Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Catskills Irish Arts Week set for July 10-16

View of Catskills looking over Hudson River fr...Image via Wikipedia
This year’s Catskills Irish Arts Week (CIAW) has been set for the week of July10-16 and this year marks the 17th celebration of Irish art, music, language, and culture in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

The CIAW gives musicians and dancers a chance to learn and perform with their fellow artists. The organizers “have assembled another terrific faculty of teachers and entertainers who will continue to make the CIAW the place to be for serious fans of Irish traditional music and dance and for those who want to learn more and improve their skills in a wonderful social setting with an Irish Village atmosphere.”

The Arts Week offers classes in a wide variety of Irish art forms, culture, and music. Fiddle, uilleann pipes, button accordion, singing, bodhran, flute, tin whistle, piano accordion, concertina, tenor banjo, dance, painting, Irish history and language, storytelling are just some of the subjects that Arts Week faculty will offer classes on.

The visual arts and a variety of crafts have been included in the Arts Week for more than a decade and the program has been expanded this year. Included this year several types of Celtic jewelry, stone and wood carving, in studio painting and “en plein air” and a brand new class in St. Brigid’s Cross weaving.

The Arts Week culminates with the Andy McGann Traditional Irish Music Festival on Saturday, July 16th. It will be held on the M.J. Quill Irish Cultural & Sports Centre Pavilion Fields. It is still the biggest assembly of traditional Irish musicians and dancers performing in North America with more than 100 artists scheduled to appear. The Catskills Irish Arts Week Faculty provides much of the entertainment for the day but special guests will also be in attendance. Food and craft vendors and refreshments will be available for the entire day.

The Irish Emigrant - Catskills Irish Arts Week set for July 10-16

Friday, June 24, 2011

Versatile Beoga play two Galway gigs to celebrate new album

Bodhrán, Top-end style. The shadow of the left...Image via Wikipedia
The Groove Tube with Jimi McDonnell - tribunegroove@live.ie
Bodhrán player Eamon Murray is in ebullient form as his group Beoga celebrate the launch of their fourth album How To Tune a Fish.
“Keeping busy now,” he says. “It’s all go, thankfully. It’s a good way to be.

Beoga, who fuse world influences with Irish traditional music, play The Crane Bar this Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18 as part of the Galway Sessions festival. Their band’s line-up is Eamon (bodhrán/percussion), Damian McKee (accordion), Seán Óg Graham (accordion/guitar), Liam Bradley (piano/keys) and Niamh Dunne (fiddle/vocals).

Having recorded the previous album, The Incident in regular studios, the Antrim based Beoga decided it was time for a new approach with How To Tune a Fish, says Eamon.

“From February we spent three months recording it – at home this time,” he explains. “Seán Óg, the accordion and guitar player, has a studio in his house. We literally recorded it in his living room, bathroom and kitchen, the whole lot. We took over his house for a few months and locked the doors!

“At home you can take your time and work a bit later, mess around a bit more” he adds. “You’re not under anyone else’s time. It’s a bit warmer and homely; we took our time with it and got it right.”

They experimented with how instruments sounded when played in different spaces, a process that yielded some interesting results!
“I spent a lot of time in the toilet with one of the lads with me,” he says. “That’s where some of the stuff happened, but other than that I preferred the living room – for obvious reasons! Between those two locations we hopefully got it right.”

A combination of geography and a competitive streak first brought Beoga together in 2002.

“Myself and Seán Óg grew up playing together and we always wanted to have a band,” says Eamon. “We got together with Damien and Liam at the All Ireland Fleadh there in Listowel in 2002. Seán knew the lads in a roundabout way and we just sat down and had a night’s craic, made big plans. One of those times where you hit it off musically; we sort of took it from there.”

Eamon was particularly successful at the Fleadhs – he is a three-in-a-row All-Ireland Fleadh bodhrán final winner. How does the competition work?

“You just get up and play a couple of tunes with a musician that you have provided,” he explains. “One of my sisters used to always play at the Fleadh so we’d go up and play. It was nerve-wracking. I decided to leave it for a while. I got a three in a row and I said ‘that’ll do me.’ Anything else would be pushing your luck.”

