Irish Fest

Adam Baker / Flickr

While most of the people who visited Irish Fest a few weeks ago were likely there to watch musical acts, another cultural attraction that many caught was Irish dance.  It’s a form that has a huge following in the Milwaukee area, even outside of the festival season.  Hundreds of kids attend any of several schools that prepare them for competitions.

But in the coming months, organizers hope the nation’s first professional Irish dance company will make Milwaukee home. 

socksinthefryingpan.com

The last band we had in for Irish Fest this year was Co. Claire's trio Flash in the Pan, made up of brothers Shane and Fiachra Hayes and Aodan Coyne. This is the band's second year at Irish Fest and their second year as a formal band.

webanjo3.com

Back in 2012 we had a brand-new band play for us in the Lake Effect studio. We Banjo 3 was here as part of Irish Fest's exploration of how Irish traditional music influenced American bluegrass and vice versa. It was the band's first appearance in America, and our interview that year was their first radio interview as a band.

dallahanmusic.com

One of the bands we had in the studio this year during Irish Fest is the Scottish band Dallahan. The band is made up of Balázs Harmann (double-bass), Paddy Callaghan (button accordion), Ciarán Ryan (banjo/mandolin/fiddle), Jani Lang (fiddle), and Jack Badcock (guitar/vocals).

Suzanne Plunkett / lizcarroll.com

Fiddler Liz Carroll has won just about every musical accolade there is to be had. Her parents immigrated to Chicago from Ireland in the 1950s and Carroll began playing as a child.

She won the Senior All-Ireland Championship when she was 18, has recorded with almost every luminary in the Celtic music pantheon, was nominated for a Grammy award in the Irish traditional category – the first time for an American musician – and she’s played for the President of the United States.

pamelaford.net

At first glance, the Irish potato famine of 1846 is an unlikely setting for a romance novel. But for Wauwatosa’s Pamela Ford, the Great Famine gave her a rich historical setting in which to set her fictional characters.

Desert Agama / Flickr

When Ann O’Farrell first entered the workplace, she was a drama therapist, a theater set and costume designer and helped run a children’s theater in Ireland. 

Milwaukee is a divided city in many ways, but in Belfast of the 1970s, the divisions were deep, formal and violent. 

Northern Ireland author Tony Macaulay grew up in Belfast and wrote about his experiences as a young man coming of age in a trilogy of memoirs - Paperboy, Bread Boy, and the latest, All Growed Up. 

Despite the violent background, the books are funny and touch on universal themes. 

irishfest.com

The ethnic festival season continues next week with the nation’s largest Irish heritage festival.  

Before the 35th annual Irish Fest kicks off, Lake Effect connects with Ed Ward and John Maher, who have been with Irish Fest since before there was an Irish Fest. They’re part of the longtime Milwaukee traditional Irish band, Blarney, which started six years before the festival began in 1981.

The Modern Grass Updates Bluegrass Sound

Aug 17, 2013
Eleanor Peterson, Lake Effect

There are lots of unique acts at Irish Fest this year, but if you just happened upon the music of the five piece band, The Modern Grass, you probably wouldn't have thought you were at Irish music festival. 

Eleanor Peterson, Lake Effect

One of the great musical traditions in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton is its Gaelic singing.

Chicago Duo Shares Irish Immigrant Heritage

Aug 17, 2013
Eleanor Peterson, Lake Effect

Irish Fest is winding down here in Milwaukee, but down in Chicago, or “Chi-cargo,” a deep Irish heritage is keeping the music alive.

Mànran website

The six-member Scottish group Mànran is a relatively new folk-rock band. What makes them different is they sing in Gallic, which the language spoken in the Highlands.

Eleanor Peterson, Lake Effect

A group of young Irish musicians are showing that even trad players can get "jig"-gy with it by creating a new genre of music: Celtic funk.

Piper Brings Spanish Flair to Irish Fest

Aug 16, 2013
Javier Salas/Turismo de VigoImagen

Though Irish Fest's showcase this year is music from Nova Scotia, there are other Celtic music traditions that will be represented on stage this year - and some may surprise you.

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