Traditional Irish Music

Traditional Irish Music

What attracted you to Irish Traditional Music in the first place. I first became aware of,and attracted to it listening to my mother playing the melodion a very long time ago.

Re: Traditional Irish Music

I was first introduced to it by my (now) ex-wife, who was a step dance teacher. The head of her school actually encouraged the dancers to learn more about the music, and try playing it. That’s a pretty rare thing in the U.S., it seems. I have seen step dancers dancing to just about anything, including rap music. And actually had a dancer come up after a show that we were playing for and ask us why we liked the music (in a tone of voice that conveyed their disbelief that anyone *could* like it…)

I wasn’t actually much of a fan at first. My wife was just learning, and it all seemed too twangy for my tastes at the time. (I owned a goth/industrial nightclub at the time). But pretty quickly, I discovered some things that I liked about it — bands like Altan were playing fairly speedy melodies that held a similar appeal to a lot of the electronica stuff I was listening to, but much more impressively because people were playing the melodies, not computers.

The real draw for me came when I started to realize that the music is much more about people, sharing, socializing, etc., and not about money or fame. Maybe 3 years into my playing, I played a session with Tommy Peoples, who was gracious enough to sit down for tunes with the likes of me. I remember at the time thinking that this was akin to maybe sitting down and jamming the blues with Eric Clapton, or something.

It was these things that transformed my entire life for the better, all because of the music!

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I grew up around the Lithuanian tradition, where I had some tapes of Lithuanian traditional music and sang and danced at Saturday school: it was just a part of life. I looked up Irish music one day and just really liked it.

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Heh heh, this has the makings of a group therapy meeting, doesn’t it….

In my case, it was my Dad who played the melodeon (or melodjin, as he pronounced it), and sang. His two brothers and his parents who followed us to Australia all sang too, so it was something I guess I assumed everyone did. The wives not quite so much, but could occasionally be drawn out. Mum, an O’Carolan from Nobber, Co Meath (yes, same small town that gave us that other O’Carolan) had been a keen dancer in her younger days, so was fond of the music too. So, although I grew up on the edge of a small regional city (Ballarat) in Victoria, Australia, my upbringing was wholly influenced by Irish music and song. I didn’t stand a chance, really….

What got me going on Traditional Irish Music

New England contra dancing. Alan Block. Randy Miller and Jack Peron. The Chieftains.

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YouTube. I wish I could remember who was playing in the first ITM video YT showed to me. Probably, it was Kev Crawford or Mike McGoldrick. After some more listening and two amazing weeks spent reading Terry McGee’s site my life-long musical journey got new direction.

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Canadian folk/rock/Celtic band Spirit of the West, from Vancouver. I played flute from grades 5 through 10 then put it down, only occasionally picking one up again over the decades. In my late 20s I heard Geoffrey Kelley play jigs and reels woven into the songs of Spirit of the West and I thought, Damn, I never knew the flute could be cool! I only waited another thirty years or so to start learning the music myself.

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This exact track is what sealed my fate. Of course it was not on YouTube in about 1976, but on an LP, a Transatlantic sampler of fiddle music.

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I was on a pub crawl of a St. Paddy´s day. Went in a smaller joint and heard ten or twelve locals playing and carrying on. Among them was an uilleann piper, which I had never seen or heard before. I was gob-smacked. Then a Chieftains concert. That year the Bothy Band´s first album came out and I´ve been hooked ever since.

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We could hear music in the other room in the pub so went through to see what it was about…..that was in the mid eighties.

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I suppose it was those first 2 Irish folk LPs that I probably picked up in Collett’s music shop in New Oxford St in London: one was The McPeake Family (1964) and then a compilation album of Irish Folk Hits (1967). Then on came the Dubliners and so many other good Irish bands later, among whom my favourites are Planxty, Patrick Street, The Bothy Band, The Chieftains, Altan and Dervish.
My first trip to Ireland was in 1967, and I was disappointed to go into pubs proclaiming “Ballad session tonight” only to find that said ballads were those of Englebert Humperdinck and Tom Jones! Later trips to Ireland, we found the right places!

