January 19th, Charm City Junction at The Ware Center in Lancaster

Baltimore-based Charm City Junction features of the most talented and promising young acoustic roots musicians in the country; Patrick McAvinue on fiddle, Brad Kolodner on clawhammer banjo, Sean McComiskey on button accordion and Alex Lacquement on upright bass. They bring their fresh take on bluegrass and old-time music to a concert sponsored by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society on Thursday, January 19, 2017, at the Ware Center, 42 N. Prince Street, Lancaster, PA. The fun begins at 7:30 p.m.

Concert tickets are $25 General Admission, $22 for SFMS members and $5 for students ages 4-22. Advance tickets are available through the Ware Center website at http://www.artsmu.com, by calling 717-871-7600, or the Ware Center box office in Millersville or Lancaster.

For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at http://www.sfmsfolk.org.

 

We got a chance to speak to Brad Kolodner about the band’s sound, how they met, and where the band is going.

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FOLKMAMA: How did you all meet? When did you decide to form a band?

BRAD: Charm City Junction formed in the fall of 2013 after jamming a handful of times at Patrick’s house in Towson. Patrick, Sean and I grew up in the Baltimore area but we didn’t cross paths very often as we grew playing different genres (bluegrass, Irish and old-time, respectively). Patrick started attending the Irish sessions where he met Sean. I met Patrick at our bi-weekly Old Time jam shortly thereafter and we decided to get together to jam. I suggested we invite my bass-playing friend Alex.

We weren’t quite sure how a bluegrass fiddler, Irish button accordionist, old time banjoist and jazz bassist would blend but we opened our minds as much as possible to find common ground. The four of us got together to play and Charm City Junction was born!

FOKMAMA: Despite having very different backgrounds you bring all those influences together to make a unified sound. How did you make it work?

BRAD: We all come from a different point of view, and the same time it is all centered around traditionally-rooted music—making music in a very cohesive way. Musically we try to make these arrangements that are cohesive and make sense but still speak from our point of view. in essence we’re threading together Irish, Old-Time and Bluegrass music together to form something fresh and unique.

Everything that we play we strive for clarity. Clarity of sound and clarity of ideas and clarity of arrangements. If we were going to label ourselves we’d say we were an acoustic roots music quartet.

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FOLKMAMA: Is your sound evolving?

BRAD: We’re trying to keep the integrity of our tradition and build upon that and find a common ground. That’s actually been how some new genres have been created; by taking musical ideas from different worlds. We’re taking a step back, seeing what is available to us and taking that knowledge, and moving forward with it.

FOLKMAMA: Where did the name come from?

BRAD: We use the name Charm City because we are from the same area geographically. It really speaks to the communities that are in an around Baltimore [Charm City is Baltimore’s nickname]. You have the Irish community, the old-time community and the bluegrass community. We are pulling from those wells and pulling what we think is best representative of our personalities.

Junction—how we’re coming together. Like a junction on the highway or railway.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me a little bit about where you have been. What’s next for the band?

BRAD:We released our debut album on Patuxent Music in the fall of 2015. It hit the top 25 on the Folk DJ charts. We played about 40 shows in 2016, our busiest year to date. We played on the main stages at some of the biggest bluegrass and folk festivals in the country including Grey Fox, Old Songs, and the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival.

Our 2017 schedule is mostly filled out with appearances at the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering, Bristol Rhythm and Roots, and Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival just to name a few. Our full schedule can be found at http://www.charmcityjunction.com

FOLKMAMA: Rumor has it that your fiddler, Patrick McAvinue, has moved to Nashville. How does that affect the band moving forward?

BRAD: Patrick moved to Nashville at the beginning of the year to hit the road full time with the bluegrass band Dailey and Vincent. He will continue to perform with Charm City Junction. While we may scale back our performing a little this year, this is a collaboration we hope to continue for many years and decades into the future.

