Sat. May 12th FARA–trad music from four beautiful young women from Scotland, perform in York, PA

The Scottish group FARA, four beautiful young women whose three fiddles and a piano produce a fiery sound rooted strongly in their Orkney Island upbringing will be featured in a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Saturday, May12th. The concert begins at 7:30 pm and will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York located at  925 S. George Street in York. This concert is part of the group’s first tour in the United States.

Tickets and information can be found here: Tickets will also be available at the door.

Fara brings together four leading musicians at the forefront of today’s Scottish folk scene – Jennifer Austin, Kristan Harvey, Jeana Leslie and Catriona Price. Their repertoire showcases the strong fiddle tradition of the Orkneys; a group of around 70 islands situated just off the northern coast of Scotland. The Islands were parof  Norway until the early 1400s, so Norwegian, as well as Gaelic influences, can be heard in the group’s music.

As is common on Orkney, they grew up playing music in Grammer School, and later all sought University degrees at Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Strathclyde University. First coming together as backup musicians for the popular Orkney group “The Chair,” Fara decided to strike out on their own in 2014.


The four contrasting personalities and individual musical voices in Fara make for a colorful melting pot, with each member bringing a different musical palette to the mix. With vibrant arrangements full of rich harmonies, energetic fiddle playing, and driving piano, Fara’s music is an exciting experience.


Using a mixture of self-penned and traditional Orkney tunes along with the stunning vocals of the group’s lead singer Jeana Leslie, Fara has been called “a new fiddle supergroup,” and “a real delight.” Their on-stage banter and musicianship routinely hold audiences spellbound.


A nomination for “Up And Coming Act of the Year” at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2015 and the success of their debut album Cross The Line in 2016 lead to a nomination for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards’ Horizon Award. Since then they have played across the UK and Europe and are making debut tours this year in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, and Germany.



Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through or call (800) 838-3006. This concert is presented with support from Bob and Donna Pullo and from an anonymous Your Name in Lights sponsor and in cooperation with and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York.


Funding for Susquehanna Folk Music Society concerts is provided by the York County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Cultural Enrichment Fund and by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, administered locally by the Cultural Alliance of York County. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at


Saturday, Nov 4th, Pete and Maura Kennedy in concert, Harrisburg

Singer-songwriters Pete and Maura Kennedy, whose musical career spans over two decades and a broad musical landscape, come to Harrisburg’s Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, on Saturday, November 4, 2017, for a 7:30 p.m. concert sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society.

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at

We had the chance to talk to Pete Kennedy about how he and Maura met, what audiences should expect from a Kennedys concert, and what the duo has been up to lately.


FOLKMAMA: How did you and Maura meet?


PETE KENNEDY: We met in Austin Texas, in 1992. I was playing in Nanci Griffith’s band, and I had a few days off so I went to Austin to play a couple of gigs on my own. A mutual friend introduced me to Maura, and we hit it off right away, as soon as we sang together and sensed that our musical taste and style was a perfect match up.


I left town to play a show up in Telluride, Colorado, and afterwards I phoned Maura down in Texas. We decided to meet up at the equidistant point. That turned out to be Lubbock Texas, and since we both love Buddy Holly, we decided that we would each drive the 500 miles solo from Colorado and Austin, and meet at Holly’s grave. So that was our first date!


Shortly after that, Nanci had an opening for a harmony singer in her band, so Maura joined and we developed our duo act by opening or Nanci all over England, Ireland and Scotland.


FOLKMAMA: How do you describe your music?


PETE KENNEDY: Our music is described by others as folk-rock, acoustic roots, and Americana, so any one of those will do!

FOLK MAMA: What kinds of experience would you expect audience members to have at one of your concerts?


PETE KENNEDY: Our hope is that the audience finds the concert experience uplifting and empowering. Our songs have a positive, encouraging vibe, and being a duo, we have a more energetic stage presence than a solo sit-down folk singer.


FOLKMAMA: What are some songs of yours, in particular, that are real crowd pleasers?


PETE KENNEDY: Maura’s newest songs are the ones getting a lot of requests, especially “Safe Until Tomorrow” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers”.


FOLKMAMA: You have three new albums coming out shortly. How much of Saturday’s concert will be the new material and how much will be older material and covers?


PETE KENNEDY: I take requests from the audience right before we start to play, and that creates the setlist, with the addition of any brand new songs or surprises that we insert ourselves.


We don’t use a standard set list, because we like each show to be different and spontaneous.

FOLKMAMA: You’re known for adding a lot of variety to your shows. What gear can we expect to find up on stage with you?



PETE KENNEDY: Well Maura will be on her plugged in acoustic cherry-red Gibson. I like to play “quiet electric guitar” and I make my own custom modified versions, so whatever I have bolted together that day gets played at the show!



Interview with Jesse Periard of Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, Performing September 24th in York, PA

Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, a Celtic folk trio from Canada’s Prince Edward Island, comes to the area for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George Street, York, PA.

Expanding on the Scottish and Acadian roots of PEI’s traditional music, Ten Strings and a Goat Skin weave old-school Franco-Canadian, Breton, Irish, and Scottish tunes with wickedly current grooves and clear quirks, flirting with indie’s best moments.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online HERE or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website.

Ten Strings Official Photo 03 (1)

SFMS Staff Writer Peter Winter had a chance to chat via email with TSGS Guitarist Jesse Periard.


How long have the three of you been playing together and how did the band start?

Rowen and Caleb are brothers, so they have been playing music together for a long time now. I met the boys when I was in the 6th grade, and we started playing music together a couple years after that. We’ve now been playing together for 10 years.

 What different elements make up the traditional Prince Edward Island sound that you draw from?

We take a lot of our inspiration from the Acadian culture that comes from PEI. Very playful and energetic music. But other traditional styles play a huge part in  PEIs sound, including Scottish and Irish, which we also love to play.

Auprès du Poêle (1)

 The title for your 2016 sophomore record  “Aupres du Poele” translates to “Around the Woodstove.”  Could you speak a bit about the significance of that title and how it came about?

We recorded our latest album in Joliette, Québec, during the months of October and December of 2015. We started our days very early in the morning, and always finished very late at night, and it was always cold. So we always looked forward to coming back to our friends house. She hosted us and always had a wood stove burning for us when we got home. We would eat, drink, and even rehearse in the same room as the wood stove. A lot of times we had people over and we all told stories and played music and joked around. It was very inspiring and seemed a very appropriate theme for the album. The wood stove to us, is a representation of community and people banding together during hard times, such as winter.

How do you think Ten Strings and a Goat Skin developed as a band from your first record to your second record?

Between our first and our latest record, there’s been a lot that’s happened. The three of us have each grown as people and as musicians. Caleb studied music business in college, and I studied contemporary music, and we’ve been able to apply our knowledge to the group and develop our music and business. Along with all of our travelling, we’ve been exposed to so many different styles of traditional music, as well as some amazing players, and we’ve learnt a lot from these different experiences and that has all definitely made an impact on our compositions and writing styles.

Tradition is often described as “Remembered Innovation.” Ten Strings and a Goat Skin has connections to both the trad and indie folk scenes of PEI.  Where do you feel the group fits in between these two worlds?

We definitely consider ourselves more on the trad side. A lot of trad bands these days play with a lot of pop and indie influences, but still fall under the trad category. I think that’s because along with our instrumentation, the tune structures are still very rooted in traditional music.

What Musicians have been sources of inspiration to all of you?

We could make you an entire book with the bands and people who’ve played a major role in our lives as musicians. To name a few in the traditional world, we love bands like Flook, Lau, The Olllam, Les Poules à Colin, The East Pointers, and Vishtèn to name a few. But we also take inspiration from bands like Bon Iver, Chance The Rapper, Vulfpeck, and other bands that don’t fall into the traditional category at all.

What do you want an audience to take away from a TSGS show?

Our goal during our live shows is to simply make people happy for a night. If people can go home a bit happier after our show, we feel like we’ve done our jobs.


——Nerdy Guitar Quesions——-

What tuning do you prefer and why?

I mainly play in Drop D tuning. It’s a lot of fun and allows for some open, but still jazzy voicings. I also really enjoy playing in DADGAD.

What are some good things to remember when backing up tunes?

