Dubliner Tony Lawless may prove to be the Mark Zuckerberg of the traditional Irish music world. On April 28th, he launched TradConnect, a new website that aims to connect trad players all over the world, from cautious beginners to seasoned professionals. Lawless firmly believes that playing with other musicians is the most effective, not to mention the most enjoyable, way to improve one’s musical skill.
Unfortunately, for many this isn’t always an option.
Some newer players are put off by pub sessions, Lawless explained via e-mail, because “They find that the speed is too fast or they do not know the tunes.” Others simply don’t know that there are other trad players nearby. “I spent 10 years in London in 87-97,” Tony said, “and I know the challenges of being abroad and connecting with others. There are many isolated places in the US where there are players who would get out if they knew the other players around them.”
That is precisely his goal: to get people out of their houses and into groups where they can play for practice or pleasure. The site currently has 422 members and is growing as more and more musicians hear about it.
Tradconnect features discussion forums where people can talk back-and-forth about various festivals or topics, or find out if there are, for example, any accordion players nearby. Those who want feedback can upload videos of themselves for fellow musicians to watch and listen to.
Though still in its early stages, TradConnect already seems to be fostering important connections. Lawless was proud to share that he had put a retired musician in Virginia in touch with some friends in Kildare – they had a video seisiún via Skype. Other members from the U.S. have already made plans to attend his weekly seisiún during a coming trip to Dublin.