Posted by: mdmusingsie | January 26, 2014

Temple Bar Trad Fest 2014 – cuid a dó

Each year that I’ve been attending the Trad Fest there have been the varied sampling of traditional and other music as well as dance and street entertainment with a few big name acts thrown in.  This year was no exception.

To celebrate the life of Frankie Kennedy, co-founder of the band Altan who was taken too soon nearly 20 years ago, the group invited some friends to play a tribute concert at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

It turns out that when Frankie met Mairéad, he couldn’t play a note. His friends told him that if he wanted to go out with her he’d have to learn to play an instrument, so he took up the tin whistle and flute. Now that’s devotion! Mairéad has often commented that Frankie was the love of her life and it appears it went both ways.

The concert included a number of guests such as Frankie’s Godson on fiddle (names are not my strong point), musician friends from Belfast (Tara on flute and another fellow on fiddle); Tríona and Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill (creating ¾ of T-With the Maggies); several other musicians as well as special guest Mary Chapin Carpenter who the band toured with at one point.


Mary Chapin Carpenter and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh

Mary Chapin Carpenter and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh


Altan with Tríona and Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill

Altan with Tríona and Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill

The band opened with a piece Mairéad wrote called “A Tune for Frankie” that she claims Frankie remarked in his razor sharp wit, “it will be great once it’s finished.”  They continued in what was certainly an energized set springing from one lively jig or reel to the next, with a few ballads thrown in as the guests came and went.

Mary Chapin Carpenter is one of my favorite country artists and I was thrilled when I found she would be part of the program.  Instead of performing some of her top hits she chose two possibly lesser known songs “I am a Town” and “The Moon and St. Christopher.”  She also sang along with Mairéad and the Ní Dhomhnaill sisters on “An Ghealóg” – a hauntingly beautiful lament by Martin Tourish.

From what I could tell there was seating for at least 500, and although I didn’t see whether it was full all the way to the back, I suspect it was close.  I was fortunate to get near the front though the chairs in my section appear to have been designed for the penitent with leprechaun leg room.  Although the music could have gone on all night as far as I was concerned, my backside was grateful it was only around two hours.

A woman in her 60’s or 70’s in front of me had her head bobbing and shoulders swaying throughout the concert demonstrating the universal appeal of this type of music.  During the encore they had the whole crowd on their feet and I suspect even Jonathan Swift and Stella were doing a jig in their graves.

What an amazing combination of talent.  Probably a once in a lifetime event.  I’m glad I was there and I think Frankie would be proud of the legacy he helped create.

Encore with all the guests

Encore with all the guests

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