Dan Milner has been plying the Irish and folk music scene of New York City for decades, and acquired a well-earned reputation for his store of knowledge about countless folk songs and the times that created them. He comes from that folk singing tradition where delivery and articulation are critical to imparting the most colorful details contained in a song or the nuance that drives it home as a great ballad of the people. Through committed interpreters and vocalists like Milner, the songs of the people that depict our history are like buried treasure to be reclaimed over and over again with an audience that appreciates that folk song tradition. Out of that treasure chest comes Milner's new CD "Irish Pirate Ballads and Other Songs of the Sea" on Smithsonian Folkways Records that gives further evidence of what a resource Milner has been over the years, particularly when it comes to chronicling how the sea tosses and turns all those who sail on it. The release of the 13-track CD early in February by Smithsonian Folkways (www.folksways.si.edu) solidifies the vital role that he had played in researching songs and vividly bringing them to life from the printed page. It adds to his legacy as a song collector who published the 150-song collection called "The Bonnie Bunch of Roses" a number of years ago, as well as three previous CDs for the Folk-Legacy label that explored Irish songs of the sea, Irish America and New England. Greatly enhancing this new project is the fact that Milner "shanghaied" a mighty crew of musicians to appear with him. The CD features Joanie Madden, Mick Moloney, Susan McKeown, Robbie O'Connell, John Doyle. Gabriel Donahue, Brian Conway, Tim Collins, Bob Conroy and the Johnson Girls that included Dan's wife Bonnie, who is a wonderful singer in her own right. None of them really had to be impressed into duty as they have all worked with Milner down through the years in a variety of venues, workshops and performances. Along with being a performer, Milner has just completed a master's in the field and worked for a time as a park ranger at Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty and Castle Gardens at Battery Park. Prior to that he had a long career in the airline industry which allowed him many field trips to England and Ireland to collaborate with the likes of Ewan MacColl and Frank Harte, two icons in the trad singing realm and so many others. His early roles in the Irish folk group The Flying Cloud with Brian Brooks, Paddy Reynolds, Tony DeMarco and Cesar Pacifici, resident in the halcyon early days of the Eagle Tavern, led to a popular concert series that eventually moved onto the Blarney Star. The CD has a 40-page booklet that has detailed liner notes on the songs, and also Milner's own life story complete with photos and facts that put it all in a chronological timeframe. There will be two release occasions at places where Milner can often be found throughout the year. On Sunday, February 1 at 3 p.m. at the South Street Seaport Museum (12 Fulton Street) in lower Manhattan he'll appear with Bob Conroy, the Johnson Girls and the New York Packet, his maritime singing group which is a house band of the Seaport. On Friday, February 6, Glucksman Ireland House and the Blarney Star concert series will present him along with co-producer Gabriel Donahue, Bonnie Milner and the entire Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra with whom he now performs as well. That show begins at 9 p.m. Visit www.blarneystar.com or call 212-998-3950.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore