals)

The Points North’s music is a chilling breed of traditional Celtic and New England folk—haunting harmonies, octave mandolin, Irish flute, tin whistle, minimal drums and occasional guitar."

Monday, 4 October 2010

Musicians criticise Government on downloads

"THE GOVERNMENT'S policy on illegal downloading and protecting the rights of Irish musicians has been strongly criticised by music promoter Louis Walsh and folk musician Paul Brady.

They spelt out their concerns to the Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan, who was present as a member of a panel discussion on public policy and communications as part of the Music Show in the RDS on Saturday.
The discussion centred on the important part the arts and culture would play in helping Ireland's economic woes."

Irish composer feted in first of month of events - The Irish Times - Mon, Oct 04, 2010

THE LATE Irish composer Aloys Fleischmann's contribution to traditional music in Ireland was celebrated yesterday at a music and poetry event organised by Cork City Council and University College Cork (UCC) at the Glucksman Art Gallery in the city.

Last January, President Mary McAleese opened the celebrations organised by Cork City Council to mark the centenary of the birth of Fleischmann (1910-1992). He was an Irish composer, conductor, scholar, campaigner, organiser, professor of music at University College and Freeman of the City of Cork.
Events commemorating him take place in the Glucksman Gallery at UCC every Sunday afternoon this month. The gallery has housed the exhibition From the Sources, which features filmed performances by 94 traditional musicians of the first 836 dance tunes and songs contained in Fleischmann's monumental work Sources of Irish Traditional Music.

Perspectives: Into Sound opened yesterday with a special poetic response to From the Sources . The event featured well-known Irish poets and authors including Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Gabriel Rosenstock and Liam Ó Muirthile.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Michael O'Connell welcomed the event. "This year has seen a local, national and international recognition and celebration of Prof Fleischmann. This collaborative programme is a testament to the lasting impact of his work on a range of artists.'

Mel Mercier from the school of music at UCC said he believed Fleischmann would endorse this kind of cross-arts activity and the creation of art works inspired by his musical legacy.

Contributors over the coming Sundays include Danish composer and musician Palle Mikkelborg, and singer and composer Iarla Ó Lionáird. On the final Sunday, October 24th, under Mr Mercier, The Sources musicians will perform a revival of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin's composition, EGLEGO.

Irish composer feted in first of month of events - The Irish Times - Mon, Oct 04, 2010

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Irish composer feted in first of month of events - The Irish Times - Mon, Oct 04, 2010

Irish composer feted in first of month of events - The Irish Times - Mon, Oct 04, 2010: "THE LATE Irish composer Aloys Fleischmann's contribution to traditional music in Ireland was celebrated yesterday at a music and poetry event organised by Cork City Council and University College Cork (UCC) at the Glucksman Art Gallery in the city.

Last January, President Mary McAleese opened the celebrations organised by Cork City Council to mark the centenary of the birth of Fleischmann (1910-1992). He was an Irish composer, conductor, scholar, campaigner, organiser, professor of music at University College and Freeman of the City of Cork."

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Lunasa does Irish with a twist

Lunasa performs at Interceltic Festival of Avi...Image via Wikipedia"Most traditional Irish bands grow up as friends playing together from the time they are wee at sessions and festivals throughout the Emerald Isle.
Lunasa, a traditional-yet-modern Irish quintet, is the exception to that rule. Kevin Crawford, who plays flute, whistle and bodhran, met the other members as he got on the airplane for their first tour, back in the late '90s -- a plane headed for Australia, no less.
'I did not know them before that moment,' Crawford said, calling from a tour stop on the central coast of California. 'They knew of me from other recordings and asked me to join them. So we did our first gig as Lunasa in the Blue Mountains of Australia. It was a strange beginning, but it has worked.'"
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Musical show 'n' tell at RDS -

Cathy DaveyImage via Wikipedia"This weekend marks the third Music Show event at Dublin's RDS, a convention that incorporates live music, workshops and panels with a chance for bands and music fans alike to catch a glimpse of the inner workings of the Irish and international industries.
�Last year's event was the biggest of its kind in Ireland, with 12,000 people passing through the doors of the venue over two days.
Running this Saturday and Sunday, the show is the creation of Hot Press magazine, who established it in 2008. This year's musical guests include Cathy Davey, Republic of Loose, Damien Dempsey, Fight Like Apes (above) and The Flaws. There will be panels on topics such as music journalism, the benefits of music colleges for musicians, and the art of production, with a number of high-profile guests contributing to each. Newton Faulkner will host a masterclass in guitar-playing, Mundy and Gemma Hayes will host a songwriting workshop, and one of the biggest draws of the weekend will be a public interview with Bob Geldof on Sunday. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster now."
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Isabelle O’Connell’s Reservoir of Irish Music

"Born in Ireland and now based in New York, pianist Isabelle O’Connell has been an energetic advocate for living composers on both sides of the Atlantic. She also plays some mean Messiaen.

