How It’s New York:  Midsummer Night Swing, from June 27 – July 16, is such a great way to enjoy the soft nights of the city.   Love to dance?  Head to the Damrosch Plaza, because it’s all there!
How It’s Irish:  Check out the musicians:  Maeve Donnelly, Geraldine Cotter, Charlie Harris.

On July 13, it’s a proper Irish Ceílí, as musicians teaching and playing at Catskills Irish Arts Week come down, midweek, to play for you.  Dance instructor Megan Downes gives a lesson at 6:30, and the Ceílí proper begins at 7:30. Hear Artistic Director Paul Keating and Megan describe it on this week’s podcast.  And you can also hear the surprise special guests!  Hint– also coming from CIAW!

When I was in college, the Stanford band would   play on Big Game Gaieties then shout “Follow us to Berkeley!” if it was an Away game (or Follow us to the City for the rally, or wherever).  Here’s hoping  the musicians will stand up at the end and shout “Follow us up to East Durham!”

I’m blogging from there now, at J.J.’s cafe on Rte 145, because my Verizon aircard is unhappy in the mountains (I am disappointed in it.  It wasn’t much good in the open sea near Alaska, either).  It’s been boiling hot but it seems as though it’s just broken.  There are tons of stars, fragrant air, and sessions about to start everywhere.  I missed tonight’s concert thanks to my recapping duties for Speakeasy (check out my recap in real time of tonight’s episode of Pretty Little Liars).

But I am in Maeve’s intermediate fiddle class, and just bowled over.   Her style is pure, rhythmic, irresistible.  She’s a great teacher, but I could sit and listen all day (She’s playing a few concerts after the week too, with Conal Ó Gráda,  in Fairfield, CT on Monday the 18th, at Jalopy in Brooklyn on the 19th,and in Coatesville PA on Wednesday!  More info on the two of them after the jump)  

Here’s all the info:

Charlie Harris, Maeve Donnelly, Geraldine Cotter, and Eamonn Cotter

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 6:00
Dance Lesson at 6:30, Live Music at 7:30

Long before discos and clubs were swinging hips and moving feet, the Irish social world revolved around the céilí, a lively gathering featuring fiddles, flutes, and accordions producing Irish folk music for dancing in country houses. As part of a citywide Irish celebration, some of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians—Charlie Harris (button accordion), Eamonn Cotter (flute), and sister Geraldine Cotter (piano), all veterans of the Shaskeen Ceili Band and three-time All-Ireland fiddler Maeve Donnelly—are coming together with guests to recreate this tradition in an irresistible night of Irish dancing.

Traditional Irish Ceili

Dance Lesson: Megan Downes Teaches Ceili and Set Dancing
DJ: Kevin Westley
Presented in association with Catskills Irish Arts week, made possible in part with the support of Culture Ireland as part of Imagine Ireland, a year of Irish Arts in America in 2011.
Damrosch Park
62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam

Maeve Donnelly & Conal Ó Gráda

About Maeve Donnelly & Conal Ó Gráda

Maeve Donnelly grew up in East Galway, an area steeped in traditional music. She started playing fiddle at the age of six and won her first All-Ireland Fiddle Competition at the age of nine. In 1976, she was the youngest of 25 musicians invited from Ireland to perform at the Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife in Washington, D.C. She was a member of the group Moving Cloud. In 2004, Maeve recorded a duet album with Peadar O’Loughlin entitled “The Thing Itself”. In more recent years, she has released two solo albums.. Her latest album, ‘Flame on the Banks’ was recorded with guitarist Tony McManus. She has toured with Tony in America and Canada. Conal and Maeve have been playing together over the past number of years.

Born in Cork in 1961, Conal Ó Gráda has long been at the forefront of traditional Irish flute-playing and truly has one of its most distinctive sounds. A multiple All Ireland winner in his youth, Conal’s debut recording ‘The Top of Coom’ in 1990 is still regarded as a seminal recording of flute-playing. Conal takes the basic elements of traditional music and forges them into a personal style which, once heard is unforgettable. His fast, rhythmically precise flute-playing has an earthy raucous tone reminiscent of the saxophone and is driven by a spirit from the true heart of traditional music. Conal has played, toured and recorded with many of the music’s leading exponents and his long overdue second recording ’Cnoc Buí’ was released in 2008 to widespread critical acclaim. As well as playing regularly with fiddler Maeve Donnelly, Conal is also a member of the group Raw Bar Collective. You can visit his website at

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.