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Played punk music since I was about 11 (guitar and drums). Then in 2002 I was fixing up a derelict farmhouse in East Galway with only the telly to keep me company. I was painting the sitting room and there was a programme on one evening about regional fiddle styles and it fascinated me. Not long after that I was in a petrol station in Athlone that had a display of CD’s near the front counter and I got a compilation CD of trad tunes and a Na Filí CD. That inspired me to get me hands on a fiddle, but the poor auld dog hated it god love her, so I got a tenor banjo and mandolin instead.

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A track on LP of Frankie McPeake singing ‘A jug of punch’ as a result of which I bought an ex-library copy of the McPeake family album that Trish Santer mentioned. Then borrowed Chieftains albums.

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Grew up playing something … what kid didn’t want to be a rock star? Went through the “folk scare”, found jazz ‘n blues. Kinda quit playing for a few years. Went to a whisky tasting with a mix of Irish/Scottish in the background. Got a bit “in my cups”. Liked the tunes as much as the whisky and I liked the whisky a lot. It all kinda went downhill from there! Here’s to tunes and good whisky … no good story ever started with a cupcake.

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Back in the early 70s (I think), I listened to Planxty and De Danann. Then bought some Generation tin whistles and that great Comhaltas book, Tutor for the Feadog Stain. I did that on my own for a few years but then played other kinds of music until 2015 or so when I listened to Kevin Burke and then tried to learn how to play the fiddle. After that failure (in part due to back trouble) I turned to playing trad on an instrument I already knew how to play, the flute. Enjoyed the transition to the wooden flute. thesession was a big help in the early days as was the Irish musician community where I live. I’m very happy with this wonderful music.

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{#PI’mBP} Seeing gitn repeat this same question makes me feel like I’m in an encounter group looking for something to talk about. In the spirit of greater awareness of getting to know my fellow tribe members I’ll return to my formative years of the 70s. Here are a few recordings which may have been my path to the tunes. I don’t actually know. A few of them definitely caught my attention.

Dave Bromberg ~ "Yankee’s Revenge"


Steeleye Span

Kevin Burke ~ "Sailor’s Bonnet"

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I was living in the Ozarks & my gal band of grungy rock & roll with a honky tonk twist was bombastically disintegrating. With no screaming fiddle solos & no melodic web to weave through a murder ballad, I found myself unenthused to return to my classical roots and wondering where my ears would take me next. But I was sad about the band & musically lost.. without much motivation to form new habits. My now-husband (a salty Scotch Irish) found a poster for a Monday night open session & suggested we listen in. We went a few weeks before I brought my fiddle & I’ve been soaking in the tunes ever since. Everyone in the Springfield, MO community was so welcoming & it was such fun - the perfect medicine for my sad fingers. We now live in Bellingham, WA where the Trad scene is vibrant & my heart is happy to be deepening in this music & making more friends at every session.

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My parents introduced me to folk music, but to Irish Trad I came through a little tunebook I found somewhere between our other songbooks. This was - I think - about three or four years ago - long journey since then ;)!

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I guess I can’t really ever name a time - I grew up in a musical family, and my siblings were already playing music for as long as I can remember.

Though I was trained classically, my siblings and I always played lots of Celtic/Irish/folk music. We also listened to it all the time, and went to several concerts, and Irish/fiddle camps.

It’s always been a huge part of my life, but a little over a year or more ago, I started taking it way more seriously. Irish music is now my primary style of music I play, and the music the band I’m in plays.

- Sarah 😊

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Enjoyable reading! Should be in some kind of cheery book . Fascinated to learn that folks find any kind of music a solution. But have to confess never needed to travel that way. Instead by accident, far more than design, like a lucky penny from a slot machine, Folk and Trad came out of things around me.

