The Keane Edgeby Brendan Patrick Keane
- Exorcism of my inner Peter King
- Gas question: why give Ireland's enormous wealth away? the Norweigan alternative
- Bashing the Irish -- a break neck run down on Ireland's history of betrayal
- Stephen Fry to appear on Gaelic soap opera Ros na Rún
- Stolkholm Syndrome infects Dublin
Does Beyoncé really need to start her Grammy's performance with a hundred man military police escort? Back-up dancers dressed up in black-camoflauge soldier costumes with guns and bullet-proof vests is somewhat of a cliché in pop stage performances nowadays. The effect is to make us comfortable with the promised police state of 1984, or it is a reflection of the militant culture we live in already. Whether chicken or egg, the music industry is too often a tool of the darkening culture of wartime. As Jay-Z says in the lyrics to the so awarded Best Song of the Year, (Who's Gonna) Run This Town
This is Roc Nation
Pledge your allegiance
Imelda May is true Dublin who's not washing the Irish out of her accent to make-it as the capital city's newest star of traditionally Black forms of music. Black music made by Irish people is often exceptionally good and unusual. There's a certain Irish affinity to the blues, for example. Both Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday spoke of Irish ancestors, and many Irish performers, like Van Morrison recognize in Black music qualities that resonate to the deep note of native forms.
Imelda May is a Liberties colleen through and through--a sweet of heart with street smarts. She's a bodhrán player as a matter of fact, and a hot singer. I hope she explores more Irish sources.
Ireland was well represented at the big party the Bretons threw at Connolly's in Times Square last night. Pictured there to the left is Tony DeMarco, New York City's premier fiddler and one of the great masters of Irish traditional music. He will be a judge at the prestigious Fiddler of Dooney festival in Sligo this coming October. While his regular Sunday night performance at the 11th Street Bar in the East Village, is a cherished weekly listening event for lovers of Irish fiddle.
Last night's performance at the Interceltic Fest Noz was a celebration of the music, dance, and culture of Brittany, Wales, Galicia, Cornwall, Mann, Ireland, Scotland and Wales by scores of artists. These nations share history, languages, and feeling that made the jam-packed event strangely beautiful.
The Bretons of New York have an organization called BZH NY and a reputation for throwing great events. So to usher in Imbolc, they invited friends from across the Celtic lands to celebrate in our various manifestations.
The Irish phrase for suicide is "lámh a chur in a bás féin" or "to put hand in her own death," and it is a disturbingly familiar phenomenon one study attributes to the "social fragmentation" and economic downturn in dense urban and less populated areas of Ireland. Suicide or "féinmharú" and "self-harm" as it's put in the Hiberno-Irish expression are themes Ireland's best television program Ros na Rún confronts graphically in yesterday's broadcast.
It's not for me to psychoanalyze the character Ríona (pictured above, and played by actress Sorcha Ní Chéide). Her story has been told over ten seasons since she first appeared. In the last while, we've been watching as the murder of Ríona's husband -- the drug dealer O'Dowd -- has put her and her family under Garda investigation and stigmatized little Sophie, whom Ríona fears will always be haunted by her father's reputation.
Tadhg and Frances are married in this episode found at TG4.tv under the Dráma Cartlann and labeled Ros na Rún - 28/1/10. The wedding vows are worth watching the episode alone. At "the after" friends gather for speeches, including the shy one Tadhg gives, with the reference to Henry VIII, a particularly frightening reference considering what Mícheál has to tell us.
Today's the big wedding. Tadhg (there in the picture on the left, played by Macdara Ó Fatharta) is supposed to marry Frances. They want a simple wedding, but Frances' mother and father are meddling, and driving both bride and groom nuts. Tadhg threatens to shove the nose of Frances' mother where she won't like it if she doesn't stop interfering. In yesterday's episode, the bride herself snaps and kicks her own mother out of the house.
We won't see the big wedding until tomorrow when the second part airs on www.tg4.tv. Ros na Rún airs two new episodes a week on Tuesday and Thursday, and then the two together on Sunday. Yesterday's episode can be watched in the Dráma Cartlann (archive) at tg4.tv, go in there and click Ros na Rún - 26/1/10 to watch. Be sure you have Flash downloaded--it's all free and very easy.
Anything could happen with this wedding. The best man--Jason--is Tadhg's son from Dublin. The two have a rocky relationship, and Tadhg has already made Jason's friend Ríona unwelcome at the wedding. She's deep in worry over the murder of the father of her child who was drug dealer and nasty piece of work named O'Dowd, because she worries for the future of their daughter Sophie who must carry on in life with the awful reputation O'Dowd leaves behind.
The masters of the Irish musical tradition have done more global diplomatic work than any politician could ever do. Available now on the Link TV website is a very special example of how the Irish musician has made our unique culture welcome across the world.
Two immense ambassadors of the Irish tradition--Liam Ó Maonlaí and Paddy Keenan--were sent to the west African nation of Mali by Luachra Productions a couple of years ago to produce an award winning documentary on Irish and African music that is now available on-line in its entirety at Link TV for free, and for an indefinite time. Click over to the site, get a cup of tea, and sit back for an hour or so to witness the enormous power Irish music has to make the most exotic of cultures utterly familiar.
The film is called Dambé - The Mali Project. The movie opens with Paddy Keenan. He plays a melody on low whistle with a local flute player and drummer while village members listen, appreciate and make percussion to their music. An ancient woman dances to the sounds like a bird swimming in wind. The scene is very beautiful.