Beoga’s music has a real freewheeling feel to it and, though they write set-lists, the band can shake it up too.

“We kind of plan as best we can,” says Eamon. “You’d need to have a rough idea of what you’re doing and then sometimes, depending on the gig, you might cut something or throw something extra in. Depending on how you think everyone’s reacting; some people

love the faster stuff and some love the slower stuff. It’s horses for courses. We like to know, to some extent, what we’re doing.”
How To Tune a Fish is a peculiar, but memorable, title. Eamon recalls how it came about.

“Myself and Liam came up with that. We were sort of bashing around names, and that’s often the hardest thing. Whenever you listen to the way we play there’s a few unexpected turns in the music. We thought, you know, why not do something that’s a bit of craic and doesn’t box you in. We didn’t want to call it The Rolling Glens of County Antrim!”
The title of Beoga’s album reflects their desire not to be boxed in and Eamon feels the band don’t fit neatly into the ‘trad’ genre.

“I think it would be something else; I don’t know if you’d actually call it anything,” he muses about their music. “There are a lot of purists who say it wouldn’t be their cup of tea, put it that way. That’s grand, it’s not supposed to be a purist’s cup of tea – it’s supposed to be a bit of craic, and is what it is. There’s plenty of twists and turns, and well and good. It’s successful.”

“I don’t think you could call it trad, I don’t think you could call it folk,” he adds. “It’s something anyway, and I hope the people that are listening to it look at it that way too.”

For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.

Versatile Beoga play two Galway gigs to celebrate new album | Connacht Tribune | galwaynews.ie

Gráda @ Monroe’s Live

GrádaCover of Gráda
GRÁDA IS to Irish music what Arcade Fire is to indie - informal, prodigious and full of spirit.” So said The Washington Post and Gráda play Monroe’s Live on Sunday at 8.30pm.

Gráda’s sound is deeply rooted in the Irish tradition, but also layered with Americana, jazz, and a diverse range of influences that, in the words of The Irish Times, “come together as if they were lifelong bedfellows”.

The band has a Galway connection with Galway native Nicola Joyce on vocals and bodhrán. The Wall Street Journal described her as “a magnificent vocalist who sings with sheer beauty and poignancy”.

The line-up is completed by Gerry Paul (guitar, banjo, vocals), New Zealand’s Andrew Laking (double bass, vocals, guitar); David Doocey (fiddle, concertina, whistle), and Stephen Doherty (flute, whistle, melodeon, piano, bodhrán).

Tickets available from Monroe's Bar or on the door or through monroeslivevenue@gmail.com

Gráda @ Monroe’s Live

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Festival features wide variety of world music

"From bouzouki to bodhrán, Chinese opera to Cuban salsa — if the SOUNDshift festival doesn’t have it, it probably doesn’t exist as a form of music.
The music festival is being held in St. John’s next month alongside the 2011 International Council of Traditional Music conference, marking the first time the event has been held in Canada since 1961. More than 500 delegates from 60 countries will visit Memorial University, taking part in workshops, discussions, lectures and concerts.
The conference and festival was launched Tuesday, with the help of university president and vice-chancellor Gary Kachanoski and Natural Resources Minister Shawn Skinner, who represented Tourism and Culture Minister Terry French."

Tannahill Weavers headed to Worcester

Tannahill Weavers Aberdeen 2007Image via Wikipedia"When The Tannahill Weavers released their first album “Are Ye Sleeping Maggie?” in 1976, they were about to rouse some people from a slumber.

While The Tannies, as they are known to many, perform Scottish traditional music, the traditional music scene was about due for a wake-up call, suggested original member and guitarist and vocalist Roy Gullane.

“I think we came along at a time when the traditional music was in need of a breath of fresh air. It was getting bogged down in the quasi-Scottish thing.” On the BBC (or more specifically, BBC Scotland), it was not uncommon to see performers “dressed in tartan and singing in an operatic manner. Young people were turning off,” Gullane recalled.