Partly on visits to a relative in Ireland who’s business is a Machine Shop. The radio very big in those times, a couple of programs were like religion to those folks, on Sunday morning Radio Eireann’s ‘The Job Of Journey Work’, and Saturday night’s ‘Ceilidh House’ a sermon when everything stopped as folks lent in to hear the holy word.

After that I don’t recall anything quite as astonishing until exposed to Doc Watson (RIP) of Deep Gap NC USA. Suppose not being too interested in playing music, like great cuisine, its joy presents an exquisite balance which satisfies.

That’s how I got my thing for visual art, and photography. The carry over seems to be attractive proportions, and great color. Too, growing up in post WW2 Britain ‘my’ world was full of beautiful things, all made in our community. The cars the most seen, and heard, such as the ‘Humber Hawk’, the ‘Austin A40’. Dare I mention the Motorcycles! ‘Matchless’, ‘BSA’, ‘Triumph’ ( still made today), ‘Ariel’, ‘Velocette’ (makers of the now forgotten ‘Noddy’ machines rode by ‘Police Constables’). We hardly noticed ‘foreign’ things!

And my forming years London was a happening place, its lanes and streets full of creative energy, making things, beautiful things, the world was coming to London. Every body and their dog wanted into that culture. We used turn our noses up to foreign cars rather than be impressed by them. Then there was Eel Pie Island on the Thames! A place where British Rock & Roll evolved. Those, indeed, were ‘the days’.

Much of my time last few years has been trading media tech on Ebay, recording gear, cameras, lenses etc. Often browsing all kinds of stuff. So November ‘19 on a Crabb Concertina ( Henry Crabb was a Concertina maker in London 1940’s - 60s ) had to bid, being as it is a very rare thing as well. The description on the sale did not disclose which kind, or model, because the seller did not know, not could he / she find out as the air button is broken. Because of that bidding is lower. But not to me knowing it had to be worth a whack of change. Like for a rare Nikon lens, threw a month’s housekeeping at it, and am delighted to win!

Eventually when arrived, discovered, aside from the broken air button, it hardly used, like new. No wear shown on the bellows and the buttons had the original springs, which considering made 1960’s, is rare. Too it is an Anglo 30 button model. So yeah got a steal for a song! Like ‘wow’. But have no idea how to fix it, so sent off to a repair expert. A few hundred later I have a perfectly beautiful Crabb Anglo not yet played in. With no idea how to play, got some lessons on line.

Yes Irish trad is part of the music I try to play, but only because early life, still other music attracts me. Morris Dancing part of my life experience and so its tune fragments seep out.

A lovely bonus of this gift is the aroma oozing from the bellows, which fills the space around me :0) Suspect its first, and only, other owner is a female with great taste. So even if I never manage to get the tripled chirp its aromatic and aural beauty will ever be my reward.

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I started researching a biography of Francis O’Neill. I thought if I was going to write about him I had to understand the music and the best way to understand it was to learn to play it. Learned to love it and loved to learn it.

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One summer in the mid-’70s, I was taking a French immersion course in Quebec City. There was a young woman there from Georgia, I believe it was - she urged me to look up Planxty and the Bothy Band, because, she said, they sang songs like the ones I sang and had voices like mine, and played music like the music I played. So I did.

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I got to know it thanks to bands that got famous in Spain: Gwendal and Celtas Cortos.

From there I discovered an Irish trad session in Madrid city center.

Then I went to leave to Ireland. 6 years and a half in Galway and 3 years and a half in Cork.

I like traditional music from several countries but the Irish one will always be very special to me.

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In the mid-’70s, thanks to a friend, I listened to the first LP released by The Bothy Band.
As Hark! wrote so well, "Learned to love it and loved to learn it" (and still love to play it).

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I come from a musical family in West Virginia: my grandfather played fiddle, banjo (4 and 5 string), mandolin, guitar, piano, and euphonium. My uncle played piano, pipe organ, and trumpet. My dad would say of himself "I grew up in a house where you couldn’t go from room to room without tripping over an instrument case, but I never played anything".

