MÓRglór award goes to Malbay Studios

Martin and Anne O’Malley

This year’s annual MÓRglór Award 2022 has been awarded to Malbay Studios under the direction of Martin, Anne, and Seán O’Malley.

With the vista of the Atlantic as a backdrop, Malbay Studios is an integral part of the musical landscape of Clare. Under the careful and patient stewardship of Martin O’Malley, Malbay Studios has a reputation of distinction in recording, production and mastering since its establishment in 1997. Malbay Studios hosts music makers from many musical traditions, and from many places; most especially, it has contributed immeasurably to the community of traditional music in County Clare.

The O’Malley musical genes run deep in West Clare and the studio builds on those solid foundations. By way of Dublin roots and Boston travels, settling in Miltown Malbay was a homecoming for Martin and his wife Anne, his partner in the business. Joined by his son, Seán O’Malley, Malbay Studios is now a family enterprise.

With almost thirty years’ experience, Martin’s distinction as a sound engineer is matched by his standing as a songwriter and musician. That musicianship is key to his success as a sound engineer, bringing technical and musical mastery to recording and live event engineering.

Malbay Studios includes an enviable roll call of artists, including the Kilfenora Céilí Band, Tommy Peoples, Josephine Marsh, Cherish the Ladies, Dónal Lunny and the Atlantic Arc Orchestra, among many others. Martin’s vision for a first-class studio space where any fiddler, singer or piper would feel welcome and thrive, has been fully realised. Malbay Studios is a testament to Martin’s dedication to excellence, to place and to traditional music.

On Saturday October 22, musicians across the country will come together before an audience – both in-person and online – to acknowledge Malbay Studios’ major contribution to traditional Irish music with a concert in the glór arts centre in Ennis featuring the O’Malley’s family and friends, along with an impressive line-up of traditional musicians and singers – including the Kilfenora Céilí Band, Josephine Marsh,cEoin O’Neill and the Fiddle Case, P.J. Murrihy, Bríd O’Donoghue and the O’Brien Family, Tommy McCarthy and Louise Costello, and Francis Cunningham and Eimear Coughlan with many more to be announced. Tickets – each costing €25/€22 (conc) plus €1 booking fee – for the in-person event are available from glór.

The concert will also be recorded and available to view as an online event throughout the month of November – with tickets costing €10 each –  to enable people far and wide to access it.

The annual MÓRglór award is named in memory of the late cultural visionary, Muiris Ó Rocháin, co-founder and director of Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy and President of Oireachtas na Gaeilge. The award has been developed by glór in partnership with Tim Collins since 2013. The award acknowledges the wealth of professional and semi-professional artists, alongside the talented individuals, groups and communities in County Clare. The recipient is nominated by an anonymous panel of traditional arts practitioners and experts, assembled by glór.

Josephine Marsh
Eoin O’Neill
P.J. Murrihy
Muiris Ó Rocháin

Féile Liam O’Flynn to honour the great piper in his Kildare homepleace

The enduring legacy of the master piper, Liam O’Flynn, will be celebrated at the inaugural Féile Liam O’Flynn in his native Kildare with events scheduled for Naas and Kill on the weekend of October 7-9.

Through an extensive programme of concerts and sessions, some of Ireland’s leading musicians will assemble to remember the magic of Liam O’Flynn. The féile opens in St David’s Church in Naas on Friday October 7 with a concert featuring, appropriately Kildare pipers, including Brian Hughes, Joe Byrne, Cormac Mac Aodhagáin and Emmet O’Toole, along with the Kildare Youth Folk Orchestra. Saturday will see a céili in the Osprey Hotel in Naas with the outstanding Kilfenora Céili Band as well as a concert in Naas’s Moat Theatre featuring a spectacular line-up of Matt Molloy (flute), Seán Keane (fiddle), Mary Corcoran (piano), Gay McKeon (pipes) and Niamh Parsons (voice).

The féile concludes on Sunday with a gala concert in Kill Church Hall featuring Liam Ó Maonlaí (voice and piano), Donal Lunny (bouzouki), Paddy Glackin (fiddle), Laoise Kelly (harp), Mark Redmond (pipes) and Heidi Talbot (voice). The concert will feature a specially commissioned piece for the uilleann pipes composed by Sandie Purcell from Kill in Liam’s memory. Throughout the weekend, there will be sessions in local venues as well as workshops on Saturday and Sunday in the Moat Theatre.

