2017 Instructors & Presenters
Click on an instructor's name for bio.
Classes and Instructors
|Anglo Concertina (Fundamentals) -- Brian Ó hAirt||Flute (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Steph Geremia|
|Anglo Concertina (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Tony O'Connell||Flute/Whistle (Fundamentals) -- Jaime Hamilton|
|Bodhran (Fundamentals) -- Cara Wildman||Guitar (All Levels) -- Dáithí Sproule (Melodies by Niamh Fahy)|
|Bodhran (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Albert Alfonso||Harp (All Levels) -- Marta Cook|
|Bouzouki (All Levels) -- Alan Murray||Mandolin/Tenor Banjo (Fundamentals) -- John Liestman|
|Button Accordion (All Levels) -- Billy McComiskey||Mandolin (Intermediate & Advanced)) -- Mary Coogan|
|Dancing (Al Levels) -- Pat Murphy||Piano Accordion (All Levels) -- Alan Kelly|
|Fiddle (Fundamentals) -- Devin Shepherd||Singing (All Levels) -- Brendan Nolan|
|Fiddle (Intermediate) -- Liz Carroll||Tenor Banjo (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Pauline Conneely|
|Fiddle (Intermediate) -- Brid Harper||Uilleann Pipes (All Levels) -- Mickey Dunne|
|Fiddle (Advanced) -- James Kelly||Whistle (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Shannon Heaton|
Workshops and Presenters
|Anything BUT Jigs & Reels -- Clare Cason, Niamh Fahy||Learning by Ear -- Janis Deane|
|Ceili Dancing Workshop -- Susan & Michael Harrison||O'Carolan Tunes Played Slowly -- Therese Honey|
|Gaelic Singing and More Gaelic Singing -- Alli Johnson||Piano Accompaniment of Irish Music -- Kendall Rogers (Melodies by TBD)|
|Getting Comfortable Playing Music Around Others -- Michelle Feldman||Playing Irish Harmonica -- Paul Dryer|
|Guerilla Harp Tactics -- Therese Honey||Retreat Tunes 2016 Played Slowly -- John Liestman|
|Home Recording Studio Fundamentals -- Gordon McLeod||Sound Production Fundamentals -- Shaddow Walter|
|Instrument Petting Zoo -- John Liestman||Supercharge Your Tune Learning -- Ian Varley|
|Irish Modes Made Easy -- Tenesa Rasmussen||There's An App for That -- Toar Schell|
|Irish Music 101 -- TBD||Vocal Health for Singers-- Janis Deane|
|Slow Sessions -- TBD|
|Fast Sessions --TBD|
|Song Sessions -- David Polacheck|
Alert Alfonso – Bodhrán (Intermediate & Advanced)
Albert Alfonso has been playing bodhrán since the early 1980’s - that’s right, since last century. At some point he was asked to participate in some local and regional workshops. Over the years, one thing and another has lead to workshops at The Royal Academy of Music in London, The Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, as well as workshops at many Irish and Celtic festivals and traditional music camps in the U.S. and Canada. Albert has been very fortunate to have sat in with many local, regional, and the occasional international traditional music groups. Albert also makes bodhráns and tippers.
Liz Carroll – Fiddle (Intermediate)
Liz Carroll has had a remarkable century. Her 2009 recording with John Doyle, "Double Play," was nominated for a 2010 Grammy, making Liz the first American-born artist nominated for playing Irish music – ever! On St. Patrick’s Day 2009, Liz traveled to Washington, D.C., to play for fellow Chicagoan, President Obama, at the annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. In 2005, she became a member of String Sisters, a sextet of fiddlers from America, Ireland, the Shetland Islands and Norway. Their 2009 Live album was shortlisted for a Grammy. And Liz’s first duet album with John Doyle, "In Play," caused Sing Out! magazine’s Rob Weir to exclaim “Liz Carroll recordings induce joy and admiration that exhaust this reviewer's feeble descriptors." Previous to that were two solo albums, "Lake Effect" and "Lost in the Loop," which used Liz’s hometown of Chicago as the influence for an extraordinary outpouring of new compositions. The 2000 "Lost in the Loop" album led the Irish Echo to proclaim her the Traditional Musician of the Year.
All that has come this century, but in the last came a National Heritage Award Fellowship in 1994, which honored Liz as a "Master Traditional Artist who has contributed to the shaping of our artistic traditions and to preserving the cultural diversity of the United States." A mouthful, to be sure, but such national recognition stood on her winning the 1975 All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Championship to Mayor Daley proclaiming September 18, 1999 as “Liz Carroll Day” in Chicago.
2010 brought the publication of Liz’s first book of compositions, “Collected.” It’s a compilation of Liz’s musical past, as well as a promise for the future - a past and future honored in 2011 with Ireland's most revered traditional music prize, the Cumadóir TG4 (Composer of the Year!).
Liz's recent solo album, "On the Offbeat," was released at www.lizcarroll.com and it's there and everywhere right now.
The newest Liz Carroll news is the February, 2016, release of a new collaborative album, produced as companion music to a recent exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago - "Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840 – The Music." A mix of period music and new compositions by Liz, the other artists include Liz Knowles, Kieran O'Hare, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, and Catriona McKay. Released in February, 2016, the CD was praised by Daniel Neeley of the Irish Echo who said, "It is a breathtaking companion piece... a spectacular album. It features a beautiful mixture of old and new music from one of the most elite gatherings of musicians." Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.
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Pauline Conneely – Tenor Banjo (Intermediate & Advanced)
Pauline Conneely was born in Bedford, England, the daughter of Irish parents from Connemara and Longford, raised in a family steeped in Irish music, dance and culture. As a young girl she achieved great success, becoming a champion Irish step dancer before turning her focus to music. Under the tutelage of legendary musician Brendan Mulkere, Pauline honed her love of the banjo, eventually earning her status as renowned banjo player.
She founded the band Chicago Reel, who feature regularly at Irish festivals around the Midwest and East Coast. She frequently shares the stage with Grammy-nominated fiddler Liz Carroll, as well as many respected artists performing on the world stage today, including John Doyle, The Chieftains, Cherish the Ladies, Sean Keane, and Mick McGoldrick..
Mary Coogan – Mandolin (Intermediate & Advanced)
Mary Coogan is well known to those who enjoy the music of Cherish The Ladies. Together with Joanie Madden she is a founding member of the group and has been playing guitar, banjo, and mandolin for enthusiastic audiences around the world for over 30 years.
