How it’s New York: Took place in New York City on January 5th and 6th 2019
How it’s Irish: Irish band Lankum from Dublin
Happy New Year! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and lots of wonderful things to come for the new year. Since I last wrote here, I got married, so soon my name will read Alice Farrell-Pearlman!
This past weekend the Dublin foursome known as Lankum played their first gigs in New York at Rough Trade in Brooklyn and Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan. I first encountered them, in their original incarnation as Lynched, at the Goilin singers’ club in Dublin around 5 years ago, and have been waiting with baited breath to experience a full live show from them. It was a triumphant arrival for this innovative and energetic group who are currently rising to the top of the Irish Trad scene and most recently won the inaugural RTÉ Folk Award for Best Folk Group and Radie Peat for Best Folk Singer. They gave the packed and very responsive crowd at both shows a taste from across their original CD Cold Auld Fire and their most recent release Between The Earth and Sky.
Their sound takes old traditional songs and their own compositions on a sometimes dark and moody journey with complex harmonies, drones and dissonant chords that gave me chills. The instrumentation includes Ian Lynch on pipes, concertina and whistle, Radie (rhymes with Sadie) Peat on harmonium, accordion, concertina and whistle, Cormac MacDiarmada on fiddle and Daragh Lynch on guitar.
Radie Peat started off the night at Rough Trade with the strikingly beautiful song “What Will We Do When We Have No Money?” Then the lads joined in for “Peat Bog Soldiers” and “Henry My Son”. Their voices all meld wonderfully, largely due to the sibling magic of the Lynch brothers, which is ideally paired with the earthy tones of Radie and Cormac. There were some livelier moments too with the rousing song “Salonika” and “The Towny Polka”. At times the combination of instruments took on a very experimental tone, sounding much like a piece by Philip Glass or other contemporary classical experimental composers.
Some of the more interesting songs were “The Turkish Reveille” which was taken from a child ballad that was a hit of the day back in the 1800s. Two of their own compositions “Cold Auld Fire” and “The Granite Gaze” give their takes on the current state of the nation of Ireland and disdain for the years of mistakes made by the church which are only now coming to light. Radie featured again on the ballad “The Old Man From Over the Sea” and they finished with a jaunty jig.
The crowd went wild and demanded more, which they gladly obliged with a hilarious song written for the New York Music Halls of the 1800s called “The Irish Jubilee”, a tongue twisting, lung bursting rapid-fire patter song which was the perfect capper for both nights.
The second show at Rockwood on Sunday night was a much shorter set, featuring a few of the songs from the previous night, with “Sgt. William Bailey” and “Dark Eyed Gypsies” added in for good measure.
Word has it that they ended the night on Sunday by jumping into the weekly Sunday night session at the 11th Street Bar, run by the Trad-father Tony Demarco, so they’ve been properly welcomed into the New York Trad Scene.
Their tour continues on with shows:
Jan 8th – Vienna, VA – Jammin’ Java
Jan 9th – Sellersville, PA – Sellersville Theater
Jan 11th – Boston, MA – Club Passim
Jan 12th – Barre, VT – Barre Opera House
So spread the word and get down to one of these shows if you are in the area. I’m sure they will be back and you can hear my interview with them on our Podcast later this month.