Driven by Senator Vincent Martin, the festival was officially launched by actor, Seán McGinley, who recalled Liam’s collaboration with Nobel laureate, Séamus Heaney. Seán Keane spoke of his life-long friendship with Liam which began when they met as young boys, while Liam’s widow, Jane, explained that when she first met Liam through a mutual love of horses, she was unaware of his celebrated career as a musician.

Dónal Lunny and Paddy Glackin
Matt Molloy
Niamh Parsons
Laoise Kelly

Iconic bluegrass albums to be re-issued on vinyl

Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard (Photo: John Cohen/Smithsonian Folkways)

In celebration of the iconic bluegrass duo, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, Smithsonian Folkways are to release three new re-issues of their classic albums to honour the music, legacy, and influence of the pioneering partnership. Their first two albums, Who’s That Knocking? and Won’t You Come and Sing For Me? – which have been unavailable on vinyl for over forty years – have been newly remastered and will be released on vinyl and for streaming on October 21. These albums have never before been available in their original track sequences on streaming or as downloads.

The third album due for release is a remastered Pioneering Women of Bluegrass: The Definitive Edition which collects all of Hazel and Alice’s Folkways material. The album will be available for streaming and as a CD. This edition will also include comprehensive track notes, an expanded essay by Gerrard, new liner notes by Laurie Lewis and Peter Siegel, new photos, and a previously unheard cover of the Louvin Brothers’ Childish Love.

These iconic recordings tell the story of two women whose inventiveness, conviction, and grit allowed them access to stages, audiences, and a legacy previously only afforded to men. After Hazel and Alice entered the picture, bluegrass would never be the same. “I think this is one of the all-time historic records,” Dickens wrote of Who’s That Knocking? “To my knowledge, it was the first time that two women sat down and picked out a bunch of songs and had guts enough to stand behind what they picked out and say: ‘We’re not changing anything; you have to do it or else.’”
 
The music that Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard recorded together beginning in 1965 has influenced generations of musicians across  a number of genres, primarily women, including Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Rhiannon Giddens.
 
Inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2017, Dickens and Gerrard broke down the barriers of the good ol’ boy network in the bluegrass community they helped redefine.
 
We have had women come up to us all through the years and talk about the first records we made and what an impact it had on their lives,” Dickens wrote in 1996. “I just think it was an eye-opener for a lot of people to hear two women singing together, doing what the men did in bluegrass.”
 
While older traditional-style songs featured strongly in their repertoire throughout their careers, their music developed a political dimension over time as they began to write about social and industrial issues.
 
As Hazel Dickens once explained, “I didn’t have to work in a factory to see how badly women were treated. Playing in bluegrass, a male-dominated form of music, was enough.” Among her stand-out compositions were Don’t Put Her Down You Helped Put Her There and Black Lung, written after her brother’s death from pneumoconiosis — the lung disease prevalent among coal miners. The song subsequently featured in the Oscar-winning documentary, Harlan County USA, about a Kentucky coal strike.

For her part, Alice Gerrard wrote the powerful Beaufort County Jail about Jo Ann
Little, a Black woman charged with murder for defending herself during an attempted sexual assault by a white man. In the late 1960s, the duo took part in the Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project – a racially integrated initiative to reflect on working class struggles.
 
Dickens passed away in 2011 in Washington, DC, from complications of pneumonia. Gerrard lives in Durham, North Carolina, and still tours regularly – performing at the 2022 Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington.

 

Benefit concert to support restoration of Begley family home

Just days before the remarkable documentary, The Man with the Moving House – outlining musician, Breanndán Begley’s fight for the right to build a house on his own land in the Dingle peninsula – was broadcast on RTÉ 1 television, the Begley family’s ‘ancestral home’ – occupied by his sister, Eibhlín, was destroyed by fire.

While fortunately no-one came to any physical harm, the devastation to the property has been substantial. To support Eibhlín with current living expenses and future rebuilding costs, a fundraising concert is being organised at St. Mary’s Church, Dingle, on Friday September 30.

While the line-up of performers will be confirmed shortly, tickets for the concert are now available through eventbrite.ie at https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/fund-raising-concert-for-eibhlin-ni-bheaglaoich-tickets-413682624867?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

For people who cannot attend the concert but wish to support the fund-raising campaign, the family have set up a special email address – begleyconcert@gmail.com – where they will receive suggestions on how to help.

Eibhlín’s nephew, the concertina virtuoso, Cormac Begley, said that the family are “very grateful for all the messages of support to each of us over the past few weeks.”

