There are few opportunities to hear top-notch Irish music in Seattle these days. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, fiddler Martin Hayes is coming to The Triple Door on Saturday for two performances of his Masters of Tradition show, flanked by six of the most compelling players in Irish music.
Hayes is one of Ireland’s most exciting, innovative artists. He lived in Seattle for 10 years, where he became known for incorporating elements of jazz, classical and world music into his interpretations of Irish tunes. But the core of Hayes’ musical style is rooted in his birthplace of East Clare, Ireland, inspired by the old guard of Clare fiddlers.
The Masters of Tradition is a group of mighty musicians performing the mightiest of Irish tunes. Their show includes the expressive, nasal tones of Iarla Ó Lionáird singing sean nós, Ireland’s oldest form of sung Gaelic poetry; the stark wail of the uilleann pipes in the hands of David Power; and the delicate interplay between the trio of Máirtín O’Connor (accordion), Cathal Hayden (fiddle) and Seamie O’Dowd (guitar).
If you like Hayes and his longtime musical partner guitarist Dennis Cahill, who move between wild bursts of frantic fiddling and slower moments of lyrical lightness, there’ll be plenty of that, too.
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“I feel a lot of confidence walking on stage every night with these musicians,” says Hayes in a phone interview. “I know that I’m going to hear something I hadn’t heard the night before. I also know that it’ll be full of good energy and life.”
Hayes chose these musicians because they’ve contributed something original to Irish music.
“It’s people who have found their own voice in the music,” he explains, “Dynamic, powerful musicians.”
Of particular note, Ó Lionáird is one of Ireland’s most treasured sean nós singers, known for melding the singing of long ago with an avant-garde edge.
One of Hayes’ aims on this tour is to get back to the roots of Irish music, perhaps reflecting a more general atmosphere of “sobering up” that permeates post-Celtic Tiger Ireland.
Hayes is looking forward to coming back to his old Seattle turf.
“I love Seattle,” he says. “I have a feeling of fondness and connection to the place. I’m really looking forward to people in Seattle getting to hear these musicians.”
There will be no Paddywhackery at The Triple Door on Saturday. Just honest-to-goodness Irish traditional tunes played at their very best.
Claire Connell: firstname.lastname@example.org