Mary was born in Yonkers, NY. Her mother Celia Casserly came from County Roscommon and her father Jim Coogan played the accordion. She was exposed to traditional music from an early age through frequent house parties and sessions.
Mary can be heard on over 14 Cherish the Ladies recordings, and also has critically acclaimed recordings of her own, including a children’s album: The Big Ship Sails (a Parents’ Choice Award winner) and Passing Time, which was recorded with her father.
Mary has a masters degree in education, and when not on tour teaches mandolin, banjo, and guitar in the NY area. She also records and performs regularly with her husband, singer and uilleann piper, Bruce Foley.
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Marta Cook – Harp (All Levels)
A traditional musician from a young age, Marta Cook is committed to realizing the potential of the modern lever harp as a traditional instrument. Her approach to technique and musicianship is greatly inspired by her love of fiddling and piping, and particularly by the legacy of those traditions in Chicago. She is also well-known as an accompanist with an interest in developing the harp as a rhythm instrument.
Having won a senior title at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann at the age of 19, in recent years, Marta has traveled extensively, performing and teaching throughout Europe and North America. Highlights include the World Harp Congress (Vancouver,) Spoleto Festival USA (Charleston), Pritzker Pavilion (Chicago), Espace Culturel Bertin Poirée (Paris), The Irish Centre (Leeds), and every major North American harp festival. Having worked as a studio musician in Chicago and New York City, her playing has featured on many albums; she is considered a GRAMMY® winner by the Recording Academy for her contribution to Yo-Yo Ma's 2010 release Songs of Joy and Peace.
Outside of traditional music, Marta has worked on a diverse array of projects, among them creating and editing harp parts for guitar virtuoso Steve Vai's 2012 "Story of Light Tour" and coaching legendary harpist Deborah Henson-Conant on their performance; touring as an improviser with France with Marisa C. Hayes and Franck Boulègue of Body Cinéma; and serving as Principal Harp for the Millennium Chamber Players. As a composer, Marta's commissioned pieces include choreographer Elena Demyanenko's Raw Nerves for New York Live Arts, performed by Leah Morrison; Looped, a 30-minute solo dance theatre piece for the Somerset Harp Festival; and Resonnance; a film score for the Festival International de Vidéo Danse de Bourgogne, L'Arc Scène Nationale, Le Creusot, France.
Marta is dedicated to teaching and coaching students of all abilities, from beginners of all ages to professional performers. She currently teaches private students throughout the USA and Canada and mentors an Irish harp pedagogy program of her own design at the Riley School of Irish Music in Ohio. Her students have been recognized with numerous first place and runner up awards at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann as well as at the regional level. At the university level, Marta has worked with harpists and Irish Studies students at Oberlin, NYU, Columbia, Sacred Heart, Evergreen State, and the University of Oregon. She formerly taught at Manhattan's Irish Arts Center.Marta's own training is greatly indebted to pioneering Irish harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh. She studied musicology at the University of Chicago and holds an honors degree in harp performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts under Chicago Symphony/former New York Philharmonic Principal Harpist, Sarah Bullen. Marta is a sponsored artist of William Rees Instruments.
Mickey Dunne – Uilleann Pipes (All Levels)
Mickey Dunne is a member of the Dunne Family, one of the great musical families of Ireland with a heritage stretching back many generations. They have entertained hundreds of thousands of Irish people at Fleadh Ceoils, Munster Finals, Galway Races, Fairs, etc., spanning a half century. The Dunnes played a major part in keeping alive Ireland's musical legacy, and all of them were master players that inspired some of the great exponents of the fiddle who came to prominence in later years
Mickey’s greatest musical influence has been his father Paddy Dunne, who was without question a man ahead of his time in the art of fiddle playing. There are no recordings of Paddy Dunne, but he was a unique musician and master of his art, who encouraged and supported all his family in music. All of Mickey’s brothers were musicians with probably Christy being the most well known as a superb banjo player, and Johnjo who was also a gifted player on banjo/mandolin.
Mickey Dunne is a proud standard bearer of this Irish music dynasty, and together with his two daughters Brid and Niamh, is carrying on a proud tradition. Mickey is life president of the newly formed Thomond Pipers Club in Limerick which has been recently founded after a lapse of 100 years.
Having studied the art of pipe making under the craftsmanship of the legendary Cillian O’Briain, Mickey is now manufacturing top quality chanters, practice sets and reeds in Caherconlish Co Limerick.
Mickey’s first uilleann pipe CD "The Limerick Lassies" has been hailed as a "pipering masterpiece" with copies available from "Na Piopairi Uileann" in Dublin.
Mickey’s style of piping embodies the free flowing travelling style associated with the legendary Johnny Doran, Finbar Furey and Paddy Keenan who have provided Mickey with his inspiration.
Steph Geremia – Flute (Intermediate & Advanced)
Steph Geremia, traditional flautist and singer, is recognized as a vibrant and versatile face on the traditional music scene. She has been described by Irish Music Magazine as “one of the most promising young flute players around” and “an unexpected treasure." Her 2009 debut album, "The Open Road," named as one of Folk World’s "top ten trad albums of 2009," received critical acclaim at home and abroad and has helped establish her as an internationally distinguished flautist.
Steph performs and tours regularly as part of the Alan Kelly Gang. Over the last number of years, she has had the opportunity to perform and teach at top festivals across the globe including: WOMADelaide (Australia), Edmonton Folk Festival (Canada), National Folk Festival (Australia), Winnipeg Folk Festival (Canada), Port Fairy Folk Festival (Australia), Blue Mountains Music Festival (Australia), Milwaukee Irish Festival (USA), Celtic Connections (Scotland), Celtic Colors (Canada), Festival de Cornouaille (France), Festival des Traversées (France), Guinness Irish Festival (Switzerland), Festival of World Cultures (Ireland), Galway Arts Festival (Ireland), Ballyshannon Folk Festival (Ireland) and Cork Folk Festival (Ireland). Plus, a particular highlight was an invitation from legendary Irish rock band, Horslips, to open for them including a performance at Dublin’s O2.
