Tony Demarco, center, plays fiddle at New York Tradfest. ©Newyorktradfest


How it’s New York: See the title! This festival of trad music and dance is put together by New York’s
Tony Demarco, center, plays fiddle at New York Tradfest. ©Newyorktradfest

Tony Demarco, center, plays fiddle at New York Tradfest. ©Newyorktradfest

own Tony Demarco, who runs the session at the 11th Street Bar and Swifts Hibernian Lounge. It will be full of players from the tri-state area.
How it’s Irish: It’s a celebration of Irish traditional music.

Fiddler Tony Demarco started the New York Tradfest in 2013, to give New York its own night of Irish music. Sure, we have Irish music throughout the year, and various “mini” festivals, but this one brings a big group of musicians to one place, on one night.

Tony, originally from East Flatbush, Brooklyn, runs the Swift session on Tuesday nights as well as the 11th Street session, known as the ones where the pros go. He know everybody: people beginning, people visiting with instrument in hand. Once, Tony said, there was a music festival at Irish Arts Center, but IAC hasn’t had one in about 20 years. That’s not to say IAC hasn’t been hugely supportive: in fact, Tony appeared with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill on Sunday, Oct. 23. IAC is one of the collaborators, along with many local pubs, 11th Street and Swifts of course, but also Paddy Reillys pub, Pier A Harbor House and many more.

For the past few years, the Tradfest has taken place at Connollys in Times Square. While the venue is easy to get to, it also gets crowded quickly– and its backstage is, well, a curtain and about a foot and a half of space, if you can call it that.

This year the festival will take place downtown at Pier A Harbor House, 22 Battery Place, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased  at eventbrite at the door.

The venue is right on the Lower Manhattan waterfront, with a gorgeous view of the river and the Financial District skyline. What better place to hear the Auld sound than at Pier A, which opened in 1886 as the headquarters for the New York Harbor Police and Department of Docks? (and of course, there’s a long tradition of Irishmen in the police of all kinds!)

If you’re just in town for the weekend, this event will blend New York tourism with the trad music you love.


New York Tradfest answers the need for a Trad Irish festival that celebrates New York’s extraordinary musicians, singers and dancers,
Tony says.

He promises the music will appeal to “a wider, pan-ethnic audience” than ever before.

The line-up is still shifting but right now the artists include: Stephanie Coleman, Donie Carroll, Gabriel Donohue, Donny Golden, Megan Downes, Dan Gurney, James Keane, Joanie Madden, Patrick Mangan,  Jenna Nicholls, John Nolan, Eamon O’Leary, Jerry O’Sullivan, and Brendan O’Shea.

Don Meade, who organizes the Blarney Star concerts at Glucksman Ireland House, will MC. And Tony will also play, of course!

To learn more visit NYTradfest Facebook page, follow on Twitter, or email



Gwen Orel
About the Author

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