My biggest thing in terms of backing tunes is making sure your rhythm is on. You could be making the nicest coolest tastiest chords, but if you’re not on the beat, those chords are pointless.
Peter Winter is a musician and writer from Harrisburg, PA.  He plays in the Celtic band Seasons and blogs about music at All The Day Sounds

The Western Flyers perform February 24th in Harrisburg, Hot Western Swing with Joey McKenzie, Katie Glassman + Gavin Kelso

Recently named the 2017 Best Western Swing Group at the Ameripolitan Awards in Austin, Texas, the award winning Western Flyers are one of the most exciting new bands to glide onto the music scene in years!Their music is a distinctive cross section of the Great American Songbook: authentic Western swing, Hot jazz and swing standards, cowboy songs and electrifying old-time fiddle tunes.



The Western Flyers come to central Pennsylvania on Friday, February 24, 2017, for a 7:30 p.m. concert sponsored by Susquehanna Folk Music Society at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg.

Internationally renowned guitar master Joey McKenzie drives the train with his powerful rhythm, while reigning National Swing Fiddle champion Katie Glassman and world-class upright bassist Gavin Kelso add fuel to the fire. A blending of tradition and innovation, The Western Flyers are a singular musical experience; a fresh take on a venerable American art form performed by three Western swing virtuosos.

Concert tickets are $24 General Admission, $20 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at

We had a chance to speak to Gavin Kelso about the band, the music that they play and the big award that they just won!


FOLKMAMA: Wow! Congratulations on winning Best Western Swing Group! That must have been pretty exciting!

GALVIN: Yes, thank you. We were all surprised. We’re really a pretty new band. We didn’t expect it.

FOLKMAMA: So, what are the Ameripolitan Awards and how does it all work?

GALVIN: The Ameripolitans are an organization that is interested in promoting roots music from the Western states. They give awards in several genres; Western Swing, Honky Tonk, Rockabilly and Outlaw. The have a fabulously produced awards ceremony and concert and hold it in a beautiful Neapolitan style theater—the Paramount Theater—in Austin. What happens is the DJs who specialize in these genres compile a list to be considered for the award and people vote for the band that they like best on social media.

FOLKMAMA: So did you win the vote because you’ve been really getting around during the last few years and getting better known or do people listen to MP3s and select their favorite that way?

GALVIN: A little of both. We’ve tried to keep the road as hot as we can given everybody’s availability. Sherry McKenzie, Joey’s wife and our manager has just done a really tremendous job of making sure that we have the opportunities that are going to present our music in the best light and people who are going to get the most out of it.

That’s why we’re playing at your concert series again. That was a really wonderful experience for us the first time. We go where we think people are going to dig hearing it. You can only be one place at a time and we try to go where it’s going to make a splash and I think we have done that.

FOLKMAMA: Thanks, glad you enjoyed playing for Susquehanna Folk! But for those that didn’t get to see you last time you were in Harrisburg, tell me what a Western Flyers concert is like.

GALVIN: If you come to a Western Flyers show you are going to see a three piece band, and you’re going to see way too much energy on stage than three people ought to have! We’re pretty enthusiastic about what we do.

All three of us come from the Western Swing tradition. It’s a genre within American traditional music, that’s broad on one hand, but narrow and specific on the other. For example we play swing music, but the slice of swing music that we play is from the 1920s, 30s, 40s. And we play country music too, but mainly from around that time period. And of course the meat and potatoes of what we do is Western Swing and the greatest artist and composer in that genre is Bob Wills. So we’re the biggest Bob Wills fans that you could encounter!

And then fiddle music kind of rounds us out. Fiddle music is kind of the “kingpin” of so many traditional American styles like Appalachian old-time, Ozark fiddling, Cajun, Celtic fiddling. But when we talk about fiddling we are primarily concerned with Texas style breakdown fiddle.

So Western Swing is a narrow section of American music but it draws from a much larger pot including swing, different styles of fiddling and some country shuffle music. There is a lot of gold to pan for a band like us because the repertoire of possible music is big.

So that’s the kind of music that people are going to hear and how we pull it off is there are three of us and me and Joey form up the rhythm section and I play upright bass and Joey plays acoustic rhythm arch top guitar. Katie is our fiddler and we all three sing.


FOLKMAMA: I’m curious of the “arch top guitar”. What is it and why does Joey choose to play that style rather than a more common flattop guitar?

GALVIN: Before guitars were amplified with electromagnetic pickups they were designed in a way acoustically to give the most volume and ensemble projection, while still maintaining a really beautiful bell like tone. If you look at photos of the Count Basie Band, for example, you’ll see that their guitarist Freddie Green played an arch top guitar. It’s been called an “orchestra guitar” because it’s built to be loud enough to be heard over the drums and horns in a traditional swing band.

