This is more than just trad, this is trad without frontiers…
TradFest festival started out in 2006 as a small niche traditional music festival, a first for Dublin. We wanted to create something special – a festival showcasing the cream of both Irish and international trad and folk artists while also providing a stage to promote the next generation of Irish musicianship.
From modest beginnings the festival has gone from strength to strength. The past decade has seen the festival grow in terms of size, ambition and musical breadth, with a line-up that now appeals to the purist and the merely curious alike.
Although TradFest today is Ireland’s largest festival of traditional music we now also feature artists from the worlds of folk, nu-folk, and even (whisper it) rock and roll!
We want to keep it special – we are still a boutique Winter festival – closing the door on the darkest season and ushering in the light and energy of Spring.
TradFest also offers concert goers unique opportunities to experience live music in some of Dublin’s most historic places. From the atmospheric Kilmainham Gaol to the grandeur of City Hall, this is the difference between memorable and unforgettable.
We invite you to join us, to feel every note.
TradFest Gala: Cherish the Ladies / Shandrum Céilí Band / Lau
In case you didn’t already know, Cherish the Ladies is a Grammy-nominated, Irish-American super group that formed in New York City in 1985 to celebrate the rise of women in what had been a male-dominated Irish music scene. Under the leadership of All-Ireland flute and whistle champion Joanie Madden, named by The Irish Voice Newspaper as one of the Top 25 most influential Irish Americans of the past quarter century They have since toured the world, played the White House and the Olympics. Beyond music – theirs is a movement!
Formed in 2014, The Shandrum Céilí Band became one of only a handful of céilí bands in the long history of the coveted Senior Ceilí Band Competition to achieve the elusive “3-in-a-row”. Combining exquisite musicianship with irrepressible spirit, they conjure a celebration with the first note.
Brilliant musicians, thrilling performers, free-thinking visionaries and all-round good chaps as well, Lau are regarded as the epicentre of the new folk boom. As a band they effortlessly bridge the seemingly diametrically opposed worlds of acoustic folk tradition and post rock – electronics. This is a thrilling live band that defy definition.
Hothouse Flowers / Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings / Screaming Orphans
Known for their unique brand of rock that’s influenced by soul, gospel and traditional music, Hothouse Flowers’ shows last between two and three hours depending on the level of fever in the room. They call upon their grand repertoire to create a show that is unique to the time and place. No two shows are the same. Improvisation can come at any point and allow the men express their brightest and their darkest influences.
Jon Boden is best known as the lead singer and main arranger of the progressive folk juggernaut Bellowhead. In 2009, Jon founded his band The Remnant Kings. In this genre busting mix, Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings perform concerts where folk, Bach, Pop and Jazz all rub shoulders with Jon’s own songs. A musical maverick and a true original.
Screaming Orphans are four sisters hailing from County Donegal and began their career playing local surf festivals. They were spotted by a scout while playing Whelan’s in Dublin and subsequently signed a record deal with Warner. They draw on a diverse set of influences ranging from Simon and Garfunkel and The Bangles while remaining true to their roots.
Boxing Banjo / Connla / Réalta
Comprising four accomplished Irish musicians, Boxing Banjo is one of the most exciting new acts on the Irish traditional music scene. Together they conjure a unique blend of traditional Irish music and song, old time and bluegrass music. Combining a myriad of instruments including button accordion, banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle, their high-octane performances encapsulate their raw passion for their music. Connla have been quickly making an impact on the folk/traditional scene. Their sensitive and innovative arrangements of traditional and modern folk songs and tunes have enabled them to create a unique and immediately recognisable sound. This is that rare group that is musically attractive to the experienced trad purist, as well as the music fan who knows nothing of the music. Hailing from the Ulster city of Belfast, Réalta is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist group who present an enchanting programme of Irish traditional dance music interspersed with the occasional air and song. A performance by Réalta is joyous, energetic, foot-stomping, unforgettable and unmissable.
Stockton’s Wing Amongst Friends
…Ralph McTell, The Henry Girls, Phelim Drew, Maurice Lennon, Leslie Dowdall, Tara Breen, Gavin Glass plus more
Stockton’s Wing began their musical odyssey in the town of Ennis sometime in 1977, taking their name from the Bruce Springsteen song ‘Backstreets’. The band signed a deal with Tara Records after winning the Trad section of a music contest in Limerick. A young group called U2 won the rock section. The band’s first album, produced by PJ Curtis, received rave reviews from national and international press. Many more raves and triumphs would follow. Far too many to recount here. This is a group of musicians unrivalled in both virtuosity and passion. The music of Stockton’s Wing has evolved into an exciting blend of traditional and contemporary Irish music and song, performed with power and precision by some of the finest players in Ireland. For TradFest 2020 they will be joined by a constellation of talented friends, including Ralph McTell, The Henry Girls, Leslie Dowdall, Tara Breen, Phelim Drew and many, many more. This promises to be a celebration for the ages!