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Interview with Legendary Button Accordionist Billy McComiskey Coming to York, PA January 15th with Irish Super Group The Pride of New York

The Susquehanna Folk Music Society is proud to present our first concert of 2017 with The Pride of New York on 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 15, 2017, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George Street, York, PA.  The Pride of New York is an Irish-American super group comprised of some of the best known players on this side of the Atlantic. Between them, they have won four All-Ireland championship awards, recorded multiple solo albums, and logged countless miles touring across the US and abroad. But, at its essence, this quartet of singular talents is defined in spirit by the city of New York which gives the group its name.

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The Pride of New York includes Joanie Madden — leader of Cherish the Ladies, and the first American to win the Senior All-Ireland championship on the tin whistle, Billy McComiskey — the finest button accordion player ever to emerge from the United States, Brian Conway — one of the best fiddlers of his generation, playing in the Sligo style, and Brendan Dolan — stellar multi-instrumentalist who’s worked with some of the brightest stars on the Irish-American scene.

Concert tickets are $27 General Admission, $23 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website.

Recently we interviewed the Pride of New York’s acclaimed Irish Button Accordionist Billy McComiskey about his early influences, playing in the Pride of New York, and a prestigious award that he received recently.

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FOLKMAMA: Recently you were named a NEA National Heritage Fellow, can you explain a bit about this award and what it means to receive it?

 

BILLY: The National Heritage Fellowships are awarded annually, to Americans representing every conceivable ethnic and cultural group, and I cannot even begin to tell you how humbled I am to have even been considered for such a high honor.  The award goes to musicians, but also to visual artists, dancers, craftspeople, and really anyone who has helped to preserve and perpetuate the cultural identity of his or her community.  So, while it is certainly a national award, it is every bit as much, if not even more so, a recognition of ongoing work done at the local and community level.  And, in that regard, I can take pride knowing that I have tried my very best to keep Irish traditional music alive and well in the mid-Atlantic region.

 

FOLKMAMA: What was is like growing up and playing traditional Irish music in Brooklyn, sections of which have been called westernmost counties of Ireland? Did you have a strong cultural identity growing up?

 

BILLY: I had a very strong cultural identity growing up in Brooklyn. In New York City, when I was still a boy, Irish Traditional music was not marketable; in fact, it was almost on the verge of extinction.  What saved Irish music in New York at that time were the Irish immigrant clubs, and especially the Irish musician clubs, which were really the genesis of today’s CCE (Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann).  All five boroughs contained many of those clubs, and my family — the McComiskeys, as well as my Sweeney and Caplis relatives — were known and welcome in those clubs.  And it was also around that same time, in 1967 to be exact, that my uncle Matt Caplis — who owned a boarding house in upstate New York, in an area known then and now as “The Irish Catskills” — first introduced me to Sean McGlynn, from Tynagh. Co. Galway, who became my dear friend and musical mentor, and whose grey Paolo Soprani accordion I still play to this very day.  Anyway, between Brooklyn and upstate, there really was never a time when I wasn’t keenly aware of my Irish heritage.  And from a very early age, I realized that one of my own heritage’s most remarkable aspects is the beautiful traditional music, which attracts not just Irish and Irish-Americans of course, but people from virtually every ethnic background as well.

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FOLKMAMA: All four of you have had very successful solo careers and projects with other musicians and groups. What is it that you like most about performing in The Pride of New York?

BILLY: Well, by way of answering your question, let me first give you a bit of historical background.  In 1986, my good friend Don Meade was running a concert series at the Eagle Tavern in lower Manhattan, and one night he hosted a performance featuring accordionist Martin Mulhaire, fiddler Brian Conway, and pianist Felix Dolan. My mother played me a cassette tape of the concert, and it struck me that this was exactly the style and standard of music that I love, especially since it emulated the music recorded by accordionist Joe Burke, fiddler Andy McGann, and the same Felix Dolan, in 1967, on the landmark “Tribute To Michael Coleman” album — it was the epitome of the New York style.  Anyway, when Don asked me soon afterwards to put a band together for that same series, I asked Brian to join me, and to round out the group, I then asked Joanie Madden to join us on the flute, as well as Felix Dolan himself to join us on piano.  We must have gone over very well, selling out two seatings, so I suppose you could say we were an immediate hit.