What did rub off on my Dad was an interest in and knowledge of music. He had quite a variety of LPs I would listen to: Bach, Strauss, German polka bands, folksingers, Highland pipes, and many other things. In 1975 I got my first set of Highland pipes. In 1977 we moved to Greater Los Angeles and I started playing in a Pipe Band.

Around that time I saw The Chieftains on TV. I didn’t know what to make of it. I knew Baroque music and I took them to be a sort of Baroque ensemble (harp, violins, wooden flute) but with a strange bagpipe and drum.

I went to the record shop and got a Chieftains album- I think it was Chieftains Live- and I was hooked. Soon I had a semi-horrid uilleann Practice Set and learned that Irish-made reeds can have a short lifespan in California weather. Then I got a Ralph Sweet flute, and made my own Bodhran.

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The Strayaway Child by Jerry Read Smith (

I was maybe 10 years old and on a trip with my parents, and this album was playing in a shop somewhere in Tennessee(?). My mom (who plays guitar and piano and has always liked folk music) fell in love with it and bought the cassette. I eventually purloined it, and the album became part of the soundtrack to my adolescence, a backdrop to my teenage obsession with Arthurian legend and all things vaguely "Celtic." I was also learning to play the recorder (because of course I was), and my favorite tune in my "learn to play the recorder" book was the Swallowtail Jig. But I didn’t understand the connection between all of this music until I met Jeremy years later, and he pointed out that these tunes I liked were all traditional Irish tunes. The Strayaway Child was soon joined by the Bothy Band, the recorder was swapped for a tin whistle and eventually a fiddle, and here we are!

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I don’t remember the first time I heard Irish Traditional Music. I had probably heard the odd bit on the radio or TV at home, but it was certainly not part of my soundscape growing up in London – there was no Irish anywhere in my family (apart from the opera-singing unwedded partner of my great uncle, who died long before I was born). Whatever I may have heard had no particular impact on me.

It was in my late teens that I began to get interested in traditional and folk music in general. Having learned piano as a child and taken up guitar in my mid-teens, I began playing around with the whistle and mandolin (both of which happened to be in the house), picking up tunes wherever I could, by ear or from dots. I wasn’t too fussy about the origins to start with – Northumbrian, Scottish, Irish, Hungarian, Swedish… – but was driven by intellectual curiosity as much as anything. In my very early 20s, whilst away at university, I joined my first ‘Irish’ band (one member was Irish, one was 2nd generation Irish and we played predominantly music of Irish provenance); listening back to a recording we made is quite painful, but we had fun. Back in London, I started to discover these things called ‘sessions’ happening in various far-flung parts of the city, and that the music played at most of them was largely or exclusively Irish (as were many of the people playing it); I knew little of ‘session etiquette’, or of different levels of ‘traditionalness’ and probably stepped over a many invisible lines, but I was mostly blissfully unaware of this. What I was well aware of was that I was mining a rich vein and, perhaps more than the tunes themselves, it was the fact that the music was available ‘on tap’, so to speak, and it was *here* and *now* – not something geographically or chronologically distant, not something that had to be sought out in libraries and obscure old recordings, not something that was (only) played by professional or famous musicians. I knew, of course, that I was a long, long way from playing as well as my fellow session-goers, but it seemed like the goal was somewhere in sight (Of course, I subsequently learned that the further you move towards the goal, the further away it gets…).

Then the wanderlust took hold. Strangely enough, it did not take me westward to Ireland, but northward to Scotland, then eastward to Scandinavia and The Baltic States. Having spent a little time being a regular session-goer in London, and in a band prior to that, I was by then armed with a substantial repertoire of tunes (not exclusively Irish) and a degree of competence on the mandolin, and took to busking my way around. By a combination of pushbike, ferries and trains, I made my way from Edinburgh to Orkney, Shetland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia. Within a few days of arriving in Riga, Latvia, I met a couple of buskers from St. Petersburg, playing a mix of Irish, Scottish and English tunes; they introduced me to some Latvian friends that had a band playing Irish music. Before I knew it, I was in the band. I am sure it was not my musical prowess that got me in – I was still very much a novice, both in my mastery of my instrument and in terms of repertoire (I actually remember listing and counting my repertoire of Irish dance tunes at the time and they numbered 60-odd) – but I think I was perceived as being somehow culturally closer to the source (and perhaps I was a little).