Enter The Tannies. “We took it back a step and added guitars,” Gullane said. “We were at the age where we could do something to it without getting away from the origins of it.”"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Golygfa Gwydyr community centre open day in Llanrwst

LlanrwstImage via WikipediaA NEW community centre called Golygfa Gwydyr held an open day in its new premises in Plough Street, Llanrwst, recently.

Over 50 people went along to see what had been done in the building, previously the NFU offices. The building has been renovated for community use thanks to donations and grants.

The ribbon was cut by Maldwyn Davies, a regular at Golygfa Gwydyr’s job club and who volunteers on a regular basis.

Chair Rosie Evans thanked the community for their voluntary contributions to the building as well as the major funders and key partners.

Visitors were treated to bodhran drumming, displays of art produced by the community, locally produced hand stitched quilts as well as a range of home baked cakes, bread and jam.

One resident produced a homemade cake replica of the building itself, while others made bunting and many new friends came forward offering assistance in the future.

Golygfa Gwydyr also held its annual meeting and outlined its plans for the future. Four new directors came forward, increasing capacity to manage more local projects and service provisions.

The job club has moved from the Mind office to the new premises.

For more see golygfagwydyr.org

Golygfa Gwydyr community centre open day in Llanrwst - North Wales Weekly News

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wonderland: The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching, BBC Two

Not long after the Good Friday Agreement, BBC Northern Ireland broadcast a charming drama featuring a tale of two drums. An Ulster Protestant was too wedded to the marching season to join his wife on holiday in Donegal, so she wrought her revenge by destroying his bass drum and replacing it with its Catholic antithesis, a bodhrán. If last night’s The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching is any indication, that won’t be happening on the Shankhill Road any time soon. The drum, still clattered with percussive insistence by Protestant bandsmen, remains a powerful conduit for loyalty to Queen and crown.
After (almost all) the paramilitaries have laid down their weapons, what remains of the Troubles are memories (and of course a dirty great partition wall down the middle of Belfast). Fervent murals celebrate the fallen, which tourists flop out of taxis to capture on digital cameras before returning to placid homes where the past is very much in the past.

'This was a film about how a community suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder protects its culture while suppressing its memories'

"This is me uncle Stevie,” said Jordan, a plump pleasant boy with red hair and freckles a year or so off from puberty. The lens pointed to the portrait filling an end-of-terrace. “He died in ah think it was 2000 or somethin’? He’s my daddy’s brother. I think he was a military commander. That’s what it says up there.” He was asked if he knew what that meant. “I don't know. I don’t know how he died either.” Another mural depicted the Maze’s infamous H block. It turns out Jordan’s daddy Jackie had done time there. People were sent there, explained Jackie, for “murders, bombings, shooting. Different things”. Different things with the same outcome.

Wonderland: The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching, BBC Two - The Arts Desk | reviews, news, interviews

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May plays June weekend

Imelda May performing in SpainImage via WikipediaROCKABILLY star Imelda May will play ‘Live in the Big Top’ at the Milk Market on Bank Holiday Sunday June 5. The recent cancellation of the Cold Pro Music & Surfing festival where Imelda was to play has meant that Miltown Malbay’s loss in Limerick’s gain. Since her appearance on Later with Jools Holland in 2008 playing bodhrán and singing ‘Johnny got a Boom Boom’ Imelda May and her band have shot to fame in Ireland and the UK. Her 1950s retro swagger and style and her authentic blues/jazz infused music has won her admirers and fans worldwide. May (real name Imelda Clabby) was born named in Dublin and raised in the Liberties. The youngest of five children she discovered the music of Elvis, Eddie Cochran and Billie Holiday from her older siblings. At age 14, Imelda’s first paying gig was singing about fish fingers for a Findus advert. At 16 years she was playing the pubs, clubs and functions circuit in Dublin.
She met and married renowned rockabilly guitarist/singer, Darrell Higham and sang on some of his recordings before releasing her first CD, ‘No Turning Back’ in 2005 under her own name. No Turning Back was home recorded and Imelda was never happy with the sound quality and re-recorded her vocals for the CDs re-release in 2009.