Steph is also a member of the recently formed Swedish, Irish and Scottish super group, Sea Road Sessions, and has toured and guested with critically acclaimed artists including Grammy award winning Chieftains, Eddi Reader, Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonogh (De Dannan), Kris Drever, Ian Carr, and Líadan. In the past, she has worked with prestigious theatre companies from Edinburgh to Galway to the US, including Galway’s An Taibhearc and the New York based, award winning and avant-garde Mabou Mines in their production of Peter and Wendy, on the original score composed by the late Scottish fiddle player, Johnny Cunningham.Though a long-time Irish resident, Steph hails originally from New York where she first began playing traditional music. She left the States in her late teens and began traveling the world over, engrossing herself in different traditions of music learned firsthand from local experts. She studied “world music" in America and worked with people such as the legendary experimental jazz hero, Anthony Braxton. She traveled to India and lived there for several months to study the Bonsuri (North Indian flute) under PT Ginde, disciple of the legendary Panal al Gosh. Steph also lived in Italy in her youth and was greatly influenced by the salsa, jazz and folk scene there. When she was sixteen, she performed as a featured soloist with various youth orchestras in America. She then moved to County Sligo and immersed herself in the Sligo/Roscommon style of flute playing. She was taken under the wing of several of the noted players from that area and spent many years surrounded by great traditional stalwarts, such as Peter Horan, with whom she played with regularly for several years. She holds a masters degree in Traditional Irish Music Performance, which she completed at the University of Limerick and is now based in Galway where she teaches and performs on a regular basis as well as continuing to tour internationally.
James Hamilton – Flute & Whistle (Fundamentals)
James Hamilton comes from Southern California, where he started playing Irish music 20 years ago with the growing West Coast session scene. Mostly self-taught, he learned to play from all the Matt Molloy albums he could get his hands on. He left Los Angeles to join the vibrant community of Irish musicians in Boston, and spent more than a decade playing with many of the finest musicians in New England, New York, and Baltimore. He collaborated regularly with talents like Joey Abarta, Nathan Gourley, Sean Clohessy, and George Keith at the Northeast’s powerhouse sessions, while also teaching flute for Boston’s leading CCE branch. Today, he lives and plays in Austin.
Bríd Harper is an Irish traditional fiddle player from Castlefinn, Co. Donegal and now living near Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. Encouraged by her parents, she grew up learning and playing Irish traditional music with her sisters in the Finn Valley area. With music on both sides of the family she is carrying on the tradition of fiddle playing. She won numerous youth All Ireland titles and other prestigious fiddle awards including the Senior All Ireland, Oireachtas na Gaeilge and Fiddler of Dooney.
Bríd, an MA graduate of the Irish World Academy of Music & Dance at University of Limerick, has toured extensively and has performed with many great musicians including Dermot Byrne, Steve Cooney, Donogh Hennessy, Danny O’Mahony, Arty McGlynn, Harry Bradley, Tony O’Connell, and Cyril O'Donoghue. She has been hailed as one of the leading exponents of traditional fiddle playing of our time. Bríd is highly respected as a teacher and has tutored at many summer schools and workshops throughout Ireland and in France, Holland and the USA. Her first solo CD was released in 2015 and has enjoyed much success to date.
Bríd teaches fiddle at all levels and has extensive experience over many years both in class and one-on-one scenarios. Past teaching venues include Fiddle Week Glencolmcille, Co. Donegal; Scoil Éigse (CCE); Irish Arts Week, Catskills, NY; Fiddlers Farm, Niedorp, Holland; Joe Mooney Summer School, Drumshambo, Co Leitrim; Café Concert, Toucouleur, Brittany, France.
Shannon Heaton – Whistle (Intermediate & Advanced)
Boston-based Irish flute/whistle player Shannon Heaton has been heralded as one of North America's finest traditional musicians. She was named 2016 Traditional Arts Fellow by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Live Ireland 2010 and 2011 Female Artist of the Year, and Irish American News 2009 Female Musician of the Year.
Heaton performs with her duo Matt and Shannon Heaton; with her innovative "After the Morning" project (chamber folk for Irish traditional flute/voice and string quartet); and also offers intimate solo concerts, which often begin with a workshop. She is a warm, entertaining performer and excels at making Irish music relevant and accessible to a wide variety of audiences. Since 2008, she has offered a free Tune of the Month series for fellow musicians learning tunes. Her newest venture is the podcast "Irish Music Stories," the show about traditional music, and the much bigger humanist stories behind it.
Alan Kelly – Piano Accordion (All Levels)
Described by New York’s Irish Voice as “in league with the best piano accordionists in the world," Alan Kelly is regarded as one of Ireland’s most accomplished musicians in any genre. He is a piano accordionist, composer and arranger, utterly at home in his own skin. Though Alan hails from the rich traditional musical landscape of Roscommon in the west of Ireland, variety in repertoire is one of his hallmarks. To date, he has released three critically acclaimed solo albums: "Out of The Blue" (1997), “Mosaic" (2000) and "After the Morning" (2009) which was named as one of the "top ten musical highs of 2009" by the Irish Times, which gave it a coveted 5 star review and described it as a "humdinger of a collection." He has also released a critically acclaimed duet album with his brother John, “Fourmilehouse" (2003) and his most recent Alan Kelly Gang albums, "Small Towns” and "Famous Nights" (2011) and "The Last Bell" (2014).
Alan is truly one of the busiest performers on the traditional and folk music scene, touring and recording with artists such as: Eddi Reader, Arty McGlynn & Nollaig Casey, Michael McGoldrick, Kris Drever, Karan Casey, Cathal Hayden, De Dannan, Lúnasa, and Alison Brown. He has contributed to a number of theatre productions from Boston to Edinburgh to Sydney working with prestigious award winning theatre companies such as Galway’s Druid Theatre Co., The Lyric in Belfast, and Mabou Mines in New York.
His critically acclaimed 1997 debut album "Out of the Blue" exploded onto the traditional scene with such impact that he is generally credited with "making the piano accordion hip again." During this time he also recorded and toured with Mancunian, Michael McGoldrick on his groundbreaking albums "Morning Rory" (1996) and “Fused" (1999). Also in 1999 Alan toured with music Network’s "Best of Irish" nationwide tour performing alongside such heavyweights as Cathal Hayden, Karan Casey and Michael McGoldrick.