I stayed in Riga for two full years (not what I had planned at all) sharing a flat with one of my bandmates. Whilst my curiosity for traditional music was still taking me in all directions, my flatmate had a strong passion for Irish music specifically, having heard some visiting musicians from Ireland some years earlier, and a few recordings brought back from Ireland by a friend. His passion and focus began to influence me. The band had a weekly residency in one of Riga’s ‘Irish’ pubs (there were three of them, even in 1997). There also happened to be an Irish engineering company working in Riga at the time. Some of the engineers and executives would frequent the pub (it served Guinness) and were very supportive of us; one was an All-Ireland champion stepdancer (albeit a little out of practice), another always had a song at the ready. They plied us with recordings of Irish music (from which I drank repertoire like water on a hot day) and, eventually, clubbed together to fund a trip to the Willie Clancy Week, all inclusive!

My trip to Milltown (also my first ever time in Ireland) was an epiphany for me. I was blown away by the number of people, across all generations – particularly the number of youngsters – playing this music and *living* it like it was the only thing that mattered; it seemed like the music here was part of the very fabric of society† in a way that I had never seen before anywhere else. I felt as if I had made a sudden leap from being able to play some tunes fairly competently to understanding what this music was all about. From this point, I never looked back. I went back to the Willie Clancy Week every year for about 7 years after that (exploring other music festivals around Ireland thereafter) and, when back home in London, endeavoured to take in every session I caught wind of.

†Over subsequent trips to Ireland, I began to get a more nuanced view of things and realised that there are many parts of Ireland where traditional music is very rarefied. Certainly, in Co. Clare and some other areas of Ireland, traditional music (and music and musicians in general) is afforded an unusual amount of respect by the general populace and, even those individuals that take it for granted or even dislike it still recognise it as belonging to their culture.

Sorry for the long rambling tale. I could have said it in two words: "Willie Week".

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1978 (+/- 1 year) grandma Doyle buys me Generation C whistle which I kinda self-taught. But can kinda work out tunes (not particularly Trad) by ear. Whistle is a "my thing" interest but level = 0 (Awful!). BTW grew up in Listowel - home of the Fleadh - but never been to one (county, provincial or national) until 2017 🙁

Fast forward 2016 - Tuesday after June Bank Holiday weekend. Sailing along south coast from Baltimore/Sherkin back to Dun Laoghaire. We are in Powers Bar in Dunmore East and Tuesday is the local weekly session night. Buzz is electric. And I can play nothing. Told the lads I’d come back in 1 year and play half the tunes.

September 2016 joined Comhaltas in Kilteel and started whistle classes with Sean O Broin. 20+ hours per week practice and going to 2-3 sessions every week. Frantic to get to 50 tunes, then 100. Anyway, on the 1-year anniversary I did go to a session and was able (after the fashion of a 12-month beginner) to play along with half the repertoire.

The past five years have been an amazing journey. I managed 20-nights-in-a-row sessions back in Jan/Feb 2020! Did a week of classes in Lorient with Sylvain Barou in 2019. Had the Craic at Cruinniu na bhFluit in 2019. So many awesome evenings. Can’t believe I waited until age 51 to immerse myself in this crazy world of ITM. Still have my first "Willie Week" to look forward to. I might have wasted the first half century of my existence. I won’t make the same mistake with the second half century.

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It was a slippery slope, for me. I wanted to make the music that my peers liked (Beatles, et al) but the only instrument I could sort of play was the violin, thanks to a couple years of school orchestra. Then Ian Anderson showed me that you could rock out on, of all things, the flute, which inspired me to try it with the fiddle. And some years later, Jean-Luc Ponty showed up with all his electronic bells and whistles for the violin (via MIDI, which I also indulged in, some). And so, many garage bands, and various sorts of gigs.

