Traditional Irish Music (With An Attitude) Comes To Socorro

SOCORRO, N.M. March 21, 2011 – The rolling hills of the Emerald Isle and the history of the Irish people bring to mind lyrical music and mixed tempos, from the exuberant fiddles of weddings and other celebrations, to the mournful pipes of lament.

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The band Slide-Ireland will perform at Macey Center on Friday, March 25. Prior to the concert, Tech Club-Club Macey will present happy hour with corned beef and cabbage.

The five members of “Slide Ireland” meld these traditions with a dose of “attitude” in a spirited performance coming to New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 25, in a Performing Arts Series concert that is part of a 10-city New Mexico tour.

Irish music has its core in rich oral traditions, as befits a country whose economic history is based on agriculture. Slide Ireland mixes these traditions with the modern culture of pub sessions to create a genre of music The Irish Times called a blend of “drawing room grandeur and high spirits.”

Now meet its members: concertina virtuoso Aogán Lynch, fiddler-guitarist Daire Bracken, bouzouki and mandolin player Mick Broderick, pianist-flautist Éamonn de Barra and the talented Galwegian, Dave Curley.

“We try to bring a contemporary feel to our performances including newer songs like ‘See Thru Blu’ by Daire, or ‘Follow on’ by composer Paul Brady,” said de Barra. “Dave Curley is a great singer and brings a huge amount to each gig. He also has some well chosen folk songs in his repertoire, including ‘October song,’ ‘The Night Visiting song,’and ‘The Maids of Culmore.’”

De Barra and Bracken attended the same school, and met Lynch, Broderick and Curley at various festivals and sessions along the way.

“There's a really vibrant traditional music scene amongst the younger generation in Ireland (although we're almost past that classification now),” de Barra said, adding that although Curley does bring down the average age of the band, “We're on the edge really, getting old(er).”

Indeed, the group got its start winning over crowds at various pubs during a local music festival in Bandon County, Cork in 1999; and from there released “The Flying Pig” to the praise of Irish Music Magazine, which in 2001 awarded Slide Ireland its “Best Newcomer” distinction.

Of Slide’s second release, “Harmonic Motion,” the magazine proclaimed: “The melodies and musicianship are first-rate. … (Slide) can sing, they can write, they can dance across fingerboards and piano keys, buttons, and bows, and by crikey they can play.”

“Slide is steeped in traditions unique to the southern shores of Ireland, but with a sound all their own,” said Ronna Kalish, PAS director and a musician in her own right.

de Barra said traditional southern music differs from its northern counterpart in Ireland.

“Like the accents in the Irish and English languages spoken up north and south, the music differs somewhat,” de Barra explained. “The southern music is a little smoother, and has more of a drawl to it – you could say it’s a little sexier, where northern music is wilder, and rougher.”

“Irish traditional music is very resilient; in other words, when you blend it with other ethnic, electric, or eclectic influences, it holds up well,” he said.

“It's a trial and error kind of process, really,” de Barra said. “When you love the music as much as we do, then you tend to have more patience with the dissemination of the music. It’s stripping it right back to the fundamental elements, finding compatibilities and merging them with similarities we find in other music that we like. It’s a great feeling when you discover something that nobody else has done – makes it all worthwhile.”

In 2005, Slide Ireland won the Young Musicwide Award from the Arts Council of Ireland, which encourages young people to pursue professional careers in traditional Irish music, chamber music and jazz.

Irish musician-producer Donal Lunny, who helped judge the competition, said Slide Ireland“successfully combined the qualities of traditional Irish music with contemporary musical ideas. They are exceptionally talented and their music has both grace and power.”

By way of explanation, Galwegian Gaelic is an extinct dialect formerly spoken in Southwest Scotland, and the bouzouki is a musical instrument in the lute family, with a pear-shaped body and a long neck.

Slide Ireland’s American tour will bring the group to New Mexico for the first time. “Yes, and we’re really looking forward to it,” de Barra said. “As we would say in Irish (Gaeilge) or Gaelic, as you may have heard it referred “Táimid ag súil in airde leis.”

Tickets for Slide are $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens 65 and over, and $14 for youths 17 and under; with a $2 discount if purchased by 5:00 p.m. the day before the performance.

Tickets are available at the N.M. Tech Cashier’s Office (second floor of Fidel Center), Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme Drive-up or at the door.

Arrive early at Macey Center to enjoy a corned beef and cabbage appetizer social hour, hosted by Tech Club – Club Macey, a 21 and over social club, from 5:00 – 7:30 pm.  There is a $5 cover charge for non-members.

Sponsors for Slide are KUNM-FM, the N.M. Tech Graduate Student Association, Dr. Robert and Kathy Markwell, Survice Engineering and Super 8 motel.

-- NMT --

By Valerie Kimble/For New Mexico Tech