July 2000 saw the release of Kelly’s second solo album “Mosaic." Produced by Arty McGlynn, Mosaic’s South American rhythms and cinematic jazz feel brought Alan’s music to a whole new audience. It showed not just what a good writer he is, but the breadth of his musical imagination. “Mosaic" was voted one of the "top ten trad albums" by both the Irish Times and Hot Press magazine. Irish Music magazine also nominated "Mosaic" for "Best Crossover album" of the year alongside Solas, Afro-Celts, and Sharon Shannon. Alan Kelly and the Mosaic Band quickly established itself as one of the hottest live acts on the Irish scene with its exciting blend of traditional, salsa and jazz rhythms, and propelled Alan onto the world music stage.
In 2003, Alan returned to his Roscommon roots and released the beautifully forthright and traditional “Fourmilehouse," with his brother John, which received critical acclaim both at home and abroad and continued to pave the way for festival and concert appearances all over the world. For the last decade he has been touring the globe as a member of the Scottish songstress Eddi Reader’s band and promoting his own group, the Alan Kelly Gang.A genuine musician, Alan’s playful, experimental approach to music has been described as magical, joyous and uplifting… always performed with flair and taste. Alan doesn’t just play the accordion, he celebrates it in a way that draws you into the passion he puts into the music he plays.
James Kelly – Fiddle (Advanced)
James Kelly, a native of Ireland, is one of the finest Irish traditional fiddlers of our time. Born in Dublin, James grew up listening to and playing traditional Irish music. His father, John Kelly, the renowned fiddle and concertina player from Co. Clare, began teaching James to play at the age of 3. James' father was also a founding member, with Sean O'Riada, of "Ceoltoiri Cualann", a traditional group that, in many ways, was responsible for the modern revival of Irish Music. James' love of the music and his ability as a player launched, at age 14, his performing and recording career with several broadcasts for R.T.E. (Irish National Radio and T.V.).
At the age of 16, he won first place in the prestigious Fiddler of the Year competition and he also recorded his first album, a fiddle duet with his brother John. During that time, he joined the group Ceoltoiri Leigheann (Leinster Musicians), that included his father John, Paddy O'Brien, Mary Bergin, and Paddy Glackin. He recorded two albums with this group before emigrating to the U.S. in 1978. He spent the next three years touring the U.S with Paddy O'Brien and Daithi Sproule and recorded two albums for Shanachie records.
James has toured Europe, the U.S., Canada and South America and was a member of many groups, including: Kinvara (Dolores Keane, John Faulkner, Jackie Daly); Bowhand (with Paddy O'Brien and Dáithi Sproule, later with Paddy and Bernie Mc Donald); Patrick Street (Kevin Burke, Andy Irvine, Gerry O Beirne, Triona Ni Domhnaill and Declan Masterson); and the legendary Irish folk group, Planxty (Liam Flynn, Andy Irvine, Dolores Keane, Bill Whelan, Arty McGlynn). He has also appeared with the Grammy award winning Irish group The Chieftains. He received the prestigious “Florida Folk Heritage Award” as well as the “Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Folk Arts Award” in recognition of his art. In 2006 James received Irish music’s highest award - the “Gradam Ceoil TG4 Irish Musician of the Year Award ” in recognition of his outstanding musicianship and contributions to Irish music (TG4 is Ireland’s Irish language TV station).
In addition to his performing career, James has composed over 1500 tunes and has considerable experience in teaching Irish music. He established weekly fiddle classes at Na Piobairi Uilleann (the Piper's Club) in Dublin in the early 1980’s. He has taught for many years and continues to teach at the prestigious Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare Ireland as a master fiddle teacher and has participated in the student-teacher program sponsored by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, giving fiddle exhibitions. He has twice been awarded grants to teach as a master artist in the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Program, and these days James also teaches via the internet. In the field of research, he was a co-worker with the late Breandan Breathnach, the great authority on Irish music, in compiling his complete index (over 10,000) of traditional Irish dance tunes. In 1983, James wrote a review of a publication on Sligo fiddle styles in the Irish journal “Ceol."
Although he has played and recorded with some of Ireland's premier folk groups, it is as a solo performer that James has made his reputation. Two of the major influences on his playing are the Clare and Sligo styles, named for two counties in Ireland long famous for their fiddle traditions. The Clare style is even-flowing and highly ornamented, while the Sligo style, though equally ornamented, is bouncier. These influences along with many others have helped create a style which, to the ears of aficionados, is unmistakably James’ own.James recently released his third solo CD entitled “Melodic Journeys” and is compiling his compositions for publication, as well as recording an instructional DVD for fiddle students. James continues to tour the U.S., Canada and Europe with some of Irish music’s leading accompanists.
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John Liestman – Mandolin/Tenor Banjo (Fundamentals)
John Liestman has been playing Irish traditional music on the tenor banjo and mandolin for over 30 years. He taught mandolin and tenor banjo several years at the prestigious O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat and at the St Louis Tionol and is an instructor with the Houston School of Irish Music.
Over the years he has been a member of Terry and the Pirates, Claddagh (featuring Olcan Masterson), Fish and Chips, and the Texas Chainsaw Ceili Band, and is the loudest mandolinist in the Houston Irish sessions. John also plays the uilleann pipes, with which he opened the 2009 Houston International Festival (celebrating Ireland). He incorporates his own piping experience and the sounds of fiddles, harps and banjos into his mandolin and tenor banjo playing at every opportunity.
Billy McComiskey – Button Accordion (All Levels)
In September 2016, Billy McComiskey received the National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts. This award is the highest honor presented to a traditional artist in the United States.
Billy is a world-renowned accordion, or “box” player and composer who was taught by the great Sean McGlynn, a master of the East Galway style of Irish traditional music. It is also known as the Slieve Aughty style, named after the mountains that cross Counties Galway and Clare. McComiskey explained, “The music is slower and steadier than other styles, and the tunes are extremely well thought out—it’s stately music and very round, particularly the grace notes.”
McComiskey was born in 1951 in Brooklyn, New York, to a family steeped in Irish music and dance. It was a home where recordings of the great Flanagan Brothers, the McNulty Family, and Joe Derrane often played, and in a region to which masters in Irish fiddle, accordion, flute, tin whistle, and dance immigrated. He notes that it was through early 20th-century New York, and its network of musicians, that Irish traditional music was brought from more informal settings to the performance stage. Each summer, Irish musicians and dancers from northern cities would congregate in the foothills of the Catskills Mountains north of the city, a place significant to McComiskey’s musical growth. His godfather owned a popular pub in Cairo, and his uncle brought together the legendary Mary Bergin, Joe Cooley, Larry Redican, Andy McGann, Charlie Mulvihill, and Sean McGlynn to regularly perform. McGlynn played his Paolo Soprani accordion for 14-year-old McComiskey, a moment, he recalled, that felt like a “horse kicking my head.” He then became McGlynn’s “sidekick,” learning intricate fingering and phrasing techniques. During the 1970s and ‘80s, McComiskey won gold and silver in the prestigious All-Ireland musical competitions in solo accordion and in duets with the renowned fiddler, Brendan Mulvihill (son of 1984 National Heritage Fellow, Martin Mulvihill).