Irish people can relate to various peoples around the world on the basis of a similar history. When the United States attacked Mexico and confiscated states like Texas and New Mexico in the mid-19th century, Irish people could relate.
In a new album to be released tomorrow night at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, The Chieftains celebrate the memory of a band of Irishmen who defended Mexico against American invasion.
The album is a collaboration with American guitar legend Ry Cooder, with whom (and my dad!) they previously recorded a track on The Long Black Veil called The Coast of Malabar. Cooder is scheduled to appear with the band at tomorrow night's concert in Glasgow.
If Carolan were alive and living in New York City, he'd be giving house concerts to patrons of the Irish arts on Fifth Avenue. Rightly, Carolan's musical heirs--Irish traditional musicians--already have a home in the shadow of Washington Square arch at the venerable home of Ireland House, NYU's center for Irish studies and culture.
The townhouse in the middle of NY's preferred zip code became a sanctuary for Blarney Star Productions--the Friday night concert series organized forever by the Don of Irish music production in New York City, Don Meade. Meade has dedicated his life to ensuring that Irish traditional music has a quiet home for listening, and the Ireland House venue has long served as a magical spot for just that. Here's a snap shot of two ladies dancing to the music at Ireland House, from Friday night, when Seán McComiskey and Cleek Shrey performed--kicking off the 2010 Blarney Star season:
Celebrity in Ireland has a lot to do with how the bollox in question makes everybody look at home. To mitigate the effects of cheese stinking it up for everybody else--are The Gooseberries.
The not-so-distinguishing ceremony was held on Thursday at Dublin's Sugar Club with the sour cream of Irish entertainment and media whipped up for humiliation dished back.
Standing before Simon Cowell night after night on British TV last year were twin boys from Dublin--Jedward--who became a household word uttered by the top politicians in both Britain and Ireland. The wholesome pair were booed and beloved, and gave Cowell plenty opportunity to slag, but they were able to say to Graham Norton that they always heard the "boos" as "woos." In the video below the pair kick it with Vanilla Ice, which serves as one of the most vivid examples of the truth to be found in Dubhglas de hÍde's essay The Necessity for DeAnglicizing Ireland which can be read online here.
The traffic coming into Dublin every morning is brutal. Inching into the city, commuters turn to the radio for the solace that comes from a bit of craic. No better place to get it than on Dublin's 98FM where the Toll Trolls named "M" and "50" for the motorway make everything better. The brothers live under a toll bridge on the M50 and broadcast live every morning in short sketches of comedic gold.
If road rage has met its match with the Toll Trolls, so too maybe the situation in the north. You can watch the Toll Trolls tackle the peace process head-on in this clip about Sesame Street, northern Ireland.
With the world at our fingertips--and not to mention scores of facade-Irish mish mosh acts slogging away here already--when performers come out to entertain us, we're hoping for something exotic, something that you can only get from Ireland, something deep.
Same goes for tourists. The recent Lonely Planet review of Ireland describes "a land of motorways and multiculturalism" and laments the loss of "traditional culture" but what they mean is the loss of something uniquely Irish to make the trip to Ireland more interesting than one elsewhere. You can read about it here.
Now everybody can make like John Millington Synge and earwig on the native Irish at work and play in their own language. Having passed the 1000th episode mark this past Christmas, Ros na Rún's characters and its unfolding plots have garnered a richness rare except for great television. And generously, TG4.tv provides the show to an international audience
Determined to get every penny he can for his tell-nothing autobiography, the former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern applied to the Irish Republic's Tax Commission for a tax-break usually reserved for artists. And he got it.
The Artist's Tax Exemption Scheme was originally designed to assist struggling
Over 200 provocateurs did away with social convention and dropped trou, before doing like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and taking a symbolic trip on the uptown local. The mayor did not participate, and is known to be a stickler about wearing pants in public.
Among the mad men and women, were none other than some of Irish traditional music's more daring performers: Katie Linnane, Isaac Alderson and Dan Lowery, who ended up taking No Pants! to a whole new level.
More than 20 Irish speakers and readers gathered in Long Island City to have a raucous round-table talk together this past Saturday. The impressive turn-out had come to discuss the novel “Sobalsaol,” written by the popular author and screenwriter Pádraig Standún.
"Irish speakers make excellent use of the Internet," said Daithí MacLochlainn who organizes Club Leabhar for Irish language book-lovers (hence the name). It's how he explained the group's unexpected size. The club uses a Facebook page; while club member Séamus Blake described the reading material and has promoted the gathering on his bi-lingual Irish language radio program Míle Fáilte on WFUV -available on-line.
Getting over the Wednesday hump takes something to look forward to. Usually that's the weekend, but not so in White Plains, where daydreamers in the office can look forward to Wednesday night at Dunne's Pub to bring them out of the rut, and have been for more than a decade.
With master Irish-American fiddler Brian Conway at the helm, the performance-level session attracts serious musicians and an audience of serious listeners.
Brian Conway is a lion among the true Irish fiddlers of New York, coming out of the tradition from a continuum that stretches back to 19th century players who performed and recorded Irish traditional music for the same labels that the earliest jazz recordings were made on.
Keeping up with all the Irish traditional and folk music happenings in New York City is a massive task.
The city is not just chock-a-block with brilliant musicians, and a vibrant multi-venue session scene, it's also a key destination in the Celtic Corridor that runs along the Northeast United States. There's no telling who might show up--or from where--any given night. Musicians from Baltimore often stop in to a NYC seisiún on the way to a gig in Boston, say, without batting an eye.