Her new CD Reservoir features works from the past two and a half decades by nine Irish composers. The results are not merely a dogmatic presentation of a particular national “school of composition.” On the contrary, O’Connell’s clearly quite willing to program a stylistically eclectic recital. And the Emerald Isle"

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Black Hawk Chamber Music Festival 10th Anniversary Celebration

Viola da Gamba 2Image by aplumb via Flickr"The 2010 Blackhawk Chamber Music Festival will celebrate its tenth anniversary with three unique programs in Davenport, including The Intimate Lute & Flute: Irish, Scottish and Continental Renaissance and Baroque on Thursday, October 21 at 7:30 PM with Jeffrey Cohan (baroque and renaissance flutes) and Oleg Timofeyev (lute), The 19th-Century Russian Perspective: Viola, Natural Horn and Flute meet the Russian Guitar on Friday, October 22 at 7:30 PM with Kristen Thelander (natural horn), Christine Rutledge (viola), Jeffrey Cohan (eight-keyed flute) and Oleg Timofeyev (Russian 7-string guitar), and Love to George! From Johann and George: A Bach & Handel Tribute to George Shangrow on Sunday afternoon, October 24 at 3:00 PM with Terri Richter (soprano), Gregory Hand (harpsichord), Jeffrey Cohan (baroque flute) and Oleg Timofeyev (lute and viola da gamba)."
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Chieftains to play mini Irish tour

The Chieftains 3Image via Wikipedia"World-renowned traditional Irish music band The Chieftains will play four concerts in Ireland in November, it was announced today.
The six-time Grammy Award winners play at Limerick University on the 17th of November, Cappoquin Community Centre on the 20th, the Mermaid Theatre in Bray on the 21st and the Tullamore Court Hotel on Wednesday 24th November.
The tour will feature original members Paddy Moloney, Matt Molloy, Se�n Keane and Kevin Conneff, but will also feature guest performers from around the world including Ottowa Valley Dancers Jon and Nathan Pilatzke, New York-based champion Irish dancer Cara Butler, eight string guitarist Redmond O’Toole, harpist Triona Marshall and guest singer Yvonne Mc Mahon-Tiernan."
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Astral project? Van Morrison returns after 37 years -

Van MorrisonImage via Wikipedia"The words “mystic” and “mystical” have been applied to Van Morrison’s music so often that it almost seemed redundant when a song called “Into the Mystic” appeared on his 1970 album, “Moondance.”
Then again, few singer-songwriters anywhere can match this Irish-born troubadour, whose sold-out Wednesday concert at the Civic Theatre (top ticket price: $371.55 per seat) marks his first San Diego date in 37 years.
This holds especially true when it comes to creating genre-leaping music that, at its best, is both highly personal and broadly appealing, intensely spiritual but steeped in the grit of everyday life.
His enormous influence can be heard in the work of everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Counting Crows to James Morrison and Ray LaMontagne. Morrison’s finest albums — 1968’s “Astral Weeks,” 1970’s “Tupelo Honey,” 1988’s “Irish Heartbeat” (which he recorded with The Chieftains) and 1993’s “Hymns to the Silence” — sound very much of this earth while, almost mystically, moving somewhere beyond it.
But there are other words that apply to the Belfast Cowboy and Van the Man, to invoke two nicknames fans fondly use, including “enigmatic,” “obstinate” and “curmudgeon.” It is the combination of these qualities with his singular artistic talents that helps his best music approach transcendence, while Morrison himself can drive even his closest friends batty.
This was reinforced by longtime pal Robbie Robertson, the guitarist and main songwriter in The Band, when he described a joint performance that went anything but as planned.
After giving Robertson precise musical instructions for “Caravan,” a song the guitarist knew very well, Morrison and his band began playing it at “190 miles an hour,” Robertson recalled as he inducted Morrison into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
When Morrison then led his group into a freewheeling jazz vamp, “I wanted to assassinate him on the spot,” Robertson said during his induction speech. “It was like being in a nightmare from jazz hell.”
Morrison currently has no tour publicist. But why would he need one when he rarely does interviews? No media photographers are allowed to shoot his concerts. His website states that “ is the only official and authorized website for Van Morrison information, films and music on the internet.” Fittingly, that sentence is where his website begins — and ends."
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Sunday, 26 September 2010

Cowen opens new home for music and dance

"IT was a day to celebrate culture -- and where better than the official opening of the new home of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.

