Galway Session’s Tin Sandwich Festival!

Patrick Bergin.

Renowned Hollywood Actor Patrick Bergin launches Galway Session’s Tin Sandwich Festival!

Renowned Hollywood Actor Patrick Bergin launches Galway Session’s Tin Sandwich Festival! Galway Session’s Tin Sandwich Festival Launch! An Eastender in the West End!

The launch of the Galway Session’s Tin Sandwich Festival Programme 2018 will take place this Friday, May 4th at 6pm in the Crane Bar, Galway. It will be launched by renowned actor and harmonica player Patrick Bergin.

The Festival, which will run from June 13th to 17th will focus on the wonderfully versatile instrument, the harmonica, known in the Irish tradition as ‘The Tin Sandwich.”

It’s versatility allows it to adapt to a wide range of music genres including roots, folk, jazz, blues and traditional. The festival will feature a sample of all the above.

According to the Festival Director Mick Crehan, the playing of the harmonica, a deceptively simple looking but quite complicated and powerful instrument, has experienced a strong revival in the past decade.

‘This is due mainly to the efforts of some great practitioners such as the Murphy Brothers from Wexford, Carlow’s Mick Kinsella and one of Ireland’s greatest imports, Rick Epping from the US.

‘We are proud indeed to present these greats and many more wonderful artists in what promises to be a memorable week of music, song and dance,’ Mick Said.

Highlights of the Galway Session’s 2018 will include the explosive combination of TG4 musician of the year Frankie Gavin, the fiddle maestro of De Dannan with the remarkable Rick Epping on harmonica and concertina in the Roisin Dubh. Many will remember Rick as a member of Pumkinhead, one of the great pioneer folk groups of the ’70s.

Another legend, the Planxty and Patrick Street star Andy Irvine will bring his unique voice and talent to the stage, also in the Roisin Dubh.

For a more contemporary feel watch out for The Spook of the 13th Lock and Landless, also at the Roisin Dubh.

A series of early afternoon and evening recitals will also take place in the King’s Head and Saint Nicholas Collegiate Church as well as night time gigs in the Crane Bar, including a launch of ‘Up She Flew’ a new album by flautist and singer Stephie Geremia.

There will be a great sessions and gatherings daily at Tigh Choilli, Taaffes and Tigh Neachtains.

Workshops will be available on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th with Mick Kinsella focusing on Irish Traditional music, Maciek Zaworonek from Polands on jazz and blues. Harmonica Tech, Cathal Johnson will be on hand to cover technical aspects, repairs and harmonica maintenance too.

A Gala Festival gig will take place in Monroe’s live on Saturday 16th featuring John and Pip Murphy, widely regarded as the foremost exponents of the Irish Traditional Harmonica. The Murphy brothers feature in the group Tin Sandwich, with Danú members Benny Mc Carthy on accordion and John Clancy, son of the late Liam Clancy, on guitar. Also performing at the concert will be Mick Kinsella on harmonica and concertina, fiddler Thierry Masure from Belgium and Les Trois Blondes, a bal musette group playing French cafè music of the 1940s.

See Brochure here:

Festival brochure

Galway Sessions Tin Sandwich Festival brochure.

http://www.galwaysessions.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Galway_Sessions_Broch.pdf

Special guests on the might will be Patrick Bergin, who is also launching the festival. Best known as an actor, Patrick Bergin is also a very fine singer/songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player. He is most famous for his roles in ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’ with Julia Roberts, ‘To the Mountains and the Moon’ with Ian Glenn of Jack Taylor fame and most recently Patrick has starred as a particularly nasty villain Aiden Maguire in ‘Eastenders.’

Harmonica repairs and advice.

Harmonicas Ireland

Following Patrick’s launch of the festival in the Crane Bar on Friday 4th May, there will be music by Cathal Johnson of Harmonicas Ireland and Cian Mulligan and friends.

2018 Galway Sessions Splash

 

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Patrick Bergin And The Dominic Street Ramblers!

Patrick Bergin and the Dominic Street Ramblers play Free Reed Gathering in Cloughjordan on the 28th September.

Free Reed Gathering present:
Patrick Bergin and The Dominic Street Ramblers
Perform Friday September 28th Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary, St. Kieran’s Hall
Doors 7.45pm.

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Harmonica Recital @ Black Gate Cultural Centre for Culture Night

Cathal Johnson, Harmonica musician and Service Repairer for All-Ireland for Hohner.

A harmonica recital and discussion by Cathal Johnson with accompaniment from Stephen Simmonds on guitar taking place at the Black Gate Cultural Centre Friday 21st September.
Cathal Johnson will give a recital and talk on the harmonica past, present and in the future. With accompaniment from Stephen Simmonds on guitar, Cathal and Steve will play Irish Traditional Dance Music, blues and country blues with elements of jazz along and country.
After the recital there will be a discussion on the rapid development and direction of the harmonica. Harmonica players are also invited to come along to play and learn tips on repair and maintain their instruments during the workshop.
Steve Simmonds is a Galway based singer/songwriter and guitar player. Versed in traditional music he also runs the gamut between folk and rock. He has been a guitar backer for Charlie Lennon, Johnny Connolly and Mary Shannon amongst others and continues to explore electric music on his beloved Telecaster guitar.
Cathal Johnson is a harmonica player and technician who rebuilds and repairs harmonicas for players in Ireland and around the world. He plays harmonica, guitar, accordion and melodeon. Both Cathal Johnson and Steve Simmonds are members of the Dominic Street Ramblers.
Time: 4pm – 6pm
Address: The Black Gate Cultural Centre, Francis Street, Galway
Website: harmonicasireland.com
Phone: 0834444980

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Galway Sessions Harmonica Festival review!