Years later, I had grown tired of the noise level, and went looking for an acoustic rock band… and happened to join one that played a lot of Pogues songs and a few trad tunes. Eventually I decided to try to get a little more authentic in my playing, wandered in to a couple of local Irish sessions, and that was that. No more "boom-thwack-boom-boom-thwack," for me. (Forgive me one name-drop: one of my early session mentors was Barry Foy, author of Field Guide to the Irish Session. A good etiquette teacher, eh?)

Epilogue: I recently realized that my tinnitus (it’s like constant "tape hiss") must not get any worse, so I have sworn off all amplified music, from now on. If you play the fiddle right, you can quietly out-rock most wide-legger electric twangers, and avoid the hearing loss.

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Started out with Upstate NY Old Time and Canadian - Cape Breton (Graham Townsend and the early Leahy Family from the 1970’s). A short leap to the Chieftains of the same era had me hooked.

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My boyfriend gave me an ipod full of Irish music to listen to while on a long flight. I really liked it. I went out and bought a CD called Musical Travel Ireland for myself. I popped the CD in to my player and, what is this? It is not the same as what was on the ipod. It sounded weird to me. I think the ipod had more of the Celtic Woman kind of stuff on it. But I really enjoyed some of the tunes on the CD, like Irish Washerwoman and this creepy sean nos song about being beaten by rods and switches by some poor guy’s witch of a wife. Then I grew to really like the other tunes that were much less familiar to me, like the Ewe reel and a set with twin flutes. These were more like the types of playing that people here aspire to. After listening to this CD over and over for a long time, it’s the traditional stuff that has stuck most for me and the Celtic woman style candy music is no longer appealing.

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My path to Irish Trad was, I think, very unusual. When the Waverly Consort came to play medieval music at my university, I’m sure I was the only engineering student in the audience. And I immediately fell in love with early music.

A few years later I had a new friend who drove to the huge vinyl album store in the big city and bought several albums each week, of wildly different types of music. Most of them he returned for partial credit the next week.

Well. He bought a copy of Chieftains 5 and didn’t like it. He told me "This is weird. You might like it." (Exact quote.)

I loved it. I bought more Chieftains albums. Then my guitar teacher realized I shared his taste. He introduced me to The Bothy Band, Planxty, Tannahill Weavers and much more.

So I started with early music, then moved to Trad. It’s been all downhill since then.

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I had zero intention until I was out of college and in my early 20s of ever playing traditional Irish music.

When I was a kid growing up in North Hollywood, my dad has the Nonesuch record of "The Irish Pipes of Finbar Furey" along with other world music albums. We were a secular Jewish family with no connection to Ireland, but I do remember the sound of the Uilleann pipes.

Grew up playing classical flute from age 6 and playing in school orchestras and solo competitions through high school. My teacher was the former first chair flautist of the L.A. Philharmonic.

In college, played baroque and renaissance music on flutes, recorders, and other winds in the Collegium Musicum at San Diego State University.

In that group, my wife-to-be played hammered dulcimer for one semester.

After we got out of college, I bought her a used dulcimer off an ad in the local classified.

She lost interest in it, but I started playing it.

Hammered dulcimer was my primary instrument for about 7 years, used to play weddings, events, attended workshops at Swannanoa and Augusta. Had private students. That’s where I was first exposed to traditional Irish music, primarily through O’Carolan harp tunes and cross-over Old Time tunes commonly played on the dulcimer. Pretty much that was going to be what I did as far as I was concerned for the rest of my life.

Until one day around 1998, I decided to take my smaller dulcimer, a Dusty Strings D10 in a soft case on a Southwest Airlines flight to play at a family event.

I arrived at the airport a couple of hours early, got boarding pass #1, was all set to get on the plane, when the gate attendant said "That won’t fit in the overhead, you have to check it…"

Well, we got into a huge argument. I had taken the same instrument on a Southwest 737 before, I knew it fit, but this little dictator wasn’t going to let me carry it on.

