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

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Altan is ready to hit Zankel Hall in New York City.

It is time once again to make our readers aware of the multitude of musical opportunities with within the tradosphere as the Green Season is upon us. 

Get your exercise in marching in all the local parades, then relax and take in some great Irish music by some of the finest artists anywhere, and in some new venues for the first time as well.  You can show your Irishness by supporting the arts and the musicians who create it.

Right off the bat this evening, Wednesday February 27 at 7 p.m. is another rendition of “A Crossroads Ceili” featuring Michael Coleman on fiddle (no, not that one) an RCC student, and Pearl River School musicians including the under-12 All-Ireland champions and more of the standouts from the 15 year old school in Rockland County.   It takes place at Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York; call 845-574-4796. 

Also on a campus on Thursday evening, February 28 at 8 p.m. will be the uproarious Gaelic Storm, who have travelled full-steam ahead since their maiden voyage in the movie “Titanic”. Now one of the most popular Celtic folk-rock bands on the Irish festival circuit, they make a local appearance at William Patterson University Shea Cultural Center in Wayne, New Jersey.  Call973-720-2371. 

On Friday, March 1 the Blarney Star Concerts series welcomes traditional singer Mary McPartlan (Leitrim), currently in New York on a Fulbright scholarship as its featured performer starting at the new time of 8 p.m. at Glucksman Ireland House.  McPartlan will be accompanied by Eamon O’Leary.

The always-exciting instrumental quintet Lunasa have an extensive tour underway throughout much of the U.S. with a number of stops in the Northeast.  This weekend, March 3 at 7 p.m. sees their first ever appearance at Adelphi University Performing Arts Center in Garden City, Long Island (aupac.adelphi.edu).

On Thursday you can catch them for free at the Target Thursday night concert series at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center; two shows are scheduled for 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. in the public space called the David Rubenstein Atrium at the nexus of Broadway and Columbus Avenue. 

Seating is limited and first come, first served; I think this may be the first Irish band to appear there.  Check out the rest of their tour at www.lunasa.ie.

While the name Newtown, Connecticut conjures up horrific images since that awful day in December, those Irish music folks who loyally attend concerts hosted by the Shamrock Irish Traditional Music Society know Newtown for the superb venue across from the big flagpole known as the Newtown Meeting House.  

The colonial era edifice with church-like cushioned pews and great acoustics is an ideal gathering spot to catch a rare appearance by the Irish touring band Sliab Notes, mastering the music of Sliabh Luacra.  With Matt Cranitch from Cork City on fiddle, Donal Murphy on Accordion from West Limerick (Abbeyfeale) and Tommy O’Sullivan on vocals and accompaniment from Kerry (Dingle), they have that spirited musical genre well surrounded.  The show starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. Visit www.shamrockirishmusic.org.

Matt Cranitch will join his other box playing mate Jackie Daly for a brief tour that includes an early night concert on Thursday, March 14 for Boston College’s Gaelic Roots Series, a house concert in Assonet, Massachusetts with Gary Martin on Friday, March 15 (508-644-2331) and as a featured act in the St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn (www.wgbh.org) on Saturday, March 16 at 8 p.m. at the Sanders Theatre in Cambridge at Harvard University.

The dynamic duo of Karan Casey and John Doyle have a brief tour beginning this week in the Midwest before making their way to the Northeast.  Both have stepped up their song-writing game in recent years, but have always been a compelling vocal duo since their days as founding members of SOLAS.

They recently recorded a sensational CD called Exiles Return filled with brilliant new and old songs.  They hit the Davis Square Theater in Somerville, Massachusetts on Wednesday, March 6 (davissquaretheatre.com) and finish in Cumberland, Rhode Island at the Blackstone River Theater (401-725-9272) on Sunday, March 10.

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.

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