Saturday, March 08, 2008

Absolutely Irish!

American Public Television is airing a new Irish traditional music program called Absolutely Irish! Stations all across the country will use it as part of their fundraising campaigns. Donors contributing a certain amount receive a copy of the DVD as a thank you gift.

Produced by Mick Moloney, the show includes an all-star cast of traditional Irish musicians:

Fiddle: Liz Carroll, Eileen Ivers, Athena Tergis
Guitar: John Doyle, Mick Moloney
Flute: Mike Rafferty, Joanie Madden, Seamus Egan
Singers: Robbie O'Connell, Karan Casey, Susan McKeowan, Mick Moloney
Tenor Banjo: Mick Moloney, Seamus Egan
Dancers: Jo McNamara, Niall O'Leary, Darrah Carr
Keyboard: Brendan Dolan
Concertina: Tim Collins
Uilleann Pipes: Jerry O'Sullivan

I watched Absolutely Irish! on WJN on March 3rd. I was pleased with the balance of time allocated to conversation about the music, rehearsal, and performance. While the bulk of the program was devoted to the playing of the "younger" musicians, Mick gave special kudos to flute player Mike Rafferty and dancer Jo McNamara who have played an important role in keeping the tradition alive. Both Mike and Jo must be around 80 years old now. Below is the YouTube footage of Jo McNamara, described by the New York Times on May 3, 1990, as "an Irish-born vaudevillian who has been a professional dancer for more than 60 years dancing." She's absolutely charming. Have a look, and notice the faces of the "kids" as they watch from the wings:

For a more up-tempo set of tunes, check out the mighty fiddling in this YouTube clip:

I really enjoyed hearing some of my favorite players perform some of my favorite tunes. Mick taught many of these tunes to the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra, his New York University ensemble of which I'm proud to be a member.

Watch your TV listings or call your local PBS station to find out when Absolutely Irish! will be broadcast in your area. If you're a fan of Irish traditional music, this is a program not to be missed!

© 2008, Linda Mason Hood
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