Altan and Maura O’Connell – A Perfect Brooklyn Evening

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How it’s New York: The concert took place in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, under the stars.
How it’s Irish: Performances by seminal Trad Super Group Altan and singer Maura O’Connell
Maura and Mairead

Maura and Mairead

Under a balmy summer sky, Brooklyn was treated to a double bill of luscious tunes from Altan and stirring songs from Maura O’Connell.

It’s been more than 20 years since Maura O’Connell played this wonderful outdoor venue in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and about 13 for Altan, and

they were given a true warm and open Brooklyn welcome.  

The concert was presented by BRIC Arts Media.

Maura began the evening with a set that ranged from her early hits right up through her most recent

Her voice has mellowed and grown with the years and possesses a warmth and wonderful quirky spirit that is totally endearing!    

releases.

photo 4Her years in Nashville have brought a funky and at times jazzy syncopation to her singing which was enhanced by her band featuring John Mock on guitar, Don Johnson on bass and Dave Francis on guitar and vocals.  She ripped through a set that featured her enduring hits: Nanci Griffith’s “Trouble in the Fields” and Cheryl Wheeler’s “Summerfly.”  One particular gem was “Blue Train by Nashville songwriters Jennifer Kimball and Tom Kimmel, with her voice undulating with the rhythm of the wheels on the track.

She throws herself into her songs with full abandon and totally embodies the lyrics, making them even more palpable to the audience.

Her voice has mellowed and grown with the years and possesses a warmth and wonderful quirky spirit that is totally endearing!  

She commented on the changing times in Ireland and particularly poignant was the emigrant song “Teddy O’Neill” which she learned from the singing of the legendary Dolores Keane.  Invoking the newer generation of writers coming out of Ireland, she picked a song by one of my favorites Declan O’Rourke, whom she warned the audience that if they didn’t know him now, they should, and gave a hearfelt rendition of his soaring song “Galileo.”   Finishing off the set she gave a rousing version of Greg Trooper’s song “Ireland,” totally transporting us on the waves of her voice to the idylls of the Irish countryside.

Would that I could remember the names of the songs from the blinding set that followed by the amazingly talented Altan.  But my knowledge of the irish language is such that I wouldn’t even attempt to try and venture a guess at the names of the songs that were sung by the ethereal Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.  The tunes were flying off her fiddle and that of Ciaran Tourish, and the rest of the band, Martin Tourish on accordion, Daithi Sproule on guitar and Ciaran Curran on bouzouki jumped in and took us all for a wonderful ride.

Altan Brooklyn 001

Altan Brooklyn 002

They had just finished 10 days of recording for their new CD, as yet untitled, which Mairéad informs me will be out sometime in 2016:

We had such a wonderful time with musician friends in Nashville whom we know for years….Alison Brown. Tim O’Brien, Stuart Duncan...etc….it was being let loose in a sweetie shop!!!  Great collaborations and very special moments me thinks!”

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Ciaran on whistle

They had the crowd with them the whole way, and even the stalwart cool Brooklynites couldn’t help but leap up to their feet and dance by the end.

They brought out flute and bodhran player Kieran Munnelly for the last few sets of tunes, and capped off the night    with a beautiful duet on “The Sally Gardens” by Mairéad and Maura.

 

It was a perfect night of music by stellar performers and if you haven’t been to this wonderful festival, sponsored by the Brooklyn arts consortium BRICArtsmedia.org, check out their schedule for some of the finest music, dance and spoken word from around the globe!

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