Daoirí Farrell and Friends present The Dublin Session
Daoirí Farrell and friends present The Dublin Session with Sean Keane, Cathy Davey, Caoimhe Hogarty plus Kevin Glackin, Robbie Walsh, Paddy Kiernan, and Sean Pott
Daoirí Farrell has been hailed as the foremost voice of Irish folk song for his generation, leading him to tour across the world in recent years, tour with Transatlantic Sessions and play main stages at major festivals including a closing headline slot on Cambridge Folk Festival’s main stage in 2019. Now he leads an all-star line-up of Dublin musicians to perform the songs and tunes of his and their hometown of Dublin, a city which has inspired Irish writers, musicians and artists for hundreds of years. This show will be an audible postcard from this very special city. The show will feature an all-star band featuring Kevin Glackin (fiddle), Robbie Walsh (bodhran), Paddy Kiernan (banjo), Sean Potts (uilleann pipes), led by Daoirí Farrell with very special guests Sean Keane, Cathy Davey and Caoimhe Hogarty.
Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh plus Gerry O’Beirne
Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh is a multi-award-winning traditional singer and musician from Corca Dhuibhne, West Kerry. Most recently she received the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Award for Best Traditional track in 2018. A leading exponent of the sean nós style, her repertoire also includes songs from a wide variety of folk and contemporary sources. Muireann is one of the most distinctive voices out there. Born in Ennis, County Clare, along Ireland’s music-rich west coast, Gerry O’Beirne is a renowned singer, songwriter, record producer and guitarist (6 and 12 string guitar, tiple, ukulele and slide guitar among others). He grew up in Ireland and in Ghana in West Africa, and has since lived in England, California, and Mexico. He lives now near Dingle in Co Kerry. His own compositions blend the passion found in traditional music with the freshness of contemporary song.
Séamus Begley & Oisín Mac Diarmaida with Samantha Harvey / Brona McVittie
Expect sparks to fly when West Kerry accordionist and singer Séamus Begley joins forces with Sligo fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada and California dancer/pianist Samantha Harvey. This trio might be a recent collaboration, but each have a distinguished past within Irish traditional music. Begley is the quintessential Irish musician, displaying a frisky spontaneity in his accordion-playing. Fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada, founder of noted group Téada, is one of the most gifted and creative traditional fiddlers playing today. Providing masterful accompaniment on piano, Samantha Harvey originally from Ventura, California now living in Sligo, is also an award-winning step dancer.
Michelle Mulcahy, from Co. Limerick is considered to be one of Ireland’s most talented multi-instrumentalists in Irish traditional music today. Her array of instrumental mastery spans concertina, harp, fiddle, accordion, piano and melodeon. She is a much sought after performer, tutor and lecturer at music festivals and music schools worldwide and has toured extensively in Europe, United States, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Michelle has recorded four highly acclaimed albums on American record label Shanachie and Irish record label Chlo- Iar Chonnachta with her father Mick Mulcahy and sister Louise. Michelle’s debut solo harp album ‘Suaimhneas’ has been receiving worldwide acclaim as one of the top contemporary harp albums. She has also recorded with Riverdance composer Bill Whelan and the Irish Chamber Orchestra on his highly acclaimed Connemara suite album. Michelle has received numerous national All Ireland Titles and international awards for her musicianship as well as numerous scholarships during her course of academic studies. A player at the very top of her craft.
Originally from Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick, Louise Mulcahy is an internationally renowned performer and tutor on both uilleann pipes and flute. She is a member of the highly acclaimed Mulcahy Family who have upheld the best principles of the tradition for generations. Alongside four album releases with father, Mick, and sister Michelle, Louise also appeared a number of years ago on Na Píobairí Uilleann’s compilation of young uilleann pipers entitled ‘A New Dawn’. Louise released her highly acclaimed début solo album titled ‘Tuning the Road’ in 2014. A consummate player, she has toured extensively throughout the world, garnering awards along the way – including Female Musician of the Year at the Live Ireland Awards 2017, jointly with her sister Michelle and previously in 2015 and 2005. She is currently researching the unique story of women in uilleann piping and has guest lectured widely. A virtuoso and one of the finest of her generation.