The Man with the Moving House outlines Breanndán Begley’s fifteen-year campaign for the right to build a small traditional home in his ancestral village within the much broader context of the preservation of culture, music, heritage and language.

Begley argues that the unique character of local communities is being lost when local people can no longer afford to buy houses that are being snapped up for holiday homes, or to secure planning permission in their native place.

As the documentary develops, Begley looks beyond Dingle to engage with communities in Conamara, An Rinn and Donegal as well as Brittany and the Scottish highlands. After connecting through music, he discovers that the people of the Kerry Gaeltacht are not alone in having to face the adverse consequences of planning decisions on culture, language and place.

Breanndán Begley with this 'moving' house – constructed on a trailer – after Kerry County Council refused him permission to build a permanent dwelling. Eventually, after a fifteen-year campaign, his appeal to An Bord Pleanála was successful. (Photo: RTÉ)

Family Matters

Some members of the Vallely family

Following the continued success of TG4’s Ceol ón Chlann series, the fourth series will explore six more famous Irish musical families who have brought their music to audiences around the world. Produced by Táin Media, Ceol ón Chlann provides an insight into the musical journey that each family has taken and the influence of earlier generations on their musical heritage.

The six families featured in the latest series are:

  • The Smyth Family (including Seán, Breda and Cora),
  • The Dillons (including Cara and Mary),
  • Muintir Uí Cheannabháin (including Pól and Caitríona),
  • The Glackins (including Paddy, Kevin and Doireann),
  • The Vallelys (including Brian, Eithne, Niall, CIllian and Caoimhín) and
  • The Haydens (including Cathal and Stephen).

Each story is presented through rare archive material from BBC, ITV, TG4 and RTÉ, as well as previously unseen private family footage. Along with musical performances, each programme includes exclusive interviews with family members, contemporary musicians and well-known broadcasters offering unique perspectives on the families.

The series is narrated by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin and also features many of Ireland’s leading musicians and broadcasters including Matt Molloy, Máirtín O’Connor, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Lynette Fay, John Francis Flynn, Gino Lupari, Alan Kelly, Áine Hensey, Neil Martin, Brian Mullen, Daniel O’Donnell and many more.
 
The series Executive Producer and Director, Feilimí O’Connor, who, himself, comes from a well-known musical family said: “The documentary series offers a fresh insight into the heritage of these unique Irish families, their legacy and their continuing significance in modern Ireland’s musical tapestry.”
 
The first episode on Sunday, September 11 at 10.30pm features the Smyths – Seán, Cora and Breda from Straide, Co. Mayo. With a combined total of over 50 All-Ireland titles, the siblings also achieved medical degrees from UCG.
 
As well as founding the band, Lúnasa, founder Seán Smyth was responsible for his acclaimed debut solo album, The Blue Fiddle, in 1993. His sister, Breda, who was recently named as Ireland’s interim Chief Medical Officer, also released an acclaimed debut album, Basil and Thyme. She has also presented programmes for TG4 and RTÉ. Meanwhile, the third of the siblings, Cora is also a professional fiddle player whose credits include touring with Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance show as well as featuring on Eimear Quinn’s Eurovision-winning song, The Voice.
Cora Smyth
Cara Dillon
Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin

New artist campus and workspace planned for Dublin

Dublin Port Company CEO, Eamonn O’Reilly, pictured with Arts Council Director, Maureen Kennelly (Photo: Maxwell Photography)

A new workspace for artists practicing in all areas of the arts in Dublin is the objective of a new partnership between the Arts Council and Dublin Port Company. The artists’ campus aims to provide artists’ studios, experimental performing and visual arts spaces, sound-proofed rehearsal rooms, workshops, co-working spaces, conference and meeting spaces across 5,000 square metres in the old Odlum’s Flour Mills premises at Dublin Port.

The Arts Council and Dublin Port Company have been working together since early this year to explore options for the Flour Mills site. Award-winning architects, Grafton Architects, have been engaged to undertake a Feasibility Study for the agreed site. Officials from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media have also visited the site recognising its potential to be a transformational development for artists.

Artists across Ireland struggle to find suitable workspace but research finds this problem to be most pronounced in Dublin. Research on the provision of artists’ workspaces and infrastructure undertaken by Dublin City Council in 2020 showed that workshop space is scarce for the 2,500 professional artists working in the city. Artists have worked collaboratively and creatively to address this challenge through ‘artist’ collectives’ but frequently find their efforts hampered by short-term and insecure tenancy agreements.