So, off it went into the cargo hold. (it survived the flight)

At that moment, I had the thought that ultimate leads to <everything> that has happened since:

"I need to play something smaller."

As I was a great fan of the group Helicon (Ken Kolodner (hammered dulcimer), Robin Bullock (octave mandolin), Chris Norman (flute)) , for some reason I decided that octave mandolin was what I was interested in. No idea why I didn’t just go with flute, considering I already played it, but I hadn’t yet been to a session, so I had no idea about Irish flute.

So, I got a nice octave mandolin, played in the local mandolin orchestra for a year while still playing some dulcimer.

Then my wife and a friend told me that they had read about an "Irish session" at a local bar, "The Blarney Stone" and they took me there for my birthday.

It was interesting, I remember thinking "I can do that…".

So, the next week I showed up with my octave mandolin, a big black orchestral music stand, and a book of tunes.

I think I lasted 10 minutes before I slunk out the door, quite embarrassed.

But, I came back, left the music stand at home.

Octave mandolin lead to tenor banjo. I also started playing whistle and wooden flute, since I already had the woodwind skills from my flute and recorder days.

One of the players in the session at The Blarney Stone was a Scottish piper and had a set of Walsh shuttle pipes in they key of A. I thought they were pretty cool, so I got a set myself and for about a year took Scottish piping lessons, but eventually I thought "what the heck am I doing with this Scottish music?" sold the shuttle pipes and in 1998 bought myself my first set of Uilleann pipes, an unplayable full set off of eBay.

That lead me to find the Southern California Uilleann Pipers Club, where I got to check out some real sets and get some instruction. In early 2000, I got the heart of my current set, a Kirk Lynch half-set. Later added two regulators and switched to a Benedict Koehler chanter.

In 2000 I started co-hosting the Tuesday night session at The Ould Sod here in San Diego along with my co-host fiddler George Rubsamen. The session, other than some breaks we’ve had to take for COVID-19 mitigation, is still happening every week, currently outdoors due to the recent local Delta surge.

I’ve also bought and sold a few nice wooden flutes over the years.

In one of these sales, I believe it was a 4-key blackwood McGee, which I put up for sale after I got my restored 8-key Metzler (my current keyed flute), Bob Tedrow wanted to buy an Irish flute for his daughter, and offered to trade me one of his 30-button C/G Anglo concertinas.

I figured, sure, why not. Worst case is that I can’t figure it out and sell it. I didn’t sell it. I really enjoyed the challenge of putting tunes on it.

So that started me down the Anglo concertina path.

At the suggestion of a local player, very soon after I got the Tedrow, I attended the Noel Hill workshop several times, both east and west coast, and now been playing the instrument for 15+ years, my primary instrument is a Wally Carroll Noel Hill model.

In 2011, the company I’d been working for 20+ years was starting to become unstable, so I decided I’d better build a lifeboat. I learned to write musical instrument emulation apps for iOS, the first being a set of virtual regulators for Uilleann pipes. I also developed both English and Anglo concertina apps.

At some point, I decided to write a 3-row accordion app. Hohner really liked it since it sounded a lot like a Corona and made me a mutually beneficial and simple branding deal that still exists to this day. I ended up writing 1, 2, and 3 row diatonic accordion apps, piano accordion apps, and CBA accordion apps.

I had a pretty good feeling that the apps were a very inexpensive way a new player could have an experience of playing the instrument before purchasing a real one, so I decided to "eat my own dog food" and took on learning B/C box from my own 2-row iPad accordion app.

After a few months of playing tunes on the iPad app, I asked Hohner if they would provide me with a real instrument, one of the modern "black-dot" B/C instruments.

Turns out it worked, I was very quickly able to start playing tunes on the real box leveraging my experience with my app.

Fast forward 9 years and now I’m practicing B/C box every day, playing it in sessions along with Anglo concertina and flute when I don’t want to bring my pipes. I’ve got a whole collection of the things now.

