Lúnasa and Karan Casey at the Highline Ballroom

Lunasa 5


How it’s New York: At the Highline Ballroom, NYC, Monday December 14, 2015
How it’s Irish: Irish Trad Super-group Lúnasa with singer Karan Casey

I love it when I get early Christmas presents!!!  Last Monday was a whopper!  Two of my Irish trad favorites on the same stage and they delivered a jovial blinder of a set of tunes and songs to delight an extremely eager New York crowd.

Front man and flute phenom Kevin Crawford, who has been living in New York over the past year, was like the host at a great gathering, floating about the audience, pre-show, and whipping up the anticipation in the crowd.

I was particularly excited to see Karan Casey, my all-time favorite traditional singer, and to hear the collaboration between these innovative musicians!

The evening was filled with Lúnasa‘s trademark jigs and reels flying from the nimble fiddling fingers of Colin Farrell and the deft pipework of Cillian Vallely. They brought a wealth of other styles from the traditional canon, with some original Breton dance tunes penned by Kevin Crawford and some tunes from French guitarist Gilles Le Bigot.  There were jigs and slides a plenty from the likes of Leo Rowsome, Emer Mayock, and one of my favorites, The Stolen Purse by Kevin Burke and Patrick Street.  The driving base of Trevor Hutchinson and the jazzy guitar of Ed Boyd provide a strong backbone with the whirlwind of Kevin Crawford‘s flute bobbing and weaving over everything. (more…)

From the Temple to the Sanctuary

How it’s New York: Carnegie Hall!

©Jim McGuire
©Jim McGuire

How it’s Irish: John Joe Kelly was on stage with his bodhran

“Welcome to this temple of music” were the first words spoken on stage, after an opening set, at Carnegie Hall by Zakir Hussain at his Pulse of the World: Celtic Connections performance, Saturday March 28, 2015. Those words aptly set the tone for the next solid two hours of music played in celebration of the musical chops represented on stage.
In deference to the coy young musician who happened to be sitting by my side during the performance, I shall write this review without using the words “fusion,” “journey’,”or “quest.” That established, Hussain introduced the concert by speaking of how where he was from in India, the temple was the focal center point of every village, and from there, music graced the festivals, parades, traditions, ceremonies and daily life. Hussain spoke of how he remembered hearing, as a child, a different sound from a group of musicians from an area that had been settled, decades earlier, by soldiers from the colonizing British Empire.

After their military duties being done for the day, some of the visiting soldiers must have pulled out instruments and played, either on their own with their melodies and rhythms being overheard by the locals, or with some local musicians joining in… and way back then, pre-tv, internet, globalization… tunes were shared and probably friendships formed, and the seeds of this concert were planted.
A classical tabla virtuoso, Zakir Hussain has long been drawn to meet and play with musicians of other traditions. In 2011, tabla master Hussain was invited to bring four other Indian musicians to Scotland, funded by an arts council grant, to join with musicians of Celtic traditions.

‘After a few days of rehearsing, sharing ideas, and discovering common ground in their respective genres, they kicked off Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival with an opening concert that was deemed by many to be one of the most successful in recent years.’ *(quoted from program) (more…)

A St. Yves Concert at Irish Arts Center this Tuesday!

How it’s New York: BZH-New York Is a New York-based organization that promotes Breton events in the city. How many other cities have a Breton society! Charles Kergaravat, the leading light of the organization, compares St. Yves to St. Patrick’s Day.DSC_0082
How it’s Irish: The May 21 concert at Irish Arts Center combines Breton and Irish cultures. Not to be missed!

A St. Yves Concert

A Fête de la Bretagne / St. Yves’s Day celebration bringing together Breton and Irish cultures by featuring live Breton-Irish music from Samuel Le Henanff Quartet with a Breton whisky and Irish cheese tasting

The Breton dancers and musicians that were the finale of Mick Moloney’s Celtic Appalachia in March were unforgettable. I wrote:

The evening came to a close with a colorful, and loud, performance from several Breton ensembles, presented by BZH New York (The Breton Society of New York).

In overlapping French they sang to each other, and then were joined onstage by musicians who played the bombard – like a medieval oboe – and the biniou cult, which is a kind of bagpipe. They just kept. Coming. There were over 40 people on stage. Then the lights came on and we saw dancers, costumed in some kind of period peasant attire, joined hands and coming down the aisle – 40 or more of them. They began pulling people from seats to dance with them, too.

I’ll get the whole review up later today (long overdue!). But if you missed that, here’s your chance to have some fun with Breton music and singing, this week at Irish Arts Center:

St. Yves is celebrated worldwide by Bretons, similarly to the Irish celebration of St Patrick’s Day. From Brest to Vitré, from Pornic to Dol-de-Bretagne, and including Paris, Le Havre, New York and Beijing, St. Yves is celebrated for 11 days worldwide with a thousand different facets. Join BZH New York and Irish Arts Center for an unforgettable festive evening of Breton-Irish music, featuring a Breton whisky tasting of the “best European single malt whisky” Armorik Single Malt, and Warenghem whisky served with Irish cheese. A unique experience to (re)discover Brittany and Ireland’s Celtic traditions!

May 21
Tasting from 7:30 pm – 8 pm
Music 8 pm – 9 pm