How it’s New York: The players hail from the Tri-State area, and this is a celebration of the variety of amazing Irish trad that can be heard here.
How it’s Irish: It’s Irish trad music!
An earlier version of this article was published in the November edition of Irish Music Magazine.
With so much great Irish trad in New York, you’d think there would be festivals every month. But you’d be wrong: Tony DeMarco, who runs the Sunday night session at the 11th Street in the East Village, where the pros go to play when they’ve finished their gig, has put together the first annual New York Tradfest
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to visit the city, this is it.
The festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19 and on Sunday, Oct. 20.
And loads of the New York regulars will be gathering to play together.
At this first festival, which Tony says is “starting small,” there are already 30 performers booked. Among them: Eileen Ivers and Greg Anderson; Brian Conway and Brendan Dolan, Matt Mancuso; Cillian Vallely; Tony Trischka and Andy Statman. Those last two don’t play Irish: it’s important to Tony that the “trad” include other traditions. This year, that includes bluegrass and Appalachian. Next year, it could be Greek, Indian, Asian, reflecting the melting pot that is the Big Apple.
“It’s New York City,”
“It’s a no brainer.”
The “musos” will be playing at Connolly’s Klub 45 on West 45th Street on the 19th.
But “there are no headliners,” Tony says. Everybody he asked said yes immediately, and everybody’s being paid the same. Don Meade, who runs the Blarney Star series at Glucksman Ireland House, will emcee.
Tony says the idea for the festival was inspired by two things: One is the Ennis tradfest, which takes place in pubs, with primarily local musicians. The other is the realization that there hasn’t been a good trad festival in town in well over 10 years.
“Festivals are the most fun, because you get a large number of performers together in one space,”
Tony explains in his home in Little Italy. For musicians, it’s fun to meet one another and play together. For the audience, it’s an opportunity to see loads of performers in a short amount of time, rather than just one band and an opening act.
Earlier on the 19th, Dr. Mick Moloney will moderate a panel at Glucksman Ireland House at New York University titled “Masters of Irish Traditional Music and Dance in New York in the 20th Century,” with Tony, Brian O’Holleran, Jerry O’Sullivan and Siobhan Butler.
And the festival will take advantage of the city, with sessions around town on Sunday, including specialty sessions with up-and-coming players and song circles, at Connelly’s, 11th Street Bar, Brass Monkey and more.
For Tony, who used to play football, this is “starting small.” For the rest of us, this looks like an event not to miss.