In the mid-1970s, McComiskey, Mulvihill, and guitarist Andy O’Brien were invited to play a weekend gig at the Dubliner in Washington, DC by Lou Thompson and Peggy Reardon, who were interested in growing an Irish music community in the region. Soon after, McComiskey played at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival during the U.S. Bicentennial, and after meeting his future wife, Annie, they settled in Baltimore. Over several decades, McComiskey has played an integral role in building the now thriving Baltimore-DC Irish traditional music scene, connecting the deep legacy of the Slieve Aughty traditions of New York to the region. Through to today, he teaches musicians all over the world, as well as in his home state, as a master through the Maryland Traditions apprenticeship program. He won the Irish Echo’s Album of the Year for his 2008 Outside the Box and was their 2011 Traditional Artist of the Year. He has been invited to share his outstanding talents at the White House, the Kennedy Center, and throughout the U.S., Ireland, and beyond. Photo by Marianne Mangan.
Pay Murphy – Set Dancing (All Levels)
Pat Murphy is an accordion player and renowned Set Dancing Master from Upperchurch, County Tipperary. His first contact with set dancing happened in his own home where his father Jack played the accordion, and often the Ballycommon and Castle sets were danced. In the early 1980’s Pat got actively involved in teaching and reviving sets. With his wonderful demeanor and teaching style, his reputation soon spread, and he was invited to teach set dancing all over the world. He has lead workshops in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and practically every country in Europe.
He is the author of four books on Set Dancing: “Toss the Feathers”, "The Flowing Tide", "Apples in Winter" and “Tabhair Dom Do Lámh" and has produced several DVDs containing set and two-hand dance instruction. Pat is passionate about spreading the dances and ensuring that they are not lost again, as happened in previous times.
Alan Murray – Bouzouki (All Levels)
Alan Murray hails from Glasgow, Scotland, where he was introduced to the tinwhistle at an early age. He eventually turned to the guitar as his primary instrument, and later expanded his arsenal to include the bouzouki. Alan studied instrument building and repair in Glasgow for two years, after which he moved to the US to further pursue his musical career. He was soon playing and recording with some of the best musicians on the New York Irish scene and was featured on 2012’s INDIE-nominated Manhattan Island Sessions recording.
He has taught at the Catskills Irish Arts Week and Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and appeared at such well-known events as Denmark’s Tonder Festival, Milwaukee Irish Fest and Celtic Connections. He has shared the stage with such artists as Karan Casey, Niall and Cillian Vallely, Eileen Ivers and Scotland’s Battlefield Band, and has toured extensively across Ireland, Britain, Europe, Australia and the United States.
Brendan Nolan – Singing (All Levels)
Brendan Nolan is a true Dubliner. He grew up in Ireland at a time when there was a resurgence of interest in Irish music and when the singer-songwriter boom had taken off in North America. Both of these genres would ultimately influence his own music.
After starting out in the vibrant Dublin Ballad scene, he moved to Canada in 1979. He made his mark in Montreal where he was the "House Performer" for a 14-year run at the Old Dublin Pub. It was voted most popular pub in the city by the Montreal Mirror. While in Canada he headlined concerts at acoustic venues and performed at festivals that included the Winnipeg, London Home County, Miramichi, and Lunenburg Folk Harbour Fest. Quebec holds a special place in his heart as demonstrated through some of his songs.
Brendan's song-writing skills denote a deep sensitivity. He has a gift for storytelling. One of his songs, "North of the Rio Grande," was published in a school textbook in Norway. Another, "Far from their Home," is in the National Archives of Ireland and National Library of Canada. It tells a harrowing story about Grosse Isle, an island burial ground in the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City for victims of the Irish Famine. The song was published in Sing Out! magazine.
Brendan is based in St. Pete Beach, Florida where he has lived since 1993. He has been featured several times on WMNF "Live" in Tampa. He has played at many festivals in Florida, among them, the Sertoma Ranch Celtic Festival, Florida Folk Festival, Gamble Rogers Fest, and Wings and Strings. He has been a headliner on three occasions at the North Texas Irish Festival and also played the Milwaukee Irish Festival, Jackson Mississippi Celtic Fest, Savannah, and Kansas City, among others.
Brendan has eight albums to his credit. The latest recording "Live at the Side Door,” recorded at the Palladium in St. Petersburg Florida in April 2013, is a double CD. It also features the excellent Colin Farrell on fiddle and whistles. The songs range from the dramatic to the comical. His sense of humor comes through in his composition "The Butcher of Killarney Street," a song about a boyhood visit to the dentist. Brendan also performs some songs in Gaelic.
One of his studio albums, "Where Do I Go From Here," was very well received by audiences and critics alike. The CD was mostly a showcase of original work. Stand-out songs include the title track 'Where Do I Go From Here' and 'Old Ned', a story about the last milk-cart in Dublin city. "Across The Great Divide." is mainly a concept album on Emigration. Other recordings include "Song Brook," "Familiar Brew," "Tempus Fugitive," "Southern Sunset," and " Last Night."
Brendan's interest in history as well as his musical talent makes him a perfect host for tours to his native Ireland. His most recent tour took place in October 2015. More information is available through his website: http://www.brendannolan.com
Tony O'Connell – Anglo Concertina (Intermediate & Advanced)
Tony O'Connell began to play music at the age of eight. He hails from Glin in West Limerick and has strong family ties to Brosna in County Kerry, where he now lives. Tony is a self-taught concertina player and won his first All-Ireland title at age 13. He went on to win the under-18 titles for three consecutive years and then brought home the prestigious senior all-Ireland title at the age of 18. His distinctive yet traditional style can be described as a steady pulsating rhythm – characteristic for the west of Ireland – while he sets himself apart from other players due to his melodic and harmonic variations, polyphonic playing and his strong dynamic expression.
