Porch Sessions, Installment No. 1

Since it’s summer, we thought we would record our practice session on my front porch for the first installment of Porch Sessions. Keep an eye out for more porch sessions throughout the rest of the summer and upcoming fall. Reach out if you want to come play in one.

And don’t forget there’s a session tonight at the Jericho Cafe in Jericho and one on Saturday at Bagitos in Montpelier. Play on!

Find more Irish sessions in Vermont.

 

Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in a new way

Irish MusicSt. Patrick’s Day is the day the world celebrates the patron saint of Ireland. As an Irish musician, it is usually one of my favorite holidays. Mostly because, for me, it’s a recognition of this amazing music — everyone wants to hear Irish music on St. Patrick’s Day.

Regardless of why we have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the past, I’d like to propose that this year, we make St. Patrick’s Day a day that not only honors of the patron saint of Ireland, but also honors of all American immigrants.

Immigrants bring diversity into our culture, diversity into our music and diversity into our lives. So this year I’d like to raise that glass of green beer (or any drink) in honor of all the immigrants who came to America in search of a better life. We salute you! And thank you to all the musicians from all over the world that brought, and continue to share their music with us all.

This weekend you can enjoy all sorts of Irish music, dancing and other festivities in celebration of St. Patrick and all the immigrants who make up our fine country. Here are few of my favorite events to check out this weekend.

Friday, March 17

St. Patrick’s Day at the Grange Hall, Waterbury
317 Howard Ave, Waterbury Center
7pm-9pm
$20

A show of local world-class musicians and Irish dancers. The event is family-friendly and includes:

  • Knotwork – with Michael and Annabel Moynihan, Don Schabner and Sebastian James. Knotwork has played Irish traditional music in Vermont and across Europe for over a decade. Recordings are available on iTunes, Amazon, and other digital music stores.
  • The Northern Lights – From foot stopping jigs and reels to dreamy waltzes and hoppy hornpipes, The Northern Lights will take you away to the shores of Ireland. The trio, based out of the Waterbury/Richmond area, is made up of fiddlers Katrina VanTyne and Denise Dean, and multi-instrumentalist, Jonathan Leonard. With 2 fiddles, guitar, bouzouki, button accordion and harmonium you’re bound to enjoy the sweet melodies of this traditional Irish music band.
  • The Church Restoration Project with Allen Church and Pete Haselbach as well as Heather Morris’ Celtic Dance Company

Saturday, March 18

 

Between the Jigs and Reels: Ireland’s History Through it’s music
Pickering Room, Fletcher Free LibraryTraditional Irish Music
235 College Street, Burlington
10:30am-Noon
Suggested Donation: $8

Music has helped to cheer and sustain the Irish spirit through times of oppression, poverty, and emigration. Benedict Koehler and Hilari Farrington will weave a unique and captivating history of Ireland through music on some of its iconic instruments: Irish harp, uilleann bagpipes, button accordion, and tin whistle. Founders of the Vermont School of Irish Traditional Music, these well-known musicians have played and taught music throughout North America and Ireland.

O’hAnleigh Live
51 Main, Middlebury
7:30-9pm

All your favorite Irish-pub sing-along song with some old ballads, artful originals, and toe-tapping fiddle tunes.

Sunday, March 19

Burlington Irish Heritage Festival Ceili
Contois Auditorium, Burlington, VT
1:00pm-3:00pm

Brattleboro Irish SessionThe ceili is fun for the whole family with Irish step dancing, and some fine local traditional Irish musicians. There is a bake sale, raffle and information about Irish language, Irish culture and more. After the Ceili, musicians are invited to stick around for a traditional Irish session.

There are a ton more events going on for the next week or so. For more information on the Burlington Irish Heritage Festival download the 2017 schedule of events.

 

 

Irish Session to benefit ACLU

Fiddle and beerThis Sunday, March 5th join Irish musicians from around the country, in participating in the Sanctuary Sessions, traditional music for civil rights.

Whether you live in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York or Oregon, you too can make a difference.

This is a massive session taking place around the country, and in Ireland, to help raise money for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), an organization that strives to protect the civil rights of all people.

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This land was made for you and me

Being able to play traditional Irish music is truly a blessing. Not just because it’s beautiful music that spans hundreds of years, but because it brings people together, from around the globe.

I have traveled through the US and many countries and sometimes have hopped in to listen to or play in a session. And even at the sessions where I didn’t speak that country’s language, I could still sit down and play a tune, have a laugh, and even make a new friend. It’s magical and it’s one of the things that makes this music so special.

With all the divisiveness going on in this country right now, I think what the world needs is a little more music and a lot more empathy for people who are different from ourselves. When you actually sit down to play or listen to music together,  you’ll likely find, we all have more in common than you think.

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Irish sessions: because playing with others is more fun

Irish flute playerNo matter how many tunes you learn, or how good you play them, it’s always more fun to play with other people. Whether it’s just getting together in someone’s house, performing for an audience or playing in a session, music is a social thing and is meant to be shared.

One of the things I love about living in Vermont besides the beautiful scenery and the fact that people care about each other, is there is a large community of Irish musicians and sessions all around the state to play in.

Aside from the weekly Saturday session at Bagitos in Montpelier (from 2-5pm), there are two more sessions coming up in the next week to play in or listen to:

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Outside the circle

irish sessionWhen you’re caught up in playing at a session I think sometimes we forget that people outside the circle are actually listening to us and our music makes an impact.

A few weeks ago I attended the bi-weekly Irish session at the Jericho Cafe in Jericho. It was a small session but the tunes were mighty (and the food was good too!) and a good time was had by all. We sat in our circle drank beer and played for about 2 hours and then packed it up.

As I was packing up my fiddle, and getting ready to go, this older gentleman who was sitting at the table next to us listening intently, told me how much he appreciated our music. He told me that his wife had died a year ago, and his mother had died 3 years prior. His family was Irish so he grew up listening to Irish music and when he heard us play it reminded him of days gone by with his beloved family. He told me he goes out to hear music as much as he can and that this music was “just lovely.”

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The red string

Chas ConquestIn some Chinese folklore, it is believed that the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. I love this concept. I envision a red string attached to me throughout my life and everyone I meet touches it in some way, changing the course of my life.

It implies to me, that the meeting of someone new has an impact on both parties and shapes our future in some way. I can think of countless times throughout my life where this has held true.

One time in particular was when I met a man and musician, named Charlie Conquest. Those who knew him, knew him as Chas. Chas recently passed on from this world to play music in the heavens with countless other musicians who were taken from us far too soon.

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