The Arts Council and Dublin Port Company look forward to sharing more details as this exciting project progresses and welcome the official start of a fruitful partnership. The Flour Mill Artists’ Campus has the potential to establish a significant secure and sustainable workspace dedicated to artists within Dublin city. . The Arts Council continues to engage closely with Department on the realisation of this remarkable opportunity.

Arts Council Chair, Professor Kevin Rafter, noted: “There are huge opportunities in Dublin and other areas around the country to develop new workspaces for artists to address a growing problem. This is the start of significant relationship to provide workspaces for artists in the old Flour Mill site in the port and will hopefully provide a model for other organisations to follow.”

 

Drawing from the Well on tour

The Drawing From the Well programme – developed by the Irish Traditional Music Archive – connects Ireland’s leading contemporary traditional performers with the great traditional collections housed in the archive in order to inspire new work. So the ITMA has assembled many of those artists for a series of concerts of traditional music, song and dance. (For more information on the Drawing from the Well Project, see https://www.itma.ie/drawingfromthewell).

The first event takes place in the National Concert Hall in Dublin on September 11 – featuring an extensive line-up of 14 of the country’s top musicians, singers and dancers who have been inspired by the ITMA collections under the Drawing from the Well Programme. They are Laoise Kelly (harp), Cormac Begley (concertina), Conor Connolly (accordion), Aoife Ní Bhriain (fiddle), Jesse Smith (fiddle), Deirdre Hurley (flute), Mairéad Hurley (concertina), Aoife Granville (flute) and Steve Cooney (guitar) will perform along with renowned singers Daoirí Farrell, Radie Peat and Brían Mac Gloinn, and distinguished dancers Edwina Guckian and Caitlín Nic Gabhann who also is one of Ireland’s leading young concertina players. The NCH programme will also be interspersed with the spoken word by poets Vincent Woods and Moya Cannon who will present the performances.

Following the NCH performance, four artists – Laoise Kelly, Cormac Begley, Brian Mac Gloinn and Edwina Guckian will undertake a five-concert tour of:
  • September 12: Séamus Heaney HomePlace, Bellaghy, Co. Derry
  • September 13: Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
  • September 14: Áras Éanna Ionad Ealaine Inis Oirr, Inisheer, Co. Galway
  • September 15: St. John’s Theatre & Arts Centre, Listowel, Co. Kerry
  • September 16: Birr Theatre & Arts Centre, Birr, Co. Offaly

Information on booking tickets is available from https://www.itma.ie/events.

Tradition Now series resumes at NCH

Created with a mission to explore current innovation in traditional music, the Tradition Now series returns to Dublin’s National Concert Hall for its tenth instalment from Wednesday October 26 to Sunday October 30.

This new edition will showcase:

  • the unique English folk band, The Unthanks (pictured above)
  • piping virtuoso and founding member of The Bothy Band, Paddy Keenan,
  • acclaimed singer-songwriter, Luka Bloom,
  • multi-award-winning piper and flute player, Louise Mulcahy.
  • contemporary vocalist and visual artist, Ceara Conway, and
  • Breton guitarist, Soïg Sibéril.

Now in its seventh year, the series has evolved into an increasingly popular bi-annual event celebrating innovation in traditional music while staying true to its roots.

Among the many highlights of this autumn’s Tradition Now are English folk outfit The Unthanks whose record Mount the Air was  BBC Radio 2 Folk Album of the Year in 2015. Since then, they have both scaled up to symphonic levels with Charles Hazelwood and the BBC Proms and stripped down to the unaccompanied singing they grew up with, for Diversions Vol 5.   

At the nucleus of this constantly evolving unit is the traditional upbringing of Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank and the arrangements and writing of composer, pianist, producer and Yorkshireman, Adrian McNally. Using the traditional music of the North-East of England as a starting point, the influence of Miles Davis, Steve Reich, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, Antony and the Johnsons, King Crimson and Tom Waits can also be heard in the band’s unique sound.  

Their Tradition Now appearance, which follows two years off the road, sees them showcasing music from their forthcoming new album, Sorrows Away, alongside favourites such as Magpie, The King of Rome and Mount the Air.   