As a professional musician, Tony has toured Europe, Asia and America, and has collaborated with some of the most acknowledged players from within the Irish music tradition. He recorded his debut album in 2005 with Leitrim fiddle player Andy Morrow accompanied on guitar by Arty McGlynn. This album was voted number two in the Irish Echo 'Ceol' column's albums of the year and is surely one of the best traditional duo-albums ever recorded. During this time, Tony was based in Limerick City and also taught concertina at the University of Limerick. Three years after his debut he went on to record a second album with legendary fiddle player Ben Lennon, who hails from Co. Leitrim. This album is called “Rossinver Braes” after one of his brother Charlie Lennon's original tunes featured on the recording. Both albums have had great reviews and acknowledgements throughout the Irish traditional music world since their release.
Tony's recent project “Rooska Hill” with the West Limerick flute player Eamonn O´Riordan brings his music back home to the southwest of Ireland. It was released in 2015 and it holds an interesting blend of concertina and flute, accompanied by Arty McGlynn as well as Gearóid Ó Duinnín on guitar and Brian Mooney on bouzouki. It has been named the “TradConnect Album of the Year 2015” and it has been described by Antoine Ó Coilean of Gael Linn as “The holy grail of traditional music.”
Brian Ó hAirt – Anglo Concertina (Fundamentals)
Brian Ó hAirt's style of concertina playing reflects his love of West Galway, where he spent a good deal of his formative years involved with the Irish language and music community of southern Conamara--a district with its fair share of melodeon players, singers, and dancers. Understandably, his style mimics much of the phrasing, lift, and drive of melodeon music while clearly influenced by the concertina playing so prevalent in neighboring Co. Clare. His style can be understated and yet at times ornate--reflective of his experience as a sean-nós dancer and singer. Also a gifted button accordionist and whistle player, Brian creates a unique "blended" style that engages both listens and dancers alike.
Devin Shepherd – Fiddle (Fundamentals)
Devin Shepherd began learning the fiddle at an early age and soon became enamored with Irish music, which was nurtured by his mother who immersed him in the deep-rooted Irish music scene of his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Devin was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Master-Apprentice grant to study with Liz Carroll when he was 12 years old. During this formative period he won first prize in the Midwest Fleadh Cheoil fiddle competition for nine consecutive years—another testament to his dedication to the tradition.
hepherd learned much about the styles and repertoire of Chicago by playing with many native-born musicians including Phil Durkin, Frank Burke, Albert Neary, Pat Cloonan, and Úna McGlew. As a young fiddler, he was also inspired by the music and teaching of James Kelly. Most recently he has enriched his style through recordings of legendary fiddlers Bobby Casey, Michael Coleman, John Doherty, and Paddy Cronin.
Since 2000, Devin has been a full-time teacher and performer of Irish music throughout the US and abroad and currently resides in New York City—another highly respected community for Irish traditional music.
Dáithí Sproule – DADGAD Guitar (All Levels)
Dáithí Sproule, a native of Derry who has lived for many years in Minnesota, is one of Irish music’s most respected guitar accompanists and one of the first guitarists to develop DADGAD tuning for Irish music. He is also a fine singer in English and Irish.
Dáithí started out his career in the influential group, Skara Brae, with Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and his sisters, Tríona and Maighread. A member of the internationally renowned Irish band Altan, Dáithí has performed and recorded with many great traditional Irish musicians, including James Kelly, Paddy O’Brien, Liz Carroll, Billy McComiskey, Tommy Peoples, Seamus and Manus McGuire, Randal Bays, James Keane, the Kane Sisters, and Dermy and Tara Diamond. He also performs and records with Minnesota-based musicians Laura MacKenzie, Peter Ostroushko, Jode and Kate Dowling, Dean Magraw, Norah Rendell and Brian Miller.
Dáithí released his first solo album in 1995, “A Heart Made of Glass,” with songs in English and Irish. In 2008 he released an instrumental guitar album, “The Crow In the Sun," featuring thirteen original compositions. “Lost River, Vol. 1” followed in 2011, with songs in English and Irish, arranged and accompanied on guitar, with a stellar line-up of guests.
Dáithí’s original compositions have been recorded by Skara Brae, the Bothy Band, Altan, Trian, Liz Carroll, Aoife Clancy, Loreena McKennitt, the RTE Concert Orchestra, 10,000 Maniacs, and others. His song, “The Death of Queen Jane," was featured in the 2013 Coen brothers film, “Inside Llewyn Davis."
In addition to performing and recording, Dáithí is a sought-after teacher and lecturer on subjects ranging from guitar styles, song accompaniment, and Irish traditional music to Irish language, literature and mythology. He has taught at University College Dublin, the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas, and is an instructor at the Center for Irish Music in St. Paul. He is a 2009 recipient of a Bush Artist Fellowship from the Minnesota-based Archibald Bush Foundation.
Cara Wildman – Bodhrán (Fundamentals)
Cara Wildman is a seasoned percussionist and bodhrán player that hails from Dorchester, Texas. Cara’s talents have led her to perform in a variety of musical ensembles and genres around the world including in Puerto Rico, Argentina, Ireland, and across the United States. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in music education from Texas Christian University, continuing on to complete a second master's in Irish Traditional Music Performance from the University of Limerick, graduating with honors.
While in Limerick she was fortunate to study with bodhrán greats Jim Higgins, Eamon Murray, Colm Murphy, Martin O’Neill, Colm Phelan, Cormac Byrne, and Junior Davey. Dónal Lunny describes Cara’s playing as having “great taste, which bespeaks an overview of the music and her part in it...the development of the bodhrán is an exciting work in progress. I think Cara is at the front edge of this development, and I suspect her musical talent extends well beyond her brilliant playing of the bodhrán.”
Cara has taught in a variety of educational settings including: director of percussion for the The B Sharp Youth Music Program, front ensemble consultant in Keller ISD, and private percussion instruction/freelancing in the DFW area. Cara is an active teacher, adjudicator, and performer, and spends her free time fishing and riding her horse Rocket at the 5W Ranch in Dorchester.
OTHER INSTRUCTORS & WORKSHOP PRESENTERS
Clare Cason – Anything BUT Jigs & Reels
Clare Adkins Cason began violin studies at the age of 4, having been born into a family of musicians. She attended the University of North Texas, where she was chosen as Outstanding Undergraduate in Music. Presently she holds leadership positions in the Sherman Symphony, East Texas Symphony, and the Dallas Bach Society. Teaching, however, has been her chief enthusiasm, and in addition to maintaining an active private studio for seventeen years, she is the author of the thirteen-volume Mountain Road series for violin and viola students. In the last few years, she has also enjoyed having the opportunity to learn more about Irish music, and to share the fun of it with her students of all ages. Clare is also currently serving as co-director of the O'Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp, the Musical Director of the North Texas School of Irish Music of which is one of the founders, and is a member of the TIMES Band & Session Players and an avid Irish ceili and set dancer.