The spectacular building located on the northern bank of the sprawling University of Limerick campus was opened by the Taoiseach yesterday.

Along with hundreds of assembled guests, Mr Cowen allowed himself to be entertained for more than an hour by an impressive group of musicians, singers and dancers, including The Chieftains, The Irish Chamber Orchestra, and UL students.

The Taoiseach was clearly enjoying himself as he clapped along with the melodies of Donal Lunny and Paddy Moloney."

Friday, 24 September 2010

Big crowds expected for Irish Fall Festival

Hereford Inlet in North WildwoodImage via Wikipedia"The number of green T-shirts being sold around town has jumped, red plastic beer cups have been flying off the shelves of local supermarkets, and a number of homes have begun proudly displaying flags in colors of orange, white and green.
All are signs that North Wildwood has been readying for its 19th annual Irish Fall Festival and the thousands of people it brings to enjoy a weekend-long party that celebrates Irish heritage.
“It’s like North Wildwood’s own Mardi Gras,” said Krista Nooney as she stocked up on red plastic cups at a grocery store.
Nooney said her entire family extends their vacation to include the last weekend in September “religiously” so not to miss the festival.
“I don’t think we’ve missed one since the city started hosting it,” she said."
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Academy's €20m new home unveiled - The Irish Times - Sat, Sep 25, 2010

"THE NEW €20 million home of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance was officially unveiled at the University of Limerick yesterday.

The state-of-the-art facility has several theatres as well as dance performance studios, recording spaces, music performance practice rooms, seminar rooms, exhibition areas and an international research centre.

Yesterday’s official opening by Taoiseach Brian Cowen included performances by the Chieftains, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Rex Levitates Dance Company and students of the academy.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Cowen underlined the importance of the academy in protecting and showcasing Ireland’s cultural heritage.

“The new academy building not only offers a place to study, examine and develop the many strands of our musical heritage but it also lets us celebrate it, and the rich and varied traditions of other cultures,” he said.

In his address, the director of the academy Prof Miche�l � S�illeabh�in said the building was like “walking into a poem”.

“It has all the practicalities of a safe haven, and all the poetics of a work of art. The Irish World Academy team holds it in trust for the Irish nation and for fellow artists and scholars across the world,” he said."

Bill Whelan Bursary Makes International Studies A Reality For Talented Irish Composers

"The internationally acclaimed Irish composer Bill Whelan presented two gifted emerging Irish composers with substantial music bursaries at an awards ceremony in Dublin this week. Cormac McCarthy from Cork and Aoife Ni Bhriain from Dublin are the latest recipients of the Bill Whelan International Music Bursary which was established to support Irish music students studying abroad.
The Bursary, which was launched in 2005, has assisted students to further their studies in disciplines ranging from film scoring, orchestration and music composition.

The bursary scheme is administered with the assistance of The Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO). Speaking today at the presentation of the awards Bill commented, 'Since the Bursary began over five years ago, I have had the honour and pleasure to meet some extraordinary young musicians, many of whom have gone on to flourishing careers as practicing musicians or in the academic field. Unfortunately, this is the last year of this particular bursary, but I am hoping to continue with something similar in the near future. My congratulations and warm wishes to all who have participated over the years."

Cormac McCarthy, who is entering into a Masters course in Jazz Composition at DePaul University School of Music, Chicago outlined 'receiving the Bill Whelan Bursary has benefitted me enormously in meeting the costs of living and studying in the U.S. Equally the prestige and honour associated with such an award is a massive personal boost and has given me a renewed belief in my composition'.

'The bursary is an act of tremendous generosity from Bill and is a fantastic opportunity for the young talent in Ireland to apply for. The musical opportunities that are to be found in Europe and farther afield are simply wonderful but unfortunately not always accessible to Irish musicians. With bursaries such as Bill's, doors are opened and the level of musicianship in Ireland is drastically improved. I am looking forward to learning and achieving as much as possible in the next 4 years' added Aoife Ni Bhriain who commences a Bachelor of Music degree at Hochschule in Leipzig.