Joining them as guest on the night is recipient of the 2022 Liam O’Flynn Award, renowned uilleann piper and flute player Louise Mulcahy, who brings together an exciting collaboration from the uilleann piping, harping and singing traditions of Ireland. Louise will be joined by wire-strung harper Paul Dooley and neo-Irish harper and multi-instrumentalist Michelle Mulcahy. This special project takes inspiration from Liam O’Flynn’s incredible legacy and his mastery at evoking soul-stirring music.

Another great piper appearing during Tradition Now will be Paddy Keenan, winner of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil as Musician of the Year in 2002 who has enjoyed a remarkable career performing as a soloist and in duos and trios following his emergence into the limelight as a member of The Bothy Band in the mid 1970s. Dubbed “the Jimi Hendrix of the pipes” by Donal Lunny and by others as a “piping Paganini,” Paddy will be joined at the National Concert Hall by Clare-based uilleann piper and flute player Colleen Shanks and bouzouki player Cyril O’Donoghue along with Dubliner Éamonn de Barra on flute and tin-whistle, winner of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil as Young Musician of the Year in 2000.
 
Renowned singer-songwriter Luka Bloom will perform music from his latest album, Out of the Blue – which features RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Award-winner Susan O’Neill and multi-instrumentalist Jon O’Connell (The Walls/Ultan Conlon) – and well-known gems from over the years. Created during lockdown, he says of his latest creation: ‘The tunes are uncomplicated, the only way I know. Each one resonates with me deeply, because of the time that was…. An invitation to play these tunes in NCH is just a huge honour.’  

Exploring the voice is integral to autumn’s iteration of Tradition Now and the voice is central to the artistic expression of another featured artist, Ceara Conway. Known for her unique use of traditional song and lament in contemporary art, Ceara collaborates with musicians Kevin Murphy (cello), Ultan O’Brien (viola, fiddle) and Sean Mac Erlaine (clarinet, electronics, piano) for this performance.

The second strand of autumn’s Tradition Now – instrumental innovations – is to the fore for a special performance by Breton guitarist Soïg Sibéril. Soïg is known for his rich, dense, colourful style of playing.He is joined by fellow Breton, bass player Alain Genty.  

Tradition Now is an initiative of the Arts Council and National Concert Hall and is supported by The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.      
 
Tradition Now Concerts

  • Caoin by Ceara Conway – Wednesday October 26 at 8.30pm, Tickets €15
  • Paddy Keenan – Thursday October 27 at 8.30pm, Tickets €15
  • Luka Bloom – Saturday October 29 at 8pm, Tickets €22, €27.50
  • Soïg Sibéril – Sunday October 30 at 6pm Tickets €15
  • The Unthanks and Louise Mulcahy – Sunday, October 30 at 8.00pm, Tickets €25, €30
Paddy Keenan
Lousie Mulcahy
Luka Bloom
Ceara Conway

NPU publishes new book of pipe tunes

Launching NPU's lastest publication, Music for the Irish Pipes: Volume 3 was Lord Mayor of Dublin, Caroline Conroy, flanked by NPU CEO Gay McKeon (left) and author Joe Doyle (Photo: NPU)
Na Píobairí Uilleann’s latest publication, Music for the Irish Pipes: Volume 3, compiled by Joe Doyle, was formally launched by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Caroline Conroy, at an event in the NPU’s headquarters in Henrietta Street, Dublin recently. The book is the third in a series of collections of transcriptions of classic recordings of pipers from the past – which aim to make the music of the pipes accessible to students in a practical way.
 
The book’s author, Joe Doyle, is a gifted piper and a talented teacher. Music for the Irish Pipes: Volume 3 is Joe’s fourth publication for NPU. With this new book, Joe has now published transcriptions of more than 1,000 tunes.
 
Priced €25, Music for the Irish Pipes: Volume 3 is available in the NPU’s online shop at http://pipers.ie/store.

Aly and Phil to honour Séamus Grant’s memory in Inishowen

The Séamus Grant Weekend Festival in Inishowen on the second weekend in October will honour the memory of one of Donegal’s finest fiddlers with a performance by the acclaimed fiddle master from the Shetlands, Aly Bain, accompanied by outstanding accordionist, Phil Cunningham.
 
For many years Aly Bain has been considered to be Scotland’s supreme traditional style fiddler. His playing is unique – driving, impassioned and pure – with vibrant, unmistakable tone that has earned him a following of ardent fans throughout the world. Born in Lerwick, Shetland in 1946, Aly began playing the fiddle at the age of eleven. In his early twenties, Aly headed to mainland Scotland. His dramatic playing, with great tone and technical ability brought early recognition as one of the outstanding musicians of the folk music revival, and almost overnight, raised the level of expectation for music lovers throughout the country. Aly embarked on a life of intensive playing, recording and travel that continues to this day. A founder member of The Boys of the Lough, he toured and recorded with the band for many years. while simultaneously performing as a soloist in a variety of other projects – both live and recorded.
 