Mick Crehan and his wife Meave who run The Crane Bar and his staff hosted an electrical and atmospherical start to proceedings on a clement June 13th on a Wednesday night for the opening of Galway Sessions Harmonica Festival. In the past 12 years or so Mick Crehan and Meave have run the ‘Galway Sessions’ festival. As festival director, Mick produces different themed music festivals a year from composers to piping, dancing to harmonicas! A highly regarded musician himself, Mick plays the tin whistle and plays superbly on old Irish slow airs. With an encyclopaedic mind of information. Especially Irish Traditional Dance Music (ITDM) tunes and song. He shows a great fondness for the harmonica, as many others in ITDM do have across Ireland.

Pip Murphy with his daughter and Mick Kinsella playing after the Gala Night in the Crane.

Awhile ago, I spoke with Mick about running a harmonica themed festival. I ran one myself with Mick Canney last year in Cloughjorndan billed as Free Reed Gathering. And continue to be involved with that project their year, September 14th/15th. On June 13th Wednesday 2018, on a clement night Mick introduced me and a really class line up to the stage! “Focusing on the harmonica, the first magical maestro on the harmonica. The harmonica ‘Messiah,’ here to spread the Gospel of the harmonica. It’s because of him we are doing this… …Cathal not only plays the harmonica he also repairs modifies and does all sorts of things he has a company here in Galway Called Harmonicas Ireland and his main mission in life is to spread the gospel of the harmonica! Its because of him we are doing this, he’s a kinda persuasive character. Anyways he put a team together and he will tell you about that later on, would you give a big welcome to Cathal and friends!” and welcomed us onstage! But it wasn’t just me who convinced Mick. A local harmonica enthusiast Ernie Deacy in particular along with many others local harmonica players did too. Great harmonica players such as Frank Boyle, Paul Moran who performed a few concerts and sessions, David Larkin tremolo and singer hosted a singing session, local blues and jazz maverick Maciek (Magic Tongue) Zaworonek hosted a workshop and closed out the festival with his band The Barnyard Quartet! Along with traditional player as Sean Maloney and last but not least, Tony O’Connel who featured in the Sunday afternoon session. These guys with fondness for the little instrument didn’t seem to take much convincing Mick! The festival seemed to be a huge success, the extant determined, the challenge is to do it all again in the next 6 to 12 months!

John Murphy playing at the Gala Night in Monroe’s with his band Tin Sandwich

Galway Sessions Harmonica Festival’s setting in Galway made the atmosphere so special and different. Galway, plus harmonicas with a multitude of amazingly talented musicians set the scene for Galway Sessions this year. People of Galway and its musicians, dancers, listeners, visitors and Galway’s surrounding areas made for a magical atmosphere. The wildness of fastest flowing river in Europe, the Corrib with it’s run of salmon leaping up the river followed by an otter! I actually did see an otter and have a video to prove it! Indeed one of our members Trevor Yeo attended festival in Galway and witnessed a local fisherman landings a salmon from the ‘High Bank!’ What a sight to see for Trevor attending this harmonica festival!! I took a break from organising the multiple logistics of running a festival, to spy the salmon and nature running the river and saw one of the local fishermen catching a salmon too, swans on nest, hatchlings all sorts of wildlife happening all round you! Imagine in the middle of a city! Later in the week, Ben Hewlet, chairman of the National Harmonica League himself arrived! Delighted to see him there Trevor, Ben and I went fishing. No luck catching a fish!! Ya just never know in fishing… Anyway this was not just a fishing trip, this was Galway Sessions Harmonica Festival holiday! Albeit a working one for me at least. I loved every minute of it and we all got into the spirit things.

Two hour workshops ran Saturday and Sunday and consisted of Myself, Mick Kinsella and Maciek Zorrowanek and Ben Hewlet. Ben Hewlet played a stormer. At the last minute I managed to schedule him in with Maciek Zorrowanek for an hour or so. Then again with another Sonny Terry workshop at the Crane. These workshops worked out very well with a lot of good feedback.

Dominic Street Ramblers play for the opening night of the festival in the Crane.

At one of the sessions Mick Crehan complimented Ben on his playing at a session I hosted on Sunday evening at 6. Ben played his Irish party pieces with great effect using the Harp Wah by Roly Platt on one of his Irish tunes, I particular remember the slow air he played. Showing how the Harp Wah can incorporate into Irish music. The session was well attended by quite a few harmonica players varying from diatonic, tremolo and chromatic harmonicas. Many had interesting stories to tell!

Tin Sandwich Band invite Cathal Johnson and Mick Kinsella up for the finale.

Incredible session guitarist and harmonica, Stephen Simmonds and Patrick Bergin (Aiden Maguire, Eastenders and Sleeping With The Enemy) Barry on double bass and I (Cathal Johnson) joined Patrick our very special guest indeed, to form the band Dominic St. Ramblers. We managed to play a blinder. Patrick, Turning many heads as to his own inimitable entertaining and musicianship. A real true actor and singer songwriter for sure. I invited Patrick to play at the festival having met last year at the harmonica festival I ran with Mick Canney billed as Free Reed Gathering. He invited me and Stephen Simmonds to play with him on the Gala Night having launched the festival a month before at the Crane. We play Free Reed Gathering again on 14th/15th September at Cloughjordan Village and Eco Village in North Tipperary and The Crane on the 16th September Galway that weekend. So watch this space and check out www.harmonicasireland.com for more up and coming information also on my Facebook page and other platforms.

The Dominic Street Ramblers opening..

