Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dancing at the crossroads....

The dance at the crossroads.....circa 1891

The above photo, known at least locally as "Dancing At The Crossroads" represents a time in Irish history when dancing was prohibited by the English. The Irish would meet on country roads, often where the roads crossed, bring food, drink, and music, while watching out for British soldiers. They danced their country dances, the ceili dances and set dances we dance now. Believe it or not, this is still practiced in some areas of Ireland today, but, with more modern conveniences to the players and dancers alike. Motor vehicles are what the folks look out for now instead of British soldiers!

And now, more traditional players.....

Button accordian player Billy McComiskey is a local based musician out of Baltimore, MD. He is a legendary player and learned from the cream of the crop.

Check his music out

This is his son, Sean, who also plays button accordian with the knowledge passed down from not only his father, but, many of his fathers peers also.

Sean is a part of the next generation of those who carry on the tradition of the music. Passing on the tradition is an integral part of Irish music.

The band that my husband and I play in do educational demonstrations at our local public library system. Some come to hear the music, but, most come for the history. The history of the music, the instruments, and the players. The folks who come range in age from 4 years to 85 years. We interact with everyone during the demonstration because we want them to ask questions, we want to hear their stories, we want to know if they play music. The demonstration typically only last an hour or so. They questions and references afterwards can go on for a bit.

The satisfaction from doing these demonstrations doesn't come from applause, well, maybe a little, but, mostly it comes from knowing we've possibly sparked someone's interest in the music. To try and pass it on. To keep it alive. To have a sense of community.

So, with that being said, tomorrow - the instruments of Traditional Irish Music and of course, more players.


  1. I love the music. But I love to hear about the history and the traditions. Love the photo at the crossroads!

  2. I love Irish music because it has such a history and covers such a wide range of genre's and styles!! I think it's great that you are working on sparking an interest in it!!

  3. I love reading historical factoids! Thanks for sharing.

    It must be so much fun to be in a band. We really need to set some time aside go see some live music. It's such little things that make life worth living right?!

  4. My daughter Margaret is playing flute and is doing amazingly well. The kid practices constantly without having to be told to practice. She is in the 4th grade. She also has had to play the recorder for school and mastered that immediately. I would love to get her started playing traditional Irish music, as I think she would love it but I have no idea where to find a teacher around these here parts. Any ideas for a woodwind instrument teacher teaching traditional Celtic music?

  5. I missed all these great posts on my blog break - that will teach me!

    A very Happy but belated St Patrick's Day Toni hope the craic was good. Off now to have a good read about your band and the other musicians you enjoy listening to.

    Jeanne x

  6. Hello everyone - thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you're enjoying the posts on Trad music!
    Thomas - we have a blast playing music! And that's an under statement. Musicians are some of the kindest people I know (not that other people aren't). Going to hear live music is such a defrag for me! So are going to the local plays, etc.

    Michael - I don't know of any woodwind teachers in the area. I could get her started on penny whistle if she would be interested. Sorry. The closest would probably be in Baltimore or the Metro DC area for flute.

    Jeanne - hope you had a good break and it was for fun!

    Thanks again, everyone!