Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coming Soon: House Concert


Paddy O'Brien and Pat Egan

(Button accordion and guitar/vocals)

Saturday, June 27th, 2009 , at 8pm
Suggested donation: $25 general in advance ($28 at the door), $12 students, $7 children 12 & under

Please call Jody Cormack 860-983-7963 for reservations

or email

Paddy O’Brien is regarded by serious aficionados of traditional Irish music as one of the tradition’s most important repositories. In a career that spans more than forty years, his repertoire has grown in excess of 3,000 tunes. This in itself is not unique among the best Irish musicians, but in Paddy’s case, his love for the tunes and the people behind them, draws the listener to a new level of insight.

Born in Co. Offaly in the midlands of Ireland, Paddy traveled the countryside as a young man to spend time with the older players, absorbing tunes and the stories that came with them. The legends of the old tradition such as Donegal fiddler John Doherty, Galway fiddler Paddy Fahy, and a host of others, many of whom are gone, live on in Paddy.

He first played music in public in 1966 with the Ballinamere Ceili Band. In 1968, he toured America for the first time with Sean and Kathleen Ryan. After moving to Dublin in 1969, he began an informal apprenticeship of sorts with fiddlers John Kelly and Joe Ryan. He began playing with the Castle Ceili Band and with Ceoltoiri Laighean, making critically acclaimed records with numerous appearances on radio, television, and in concert in Ireland and abroad. During this time, Paddy won the Oireachtas championship four times, and the All-Ireland senior accordion competition in 1975. His recognition as a primary source for tunes was demonstrated when his music was included in Brendan Breathnach’s Ceol Rince na hEireann, the foremost scholarly work on the tradition.

Teaming up with fiddler James Kelly, and guitarist and singer Dáithí Sproule, Paddy came to America in 1978 to record an album for Shanachie Records, entitled Is It Yourself? The trio continued beyond the recording, touring across the U.S., appearing several times on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, and recording a second LP for Shanachie in 1980 entitled Spring ln the Air. These two LPs have been re-released as a single CD and remain among the greatest Irish traditional albums ever made. In 1988, he released his first solo album, Stranger at the Gate, on the Green Linnet label. In 1992, he was invited home to appear on The Pure Drop, a traditional music showcase on Irish national television. In 1995 Paddy toured Alaska with famed fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Aidan Brennan.

In the late 1990s, Paddy formed Chulrua, along with two Tipperary men, piper Michael Cooney and singer and guitarist Pat Egan. Tim Britton replaced Michael Cooney from 1997-2003, and Patrick Ourceau took his current place with the trio in 2004. In 2003, Paddy launched The Doon Ceili Band, an eight-piece ensemble that plays traditional dance music with a distinct West Clare kick.

Paddy has been a teacher of Irish music in many settings, including at the prestigious Willie Clancy Summer School in Co. Clare, the Catskills Irish Arts Week, the Celtic College in Goderich Ontario, The Saint Louis Tionól, the Swannanoa Gathering, and through the Minnesota State Arts Board Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program. In 1994, he received a grant from the National

Endowment for the Arts to record 500 tunes (a small portion of his repertoire), resulting in The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection: A Personal Treasury of Irish Jigs and Reels. In 2006, he received a prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant to work on Volume Two of the Tune Collection, setting down another 500 tunes from his impressive repertoire.

Originally from County Tipperary, Pat Egan now resides in Baltimore, Maryland. While growing up in his native County Tipperary, Patrick loved the music so much that he used to take his guitar on the back of a horse and cart to school every week to get lessons from his school teacher, Phil Kelly. He would also trudge across fields and farmland with his guitar just to get a song from local singer John Norton. Luckily, there were lots of singers and guitarists in his home parish and one of the first musicians he ever heard playing traditional Irish music was his neighbor – uilleann piper Michael Cooney with whom, along with Paddy O’Brien, he would later go on to form the band Chulrua.

Pat began playing professionally when he moved to Westport, County Mayo in the1980’s. He quickly became established in the music scene in Westport, performing with musicians such as banjo player Francis Lynn, accordion player Tommy Doherty, Donegal resident Kevin Hyde (of the group Malin Head) and Swedish uilleann piper/whistle player Jorgen Fisher.

While in Westport, Pat also formed a long partnership with penny whistle player Olcan Masterson, with whom he toured Europe and the U.S, and recorded Westport Town. Patrick recorded with many different musicians while living in Westport – most reputably on the internationally acclaimed Music at Matt Molloy’s.

In the early 1990s, Pat visited the U.S. to play at the famed McGurk’s in St. Louis, Missouri with piper Michael Cooney and County Clare accordion player Nuala Hehir. Shortly after, he was invited back to the U.S. by the great accordion player Paddy O’Brien to form the band Chulrua.

For a while, Pat split his time between St. Louis and Westport. On a few visits home, he recorded Live at Lenahan’s with accordion player/singer Joe Carey and the late fiddle player Paddy Mills. Patrick also played on Fonnchaoi with fiddler Julie Langan and accordion player Verina Commins.

Pat developed an interest in Old Time music while living in St. Louis – playing with fiddle player Barbara Weathers and national steel and old time banjo player, Tom Hall. He also recorded with Old Time banjo player Dave Landreth on his CD, Chairs.

After St. Louis, Pat lived for a few years in Fairfield, Iowa, where he played frequently with uilleann piper and former bandmateTim Britton before moving to Baltimore, Maryland in the fall of 2003. Pat still tours regularly with Paddy O’Brien and new Chulrua member, fiddle player Patrick Ourceau.

Pat has taught at numerous workshops at festivals throughout the U.S. including Alaska. He has taught at the Tionól in St. Louis and at the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, NY. He has made extensive tours of the United States, and has also performed in Sweden, Norway, Holland, Germany, Scotland, Spain and France. He has appeared on numerous television and radio programs in Ireland and abroad.


Anonymous said...

Where are these concerts held?

joseph getter said...

re: "Where are these concerts held?" - they are usually in the Middletown home of the organizer, Jody Cormack, though at least one was in the MAC650 gallery on North Main. She's given her email address in the post, so just contact her (maybe she doesn't want to post her home address here, out of privacy concerns).

I've been to many of these performances, and highly recommend going! The home setting is intimate (you're just feet from the performer, in a living room), and people and food were terrific. The musicians are top-notch, too.