This week’s best shows in traditional music

Mel Mercier and the remarkable Irish Gamelan orchestra at UL, Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan and more

New Road, McGarrigles, Sligo. Photograph: Colin Gillen/framelight.ie

New Road, McGarrigles, Sligo. Photograph: Colin Gillen/framelight.ie

 

Saturday 15


The Three Forges: New Compositions for Javanese Gamelan
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick 8pm €20/€15 irishworldacademy.ie
As the International Council of Traditional Music gathers in the University of Limerick, Mel Mercier steers the remarkable Irish Gamelan orchestra through a rich repertoire of original music across a wide range of genres. Among a host of guest musicians, dancers and spoken word artists taking part, watch out for the sublime singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, saxophonist Nick Roth, sarode player Matthew Noone and singer-songwriter Kathleen Turner.

This is music for a wide open canvas, welcoming and challenging at the same time. The Gamelan, made to order in Central Java, and delivered to UL in 2016, was christened ‘Fragrant Flower’ by master gong-smith Pak Saroyo. For anyone with a yen for complex and deliciously sensual percussion, this promises to be a gem of an evening.

New Road
Upstairs, McGarrigles, Sligo 10pm €15 cairdefestival.com
Irish traditional, Appalachian old-time, blues and beyond. In 2013, Leonard Barry brought together a group of extraordinary musicians to join him on his album of the same name. They are: Rick Epping, Seamie O’Dowd and Andy Morrow. Since then, they’ve recorded another album together as a foursome, and have brought their distinctive take on their most visceral collection of music to audiences near and far. Epping’s low key, Californian nonchalance belies a superb harmonica player and writer, while Seamie O’Dowd’s innate feel for the blues (and for Rory Gallagher in particular) brings a keen edge to the mix. Barry’s spiky, charismatic piping punctuates New Road’s sound with a mighty devil-may-care attitude, while Morrow’s fiddle provides a welcome anchor to the whole proceedings. Theirs is a music ideally suited to this late-night festival setting.

Tuesday 18


Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan
Curtis Theatre, Cork School of Music 8pm €10 munsterfleadh.ie
Opening sessionn in this year’s Munster Fleadh brings together a fiddle and accordion duo who epitomise the Sliabh Luachra regional style: Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly: two musicians who glory in one another’s company and bring just the right mix of finesse and wild unpredictability to the polkas and slides of the Rushy Glen. Also joining them tonight are Cork troubadour Jimmy Crowley and Mairtín De Cogáin. Throughout this almost week-long gathering, there will be historical walking tours of Cork city, storytelling and sean nós dancing workshops and a plethora of music sessions and workshops. Other guests include Seán ó Sé, Jack Talty and Bryan O’Leary, grandson of the late, inimitable Johnny O’Leary: a man whose tunebook was limitless.

Thursday 20


Zoë Conway and John McIntyre with Shaháb and Sháyán Coohe
National Opera House, Wexford 8pm €20 nationaloperahouse.ie
Catching husband and wife fiddle/guitar duo (below) on their own is a guaranteed treat: their intimate acquaintance not only with Irish traditional music, but with jazz and roots music, not to mention Conway’s own tune compositions and those written for them by the likes of Máirtín O’Connor and Steve Cooney all add up to a deeply satisfying musical encounter.

Tonight’s programme promises something intriguing, with Iranian-born, Dublin resident brothers Shaháb and Sháyán Coohe, who play santoor (a trapezoid-shaped stringed instrument), tombak (a percussion instrument) and tar (a plucked string instrument which pre-dates the lute and guitar). Some magical moments in time guaranteed. 

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