It’s only been since COVID-19 shut everything down that I’ve really started woodshedding on the box. It’s been wonderful, have had the opportunity to do a lot of work with John Whelan helping to co-host his Zoom sessions and group lessons, writing up the detailed transcriptions of his playing for the lessons, and managing all the recording of the events, which give me access to something like 80 hours of his playing.

If I had not had that fight with the Southwest gate attendant, there is a very good chance I’d still be playing only hammered dulcimer to this day.

It’s been quite the ride, and none of it was planned.

Re: Traditional Irish Music

I used to volunteer at an Oxfam shop, one of the perks was getting to borrow the cds. I was lucky enough to come across a few Chieftains albums: It’s interesting that others have mentioned the Chieftains, I wonder how many people have been introduced to the music by them - life changing! Anyway, those cds proved to be a good break from all the dark angry noise, metal and techno music I would listen to otherwise at a very difficult time of life!

I never really thought about playing until 15 years later, I just decided I needed a hobby that didn’t involve sitting in front of a screen. I had recently listened to some of my old Irish music cds, and had also discovered a few more bands (Moving hearts, Bothy band etc), so I was inspired to buy a mandolin, and after learning a few tunes on my own, came across an amazing and very welcoming tune learning group.

Coincidentally the first tune I learnt on mandolin was Kitty lie over, which then later when I went to my first session was the first tune the group played! I started learning fiddle which is very much a work in progress and later, I ‘went to the dark side’ and got a tenor banjo, which is probably now my main instrument.

I think a big part of what drew me in is the relaxed social format in which the music is played. In others genres of music I had been involved with there had always been a background sense of pressure, attempting to create something truly noteworthy or be successful in some way, get gigs, reviews, make a cd etc and I’ve always felt that to be at odds with what I’m after. For me it’s all about the fun of getting into the zone, playing music with other people or by myself, improving, but with no other agenda than for its own sake.

Re: Traditional Irish Music

I grew up playing classical, then flamenco guitar. I didn’t think I needed anything other than Bach, and flamenco music, for the rest of my life.

Then I heard a Pierre Bensusan record and started playing tunes in dadgad. Then heard Chieftains music, got hold of a hammered dulcimer and started arranging harp tunes…until I could get hold of a wire-strung harp. I’m hard-wired for the old stuff - pibroch and gaelic tunes. Fiddle and box came round long ago too, but Norwegian hardingfele has taken me over. I still like to fiddle tunes on cello, especially slow air.

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Re: Traditional Irish Music

My parents had an eclectic record collection that included some folk albums. The one that I wore out, at about age 9, happened to be A.L. Lloyd’s ‘Australian Bush Songs’ (Wild Colonial Boy, Lime-Juice Tub, etc.). Not exactly Irish Trad, but it got me in the right ballpark for love of the old songs and melodies.

My first taste of the late 70s version of Irish Trad would have been vinyls of Andy Irvine & friends (Rainy Sundays - Windy Dreams) and Kevin Burke and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill (Portland). The Bothy Band and the Chieftains were largely unknown to me at the time. But by then I was backing contradances on a bass viol I’d resurrected from the trash and restored. A 30-year run with a band followed, with repertoire ranging from New England to Irish to Scottish to Quebequois fiddle tunes, wherein guitar eventually supplanted bass and then added bouzouki. Eventually I started dipping into the tunes courtesy of this website, and my late in life goal is to join the melody players.

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Re: Traditional Irish Music

Three things converged all around the same time that lead me to Irish Trad. 1) I randomly happened upon the first session I’d ever seen in a great pub one Sunday afternoon when a friend of mine turned up to have a few beers and smoke our pipes (back when you could smoke in pubs). 2) I stumbled across the "Thistle and Shamrock" programme on the radio one Sunday night on a long drive while flipping through the dial. And that lead to 3) Buying The Very Best of the Chieftains (and shortly after discovering Planxty and The Bothy Band).