Last week, I spoke with Tony Lawless, a fiddle and guitar player from Dublin who runs Tradconnect.com, a very impressive (and free!) website whose mission is to connect musicians and promote trad music “across the world.” It’s an extremely compelling and well-executed idea that deserves the attention of anyone who loves trad music.
Struggling to find musicians for a session in Dublin, Lawless was motivated to start TradConnect when he found that there was no online outlet that easily put together trad musicians; there seemed to be a clear need. He unveiled the site in April 2011, and within two weeks there were 400 members. With the member base now approaching 3,000, the site receives over 10,000 unique visits a month, a number Lawless thinks will rise as more people sign up and content increases.
TradConnect is based on (and indeed, shares it’s software DNA with) NoDepression.com, an extremely successful website that covers Americana and Roots music. Started in 1995 as a print magazine, NoDepression went fully digital in 2008. Today, it has a membership of 21,400, comprising journalists, videographers, artists, labels, PR folks, venue owners, DJs, festival promoters, podcasters, and fans. There, users have access to discussion forums, blog entries, CD/DVD and live show reviews, contests, music videos and photos. (This content is typically user generated, much like Facebook.) There is also a chat function. NoDepression receives 130,000 unique readers a month, making it Americana and Roots music’s most important hub, both online and off.
By adapting NoDepression’s very successful model, Lawless hopes to create a similarly vibrant place for the world of Irish traditional music. It is already doing the job of connecting musicians and helping them communicate with one another, and it is becoming an increasingly important PR resource for professional musicians (especially since it is one of the few places that provides review content, which is so important for recording and touring artists).
If you’re a musician or a fan, check out Lawless’s site – it looks like a very interesting way of keeping up with what’s happening in the world of trad music. To sign up, visit tradconnect.com. (And if you do, friend me – I recently signed up!)
Speaking of reviews, I recently got ahold of Kathleen Conneely’s new CD “The Coming of the Spring” and I absolutely love it. It is an album of shimmering, unpretentious tin whistle playing, executed with perfect swing and masterful pacing. If you like tin whistle, this album is a must have. If you’re not sure about tin whistle, this album will absolutely win you over.
“The Coming of the Spring” is made up entirely of jigs, reels and hornpipes, straight dance music, played with minimal arrangement Conneely is joined by some top players, including her brother Mick (bouzouki), Brian McGrath (piano) and Johnny “Ringo” McDonagh (bodhrán), each of whom enhances Conneely’s already warm, relaxed style.
One of the album’s many strengths is its extremely tasteful tune selection. Conneely includes a number of very interesting but less common tunes to go with the ones that are more familiar. “Dermot Grogan’s / ...” is a wonderful set of jigs; “The Gneevgullia Reel / ...” is a great set as well. Conneely is joined by her father Mick Sr. (also a whistle player) on “The Primrose Vale / The Lark in the Morning (#1),” a set of tunes “he would have played regularly when we were growing up.” They’re backed brilliantly by Mick Jr. and is perhaps album’s most poignant moment.
Beside the music, I love how this album evokes the kind of stripped down “free-range” sound Micheál Ó Raghallaigh and Danny O’Mahony took with their recent CD “As It Happened”. Like that album, there’s nothing “slick” about Conneely’s music. It is just elegantly performed and clearly presented, just the kind of thing you’d want to hear in something people might call “pure drop.”
To learn more about “The Coming of the Spring,” visit www.cdbaby.com/cd/kathleenconneely.