What intrigued me most about the 5 day festival was that amount of people who did come out of the woodwork throughout Ireland and afar to attend the event. 3 sons of an 84 years young played with brilliant tone on chromatic harmonica player arrived from Dublin. He was a champion harmonica player, as was his 3 brothers who have since passed away, last man standing! All 4 brothers won ‘All Ireland’ medals for playing harmonica! How cool is that? Plenty other stories too. After the Gala concert at the Crane for the after session, I spoke with renowned tremolo player John Murphy of headline act Tin Sandwich. He introduced me to another gentleman from Dublin Con Cluskey, founding member of The Harmonichords. He played sweet music for us there and then standing by the bar! At another session I hosted on Sunday from 6 to 8 downstairs in the Crane Bar, many similar stories transpired making this a very special occasion for many.

The opening night was riveting for me and the band. With entertaining banter from TG4 celeb Aindrias De Staic on fiddle and jaws harp, Stephen Simmonds with his one man band set up and amazing and very professional skills on guitar, special kick peddle built inside a cajon and foot tambourine. On bass we had Brandon Begley son of the well known accordion/melodeon player and Steve Cooney protege. This was a hilarious and very entertaining set that we managed to deliver. I’ve been playing with Aindrias and Stephen on and off for 20 or so years now. We played jigs, reels, polkas mixed with country songs from Stephen and myself singing country blues and old time songs. We ended with a comedy version of a traditional train blues with a tune Aindrias and I both composed together called Traditional Train Blues/Blue Stack Mountain Blues. The was an electrifying buzz and vibe throughout the night and indeed this continued the rest of the week.

Thursday’s events started in the King’s Head with all Ireland champion Paul Moran and retired teacher. A lilter (a form mouth music), dancer and harmonica player from Dublin accompanied by Anders Trajberg on accordion.

After that it was ‘tunes in the church’ where myself and renowned fiddle player Gerry Harrington played as set of Irish Traditional tunes in the lovely setting of Saint Nicholas Church. Paul is also resident artist at St. Nicholas Church this summer.

Cathal Johnson biography and origins are Irish born and based today in Galway City, The Forge Arts Centre, New Road, Galway, Ireland. He grew up playing various music genres on guitar and harmonica adding accordion and melodeon later. Recognised by Hohner Harmonica manufacturers in Germany as ‘Service Harmonica Repair for All Ireland.’ Cathal studied informally as harmonica technician with harmonica guru Brendan Power (www.brendanpower.com). In 2010, Cathal attained a degree in Applied Music specialising in Harmonica Solo Performance at DkIT in Dundalk, Co. Louth in Ireland. He specialised in solo performance playing Irish Traditional Dance Music on diatonic and chromatic harmonicas. As a musician Cathal plays and sings music with the harmonica rack with guitar and also plays melodeon and accordion.

Rick Epping and Frankie Gavin play Roisin Dubh.

Gerry Harrington grew up in Kenmare Co. Kerry in beautiful surroundings and scenery. At an early age Gerry was very interested in music which was influenced by the landscape and the wonderful musicians of the day. Since then Gerry has recorded seven albums and has taught Irish Traditional Fiddle playing and the history that goes with it in many countries and all over Ireland and provides music for private gatherings, weddings and funerals.

All of Gerry Harringtons recorded albums are  based on researching the old traditional tunes and bringing them to a new time.  Gerry is skilled in  performance, teaching, recording, mixing, production, and has a great interest in nature  photography. He has also has performed and taught music in many countries, including the US, Alaska, France, Finland, Holland and has had students from Japan come to his home for tuition.

Gerry Harrington is very passionate about passing on the Traditional music, with feeling and emotion to a new generation with the skills he has learned in his association with many musicians he has encountered on his musical journey. “My greatest pleasure in life is bringing enjoyment to people through my music, teaching fiddle,  taking long walks with my dog while taking photos of this wonderful country we live in and it also very much inspires me in my music.”

Andy Irvine plays Roisin to a full house. Sorry about the picture!

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Galway Sessions Tin Sandwich Festival!

Patrick Bergin.

Renowned Hollywood Actor Patrick Bergin launches Galway Session’s Tin Sandwich Festival!

 

Renowned Hollywood Actor Patrick Bergin launches Galway Session’s Tin Sandwich Festival! Galway Session’s Tin Sandwich Festival Launch! An Eastender in the West End!

The launch of the Galway Session’s Tin Sandwich Festival Programme 2018 will take place this Friday, May 4th at 6pm in the Crane Bar, Galway. It will be launched by renowned actor and harmonica player Patrick Bergin.

The Festival, which will run from June 13th to 17th will focus on the wonderfully versatile instrument, the harmonica, known in the Irish tradition as ‘The Tin Sandwich.”

It’s versatility allows it to adapt to a wide range of music genres including roots, folk, jazz, blues and traditional. The festival will feature a sample of all the above.

According to the Festival Director Mick Crehan, the playing of the harmonica, a deceptively simple looking but quite complicated and powerful instrument, has experienced a strong revival in the past decade.

‘This is due mainly to the efforts of some great practitioners such as the Murphy Brothers from Wexford, Carlow’s Mick Kinsella and one of Ireland’s greatest imports, Rick Epping from the US.

‘We are proud indeed to present these greats and many more wonderful artists in what promises to be a memorable week of music, song and dance,’ Mick Said.

Highlights of the Galway Session’s 2018 will include the explosive combination of TG4 musician of the year Frankie Gavin, the fiddle maestro of De Dannan with the remarkable Rick Epping on harmonica and concertina in the Roisin Dubh. Many will remember Rick as a member of Pumkinhead, one of the great pioneer folk groups of the ’70s.

Another legend, the Planxty and Patrick Street star Andy Irvine will bring his unique voice and talent to the stage, also in the Roisin Dubh.

For a more contemporary feel watch out for The Spook of the 13th Lock and Landless, also at the Roisin Dubh.

A series of early afternoon and evening recitals will also take place in the King’s Head and Saint Nicholas Collegiate Church as well as night time gigs in the Crane Bar, including a launch of ‘Up She Flew’ a new album by flautist and singer Stephie Geremia.

