I had great fun sitting in with Barry Tierney at the Cork Folk Festival earlier this month. Here’s a video! Also featuring Conor O’Sullivan on mandolin.
Well, it was bound to happen eventually…. I got challenged to dump a ton of freezing water on my head and donate to a worthy cause. (Thanks very much to my esteemed colleague, Dylan Foley, for his invitation!) I had also been challenged on the old bookface by Hilary Abigana of the Indianapolis Ceili Band to play a tune and post it, so I decided to slap two hams with one sausage and complete both challenges SIMULTANEOUSLY. At a recent house concert with Comas in Indianapolis, Dmitri Alano (also of the aforementioned ceili band) was on hand to officiate, and with the assistance of my bandmate Anna Colliton, and long-time friend Maggie Smith, I got a proper soaking. My charitable donation was made to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, an organization devoted to enriching the lives of vulnerable youth. Hope you enjoy!
This coming weekend I will be doing no doubt one of the most fun gigs I can possibly imagine! My long-time comrade and brother-in-musical-arms, Daniel Lowery, is the second eldest of eight siblings, and three of his younger brothers play in a great oldies-style rock band called The Dirty Irv. During a recent trip to St. Louis where we were all present, I jumped in on a recording session with them on the tenor sax, and we had so much fun that we decided to play together for real. I’ll be joining them on October 18th at a festival in Irving, Texas, and will be opening for them with The Bronx Boys! I’m am psyched beyond measure.
After enjoying a long weekend in Texas with the Lowery clan, I’ll be traveling to Nova Scotia for the first time, to play at the Re Jigged Festival in Halifax, in concert with guitarist and banjo player Seph Peters. I have always wanted to visit this part of the world and am so delighted to finally have the opportunity to do so!
What a summer! Definitely the busiest for me that I can remember…. It started with a great month of May at McGurk’s in St. Louis with the Bronx Boys, then June saw the release of The Yanks’ new album, Haymaker, and then a short tour with Comas which included a return to the Old Songs Festival, one of our favorites. In July I had the honor of performing in the orchestra for two weeks of the opening run of Sting’s new musical, The Last Ship, in Chicago, which was a fantastic experience. Next, I made my annual return to the Catskills Irish Arts Week, where I performed with The Yanks and joined some really fantastic sessions. I then managed to squeeze in a short visit to Ireland where I visited my wonderful goddaughter (who is now almost four years old!) and soaked up some great music and scenery.
After leaving Ireland, Comas hit the road again for three weeks in Canada, starting with an epic 18-hour drive from Newark Airport to Prince Edward Island for our first concert of the tour. We had a lovely time on PEI and were delighted to hear some brilliant Acadian music. We felt especially privileged to perform at the Atlantic Fiddler’s Jamboree in Mont-Carmel alongside great musicians like Pascal Miousse, Pascal Gemme, Yann Falquet, and many others. On our way to Ontario we stopped in Quebec City, where I’d never been before, and I was amazed at the beautiful architecture and undeniable charm of the city. We also performed at Summer Folk, an awesome festival in Owen Sound organized by legendary singer-songwriter James Keelaghan, and the Summer Music festival in beautiful Stratford, Ontario.
As the summer began to wind down, the Bronx Boys returned to McGurk’s for September, where I was able to join them for the first two absolutely glorious weeks, and then went back out on the road with Comas for the remainder of September and ended the month by playing the Celtic Classic Festival in Bethlehem, PA. Then after an 11-hour drive to Chicago and a quick visit with my parents, I headed back to Ireland. I am now writing from Cork, where yesterday I did some recording with my good friend, guitarist Conor O’Sullivan, and joined him to play with singer-songwriter Barry Tierney for his set at the Cork Folk Festival. Today is the first day that has been cold and rainy, and so, I think it’s safe to say that the summer is sadly over. No worries though, October will see me returning to the US to perform with Ensemble Galilei, head to Dallas to play tenor sax with my friends’ band The Dirty Irv, visit Nova Scotia to perform at the Re-Jigged Festival in Halifax with Seph Peters, and then head home to Chicago for a few days before a BIG ADVENTURE begins….
As kids growing up, we all listened almost religiously to Fiona Ritchie’s fabulous show on NPR, Thistle and Shamrock. Imagine our surprise when we found out that not only our new album, but also our debut recording were both featured on the show this summer! Thanks to Ms. Ritchie and NPR for so many years of bringing quality music to our ears, and for blessing us with a mention on your show. It is truly an honor!
