The Chieftains remain the only Irish traditional act to win official Grammys, and one of their six awards was for "Long Journey Home" (BMG) as best traditional folk album of 1998. It features Limerick-born Mick Moloney singing "Muldoon the Solid Man," which he had previously recorded with Derry fiddler Eugene O'Donnell on their 1984 album, "Uncommon Bonds" (Green Linnet).
That song was written in 1874 by Ed Harrigan of Harrigan and Hart fame and became a music hall standard in the late 19th century. It is also evidence of Mick Moloney's longstanding fascination with the strong Irish strain of talent running through America's pre-Tin Pan Alley, vaudeville, and early musical theater eras.
On his 2002 album "Far from the Shamrock Shore" (Shanachie), Moloney covered another song, "The Mulligan Guard," with lyrics by Ed Harrigan and music by David Braham.
In 2006 Moloney devoted an entire recording to the songs of Harrigan and Braham, "McNally's Row of Flats" (Compass), which was the Irish Echo's top traditional release of that year.
And in 2009 Moloney issued "If It Wasn't for the Irish and the Jews" (Compass), focusing on cross-cultural music made from 1880 to 1920. This CD finished among the Irish Echo's top six recordings of 2009.
"Far from the Shamrock Shore," "McNally's Row of Flats," and "If It Wasn't for the Irish and the Jews" together constitute an impressive triptych of albums documenting vintage Irish Americana. Mick Moloney, New York University's Global Distinguished Professor of Music and Irish Studies, will be giving an audiovisual lecture based on his research for that most recent CD at 1 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 26, in University Center 107 at Drew University in Madison, N.J.
At 8 p.m. that same Fri., Feb. 26, Mick Moloney on vocal, guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, and octave mandolin will lead an all-star lineup in a concert celebrating the St. Patrick's Day season at Drew University's Dorothy Young Center for the Arts Concert Hall.
Joining Moloney in this concert will be Billy McComiskey, the 1986 All-Ireland senior button accordion champion, whose 2008 solo album, "Outside the Box" (Compass), and 2009 album, "Pride of New York" (Compass), made with Brian Conway, Joanie Madden, and Brendan Dolan, were the Irish Echo's No. 1 trad recordings for those years.
Also on stage will be America's premier uilleann piper, Jerry O'Sullivan, who is additionally adept on flute, whistle, and Scottish smallpipes; fiddler Dana Lyn, whose recordings include "Looking for the Early Opener," "Live at Mona's," and "In Double"; pianist Brendan Dolan, a member of the Pride of New York quartet; and All-Ireland and All-World stepdancing champion Niall O'Leary. (I'll be the pro bono emcee.)
What makes this concert by those six performers so special is they'll be in a 400-seat hall that opened in early 2005 with custom-shaped, high-detail, state-of-the-art acoustics. In fact, the acoustics are so good that the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center has held four series of concerts in this hall. The Feb. 26 concert by Moloney, McComiskey, O'Sullivan, Lyn, Dolan, and O'Leary will emphasize Irish traditional songs, tunes, and stepdancing, spiced by a smattering of material from Moloney's recent recordings. Moloney's rendition of the hilarious song "Shirley Levine" and Niall O'Leary's popular "sand dance" are likely to be included.
Both the 1 p.m. lecture in University Center 107 and the 8 p.m. concert in the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Fri., Feb. 26, are sponsored by Drew University's Caspersen School of Graduate Studies and its Irish/Irish-American Studies program. The support and enthusiasm of CSGS Associate Dean William Rogers, one of the linchpins of the Irish/Irish-American Studies program, made this lecture and concert possible.
The lecture is free to the public. For tickets to the concert, call 973-408-3257. For further information about either event, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Dorothy Young Center for the Arts, where the concert will take place, is near the traffic light at Madison Avenue (Rt. 124) and Lancaster Road. The concert hall is in the large brick building to the left on campus. Ample parking is available. Drew University is at 36 Madison Ave., Madison, NJ 07940. Website: www.drew.edu.