There will be a great sessions and gatherings daily at Tigh Choilli, Taaffes and Tigh Neachtains.

Workshops will be available on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th with Mick Kinsella focusing on Irish Traditional music, Maciek Zaworonek from Polands on jazz and blues. Harmonica Tech, Cathal Johnson will be on hand to cover technical aspects, repairs and harmonica maintenance too.

A Gala Festival gig will take place in Monroe’s live on Saturday 16th featuring John and Pip Murphy, widely regarded as the foremost exponents of the Irish Traditional Harmonica. The Murphy brothers feature in the group Tin Sandwich, with Danú members Benny Mc Carthy on accordion and John Clancy, son of the late Liam Clancy, on guitar. Also performing at the concert will be Mick Kinsella on harmonica and concertina, fiddler Thierry Masure from Belgium and Les Trois Blondes, a bal musette group playing French cafè music of the 1940s.

See Brochure here:

Festival brochure

Galway Sessions Tin Sandwich Festival brochure.

http://www.galwaysessions.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Galway_Sessions_Broch.pdf

Special guests on the might will be Patrick Bergin, who is also launching the festival. Best known as an actor, Patrick Bergin is also a very fine singer/songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player. He is most famous for his roles in ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’ with Julia Roberts, ‘To the Mountains and the Moon’ with Ian Glenn of Jack Taylor fame and most recently Patrick has starred as a particularly nasty villain Aiden Maguire in ‘Eastenders.’

Harmonica repairs and advice.

Harmonicas Ireland

Following Patrick’s launch of the festival in the Crane Bar on Friday 4th May, there will be music by Cathal Johnson of Harmonicas Ireland and Cian Mulligan and friends.

2018 Harmonica Home

https://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/100309/patrick-bergin-to-launch-galway-sessions-festival-2018

Welcome to Galway Sessions 2018

We would like to extend a true Galway welcome to visitors & locals alike to this year’s Galway Sessions Festival. This year, our focus is on the deceivingly simple looking but quite complicated instrument, the harmonica. Colloqueally known in the Irish Tradition as the “Tin Sandwich”.

The playing of this instrument has experienced a strong revival in the past decade due mainly to the eorts of some great practitioners such as Noel Battle, the Murphy Brothers from Wexford, Carlow’s Mick Kinsella and one of Ireland’s greatest imports Rick Epping from the USA.

We are proud to present these greats and many more wonderful artists in what promises to be a memorable week of music, song and dance.

Harmonica Workshop

Mick Kinsella, Traditional Irish Music on Harmonica for Tremelo, Chromatic & Blues Harp,
Please bring Key of G Harmonica (Workshops include maintenance, repair & history of Harmonicas by Cathal Johnson of Harmonicas Ireland)
Registration at the Crane Bar 10.30am
Adm: 1 day = €20 • 2 Days = €30
Upstairs at the Crane Bar register 10.30 / 11am-1pm / Sat 16th & Sun 17th

Blues Harp Workshop

Maciek Zaworonek Basic & Advanced techniques on Blues Harp, Blues & Jazz.

Columban Hall, Sea Road / 11am-1pm / Sat 16th & Sun 17th

We are delighted to announce that National Harmonica League president Ben Hewlett will be at our workshops this year. Ben is an expert on the playing of Sonny Terry and will give a workshop on Sonny Terry’s playing in the Crane on Saturday afternoon at 3. This is a free event!

Spook of the 13th Lock

Róisín Dubh / WED13 June at 8pm / Admission €10

The band match Irish Folk and Trad. Music with experimental Rock to create an exciting and exhilirating sound.

Cathal Johnson (Harmonica)
Gerry Harrington (Fiddle)

St. Nicholas Church / Thurs 14 June at 7.30pm / Admission €15
Free historical Tour of Church included

FRANKIE GAVIN (Fiddle)

RICK EPPING (Harmonica /Concertina)

Seamie O’Dowd (Guitar)

Róisín Dubh / Thurs 14 June at 8pm / Admission €20

Stephanie Geremia (Flute/Vocals)

with Aaron Jones, (Bouzuki/Guitar)
Ben Gunnery (Fiddle)
Alan Kelly (Piano/Accordion)

Crane Bar / Thurs 14 June at 9pm / Admission €15

Seamie O’Dowd

(Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica, Fiddle)
Traditional Folk & Roots

St. Nicholas Church / Fri 15 June at 7.30pm / Admission €15
Free historical Tour of Church included

ANDY IRVINE

Folk Legend,Songwriter & multi-instrumentalist of Planxty & Patrick St. lends his unique talent & voice to the song traditions of Ireland, Scotland, England & America.

Róisín Dubh / Fri 15 June at 8pm / Admission €20

GALA CONCERT

Patrick Bergin (Guitar / Harmonica / Vocals)
Tin Sandwich Featuring John+Pip Murphy (Harmonicas),  Benny McCarthy (Accordion), Donal Clancy (Guitar)
Mick Kinsella (Harmonica / Concertina), Thierry Masure (Fiddle)
Les Trois Blondes, Bal Musette (French Café Music)

Monroe’s / Sat 16 June at 8pm / Admission €20

LANDLESS

Unaccompanied Trad. songs in Glorious Four Part Harmonies

Róisín Dubh / Sun17 June at 8pm / Admission €10

Free Events

Cathal Johnson (Harmonicas)
Andreas De Staic (Fiddle)

Trad, Roots & Folk at the Crane Bar
Wednesday 13th June / 9pm

Paul Moran (Harmonica)
Anders Trajberg (Accordion/Fiddle)

Traditional Music, Song & Sean Nós Dance in the Kings Head
Thursday 14th June / 3pm

Mick Kinsella (Harmonica/Concertina)
Josephine Marsh (Accordion)