Janis Deane – Learning by Ear and Vocal Health for Singers
Janis Deane, M.Ed., CCC-SLP has been playing Irish flute/whistle for 35 years and played with the bands Mad Sweeny and Tir Na Nogh in North Carolina and Ohio respectively. She currently performs with the TIMES Band & Session Players. Recording credits include Morning Star, Transilience and Confluence with husband Christopher Deane on the Quiet Hall Music label, and Music from Trinity Hall with the Trinity Hall Session Players.
Janis is the Chief of Speech Pathology at the UT Southwestern Medical Voice Center where she treats patients with voice disorders ranging from professional singers and broadcasters to those with head and neck cancer. She is a classically trained soprano and provides vocal health education to Choir programs, University Vocal programs, and schools of broadcasting.
Paul Dryer – Playing Irish Harmonica
Guitarist Paul Dryer is no stranger to diverse music styles. Over the past 40 years, Paul has played in jazz, bluegrass, rock and gospel bands and numerous vocal groups. Originally from Kentucky, Paul has lived in the Dallas area since the early 1960's. He also plays mandolin, banjo, harmonica, whistle and Irish flute with the Dallas band 5 Second Rule, and appears regularly with the TIMES Band & Session Players. He is currently president of the Traditional Irish Music Education Society (TIMES) and manages its products booth at the retreat and area festivals. He teaches both guitar and mandolin at the North Texas School of Irish Music and has taught guitar at the O'Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp..
Niamh Fahy – Melody Player for Guitar Classes
Niamh Fahy’s passion for everything musical has been apparent since a young age. Originally from Ireland and now living in Austin, Texas, Niamh learned her trade from renowned fiddle player Antoin MacGabhann, in her native County Meath.
Niamh’s love of music has afforded her the chance to carve out a career both as a soloist and ensemble player. For 5 years Niamh toured extensively with Riverdance. Niamh has also worked with Indian dohl drumming outfit The Dohl Foundation, John Williams, Project West, Donal Lunny, The Chieftans and Women of Ireland to name but a few.
Prior to moving to Austin Niamh lived in London for three years where she established a career as a session musician, both live and recording, while also completing a masters in Music Therapy. Niamh now runs remote string recording business StringPress, providing string compositions and arrangements for bands and soloists around the world while also composing custom music for TV, film and web.
Niamh has become an active member of the Irish music scene in Austin, playing with The Here & Now and teaching at the well known Fiddler’s Green, where she holds regular classes for young musicians. Niamh is looking forward to providing melodies for Daithi Sproule at O’ Flaherty’s Irish Music Retreat.
Michelle Feldman – Getting Comfortable Playing Music Around Others
Michelle Feldman has over 20 years of Irish fiddling experience. Her driving style powers many of 5SR’s dance sets, although she is equally at home adding a wistful phrase to a ballad or spicing up a bluegrass tune. Michelle is also a songwriter and has performed with many groups in the past, including Idle Road and Gallus. She can be heard regularly on weekend afternoons with the TIMES Band & Session Players.
Susan & Michael Harrison – Ceili Dance Workshop AND Ceili Callers
Michael and Susan Harrison met as Celtic dancers performing at Scarborough Faire in 1989. When Riverdance brought Irish dancing into the cultural spotlight, they found not only that Irish dancing was taught in Dallas but that it's never too late to learn. In 1997 they joined the Emerald School of Irish Dance in Dallas and over the next 12 years they studied and performed at local festivals including the North Texas Irish Festival (NTIF). During a 2001 trip to Ireland they fell in love with Irish set dancing. They travel to study and dance sets at workshops in North America and Ireland whenever possible. Susan is a certified Irish ceili dance teacher, having obtained her TMRF certification from An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha in 2007. Since 2002, they have taught dance classes and called ceilis at area rec centers, pubs, private parties, the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, the O'Flaherty Youth Camp, and NTIF. They regularly teach traditional Irish ceili, set and other social dances in the Dallas area and call the monthly dances at Trinity Hall Irish Pub.
Therese Honey – O'Carolan Tunes Played Slowly
Therese Honey began her harp studies at age seven with Houston Symphony harpist Beatrice Rose, with whom she studied for thirteen years. This childhood fascination with the harp has blossomed into an exciting and successful career as a professional harpist, recording artist and teacher.
Therese presents concerts and workshops across the United States and Canada. She has performed as solo harpist with the Chieftains and has been featured at the Chicago Irish Fetival, the Milwaukee Irish Festival and at the annual Carolan Festival in Keadue, Co. Roscommon. In Texas, she has been a frequent performer at the North Texas Irish Festival, the Sherwood Celtic Music Festival, and O'Flaherty's Irish Music Retreat. She is a two time first-place winner of the Gulf Coast Celtic Harp Competition. She researches and performs Irish, Scottish, Medieval and Renaissance music on various harps in her collection of a dozen instruments.
A Waterbug recording artist, Ms. Honey has released four solo recordings. She also records and performs with Wyndnwyre, the Texas Early Music Project, Istanpitta, and Utopia Early Music. She has published several books of harp arrangements of Irish and Scottish Music. She has an active harp studio in Houston and is a registered Suzuki harp instructor.
Alli Johnson – Gaelic Singing and More Gaelic Singing
Alli Johnson received an early start in her music education. She comes from a family of musicians and was singing harmonies with her mother and siblings for as long as she can remember. A member of several performance choirs and ensembles throughout her youth, by the age of 16, Alli began performing professionally, singing and playing guitar in venues around the Dallas area. Since then, she's worked as a demo singer and played in numerous bands, largely focusing on acoustic-driven music.
In 2013, she became the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the popular Celtic group The Selkie Girls. In 2015, the critically-acclaimed Selkies were honored to win a Celtic Radio Music Award for their version of "The Gaelic Song." The Selkie Girls have been featured performers at premier festivals throughout the state of Texas, such as the Austin Celtic Festival, San Antonio Highland Games, Texas Scottish Festival, and North Texas Irish Festival.