Aly’s extensive travels have fostered an appreciation and openness to many musical genres. He has applied this knowledge to the production of several networked television series bringing traditional music to a constantly widening audience. He is particularly celebrated as the co-director along with Jerry Douglas of the acclaimed Transatlantic Sessions series – a unique collaboration between folk and traditional musicians from the USA, Britain and Ireland. His partnership with the outstanding accordionist and composer, Phil Cunningham, has added another dimension to Aly’s extensive journey in music. They have toured and recorded together since 1988. To date they have recorded six albums, released on Aly’s own label, Whirlie Records. In 2005 Aly and Phil were awarded Best Duo in the annual BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards..
 
Widely regarded as one of the most exciting and innovative accordion players in Scotland, Phil Cunningham’s early work with leading Scots band Silly Wizard (1976-1986) reclaimed a place for the accordion in the traditional music world and his astonishing dexterity and musicality has delighted audiences across the world. The accordion is only one of the strings to his bow. As a multi-instrumentalist he works extensively in television and film as a composer, musical director and presenter. He is much sought after as a record producer and he manages to juggle all of these diverse commitments enabling him to continue touring and recording with long-time musical partner and friend, Aly Bain.
 
Phil is musical director for the BBC’s annual Hogmanay Live. His compositions are covered by musicians the world over, and he continues to write and add to his prolific repertoire. The depth and beauty of his slow airs have been recognised by audiences and performers alike. His orchestral suites for symphony orchestra and Celtic instruments have received international acclaim. His most recent suite, Ceilidh, was written for acclaimed percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He teaches regularly, and is currently working to establish a traditional youth orchestra in the Highlands of Scotland. In 2003 Phil was voted Best Instrumentalist in the inaugural Scottish Traditional Music Awards.
 
Tickets for the concert at the Ballyliffin Hotel on Saturday October 15 are available at a cost of €20 each from https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/aly-bain-phil-cunningham-at-seamus-grant-weekend-tickets-400373316367?.

For Pete’s Sake

Folk icon, Pete Seeger, has received the stamp of approval from the United States Postal Service (USPS) in the form of a new postage stamp released on July 21.

The tenth stamp in the USPS’s Music Icons series features the remarkable champion of folk and traditional music who believed in its power to inspire social and environmental activism. Artists depicted in previous stamps in the series issued by the USPS include Marvin Gaye and John Lennon.

Born into a musical family in New York in 1919, Seeger travelled throughout America during the Great Depression collecting songs. On his travels, he met Woody Guthrie who became a close friend. In the 1940s the two became leading members of The Almanac Singers – who had a particular interest in labour songs. During this period he also performed as a solo artist on radio and in live events promoted by Alan Lomax.

A founder member of The Weavers in 1948, the band’s repertoire of folk and blues classics – included Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter’s Goodnight, Irene,  which, according to Billboard, was the No. 1 record of 1950. Leadbelly had been discovered by Alan Lomax’s father, John.

While Seeger was blacklisted during the MacCarthyite era during the 1950s, his career recovered in the 1960s as a result of the folk revival and the growing protest movement. His repertoire typically included songs about workers’ rights, environmental causes, and social justice.

Seeger’s promotion of the hymn, We Shall Overcome, led it becoming a civil rights anthem in the United States and many other parts of the world. Other popular songs popularised by Seeger include Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Turn Turn Turn! and If I Had a Hammer. 

Winner of four Grammy Awards, Seeger was inducted into both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame, and was awarded the National Medal of the Arts in the US. He also collaborated with Tommy Sands on a number of song projects. A lifelong activist, he marched through New York, aged 92, in support of an Occupy Movement protest in 2011.

Pete’s final appearance at New York’s Carnegie Hall with Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie family took place in November, 2013. He died in New York City on January 27, 2014, at the age of 94.

A special ceremony to mark the release of the stamp took place at the Newport Folk Festival, where Seeger was a frequent performer and a long-time board member – in which capacity, he was responsible for inviting the young Bob Dylan to play.