Traditional Music, in the Kings Head
Friday 15th June / 3pm

Kinlochard Ceilidh Band

Famed Ceilidh Band from our Clutural partner, Stirling, Scotland make a welcome return.
Scottish Trad. Music, Song & Highland Dance
Crane Bar / Thursday 14th June / 9pm

Singing in the Crane

Hosted by Dave Larkin & Lorraine Fitzpatrick
All Singers welcome
Crane Bar / Saturday 16th June / 6pm

Great Sessions daily at:

Tí Coilí / 6pm & 9.30pm
Taae’s Bar / 5pm & 9.0pm
also at Tí Neachtain Fri 15th & Sat 16th

SUNDAY SESSION

Hosted by: Sean Ryan (Whistle), Mick Crehan (Whistle), Greg Cotter ( Guitar/Vocals) Special Guest: Tony O’Connell (Harmonica)
Crane Bar / Sunday 17th June / 2pm

HARMONICA SESSION

Hosted by: Cathal Johnson, Featuring Visiting & local players
Crane Bar / Sunday 17th June / 6pm

Maciek Zaworonek Trio

Blues / Jazz
Crane Bar / Sunday 17th June / 9pm

Exciting news! Renowned Hollywood Actor Patrick Bergin plays Galway Session’s Harmonica Festival!

An Eastender in the West End

The Festival, which will run from June 13th to 17th will focus on the wonderfully versatile instrument, the harmonica, known in the Irish tradition as ‘The Tin Sandwich.”

Galway Sessions Tin Sandwich Festival June 13th to 17th, 2018!

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Free Reed Gathering!

Free Reed Gathering, Cloughjordan, 15th-17th September. 

Andy Irvine, Don Baker, Brendan Power and Seamie O’Dowd are some of the artists due to play open-air concerts at Cloughjordan Amphitheatre on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th of September. 

What a line up we have for you at this event coming up in September! Andy Irvine and Don Baker on the 15th! And Brendan Power and Seamie O’Dowd on the 16th! Plus supports acts with Cathal Johnson and Maciek Zaworonec are will also perform throughout the weekend! Where would you get it! Individual tickets available through Eventbrite, see links below!

If you can help or want to help please purchase tickets from Eventbrite here to support us:

https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/brendan-power-seamie-odowd-tickets-36806387897?aff=es2

and here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/andy-irvine-don-baker-tickets-36806305651?aff=es2

If you can, support this harmonica event buy buying a ticket online! Even if you can’t make it! We are asking for your help in running this this year. It will we hope be a yearly event. I am running it along with my friend Mick Canney from Cloughjordan Eco Village  and Cloughjordan itself. This is a harmonica event billed as The Free Reed Gathering. To be held at Cloughjordan Eco Village and village. We are running this event ourselves and with little or no funding, any help is appreciated!!

Open-Air Concerts at Cloughjordan Amphitheatre.

The concerts are part of a weekend of music called the ‘Free Reed Gathering’ in the town. The festival is focused on the harmonica and other ‘free reed’ instruments. Such as the concertina and accordion. This year boasts concerts and workshops by some of the very best traditional Irish and blues musicians. The organisers hope that it will become an annual event.

Harmonica repair testimonials

Free Reed Gathering, Cloughjordan, 15th-17th September. Considered by Bono and many others to be the world’s greatest harmonica player!

DON BAKER was born in Whitehall, Dublin. He is a singer-songwriter who plays the harmonica and the guitar. He appeared in several films. His most notable appearance being in In the Name of the Father and On the Nose. He has published harmonica instruction books and videos.

While Baker is already acknowledged as one of the top blues harmonica players in the world. Another key feature of his recently released album; My Songs, My Friends. The quality of his guitar playing and the range and depth of his songwriting. ‘Politician’, featuring John Spillane, castigates our politicians. While there’s a suave gospel elegance to ‘Lord Have Mercy’, a duet by Eleanor McEvoy and Brian Kennedy. Sinead O’Connor is in vintage form on Baker’s ‘Cinderella’, while ‘Maureen’, sung by Baker himself. A touching love song a la Mark Knopfler.

At the close of the upbeat ‘Little Rock’n’Roll Band’, Finbar Furey sings, “Come on, Don, write me one more song.” That sentiment superbly encapsulates the esteem in which Baker is held in by fans and musicians alike. My Songs, My Friends, released on Don’s own label.

Here is a Facebook link to the event, please give it a like and spread the word! Thanks!!: https://www.facebook.com/events/1928174043863065/?active_tab=discussion

Weekend tickets available via myself Cathal Johnson or on the door at only 25 euros. Include two magnificent concerts and harmonica workshops with meastro Brendan Power, (myself) Cathal Johnson and the amazing Magic Maciek Zaworonek! Now that’s value!

On Friday evening there’s a very special double-bill with two of Ireland’s great troubadours; Andy Irvine and Don Baker. Both artists will perform some of their favourite and best loved tunes in solo performances. And later, when these two get together on stage, just about anything could happen!

Saturday promises another great gig as Brendan Power. Acknowledged as one of the world’s best harmonica players, takes to the amphitheatre stage. This is a rare Irish appearance by the UK-based harmonica maestro. On the night he will be accompanied by the excellent traditional Irish and blues guitarist, Seamie O’Dowd from Sligo.

Harmonicas

Free Reed Gathering, Cloughjordan, 15th-17th September. Brendan is a genius harmonica inventor and player. Inventing cutting edge harmonicas with cutting edge technology!

Although a New Zealander, Brendan Power is an all-Ireland champion, so expect an exceptional traditional set with O’Dowd (formerly of trad super-group Dervish) on the strings. Both these men love the blues, and are hugely accomplished players, so its definitely going to swing later on!