Joey is a real flame keeper in terms of the style of guitar that he plays and the instruments on which he plays that style.




Kevin Neidig, Henry Koretzky, Ken Gehret & Bruce Campbell on Saturday February 18th at the Fort Hunter Barn in Harrisburg

The Susquehanna Folk Music Society is excited to be presenting a concert and an Early Jazz Clinic with t_neidig_koretzky_gehret_campbellat 5300 N Front St in Harrisburg, PA. The Early Jazz Clinic begins at 4:30 and is open to any instrumentalists, singers and listeners. The concert begins at 7:30.

These four extraordinary folk musicians from south-central PA represent some of the best acoustic musicians in our area. During Saturday’s concert they’ll share with us their great blend of originals, bluegrass, old-time and jazz. Always looking for ways to keep their music fresh and lively, this year the band is delving a little deeper into vintage jazz and swing.

This concert is part of a National Endowment of the Arts’ grant which has explored the banjo. This concert will focus, among other styles, how the banjo has been used in jazz.

Not sure that the Early Jazz Clinic is for you? Ken Gehret, who will lead the clinic, says that any ability level and players/singers of every genre are welcome! Just bring an instrument and your singing voice. The focus of the workshop will cover a little bit of the history and characteristics of this uniquely American form of music, and the connections between jazz and folk music. Participants may play a simple song like “Wayfaring Stranger” or Scat along/improvise to a 12 bar blues progression. We’ll have fun together and learn that playing jazz is not daunting at all!

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members and $10 for students. The early Jazz Clinic is free. For tickets and information visit

We had a chance to speak to Ken Gehret about what attendees should expect and what it’s been like preparing for this concert.

FOLKMAMA: I know that the four of you don’t usually play together and that you are each involved in many different musical projects. What’s it like playing with these exception musicians and how have you been preparing for this concert?

GEHRET: It’s really been an absolute joy. I’ve known these guys for many years and have played in some different combos with all of them, but playing for the Susquehanna Folk Music Society periodically is just about the only chance that we get to play as a quartet. We all started with bluegrass and folk, but along the way we have each taken on some different styles. We’ll bring all of that to this performance…a little gypsy jazz, bluegrass, folk, vintage and contemporary jazz, some originals and lots more.

Everyone’s playing is of the highest caliber, which has allowed us to be able to pull two sets together without actually being in the same room together very often! We send MP3s around, pool our resources; decide who is taking the lead—that kind of thing. Then there’s always the Fear Factor! The show’s coming up and we thrive on that feeling of urgency. That really helps to kick us into gear!

FOLKMAMA: One thing that I wanted to bring our readers attention to, especially those that are Susquehanna Folk Members, is the zippy jazz number “Monday Morning” that you recorded for the 2016-2017 Concert Sampler. That’s a really fun piece! I understand that you wrote it just for us. A SFMS original!

GENRET: Yes, as you know we wanted to add a few more jazzy numbers into this year’s concert, so I wanted a piece that represented one of the styles that we will be performing. I wrote “Monday Morning” well, on a Monday morning just in time for the deadline to turn in the recording. It’s all my playing; tenor banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass.

FOLKMAMA: Wow! Talk about being a multi-instrumentalist! Will other musicians in the group be playing multiple instruments too?

GEHRET: We will definitely be doing some switching around on the stage. Kevin and Henry, for example, will be picking up banjos for a few of the numbers. I’ll be bringing two banjos myself, a tenor one that is usually found in jazz and also a five string bluegrass banjo.

FOLKMAMA: I hear the banjo a lot in early vintage jazz recording, but in contemporary recordings, not so much. Why is that?

GEHRET: It’s really because the banjo is a much louder instrument and before sound systems, a louder instrument was needed to be heard along with wind and brass instruments. Today, if a band has a strumming instrument, it would most likely be a guitar.

FOLKMAMA: A folk music enthusiast may not think that they like jazz. Would you still encourage them to come to your performance?

GEHRET: I always tell my students that “It’s all jazz”. What I really mean is that music is all connected. We’ve attached labels to the different genres, but there is really a lot a movement between different styles of music. On Saturday night everyone, no matter what their preferences, will hear a lot that they will really enjoy!

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, 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


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


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.


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

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.



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.

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