A wealth of Irish traditional music shows for the green season of St. Patrick


I recently spent some quality time with the Northern Ireland folk singer and raconteur Tommy Sands during Joanie Madden’s Folk ‘N’ Irish cruise, and it is always a joy and learning experience watching him work an audience while raising the Irish quotient at the same time. 

Sands will tour the U.S. starting this weekend, Sunday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University (www.monmouth.edu/arts) in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

On Sunday, March 10, he appears in Arising From the Troubles, a 75-minute narration and song based on Sands' recent album of the same name, at 7 p.m. at the 8th Step at Proctors (GE Theatre), 432 State Street, Schenectady, New York.

Joining him on stage is his son, Fionàn Sands, on guitar. His two week tour concludes with an appearance in a big Mick Moloney show for the Irish Arts Center at Symphony Space on Saturday, March 16 at 8 p.m. (more on this next week) and a St. Patrick’s Day show at the Hastings-on Hudson Public Library at 2:30 p.m. in Westchester County.

Speaking of Moloney, he is linking up with Lenwood O. Sloan again in a presentation called “Black and White and Green: St. Patrick’s Day in Harlem; Two Roads Diverged: A Dialogue on Irish and Black Contributions to American Culture.”

It is hosted by the Irish Arts Center at the Harlem Stage, 150 Convent Avenue at 135th Street on Tuesday, March 12 at 7 p.m. (www.irishartscenter.org or 212-281-9240, ext. 19 or 20).

We always expect a great Celtic concert from the World Music Institute of New York around this time of the year, and though the Chieftains won’t be at Carnegie Hall this year Altan, the Donegal-fueled super group, will be there albeit in the smaller and new performance space called Zankel Hall.

600 seat theater with entrances on Seventh Avenue and 56th Street is a new venue for Altan in town and for Irish music fans. It should be a terrific place to see this always lively band and its mellifluous singer Mairead ni Mhaonaigh. Tickets available at carnegiehall.org or Carnegie Charge at 212-247-7800.  For full details visit altan.ie.

Making a big impression on the Madden cruise also was the McLean Avenue Band led by Westmeath’s Padraig Allen.  They have a couple of big shows coming up at performing arts centers in New York and New Jersey.

They will showcase their big stage show From Galway to Graceland that combines the talents of the musicians in the band with the Emerald Fire Dancers featuring Johanna Barry Connolly, Louise Barry and Louise Corrigan.   The first show is this weekend down the Jersey Shore in Manasquan at one of my favorite PACs called the Algonquin Theatre (algonquinarts.org or 732-528-9211). This Sandy Storm-damaged area took a major hit and could use a big St. Patrick’s Day Irish resuscitation, so I hope they sell out the 500 seat venue convenient to lots of nice restaurants and pubs in the area.

The other venue is a brand-new conversion of an old movie theater in Riverhead, Long Island to the Suffolk Theater (118 East Main St., Riverhead) where Allen will present his big show on St. Patrick’s Day itself at 2 p.m.  It’s another 500-seater so seats should be plentiful and available at suffolktheater.com or at 631-727-4343.

It wouldn’t be the St. Patrick’s season without a visit from those ageless wonders the Chieftains  (thechieftains.org) led by piper Paddy Moloney and Matt Molloy (flute) and Kevin Conneff for some shows in the area.

Last year for their 50th anniversary they launched a CD called Voice of Ages, collaborating with a number of Indie artists and bands like Low Anthem who will appear with them at gigs in Morristown, New Jersey (March 5 at the Mayo Performing Arts Center), Princeton, New Jersey the next night at the McCarter Theatre Center, and Stamford, Connecticut on March 12 at the Palace Theatre.

In Washington, D.C. they perform at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra on March 14-16 before finishing the tour on March 17 in Norfolk, Virginia at the Harrison Opera House.