BRENDAN POWER, UK-based New Zealander is acknowledged by many as one of the most creative, skilled & versatile harmonica players around today. Equally at ease on both the earthy Blues Harp as well as the sophisticated Chromatic Harmonica. He tunes them to his own scales to create a highly original style. He has recorded over twenty solo CDs to date, in a wide variety of musical genres.

Since he moved to Britain in 1992, Brendan’s eclectic skills and sympathetic ear have made him an in-demand session player. Leading to live and recording work with artists such as Kate Bush (her latest album ‘Director’s Cut’), Sting, Van Morrison, James Galway, Paul Young, Shirley Bassey, John Williams, Mike Batt and many more.

His playing is also heard on many Hollywood movie soundtracks. (eg. the 2008 Oscar winning soundtrack for ‘Atonement’, Jackie Chan’s ‘Shanghai Noon’). Internationally syndicated BBC TV series (eg. ‘Billy Connelly in Canada’, ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’, and Bruce Parry’s ‘Arctic’ Series). He has featured on the world-renowned ‘Jools Holland Show.’ Regularly toured worldwide, performing in venues such as China’s Great Hall of the People. The Royal Albert Hall and The Kremlin. Brendan was voted “International Harmonica Player of the Year 2011/12” by the respected SPAH organisation of America.

In addition to his Pop, Jazz & Blues skills, Brendan is an expert player of Irish traditional music (winning the 1993 All Ireland Title). Performed for three years as soloist in the Riverdance Show. He has recorded with many well-known Irish artists including Donal Lunny, Altan, Paul Brady, Arcady, Artie McGlynn, Mary Black and others. In February 2012 Brendan and Tim Edey won the “Best Duo” title at the 2012 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

A respected harmonica technician & customiser. Brendan was employed for 5 years by Suzuki Musical Instruments Co. of Japan as their International Harmonica Specialist. During which time he helped Suzuki develop and promote most of their current range of diatonic and chromatic models. He left in April 2013 to pursue freelance projects. One is devoted to making high-performance extra-reed harmonicas for increased note-bending ability: X-Reed.com. In the course of this project Brendan taught himself CAD design. Mastered the new generation of maker-machines such as 3d printers, laser cutters and CNC millers. Constantly inventing, he designs and creates a wide range of cutting-edge custom harmonicas in his home workshop. Selling them all over the world to players seeking fresh sounds and better performance.

Brendan is also an inventor and has invent many modern day harmonicas! Such as his double chromatic harmonica, valved harmonicas, his 3D printed ‘Powercombs’ which are fantastic once installed into chromatics harmonicas and increase the sound, tone, volume and control over the reeds when bending. Check out his website here: http://www.brendan-power.com

Cathal Johnson Harmonica Repairs

Free Reed Gathering, Cloughjordan, 15th-17th September. Andy Irvine, the most recorded harmonica player in Ireland, according to the National Archives!

ANDY IRVINE is one of the great Irish singers. His voice one of a handful of truly great ones that gets to the very soul of Ireland. He has been hailed as “a tradition in himself”.

Musician, singer, songwriter, Andy has maintained his highly individual performing skills throughout his 45 year career.

From Sweeney’s Men in the mid 60s, to the enormous success of Planxty in the 70s. Then from Patrick Street to Andy Irvine & Dónal Lunny’s Mozaik. Andy has been a world music pioneer and an icon for traditional music and musicians.

As a soloist, Andy fills the role of the archetypal troubadour with a show and a travelling lifestyle that reflect his lifelong influence, Woody Guthrie.
To quote the Irish Times, “Often copied, never equalled”, his repertoire consists of Irish traditional songs, dexterous Balkan dances and a compelling cannon of his own self-penned songs.

Website here: http://www.andyirvine.com

“Maciek is one of my favourite musicians in the whole country”- Sharon Shannon’
Maciek Zaworonek was born in Poland in 1983. He was fascinated with the blues, jazz and gospel music. In his teenage years he took up the harmonica. Which became his main instrument. He played in music festivals in Europe with his soul band called Puste Biuro. Won three harmonica contests. He moved to Ireland in 2006. Maciek teaches both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas.

Cathal Johnson is a harmonica player and technician who carries out work for players in Ireland and the UK. He comes from Co. Louth, and is now based in Galway. He plays harmonica, guitar, accordion and melodeon.
Andy Irvine on my Harmonica builds and repairs: “It’s great, after all this time, to find a harmonica technician here in Ireland! I’m delighted to give my full endorsement to his work, repairing and tuning harmonicas.”

Cathal studied with harmonica guru Brendan Power and is the Hohner Service Harmonica Repair for All Ireland. In 2010, Cathal attained a degree in Applied Music specialising in solo performance playing Irish Traditional Dance Music on diatonic and chromatic harmonicas and accordion.
www.harmonicasireland.com

These are the last concerts in an extraordinary year for the Cloughjordan Amphitheatre. The new venue has got off to a great start with the official opening by President Higgins in late April. A number of successful community and youth events over the Summer. The project has just been awarded additional funding from the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht to continue development work over the winter.

There will be local support acts both nights and in various pubs around Cloughjordan. There are ticket available online and on the night with  gates open at 7pm. People are asked to arrive early. Parking is available at the Enterprise Centre in the eco-village and people are asked to arrive early.

Admission to both concerts is €15 and tickets are available online through Eventbrite and on the Cloughjordan Amphitheatre Facebook page.

Special weekend pass covering admission to both shows and the workshops are priced at only €25!

These concerts are open-air at the Cloughjordan Amphitheatre and patrons are asked to dress appropriately. In the event of bad weather the event will be moved indoors.

Please do spread the word, thanks!

Best,
Cathal Johnson

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The Harmonica Company.

Here’s a helpful and great website by the Harmonica Company:

https://theharmonicacompany.com

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A Review of Brendan Power’s “Powercombs!”

