How it’s New York: The Téada boys have been touring awhile and often play in New York.
How it’s Irish: Téada play Irish trad music.

Irish band Téada (Irish for “strings”) has been getting better and better. Their last few CDs have been Irish Christmas CDs, and while those definitely have a place, let’s give some love to 2013’s “Ainneoin na stoirme” (“In Spite of the Storm”).

Recorded in in sessions in Dingle/Daingean Uí Chúis, Co. Kerry that summer of 2013, the tunes have a skip in them. The great Séamus Begley sings and plays box as well. Reels, slides, songs, jigs keep things going at the lightning speed for which frontman, fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada is known, with the exception of an unusual set of slow reels, and a song or two.

(Fun fact: before I started this site, I presented concerts for the Folk Project in New Jersey, and one of them was An Irish Christmas with Téada and Cathie Ryan. There are pictures of Oisín in a Santa hat. We had a Christmas/Hanukkah banquet, and I thought after my second plate of latkes, oh that’s it, I’m tired, when I saw all the Téada boys had ignored the ham and were lined up for the latkes. Because fried potatoes are universal… or something…)

Séamus’ unaccompanied singing of “Pé in Éirinn Í,” before he’s joined by voice (overdubbing, apparently) and instrument (notably Oisín on piano. Who knew?) stands out. The song apparently originates from an Aisling by 18th-century Tipperary poet Liam Dall Ó hIfearnáin.

As a Jersey girl, I’m partial to the slip jigs, polkas and slides. (Nobody has yet explained why New Jersey players love these, but it is so.) So a jig set that includes the slip jig “The Jig of the Dead” by Junior Crehan seems to dance by itself.

Téada nicely blend trad tunes with more contemporary compositions. The album includes tunes by Charlie Lennon, James Kelly, Clare musician Damien Connolly, and Bobby Casey, among others.

Then there’s “Saddle Tramp,” by American country and Western singers/songwriter Marty Robbins, released in 1966. Hearing it with fiddle weaving an Irish tune around it, and Seamus singing, reveals its melody. You can understand why country appeals so to Irish trad players and listeners.

Saddle tramp, saddle tramp

I’m as free as a breeze and I’ll ride where I please...

sounds an awful lot like the Irish rover of many a song.

The song leads into the pensive, melodic slow reel set mentioned above, which concludes with Charlie Lennon’s barndance “All About Weaving.”

A set of jigs that follows leads off with the trad “Brísdín Bréide,” followed by a jazzy arrangement of Junior Crehan’s “The Thatched Cabin,” with Oisín’s fiddle showing its stuff, against a backdrop of augmented chords, then we finish with Charlie Lennon’s cheery “Morning Sunday.

The album concludes with a strong blast of reels. Damien Stenson’s flute stands out here.

If you had “In Spite of the Storm” on in the car, driving in the rain wouldn’t be so bad.


Téada are:

Oisín Mac Diarmada on fiddle and piano.

Séamus Begley on vocals and melodeon.

Paul Finn on button accordion and concertina.

Damien Stenson on flute.

Seán Mc Elwain on guitar, bouzouki, and bass guitar.

Tristan Rosenstock on bodhrán.


Gwen Orel
About the Author

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