How it’s New York: Fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill are doing a two week residency at Irish Arts Center. 
How it’s Irish: Hayes and Cahill have in many ways redefined traditional Irish music.  Their music is legendary.

Hayes, Cahill “re-imagine” traditional music.

Originally published in the Irish Echo, September 11-17, 2013, p. 21.

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill

Fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill are well known to traditional music audiences.  From their dynamic live performances to albums like “Lonesome Touch” (widely considered one of the greatest in the history of the music), the duo energizes music lovers everywhere they go.  Later on this month, they will be bringing their special artistry to New York City’s Irish Arts Center for a two week residency, September 20-22 & 25-29.

I recently talked with Irish Arts Center’s Director of Programming and Education Rachael Gilkey, who spoke glowingly about the duo.

“Martin and Dennis are magnificent musicians who continue to inspire audiences everywhere they go.  We are just so privileged to be working with them and to be able to present them so uniquely in in our intimate theater,” she explained.

“With this residency, they’ll not just delight audiences with their more familiar material, they’ll continue to re-imagine Irish traditional music’s place in the world context.”

In recent years, Irish Arts Center has developed a strong reputation for forward thinking programming.  From their “In Residence” series (which featured the likes of Julie Feeney and Declan O’Rourke) to their “Masters In Collaboration” series (which has brought together artists like Karan Casey & Aoife O’Donovan; Iarla Ó Lionáird & Ivan Goff; Andy Irvine & John Doyle; Joanie Madden & Seamus Begley; Paul Brady and Sarah Siskind; and others), IAC has been home to musicians – traditional and otherwise – interested in intense exploration and rooted stylistic innovation.

This two week residency blends the philosophies of these two particular IAC music series.  The longer engagement allows audiences to hear Hayes and Cahill perform with an unusually intimately; each night, however, the duo will invite up a different special guest to perform and capture some of the excitement and spontaneity Masters in Collaboration is best known for.

Invited guests will include Paul Muldoon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Poetry Editor for “The New Yorker”; Doveman (aka Thomas Bartlett), a pianist, singer and producer who has worked with the likes of David Byrne, Yoko Ono, Norah Jones, Glen Hansard and The Gloaming; Dana Lyn, a fiddler and composer who has worked extensively with Mick Moloney, appeared on Loudon Wainwright’s Grammy Award-winning folk album “High, Wide and Handsome,” and who is actively involved in the worlds of classical, traditional Irish, and contemporary musics; old time and Irish fiddler and Ghost Trio member Cleek Schrey; Norwegian Hardanger fiddler and Princeton University professor Dan Trueman; and Doug Weiselman, a composer, arranger and musician who has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Steven Bernstein and John Lurie.

Another of the week’s guests will be acclaimed uilleann piper and Ghost Trio member Ivan Goff, who took a moment to give me a sense of how this residency will compare with the Masters in Collaboration run he did with Iarla Ó Lionáird.

“I’ve played socially with Martin before, and of course I’ve always been interested in working with him because he has such an interesting take on the music,” Goff told me.  “The big difference here is that with Iarla it was a vocal project that pushed me to go outside myself and we had a full week to work things out.  Here, it’s an instrumental project and there’ll be less time to work.  However, in terms of the conversations we’ve had over the years about music – and those I’m sure they’ve had with the other guests – we’re already very much on the same page.  For me, uilleann pipes and fiddle is a classic combination, so I’m very much looking forward to it.”

In addition to the concerts during their residency, Hayes and Cahill will each do two sections of master class, first on Tuesday September 24 (7-9pm) and then on Saturday September 28 (2-4pm).

In addition to Hayes and Cahill, Irish Arts Center has a great lineup planned for the fall season, including John Spillane and Eamon O’Tuama (Saturday, October 5); Mick Flannery and Casey Black (Saturday, November 9) and of course, Mick Moloney’s brilliant “An Irish Christmas: A Musical Solstice Celebration” (December 6 – 21).  For more information on this or any of Irish Arts Center’s upcoming music events, call 212-757-3318 or visit

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