Fantastic optimally shaped harmonica combs 3D printed combs. Newly invented modern combs for optimal playing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7JMMlJwAl8

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The Coxes Boot Stomper with Cathy Maguire!

Check out this footage of Cathal and Cathy Maguire playing recently at Vantastival festival in the Walled Garden area in Belurgan Park. Spontaneously without any rehearsal Cathy joined Cathal on stage for a couple of country songs led by Cathy. This was a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of Cathy live, rare these days as she spends her time in New York working and recording with some of the best in the business. Cathy gave a rousing performance which got the everybody singing and dancing. Its appropriate that Cathy joined on the night as Cathy is herself from Coxes, Dundalk. Maybe you could say she is an honorary member. Well we certainly hope it wont be the last time Cathy plays with The Coxes Boot Stompers!

Kenny & Dolly roll over, here's Cathal and Cathy. With Cathal Johnson at Vantastival

Posted by Sean Fegan on Sunday, 3 May 2015

Thanks to Sean for the clip.

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Vantastival May 2015 Cathal Johnson Bagpipe harmonica Belurgan Park, solo performance.

Vantastival may 2015 Cathal Johnson bagpipe harmonica belurgan park solo performance. Cathal Johnson as the Coxes Boot Stomper at Vantastival in Belurgan Park. Here playing his Bagpipe harmonica he tuned up himself to give this lovely drone effect while playing a tune.
Thanks to Marko, Eddie in the Walled Garden for having me there. Also a big shout out to the crew and volunteers at Vantastival who worked so hard to make it happen this year, thank you so much! Also thanks and praise to James T and Cairan Smith (Smithy) on sound. James got a great sound on the night considering the guitar pick up wasn’t great. James managed to compensate it on the night.

After a few miss haps on the way there Cathal ended up doing a solo performance but later was joined by the imitable singer that is Cathy Maguire. See below next post for a clip of them performing a couple of classics.

Picture taken by Sean Fegan, thanks Sean!

The Love Caravan

Thanks must also go out to Sean Fegan for the pictures and recording the clip below and accommodating us in the caravan and Francesca Lalor for recording the gig on the night. We look forward to hearing it!

ever heard of a harmonic that thinks its a bag pipe. you have now. Cathal Johnson gives a master class at Vantastival

Posted by Sean Fegan on Sunday, 3 May 2015

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SOLO VS RICHTER?

Considering investing in a new harmonica for 2015 but want to know a bit more before you buy? Have a read of this and see below for more information and special offers:
I have written out below an extensive description of both diatonic Richter tuned harmonicas and ‘solo’ tuned chromatics that I hope explains itself ok. Sorry if its a bit long winded!

Standard Richter tuning is the normal tuning you have on a blues harp. In the early days there were horologists (clock makers) across Europe experimenting with many configurations, but most did not sit right with people. A guy called Richter however (circa late 17th century (not sure of his first name) came up with the standard tuning which became known as Richter tuning.

That one stuck to this day as the normal tuning for diatonic blues harps. The first 4 holes have a configuration that allows you to play major chords both on the blow and draw. Using tongue block techniques one could play a chord and play melody through the side of your mouth to produce melody with a vamping chord. Of course somewhere along the line someone realised that you can bend those notes and reeds that have a greater interval of a semi tone between two notes in any one given hole. Called double reed bending as the two blow and draw reeds in that one hole interact with each other. When you bend on the draw reed past a semi tone the blow reed kicks in and so your bent note on the draw is actually the blow reed sounding! Mad eh?

Capital equals blow and small letters represents draw i.e.

Diatonic Richter tuning:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Cd, Eg, Gb, Cd, Ef, Ga, Cb, Ed, Gf. Ca

The first hole you have two notes a whole tone apart (interval) so you can bend a semi tone between them. On the second hole you have E blow and G draw. Here on the draw you can play 3 notes. i.e. On the draw G, bent down to F sharp, and further to F natural. This continues on up the scale where you cannot bend hole 7 as there is only a semi tone apart.

That’s one difference between ‘Solo’ and Richter tuning. Solo tuning follows a standard scale configuration much like the holes on a diatonic between 4 and 7 to make up the scale. But in order for the tuning pattern to remain the same throughout, there are two blow C notes together. And so the configuration layout is different to diatonic.

Whereas on a Richter tuned diatonic the wind direction changes direction on hole 7 and continues with a reverse wind direction to finish the higher octave on a diatonic harps. But also you’ll notice that the B on the 9 and 10th hole is missing, so you have an incomplete scale. This is different to solo tuning as solo tuning maintains the same wind direction throughout and has complete scales.

So the possibility to bend notes on a chromatic solo tuned harmonica only arises in holes with two notes that have a whole tone between them. These notes you can only bend one semi tone between them as the interval apart is only ever one whole tone or a semi tone-which you can’t bend beside subtle micro tones. Chromatics are valved however and so double reed bending is not possible. But it is possible to bend almost a semi tone with the valves for expression. See below.

Solo tuning is a tuning you normally get on a chromatic harmonica in a configuration like this:

Hole: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12.
Note: Cd, Ef, Ga, Cb, Cd, Ef, Ga, Cb, Cd, Ef, Ga, Cb.

I hope that made sense to you! Of course there are physical differences too with shape and size etc. Also chromatic harmonicas are valved, unlike most diatonic blues harps (though Brendan Power came up with the half valved blues harps which are amazing, I will elaborate later!) Valves have two effects, they make the instrument more airtight and therefore louder. They allow you to produce what they call single reed bends which only allow a semi tone bend. This allows for nice expression however.

Brendan Power came up with the ‘half valved harmonica’ that Suzuki now supply. He is so clever that he figured out that you can use valves in certain hole on blues harps to make them louder and give extra notes of subtle expression than ever before. Reeds bend by interacting with another so you can’t valve both reeds, only one can be valved to allow for double reed bending. So the blow reed is valved but not the draw. This allows the draw to interact with the blow. Now however you can also blow bend the valved blow note a semi tone giving you that extra expression on the blow note.