Bill Whelan, best known as composer of Riverdance The Show, a Grammy Award winner for 'Best Musical Show Album', has worked extensively in theatre, television and film. His orchestral works include the specially commissioned piece, The Seville Suite (1992) and The Spirit Of Mayo (1993). His work in international film includes Lamb which he co-composed with Van Morrison, his emotive score for the Jim Sheridan/Terry George film Some Mother's Son and the original score for the film version of Brian Friel's award winning Dancing At Lughnasa which starred Meryl Streep. His production and arranging credits include U2, Van Morrison, Kate Bush, Richard Harris and The Dubliners. His chamber music suite, inspired by his recent life in Connemara, has been recorded by the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Zoe Conway, Fionnula Hunt and Michelle Mulcahy."

Arthur Guinness Day Music Festival

"If anyone deserves a day of honor, Irish brewer Arthur Guinness does. To honor its founder, Guinness and the Irish American Heritage Center will put an all-star music lineup on stage to show Chicago that every day is a lovely day for a Guinness.

The Arthur Guinness Day Music Festival is a day-long celebration of music, food, fun and Arthur Guinness, founder of the Guinness brewery business, who was an entrepreneur, visionary and philanthropist.

Kick off the next 250 years of Guinness tradition with this indoor and outdoor festival that features world-class beer, in a world-class venue, with a world-class lineup. The festival features Gaelic Storm, Seven Nations, Kevin Flynn and the Avondale Ramblers, the Irish Music School of Chicago and the Dooley Brothers and Jimmy Moore and the City of Chicago Pipe Band and Nineteen Pints."

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Ireland in story and song presented Sept. 30 at Appalachian

"BOONE—Music from Ireland will be performed Sept. 30 by students and faculty from Appalachian State University’s Hayes School of Music.
The evening begins at 8 p.m. in Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall. Admission is free.
Called an “informance,” the evening features student musicians who participated in the Hayes School of Music’s 2010 study abroad program to Ireland. In addition to performing on fiddle, concertina and Irish harp, students will talk about their experience in Ireland and how it relates to their academic degree.
The study abroad program to Ireland began in 2000. It is based at University College of Cork’s �School of Music. Faculty and students from Appalachian work with UCC faculty and students, attend private lessons, master classes, and recitals by Irish musicians at the university. �Evenings are spent observing and participating in pub music sessions."
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Beamish Cork Folk Festival 30/09/2010

An Góilín members at the Cork Folk Festival. A...Image via Wikipedia"For any event to be celebrating it’s 30th anniversary is cause for celebration. For The Cork Folk Festival, it’s much more than that. Put together from year to year purely on a voluntary basis by a dedicated group of enthusiasts, sometimes with the help of major sponsorship, often by a combination of various sponsors and supporters, it’s endurance is a tribute to the energy and labour of it’s workers.
The Cork Folk Festival’s annual objective is straightforward – to present the best of local, national, and international folk and traditional music, song and dance on Leeside in late august/early September each year."
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If you see just 100 shows tonight . . .

Henrietta street.Image via Wikipedia"Na Piobairi Uilleann is the home of Dublin piping and tonight tours of the renovated Georgian headquarters on Henrietta Street run from 6pm until 10pm.
There will also be a series of recitals, beginning at 6.30pm. No booking needed. See"
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A free evening with Heritage pioneers

Del McCouryImage via Wikipedia"Nashville's in the house! The foot-stomping spot on Friday night will be the Music Center at Strathmore, where the 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellows will perform and talk. Del McCoury, the bluegrass legend, will bring his 50 years of guitar playing to the stage. The concert, starting at 8 p.m. and emceed by Nick Spitzer, host of public radio's American Routes, will include Yacub Addy, a Ghanaian drum master, Jim 'Texas Shorty' Chancellor, the Texas fiddler, and Mike Rafferty, an Irish flute player. If you can't make it up Rockvile Pike, the NEA is offering a live webcast and instructions will be posted Friday afternoon at"
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Music at center of Greater Danbury Irish Festival

"The 16th annual Greater Danbury Irish Festival kicks off Friday, Sept. 24 at the Charles Ives Concert Park, featuring a number of new musical acts in addition to the cultural attractions, traditional Irish eats and Guinness for which the festival is�beloved.

'It truly is a musical festival this year,' says Eileen Alberts, who is co-chairing the event along with Paul Grasseler Jr. 'Some of our performers, like the Mighty Ploughboys and the Highland Rovers, have been with us for years, but we also have a number of new acts that we're very excited�about.'

That new talent includes the CPTV-featured group the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Celtic songstress Fiona Molloy, and the breakout band Screaming Orphans. All three recently performed at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, one of the largest festivals in the�country."


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