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Friday April 22, 2011

from Irish Central

Madden, Begley are True Masters

By Paul Keating

It was a ramble and a gamble, and one of the principal performers was a long way from home. The younger artist hailed from the Bronx infused with the music of master musicians from the old country, attracted by her magnetic father who played the accordion from Galway.

The older one grew up in the Corca Dhuibne (West Kerry) Gaelthacht speaking Irish as his first and primary language, where house dances and ceili music and songs were second nature. Music, song and dance seeped into their marrow and their lives and careers given over to it, so it made for an intriguing week-long interlude when New York’s Joanie Madden met Kerry’s Seamus Begley for the fifth edition of “Masters in Collaboration” at New York’s Irish Arts Center that concluded on Sunday after three weekend shows.

Madden, the founder and leader of the well-known Irish American ensemble Cherish the Ladies, is a well-known quantity around here, and she had the opportunity to select the Kerryman as someone she would like to partner with for the week in the innovative series started at the center in 2008.

Begley, a lesser-known artist in America, is recognized as one of the foremost singers in the Irish language (and equally good as Bearla) as well as powerful accordion player in the Sliabh Luachra set dancing scene. Both are known for their penchants for sparking fits of laughter and jokes into their performances wherever they go. So there was an advanced expectation that this would turn into “Jesters in Collaboration” more readily than a heavy exchange of the varied
musical styles that characterize their music as artists.

Madden, with parentage from Galway and Clare, has become one of the foremost dance musicians in the world of reels and jigs where those forms predominate, while Begley comes from the world of polkas and slides played at such a fast clip that the set dancers don’t have time to misstep as they square the house. In this collaboration there was no need for one to dominate over the other because variety is the spice of life, and nowhere is that more true than in Irish traditional music and country set dancing.

Read the full article here