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Irish Music Fills New Jersey

Irish Music Fills New Jersey

Around the world, they say everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  In New Jersey, we stretch the day into an entire month as town after town holds parades, festivals and Irish events throughout March. On Saturday, March 14, traditional Irish music by Caladh Nua and Colcannon will fill the Algonquin Arts Theatre and Centenary College— two excellent choices to get you in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit. Caladh Nua, an Irish band making their second tour of America, will get to see how the Jersey Shore celebrates the holiday when they perform at the newly refurbished Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan.

Caladh Nua is Gaelic for a “new harbor” or “haven,” explained Eoin O’Meachair, the band’s banjo, mandolin, and whistle player. His bandmates include Lisa Butler, lead vocals and fiddle; Paddy Tutty, fiddle, viola, bodhran; Derek Morrissey, button accordion; and Caoimhín Ó Fearghail, guitar, flute, and vocals. Together, they serve as a safe haven for hundreds of years of traditional Irish music, but done with a bit of a modern twist.

The history and future of Irish music come to life each night on stage through the band’s collective influences, which stem from their roots in the Southern counties of Ireland. From slow airs and plaintive vocals hauntingly delivered to modern arrangements played with virtuosity and spell-binding flair, Caladh Nua respectfully delivers the music of their heritage and carry it forward seamlessly into the future.

“We usually play jigs and reels, but we might put a jig with a reel or speed up and slow down, which from the traditionalist point of view wouldn’t be done like that,” said O’Meachair.  “We still play the traditional music, but we sort of bend the rules without breaking them.”

Caladh Nua loves performing around the world because of the reaction from the audience to the traditional Irish songs.  Back home in Ireland, O’Meachair admits that many people take Irish music for granted or have heard the music so often they simply tune it out.  But elsewhere in the world, the appreciation takes hold.

“We’d often heard that Irish music is popular around the world, but it’s not until you actually get out of Ireland and travel and see for yourself that it truly hits home just how popular it is,” said O’Meachair.

Songs from the band’s three albums — Happy Days (2009), Next Stop (2011) and Honest to Goodness (2014) — are filled with songs that tell tales of ill-fated love, emigrating to America and good old-fashioned toe-tapping dance music.  One song that O’Meachair is fond of is a fun song called “Cad E Sin Don Te Sin,” which deals with a single, middle-aged man who decides to spend his money however he likes — whether that means drinking it away, gambling or spending it on women.  The band teaches the audience how to say certain lines so they sing along with them as the man reminds them that its nobody’s business how he spends his money.

“We encourage the audience to clap and hoot and holler as much as they like,” added O’Meachair.  “We have great fun with the audience, tell funny jokes and some stories about the fortunate and unfortunate things to happen to us while we’re on the road.  There’s always one or two banjo jokes as well.  Me, being a banjo player, the night wouldn’t be complete without a jibe at the banjo player!”

The Algonquin Theatre was completely remodeled in the past year.  All of the theater’s seats were replaced and sightlines were improved by staggering the seating.  The theater also improved accessibility by adding more wheelchair locations and moveable-arm chairs.

Tickets range from $39-$46 for adults; $36-$43 for seniors; and $29-$36 for students.  Jersey Arts Members get 15% off of this show with the code JAM when they order tickets online or at the Algonquin box office.

For more information on Caladh Nua visit www.caladhnua.com.

Meanwhile, in Hackettstown, Colcannon will showcase their contemporary take on Irish music at Centenary Stage.  Formed in 1984 in Boulder, Colorado, Colcannon has released eight CDs and filmed an Emmy-award winning PBS special, “Colcannon in Concert” at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Colcannon plays authentic, joyous Irish music, which they call “traditional with a touch of chamber music and music hall.”  Comprised of fine musicians, they are equally at home on the stage of a folk festival or performing with a symphony orchestra.

Tickets are $25 and are available online at centenarystageco.org, by calling (908) 979–0900, or at the box office located in the David and Carol Lackland Center at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown on the campus of Centenary College.

For more information on Colcannon visit www.colcannon.com

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