The artwork for the stamp features a colour-tinted black-and-white photograph of Seeger singing and playing his banjo in the early 1960s, by Dan Seeger, the performer’s son.

Digital artist Kristen Monthei retouched and colorised the image, while art director, Antonio Alcalá executed the design.

As a ‘Forever’ stamp, it will always be equal in value to the current first class mail price. The stamp is on sale in post offices and online in the United States.

The USPS, together with the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC), approve about 20 new designs for  commemorative postage stamps each year.

The Postmaster General appoints up to 15 members of the CSAC, who serve on a voluntary basis. Each year, they consider all the submissions – routinely tens of thousands – from the general public for potential stamp designs.

Somewhat ironically the current Postmaster General is Trump-appointee Louis DeJoy.

Music Network’s autumn tour brings together three traditional virtuosi

From left: Mark Redmond, Mairéad Ní Mhaonnaigh and Cormac De Barra
Music Network brings together three leading lights of Irish traditional music for a unique autumnal tour showcasing the sounds of fiddle, harp, uilleann pipes and whistle, and voices intertwined in song. The three acclaimed virtuosi engaging in this unique nine-date collaboration are Donegal’s Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh  on fiddle and vocals , Dubliner Cormac De Barra on harp and vocals and Wexford’s Mark Redmond on uilleann pipes, flute and whistles.
 
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Cormac De Barra and Mark Redmond have graced stages and screens around Ireland and the world for several decades, and they are each undisputed masters of their respective instruments, rooted in tradition and with an ear for exploration. Whether onstage at home or abroad, in the recording studio, or the broadcasting studio, tradition and innovation are beautifully aligned with these three artists.
 
Their considerable talents have been the core of long-standing concert collaborations and recordings with supergroups that include Altan, The Chieftains, Alison Krauss, Enya, Clannad, Riverdance, The Brendan Voyage with the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Daoirí Farrell Trio.
 
While Music Network has, to its credit, facilitated many memorable collaborations in the recent past, these particular project promises to be one of the most distinguished.
 

Tour Itinerary

Wednesday 14 September: 7.30pm   The Sugar Club, Dublin 2
Thursday 15 September: 8pm    Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire
Friday 16 September: 8pm    Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely
Saturday 17 September: 8pm    Ionad Cultúrtha, Baile Mhúirne
Sunday 18 September: 8pm    Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith, London
Wednesday 21 September: 9pm    Station House Theatre, Clifden   
Thursday 22 September: 8pm    Áras Inis Gluaire, Bellmullet   
Saturday 1 October: 8pm    Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge   
Sunday 2 October: 8pm    Triskel Arts Centre, Cork   

Damien and Ron enter folk album chart

Banjophonics, the new album by Coleraine-born, Damien O’Kane (pictured above right) and Ron Block from California, has entered the Official UK Folk Album charts at No. 10.

This marks a second success for Damien in the current top ten: he is also a member of the backing band of his wife, Kate Rusby, whose album, 30 Happy Returns, is now at No. 3 – having entered the chart at No. 1 in June.

Before joining Kate’s band, Damien was a member of Flook when they won the Best Group accolade at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2006.

The UK Folk Album chart is calculated each month on the basis of sales of downloads, CDs, vinyl and other formats, plus streams. The definition of what constitutes ‘folk’ is determined by the Official Charts Company in partnership with English Folk Expo.

The other Irish albums featuring in this month’s chart include Nine Waves by Ye Vagabonds at No. 21 (down from a peak of No. 4) and Flying into Mystery by Christy Moore at No. 22 (down from a peak of No. 3) while Dawn by CCÉ Britain alumni, Talisk, is at No. 30.

Flying into Mystery by Christy Moore

Andy reunited with missing instruments

Andy Irvine (Photo: Frank Schwichtenberg)

Folk music master, Andy Irvine, has finally been reunited with his two missing instruments – a guitar-bodied bouzouki and a mandola, both made by Stefan Sobell and valued ay €14,000.

The two instruments went missing on June 29 in the course of flights Andy made between Dublin and Copenhagen via Frankfurt on Lufthansa and SAS. The instruments were checked in at Dublin but failed to appear in Copenhagen.

Despite strenuous efforts made by friends and union acquaintances to search the baggage warehouses in Dublin as well as visits by family members and friends to inspect similar facilities at Frankfurt and Copenhagen, no trace of the instruments could be found. To add to his frustration, Andy found the airlines, themselves, to be distinctly unresponsive to his efforts to engage with them by phone or email.