The Yanks are thrilled to announce the release of our newest recording, Haymaker! It is a 2-disc set, with 22 tracks of music, 84 minutes long in total. Each disc is a self-contained listening experience unto itself. There are some fantastic additional musicians on this album, namely the fabulous Josh Dukes on drums and bodhrán, and the Murphy Beds (Eamon O’Leary and Jefferson Hamer) on vocals, mandolin, and bouzouki. Thanks to our friends, family, and fans who supported this effort on Kickstarter, we were able to book a top-class studio for an entire week, bring one of Irish music’s hottest engineers (our friend Sean Keegan), and mix and master the album in-house with Grammy Award-winning engineer Glenn Barratt. We are very proud of Haymaker and hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it! Available for download on bandcamp or on disc at CDBaby!
Hooray for the end of winter! Having grown up playing ice hockey, I am very much an appreciator of the cold. It allows us to skate, throw snowballs at each other, gives us an excuse to grumble… but enough was enough! I did manage to escape to the south for a couple brief patches, but a lot of my winter was spent in northerly climates. I had a nice little stretch in the Chicago area in January with the Irish House Party, and then a weekend with the Yanks at the 54th Annual University of Chicago Folk Festival, a very prestigious event which we enjoyed thoroughly. Next, I hit the road with Celtic Crossroads for a month, during which we went as far south as Houston, and as far north as Brampton, Ontario. I reached a milestone during that tour, as one of our stops was the great city of New Orleans, to which I’d never been, and upon arrival there I could finally say that I have now officially visited all 50 states in our glorious country! This called for celebration of a most hearty sort.
After the tour wound up, I had a little break for late March and most of April, during which I helped work on mixing for the upcoming Yanks album, and then in May I returned to my favorite place on earth, John D. McGurk’s Pub in St. Louis for a slew of gigs with the Bronx Boys. We had a fantastic month there, though I skipped out for one week to do some gigs with the Yanks around the northeast and mid-south. I was very sad to leave St. Louis, but we’ll be back in September, so I’ve got something to which I will very much look forward.
After a crazy week of gigs in Las Vegas, I flew out at 6:00 am to New York to join The Yanks for a fantastic gig at the 14th Annual Winter’s Eve Festival in Manhattan. Playing an outdoor gig in December was a really fun (if chilly) experience, and the crowd was phenomenal! We played two sets – one on the main stage and another on a smaller stage – and received overwhelmingly positive responses from audience members, many of whom were completely unfamiliar with our style of music beforehand. While playing our second set, I jokingly announced on stage that I wished I’d had some fingerless gloves to make playing the flute more comfortable in the cold, and after the gig was over, a woman walked up to me and handed me a pair that she had just bought, with the tags on and all. She went and bought them for me from a nearby stand while we were playing. What a wonderful gesture, and very heart-warming, especially during the holiday season. I was very touched! Now I’m off again at 6:00 tomorrow morning for a week of gigs in California with Ensemble Galilei. Hopefully I’ll sleep on the plane! (Thanks to TJ Keevins for the photo.)
Thanks to the support of our friends, family, and fans, we reached our goal of $10,000 on Kickstarter and are all set to record our new album this coming January! We’re pulling out all the stops and looking forward to serving up the best record we can possibly make. Our sincere thanks to our supporters!
Yesterday, The Yanks launched a kickstarter campaign to fund our new recording project! We’re hitting the studio hard in January, and are raising money to make the best album we can make. Donor rewards include private lessons, an all-you-can-eat feast with Sean Earnest, an eating contest, a ride in a fancy carriage carried by The Yanks, and more! Follow the link to read more, and share!
Now that I’m back from my various international rambles, I’m looking forward to some exciting gigs this fall season, starting out with The Yanks at the wonderful Austin Celtic Fest, November 2nd and 3rd. Also on the festival lineup are Paul Brady, the Paul McKenna Band, Winifred Horan and Seamus McAuley, the Hanz Araki Superband, and many other great acts. Next I’ll be hitting the road with Comas for concerts around the northeast, midwest, and one gig in Ontario. Afterwards I’ll be doing a ton of gigs at the Rí Rá Las Vegas with Dave Barckow and others, and some shows in California with Ensemble Galilei. It’s going to be a packed season but I’m looking forward to it!