And at some point after that, when Felix was unavailable for a performance, his son Brendan came on to do the gig, and he soon became a permanent band member.  Anyway, we played whenever we got the opportunity, both as a ceili band and as a performing band, but it wasn’t till we were asked to do a concert set at Catskills Irish Arts Week, in East Durham New York, about ten years ago, when Paul Keating, who was directing the event, introduced us as The Pride of New York, and the name stuck, even to the point of it our using it when we recorded our CD not very long thereafter.

So, aside from the fact that Joanie, Brendan, Brian and I are lifelong friends, with nearly identical musical influences and inspirations, the music we make always seems effortless, and it never ceases to be a source of immense joy for all of us.

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Pride of New York on 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 15, 2017, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George Street, York, PA.   Concert tickets are $27 General Admission, $23 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website.

Pride of New York (Irish music w/ Joanie Madden, Billy McComiskey, Brian Conway + Brendan Dolan) coming to York, PA January 15. Read about the members!

As our first concert of 2017 the Susquehanna Folk Music Society offers the very rare opportunity to hear an Irish-American super-group with some of the best-known players on this side of the Atlantic Ocean!  Described as “a killer ceili band,” Pride of New York has members who have won pride-of-new-yorkfour all-Ireland championship awards, recorded multiple solo albums, and logged countless miles touring across the U.S. and abroad.

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 15, 2017, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George Street, York, PA.

Concert tickets are $27 General Admission, $23 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at www.brownpapertickets.com or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at http://www.sfmsfolk.org.

Read below to learn about these fantastic musicians and their impressive accomplishments!

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Joanie Madden

Joanie Madden is the award winning whistle and flute player who, aside from playing in The Pride of New York, is the leader of Cherish the Ladies. Joanie is the first American to win the Senior All-Ireland championship on the tin whistle and is the youngest member to be inducted into the Irish-American Musicians Hall of Fame. Committed to promoting and preserving Irish culture in America, she was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; an award that pays homage to the immigrant experience. Joanie has played on hundreds of albums and is the top selling whistle player in history having sold over 500,000 solo albums. Joanie Madden is online at Cherish the Ladies.com.

Billy McComiskey

Billy McComiskey has been called the finest and most influential Irish button accordion players to ever emerge from the United States. A Brooklyn native, he started studying accordion with the late Sean McGlynn from Galway and in 1986 won the All-Ireland Senior title. Billy has played with Greenfields of America, Irish Tradition and the internationally acclaimed Trian. In June of 2016 he was named a NEA National Heritage Fellow, the highest honor bestowed to a traditional musician in the United States. Billy McComiskey is online at Compass Records.com

Brian Conway

A New York born fiddler, Brian is a leading exponent of the tastefully ornamented Sligo fiddling style. The winner of two All- Ireland junior titles in 1973 and 1974 and the All-Ireland senior championship of 1986, he has been called one of the best fiddlers of his generation. His latest CD, First through the Gate, is a long-awaited and stunning solo debut which exemplifies the versatility that characterizes his concert performances and festival appearances. Visit Brian Conway at his website.

Brendan Dolan

Brendan Dolan is one of the most respected and inventive keyboardists in Irish music today. He has worked with accordionist John Whelan, singer/songwriter Cathie Ryan, Andy Statman and Itzhak Perlman, and can be heard on the latest recordings of Billy McComiskey, Brian Conway and The Green Fields of America. Brendan has recently completed a Master’s degree in Irish and Irish-American Studies at NYU, where he currently works as an archivist on the Mick Moloney Irish-American Music and Popular Culture Collection.