From The Hobby Paul Keating
- Clancy Legacy continues with Christmas shows from Aoife and Robbie, new CD from Donal
- Boston’s WGBH to present 11th annual broadcast of “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn”
- At concerts across the tristate area, artists will celebrate an Irish Christmas
- Owners of Boston’s Burren Pub to host CD release party while helping homeless
- Darrah Carr celebrates 15 years of transforming Irish dance into a style she calls ModErin
I am not sure if the current spate of warm summer weather in the Irish countryside can be credited to the release of a much anticipated new CD this month by concertina player Edel Fox and fiddler Neill Byrne, but the title, The Sunny Banks, suggests that the tide of great Irish music is still rising anyway.
American audiences in the Northeast will have the pleasure of experiencing this great new duet from two of Ireland’s finest young musicians keeping the tradition alive when they tour here in August in support of the new album launched earlier this month at the Willie Clancy Summer School.
You have to go back to the eighties in New York City to see the revival of traditional music on festival stages around New York as it seemed to lag behind places like Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia in recognizing the grand old masters to be found in the metropolitan area and the blossoming Irish American generation of musicians they were spawning.
Most notably through the Snug Harbor Irish Traditional Music Festivals out in Staten Island organized by folklorist Becky Miller for the Irish Arts Center, there were memorable performances from Jack Coen, Mike Rafferty, Martin Mulvihill, Mike Preston, Paddy Reynolds, Andy McGann, Joe Madden, Mattie Connolly and other old time masters.
Speaking of New York institutions and pub sessions, I have to give a special shout out to O’Neill’s Irish Bar on Third Avenue which has been hosting Irish trad sessions since 1997 when owner Ciaran Staunton invited fiddler Brian Conway to start a Saturday night session.
Eventually a Sunday night session run by guitarist and singer Johnny Cuomo was added on and the popular Midtown Manhattan hostelry was a fixture for the local and visiting trad music aficionados
Sessions that run that long are no flash in the pan and usually reflect a rare commitment from the publican.
In recent years we have seen Irish musicians collaborating outside their usual comfort zones, and it has led to some fascinating combinations that often times became touring models for those periods when their main gigs were inactive.
You would have heard mention of the Teetotallers for example, Martin Hayes, Kevin Crawford and John Doyle, as a prominent example for artists who find occasional work together when not engaged in their regular tour gigs.
It was a warm, humid Friday night last week that brought a number of Irish music lovers and supporters to the East Side town house of Irish businessman Tony White and his wife Clare for a very special occasion.
In a manner reminiscent of the patrons of Irish pipers and harpers centuries ago, White recently spied and admired a young animated young uilleann piper playing at the weekly Saturday afternoon session at Lillie’s Victorian Bar to whom he would open his own beautiful home for a CD launch in New York when it was released.
One of the fascinating aspects of Irish traditional music as a “Living Tradition” that keeps up with the times while preserving its essence is exploring what happens behind the scenes of the stage performances, sessions, workshops and festivals. And in the hands of visionary documentary producers who share the passion and the interest in Irish music we gain a greater insight into what keeps its vibrant and thriving as an art form.
Anyone who has spent any time around musicians know how wedded they are to their instruments. The strongest bonds are built by those who actually know and develop a working and sympathetic relationship with the instrument maker, and one of the more prominent ones is flute maker Patrick Olwell, whose colorful career is depicted in The Keymaster: Patrick Olwell’s Story, produced and released earlier this year by Jem Moore and Blayne Chastain.
As we go to press this week, the annual musical feast known as the Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy is well underway in its 41st year as the pre-eminent summer school devoted to traditional Irish music and dance.
To help mark the 40th anniversary of the legendary West Clare Willie Clancy Summer School, a documentary was produced this year to mark 40 years of extraordinary achievement in preserving and promoting traditional Irish music all over the world from the small village of Miltown Malbay, and was also launched as part of the opening celebrations to the week.