In addition to her work with the Selkies, her vocals have been featured on several instructional publications for Hal Leonard Corporation, including Guitar for Kids - Book 2, Ukulele for Kids, Bass for Kids, and How to Record at Home on a Budget. She has recently accepted a position with the North Texas School of Irish Music as the new director for their Gaelic Youth and Festival Choruses.
John Liestman – Instrument Petting Zoo and Retreat Tunes Played Slowly
John Liestman has been playing Irish traditional music on the tenor banjo, mandolin, and uilleann pipes for over 30 years. He taught mandolin in 2011, 2012 and 2015 at the prestigious O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, at the 2015 St Louis Tionol, and is an instructor with the Houston School of Irish Music.
Over the years he has been a member of Terry and the Pirates, Claddagh (featuring Olcan Masterson), Fish and Chips, and the Texas Chainsaw Ceili Band, and is the loudest mandolinist in the Houston Irish sessions. John also plays the uilleann pipes, with which he opened the 2009 Houston International Festival (celebrating Ireland) and played for the Mayor’s Black Tie Gala while various Irish and American dignitaries sipped their tea. He incorporates his own piping experience and the sounds of fiddles, harps and banjos into his mandolin and tenor banjo playing at every opportunity.
Gordon McLeod – Home Recording Studio Fundamentals
Gordon McLeod has been performing professionally on fiddle for over thirty years. He has a special love for traditional Irish music and has been a regular instructor of Irish fiddle workshops and classes at the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, the O’Flaherty Irish Music Youth Camp (of which he is also the co-director) and at various festival workshops.
Gordon is a founding member of the Celtic group Beyond The Pale as well as the Celtic ensemble The Aisling String Trio and performs regularly with these groups as well as the TIMES Band & Session Players. Gordon has been associated with the Traditional Irish Music Education Society (TIMES) since its inception and is a former President of that group. He has performed throughout much of the USA as well as in Ireland and France.
Gordon has studied traditional Irish fiddling in Ireland at The University of Limerick’s Blas summer school, been a long time participant at The Willie Clancy School of Irish Music in County Clare, Ireland and has a special interest in the Sliabh Luachra regional style of Irish music. Gordon also enjoys playing many other styles of music and on other instruments including the guitar and is a professional recording engineer and producer.
Tenesa Rasmussen -- Irish Modes Made Easy
Tenesa Rasmussen holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from SMU. She is a retired Choir Director, having directed high school and college choirs for 18 years. She also taught college level Music Theory, Music History, Functional Piano, Musical Theatre, and Vocal Technique. She was a Certified Sibelius music software trainer for 5 years. Rasmussen piloted the first Music Technology Lab in Dallas ISD, where she created curriculum and taught guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, composition, stage performance, and computer applications. She also wrote the Curriculum Guides for all Vocal Ensembles in DISD. Rasmussen served as Artistic Director of the premiere international touring children’s choir, Younger Generation Chorus of Plano, for 12 years.
Tenesa began studying harp with Rebekah Passmore 10 years ago as a personal therapy to help relieve stress. Harp soon became a passion. She has participated in workshops with Grainne Hambly, Michael Rooney, Cormack DeBarra, Rebekah Passmore and Sue Richards. She currently teaches in her home studio and plays with the Collin County College harp ensemble.
Kendall Rogers -- The Piano Accompaniment of Irish Music and Ceili Band Member
Toar Schell –There's An App for That!: Software Applications and Mobile Apps that Make Learning Tunes Easy
Toar Schell does not read music, so he has overcome this limitation by delving into the various technologies available to learn Irish tunes by ear (that included slowing the turntable down with his thumb on his old Bothy Band albums - and no, that won't be covered in class -- it takes too long to tell kids what a turntable is). He and technology have come a long way since then. When ABC file formats became available he wrote computer programs to extract and collate large tune collections so that he could see them in tablature: a play by numbers format that is much more intuitive for non music readers. He owns several banjos and thus gets to occasionally hang out with musicians, which he does at the J. Gilligan's session on Tuesday nights in Arlington TX. He is also a member of the TIMES Band & Session Players.
Ian Varley -- Supercharge Your Tune Learning
Ian Varley is a native of New York, and has made Austin TX his home for the last ten years. His day job is writing software, but he's been a semi-professional musician since childhood, playing piano and organ in many local and touring bands over the years. A recent convert to both Piano Accordion and trad Irish music, Ian's background in the study of psychology and memory helped him learn hundreds of tunes in his first year, and he wants to show you how you can do likewise.
Shaddow Walter -- Sound Production Fundamentals for Traditional Irish Music
Shaddow Walter is a musician who hates bad sound. He stumbled into sound engineering by watching and coiling cable for Paul Wilson and Jeff Burdge at Tipperary Inn. Later he got mixed up with Ravens as the backup engineer. After a time their manager, realizing his hands were overflowing, delegated primary sound duties to Shaddow. Then Spriggan was hatched and he started building the system that would support them throughout the tenure of the band taking many queues for his mobile system from his work with David Glass Sound Systems at the North Texas Irish Festival and the Texas Scottish Festival. You can see him annually with ShaddowFire Sound at NTIF at Urchin Street outfitting and working the Margaret Harkness and Story Glen stages. Here at O'Flaherty's Irish Music Retreat he lends his talents to the mini-concerts at meal time.
David Polacheck – Song Sessions
David Polacheck was born into an urban household that celebrated traditional folk music. His father, Charles Polacheck, was a member of one of the first of the city folk music groups, the Almanac Singers, during the 1930’s. When David was a child, his father would share a repertoire of folk songs with the family, and singing along was the norm. Growing up with the recordings of Pete Seeger, Leadbelly and the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, David took up the five string banjo at the age of fifteen and the whistle even earlier.
His enthusiasm and activity as a folk musician has increased over the years, and he has added concertina to his instruments as well as a specially designed seven string banjo, which presents new sounds and possibilities to his dance tune and song performances.
In 1974, David was the founding president of the Austin Friends of Traditional Music, one of the first 501 (c) (3) community organizations in Texas dedicated to the promotion and preservation of traditional folk music. The AFTM is still in operation today and has cosponsored one of David’s most unique projects-the Stone Soup Sessions, a session where all types of folk music are welcomed with songs and tunes in the same space. David is also the facilitator/leader of the Celtic Song Session at Things Celtic, an Austin purveyor of Celtic merchandise.