Want to look at life through an Irish music lens? Tune in to Irish Music Stories, the podcast about traditional music, and the bigger stories behind it. Download at your convenience, and/or subscribe to Irish Music Stories in iTunes or your fave podcast catcher.
Episode 01: Trip to Sligo
Here’s the story of why 400,000 people–and a band of kids from Boston–ended up at the All Ireland music competition in Sligo. With visits to Boston, Dublin, Clare, and Chicago, host Shannon Heaton digs into what the competition meant to all the kids, parents, and teachers who were involved. Meet teachers at Comhaltas Music Schools in Boston and Dublin, concertina player Mary MacNamara in Tulla, and fiddle player Liz Carroll… and there’s a Yeats poem here, too, recited by Anne Marie Kennedy.
Episode 02: Cuppa Tea with Karan Casey
Waterford singer Karan Casey talks about Irish songs, and how learning a song from someone is really about making connections. This conversation urged host Shannon Heaton to listen–and sing–just a little more. There’s also a poem from Louis De Paor, a reminder that the Irish tradition has secrets that may never be fully understand from outsiders.
Episode 03: Every Tuesday at Nine
Here’s the story of why people all around the world head out to Irish music sessions. With visits to Chicago, Clare, Boston, and New York, host Shannon Heaton decodes what these weekly gatherings mean to musicians and listeners. You’ll hear from big-hearted session hosts Tina Lech, John Williams, Eoin O’Neill, and Brian Conway, and from Boston producer Brian O’Donovan, fiddle teacher Laurel Martin, and flute players Melissa Foster and Scott Boag.
Episode 04: Cuppa Tea with McKinneys and McCarthy
Two of North America’s most esteemed Irish pubs were opened by musicians. Host Shannon Heaton heads to Chicago’s Chief O’Neill’s Pub, where flute playing owners Siobhan and Brendan McKinney talk about how Irish music has guided their lives. Back in Boston, fiddle player Tommy McCarthy considers how the Burren has become a landmark Somerville establishment by putting the music and the welcome first. And Shannon’s poem “So this is Irish Music,” features readers Brian O’Donovan and John Coyne.
Episode 05: Handed Down
Here’s the story of how Irish music gets handed down. From a dance the night before.. to accordion tunes through the floorboards… to university classrooms… to tunes with grandpa. Whether you already play tunes, sing ballads, dance sean nós steps–or you don’t know anything about Irish culture–these beautiful stories from Rose Flanagan, Margie Mulvahill, Patty Furlong, Séan Clohessy, Josie and her dad John Coyne, Louis DePaor, Seamus Connolly, and Elizabeth Sweeney speak about friendships, community, and generosity.
Episode 06: The Backer
Here’s the story of backing—the role that guitar, bouzouki, piano, and harp plays in Irish music… and how it feels to accompany tunes and songs. Matt Heaton, Neil Pearlman, Keith Murphy, and John Doyle share their thoughts on culture, conversation, and flow state.
Episode 07: The Piper
Here’s the story of Irish piping: how the logistics, lure, and lore of the uilleann pipes buzz together for The Rowsome family, Tim Britton, Tom Rota, Patrick Hutchinson, and Isaac Alderson. Whether you already know about Seamus Ennis—or if you don’t know anything about Irish culture—these conversations speak about challenge, gratitude, and reverence.
Episode 08: Miss McLeod’s Reel at 113
Here’s the story of how Irish dance connects with traditional music today. Dancers Kieran Jordan and Liam Ó Scanláin, and the Glencastle Irish Dancers, and accordion player Jimmy Keane help detangle a few of the musical threads in Irish dance today. Whether you already dance a few steps—or you don’t know a jig from a reel—these conversations speak about the joy of community, and of movement with music.
Episode 09: Want of Wit
Here’s the story of Irish style banter, and why traditional musicians place such a premium on humor and social rapport. Rory Makem, John Doyle, John Williams, Aidan Collins, Pauline Logue, Lisa Coyne, and Siobhan and Brendan McKinney help investigate the deep wellspring of Irish wit. Whether you already have an arsenal of quick comebacks, or you’ve never heard Irish people slag each other, this episode digs into the story behind all the Irish music stories.
Episode 10: Cuppa Tea with Dáithí Sproule
This first season of Irish Music Stories closes with this conversation with singer and guitarist Dáithí Sproule, about how he has integrated the beautiful songs he learned as a kid in the Gaeltacht with the pop music that opened his heart to harmony and arranging. Whether you already play Irish music, or you know very little about it, his thoughts on beauty, respect, and mindfulness are universal.
Episode 11: Return to Sligo
With all Irish Music Stories, Irish music is the common thread. But it’s not the only thread. This month I look at bigger themes, like John Doyle’s take on Irish session conversations… Rose Flanagan’s tale of how her dad and his friend helped each other… and Mairin Ui Cheide’s idea of what community and belonging means. And I also offer a gentle remix of “Trip to Sligo,” which told the story of a band of American tweens and their Irish music journey.
Season Two will feature more big, universal stories, through an Irish music lens. Join the IMS 2018 tour of mid century Dance Halls. Discover the PULSE of tradition from brain to bow to feet. Explore old ballads in a Millennial world. Grab a backstage pass to Irish summer festivals. And unpack the C-Word (C-e-l-t-i-c).
Check out (and share) the 4 minute preview of the 2018 season. You'll hear Joanie Madden, Kevin Doyle, Ellery Klein, Sam Amidon, and Eileen Ivers... all weaving together thoughtful, poignant, charming takes on life through an Irish music lens.
Stay tuned, and stay in touch, Shannon
(1) Irish Music Stories,
(3) Brian Conway,
(4) Kevin Rowsome
(2) Karan Casey,
(5) John Doyle,
(6) Dáithí Sproule,
(7) Shannonh Heaton
(by Walkin' Tom).