However, the silence was finally broken on August 1 when Andy was contacted by SAS to advise that the missing instruments had finally been located and would be delivered the following day. So after almost five weeks, the musician and his precious equipment were re-united.

Where had they been for that time? What adventures might they have gone on? How far had they travelled? There might be the makings of a song in that!

 

The bouzouki (left) and the mandola

Masters of Tradition Festival opens in Bantry on August 24

Curated by fiddle virtuoso, Martin Hayes, the Masters of Tradition Festival in Bantry, West Cork, will run from Wednesday August 24 to Sunday August 28.

With a stellar line-up of leading traditional musicians, there will be concerts in the Maritime Hotel, St Brendan’s Church and the intimate library of Bantry House as well as a programme of secret concerts in unique venues in the Bantry area and talks in Ma Murphy’s Bar – including a discussion entitled Remembering Dennis Cahill: The Man and his Music, led by his long-time partner in music, Martin Hayes.

The Programme:

Wednesday 24 August, 7.30 pm, The Maritime Hotel
Concert with Martin Hayes (fiddle), Cormac McCarthy (piano), Brian Donnellan (bouzouki, concertina), Saileog Ní Cheannabháin (sean-nós song, piano, viola) and Stephanie Keane (dance)

Thursday 25 August 2022, 3.30 pm, Ma Murphy’s
Talk on Pádraig O’Keeffe with Andrea Palandri and Martin Hayes

Thursday 25 August 2022, 7.30 pm, St. Brendan’s Church
Concert with Lorcan MacMathúna (sean-nós song), Andrea Palandrini (fiddle), Martin Hayes (fiddle), Kathryn Tickell Trio

Friday 26 August 2022, 3.30 pm, Ma Murphy’s
Talk on Ancient Irish Poetry and Metre by Lorcán Mac Mathúna and Daire Bracken with Martin Hayes

Friday 26 August 2022, 7.30 pm, Bantry House
Concert with Saileog Ní Cheannabháin (sean-nós song, piano, viola), Lorcan MacMathúna (sean-nós song), Sorcha Costello (fiddle), Daire Bracken (fiddle) and
Catherine McHugh (piano)

Friday 26 August 2022, 10.30 pm, Bantry House
Concert with David Power (uilleann pipes), Marja Gaynor (fiddle) and John Walsh (guitar)

Saturday 27 August 2022, 3.30 pm, Ma Murphy’s
Talk by Steve Cooney on the development of his notation system with Martin Hayes

Saturday 27 August 2022, 7.30 pm, Bantry House
Concert with Saileog Ní Cheannabháin (sean-nós song, piano, viola), Caitlín Nic Gabhann (concertina, dance), Ciarán Ó Maonaigh (fiddle), Derek Hickey (accordion) and Steve Cooney (guitar)

Saturday 27 August 2022, 10.30 pm, Bantry House
Concert with Cormac McCarthy (piano), Nell Ní Chróinín (sean-nós song), Kate Ellis (cello) and Aoife Ní Bhriain (fiddle)

Sunday 28 August 2022, 3.30 pm, Bantry House
Remembering Dennis Cahill: The Man and his Music: A discussion led by Martin Hayes

Sunday 28 August 2022, 7.30 pm, Bantry House
Concert with Martin Hayes (fiddle), Derek Hickey (accordian), Cormac McCarthy (piano), Saileog Ní Cheannabháin (sean-nós song, piano, viola), Caitlín Nic Gabhann (concertina, dance), Ciarán Ó Maonaigh (fiddle) and Steve Cooney (guitar)

 

Pictured above (right to left) Kathryn Tickell (Northumbrian small pipes, fiddle, voice), Stef Conner (lyre, voice) and Amy Thatcher (accordion, voice, dance) (Photo: The Bigger Picture Agency).

THE LINE-UP

  • Daire Bracken
  • Steve Cooney
  • Sorcha Costello
  • Brian Donnellan
  • Kate Ellis
  • Marja Gaynor
  • Martin Hayes
  • Derek Hickey
  • Stephanie Keane
  • Lorcán Mac Mathúna
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Catherine McHugh
  • Aoife Ní Bhríain
  • Saileog Ní Cheannabháin
  • Nell Ní Chróinín
  • Caitlín Nic Gabhann
  • Ciarán Ó Maonaigh
  • Andrea Palandri
  • David Power
  • Kathryn Tickell Trio (pictured)
  • Martin Tourish and
  • John Walsh.