Valves do not allow for ‘overblowing’ however. If you are a player that has mastered even somewhat, the extremely difficult technique of ‘overblowing’ much different to draw or blow bending. The so called ‘overblow’ is the reverse of draw or blow bending. Imagine draw bending hole 2 or 3 then blow bending them too! A phenomenon only fully utilised and realised and identified in the last 30 or 40 years.

There are different makes and different tunings available with chromatics. One is the ten hole ‘Slide Harp’ chromatic which is the same tuning as Richter tuning. Here you can bend notes as you would on a normal blues harp but you have the button for chromatic runs too and extra notes. I have one of these harmonicas.

I also have the ten hole diatonic richter chromatic ‘Koch.’ This unusual model is basically a 40-note chromonica, but tuned according to the Richter system. Pressing the slide changes the key from C to C#, like on the chromatic. However, note bending is possible in exactly the same way as with a standard Richter harp, offering the player a number of exciting new musical possibilities as well as the ability to play in different keys on one instrument. As with Richter Diatonic plus the Slide Harp is partially valved to increase air tightness.
Cathal Johnson 2015.

SPECIAL OFFER
Cathal is offering refurbished harmonicas in normal Richter tuning, Paddy Richter tunings and Powerbender tunings. Other harmonicas are available on request. Contact cathal through his contact page or email cathaljohnson@gmail.com.

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John Murray Show

You caught Cathal on RTE’s John Murray show this morning, right? Well if not, here’s a link. Cathal talks about his workshops, harmonica repairs and lots of other stuff relating to the “humble” harmonica (including the possibility of a convention next year). Well worth a listen.

john murray

Respect to John for letting Cathal loose on his listeners!

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Breathing New Life into The Harmonica

Harry Browne and photographer Barry Cronin came to my house a couple of weeks ago to interview me about me harmonica workshop for an article in the Culture section for The Sunday Times called “Breathing New Life into The Harmonica”.

I’ve posted the article itself (click for full view version) and some photos from the shoot below for your viewing pleasure! Don’t forget to come see me at the National Gallery on 19th…

STCathalJohnson48STCathalJohnson46STCathalJohnson43STCathalJohnson42STCathalJohnson41STCathalJohnson39STCathalJohnson33STCathalJohnson26STCathalJohnson24STCathalJohnson9STCathalJohnson7STCathalJohnson53STCathalJohnson54STCathalJohnson49

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Cathal at The National Gallery

Cathal will be playing The National Gallery of Ireland on the 19th of September for Culture Night:

Music Acts (6pm to 9.15pm)

Solo performers and vocal acts will entertain visitors in the Wintergarden Café, including upcoming talents like Gemma Doherty, harmonica maestro Cathal Johnson, and the Cappella Choir.

  • 6.00pm Gary Tiernan Vocals & guitar
  • 6.30pm Gemma Doherty Vocals and harp
  • 7.00pm Cathal Johnson Vocals, harmonica and guitar
  • 7.45pm Emly Vocals & piano
  • 8.30pm Vincent Whelan & Cappella Choir

For more info, please see http://www.nationalgallery.ie/whatson/Culture_Night/2014.aspx

CultureNight_plain_article.ashx

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Eddie Clarke Fashion

Probably the first recording played on a custom D C-sharp chromatic harmonica in an the legendary Eddie Clarke fashion/style, this is a must for traditional Irish music enthusiasts everywhere! Check out this article on Wicklow harmonica player Sean Walshe (click for fullscreen) written by me for this month’s Harmonica World magazine….

HW June July 13 Walshe

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Cathal & Friends at Vantastival 2013

Great festival at Vantastival over the long weekend congrats to all the crew. Really enjoyed playing in the Melomania stage as the Melomaniacs! Thanks to Aindrias, Thierry-Antoine Faure/Jacques, Sean on banjo! and Ken for making up the band.

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Renewable and Environmental Award for Cathal Johnson Harmonicas

Cathal Johnson Harmonicas were delighted to be shortlisted and go on to win an award in the ‘Renewable and Environmental’ category from Louth Enterprise on Monday the 5th of March 2012. Woop!

Cathal has been steadily working towards building his business in recycling and renewing old or existing new harmonica, alternative tunings repairs and maintenance, set up for harmonica for customers and customization of harmonicas. To prevent a throwaway society in regards to the harmonica Cathal Johnson Harmonicas aims to fix them and keep them in circulation rather than been thrown in the bin! What a waste and how could you!

Cathal Johnson started after finishing college in 2010 in Applied Music. He then attended business courses to look into creating his own work, as he could not find any work available anywhere else he decided the would create his own. He applied for a Feasibility Study from Louth Enterprise in 2011 to further investigate the possibility of starting up business. After this he decided to do one more business course and go for it. The Study and Business course led him to creating a customer base on which to build. Since then Cathal Johnson Harmonicas saved hundreds and thousands of harmonicas from the bin! And hopes to go on saving thousands and tens of thousands from the bin!

But not only that the customers receives back a harmonica that sounds better than what he or she bought it in the first place as the reeds have been fine tuned and octave tuned and maybe tuned into an alternative tuning or customized for Overblow harmonicas. Or simply that their harmonica is now set up for them to play to suit their own individual style or playing.

Now Cathal Johnson Harmonicas is looking to build on his award winning status and expand into a workshop base, to produce a commercial CD recording of music arranged for the harmonica and other interesting projects too. Hopefully the wave of recent good luck will continue and not only create a job for him but for others too. Watch this space!

If you would like to get in touch with Cathal call him on 0877854120 or email him at info@cathaljohnson.com

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