By Dan Neely
Bon voyage to the revelers who will embark on Joanie Madden’s Folk ’N Irish Cruise this Sunday! The cruise of the year leaves in less than a week’s time and will feature top class performers like Sharon Shannon, Lúnasa, Daoirí Farrell, Tommy Sands, Arty McGlynn and Nollaig Casey, Billy McComiskey, Dylan Foley and Josh Dukes, Dónal Clancy and Rory Makem, the Ennis Sisters, Cherish the Ladies, and many, many more.
This time around Madden’s taking everyone to Bermuda, which sounds delightful.
If you’re among those heading out, enjoy the crack! Have a dark 'n stormy or a rum swizzle to go with your “fish pon bun” sandwich and we’ll see you on your return. (I’ll keep an eye on Facebook for the photos!)
The next Folk ’N Irish cruise will head out from Barcelona, Spain in October 2020 and make stops throughout the Mediterranean – should be an amazing experience! To learn more, visit www.joaniemaddencruise.com.
In other news, there is a new website celebrating the music of Sliah Luachra fiddle legend Julia Clifford.
“The Music of Julia Clifford” was set up by Michael and Caroline Kilbane and includes private recordings the Kilbanes made of Clifford playing at her home in Thetford, England, at sessions, and in other public settings between 1984 and 1987.
The site’s seven pages of music are organized by dance rhythm (polkas, slides, jigs, reels, hornpipes, slip jig, and miscellaneous) and the recordings consist of a single pass of each tune with a corresponding PDF transcription. There are just over 100 recordings to hear.
Clifford (1914-1997) was born in a musical family in Lisheen, Gneeveguilla, County Kerry and, like her brother Denis, grew up a student of the great fiddler Pádraig O’Keeffe.
She spent much of her life living in England and over the years made some important commercial recordings. More recently, her legacy has attracted increased and much deserved attention. This website, which is neatly organized and provides a wealth of great music, will bring Clifford’s music to a much wider audience and extend her influence significantly.
“The Music of Julia Clifford” will be an incredibly welcome contribution for lovers of Sliabh Luachra music and those with a particular interest in the music and life of Julia Clifford. Definitely a site to check out! It can be accessed at www.juliaclifford.eu.
Speaking of people who have a special interest in Julia Clifford, ethnomusicologist and fiddle player Tes Slominski has a book due out in 2020 from Wesleyan University Press called “Trad Nation: Gender, Sexuality, Race, and Irish Traditional Music.”
This new book (which, I should note, is not about Clifford) will expand on Slominski’s more recent work about Irish traditional music and the relationship between music, selfhood, and social identity. I’ll be sure to report on this one once it’s released, but interested readers should keep an eye open for it.
Additionally, Rhode Island-based uilleann piper Patrick Hutchinson has just had a chapter published in “Cultural Sustainabilities: Music, Media, Language, Advocacy,” a new collections of essays from the University of Illinois Press edited by Timothy Cooley (another traditional musician!).
Called “‘Tis the company”: Irish Traditional Music as Social Medium in the Age Of Social Media,” Hutchinson’s chapter looks fascinating. Click here to learn more tinyurl.com/HutchinsonChapter.
Finally, since we’re on the topic of musician scholars, County Wicklow concertina player Patrick Egan (Pádraig Mac Aodhgáin), who did his graduate work at University College Cork, is currently the Kluge Fellow in Digital Studies at The Library of Congress where, the LOC’s website tells us, his job is "to examine the impact of the digital revolution on society, culture, and international relations using the Library's collections and resources.” Egan’s work specifically looks at Irish music sound recordings at LOC’s American Folklife Center and it looks amazing.
Right now, Egan is looking for survey feedback from Irish Traditional Musicians in North America to learn more about how they interact with Irish traditional music.
If you’re a musician, dancer, singer, or enthusiast in North America, do consider participating! You would be making a contribution to some important work and you might even learn something new about the archival resources that are out there in the process! Take the survey at tinyurl.com/IrishMusicSurvey.