Fiddle legend Kevin Burke is considered one of Irish music’s luminaries, from his early days with The Bothy Band to his celebrated solo performances. The recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA in the US, and in Ireland the prestigious Gradam Ceoil award, he is acknowledged as a master of the tradition. Although Kevin has spent much of his life playing in a group context, he has never lost his love for solo fiddle music – the “naked fiddle” as he sometimes puts it. A London native, Kevin inherited his love of Irish music from his parents who emigrated from County Sligo. Burke’s music career began in 1974 with a move to Ireland and joining seminal Irish group The Bothy Band. Since then, he has formed the renowned bands Celtic Fiddle Festival, Patrick Street, and Open House, and worked with many great artists including Arlo Guthrie, Kate Bush, Christy Moore. Witness a master at play.
‘Just about the best Tin Whistle player this century’ is how the Irish Times referred to Mary in a recent interview. Born into a very musical family, she began playing at an early age, winning many awards in Oireachtas and Fleadh Ceoil competitions, including the All-Ireland Championships at Junior and Senior level. Her first solo album ‘Feadóga Stáin’ brought out in 1979, is regarded as a classic in latter-day traditional music. Her second solo one, released in 1992 is similarly feted. She received an Honarary Diploma in Music teaching from C.C.E. in 1980 and subsequently tutored on the C.C.E. Music Teaching Diploma Course. She is a founding member of the group Dordan playing a distinctive mix of Traditional and European Baroque music, achieving wide acclaim and receiving the ‘National Entertainment Award’ for Traditional Music. Together they have released 4 collections. In 2000, Mary was awarded the prestigious TG4 Traditional Musician of the Year Award. Her appearance is obligatory for all fans of the whistle.
This abundantly talented artist has performed everywhere from Libya to Texas, as well as featuring on just about every major festival bill across the UK. He has toured extensively around Europe too, where he’s also performed with Tori Amos and Clannad and has toured with other artists including Jools Holland, Runrig and Billy Bragg. This charismatic singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist found time, in between charging around the globe with Robert Plant and his band, to record his new studio album The Well Worn Path. It’s a return to a no-nonsense, organic, classic folk-rock approach with Lakeman’s trademark foot-stomping, fiddle bow-shredding and soaring vocals. Seth Lakeman has relentlessly pushed his musical boundaries and those of folk and roots music. We very much look forward to joining him on his journey for TradFest 2020!
Originally from Broadstairs in Kent and of Irish descent, Tim honed his style learning from his father Richard a fine guitarist and listening to Ed Boyd, Steve Cooney and Django Reinhardt. He has lived in Ireland and now resides in Perthshire, Scotland where he is based with his family. Tim now a name on the world stage in his own right after seventeen years of hard work, is rated by many to be one of the world’s finest ever Melodeon and Guitar players in the folk & contemporary scene. Tim’s live solo shows are a stunning mix of world music, inspired instrumental virtuosity and passion with a strong Celtic theme, and above all a highly entertaining night of musical genius. A wonderful addition to the TradFest line-up for 2020.
Aoife Scott Album Launch
Following her highly celebrated debut album, Carry The Day, which was triumphantly launched at Temple Bar Tradfest in 2016 to rapturous acclaim, Aoife Scott returns home to release her much anticipated sophomore album “Homebird”. Produced by 12 time Grammy Award winner, banjo and guitar virtuoso Ron Block, her second album release is much anticipated in the world of folk and roots music. Recorded in Nashville and Dublin, “Homebird” is an impressive collaboration featuring the cream of Irish folk musicians (including the Black Family on Backing Vocals) and award winning bluegrass musicians (Sierra Hull, Stuart Duncan & Ron Block). Born into the legendary Black Family, Aoife is steadily rising to the top of the traditional and folk music scene, and has long enjoyed success as an established artist in her own right. Fragile and ethereal one minute and strong and vibrant the next, we are proud to showcase the newest chapter of her meteoric rise.
Catherine McEvoy & Family / Pádraig Rynne & Tara Breen
Catherine McEvoy is one of the most respected musicians of her generation. Originally from Birmingham, her parents hailed from Co. Roscommon, a place well known for flute playing. In 2019 Catherine joined a prestigious list of artists to have been awarded the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Traditional Musician of the year. She came to live in Ireland in 1977 and joined the vibrant revival of traditional music happening at that time, becoming a member of the ground breaking all-female group Macalla.
Clare natives Pádraig Rynne and Tara Breen have been performing regularly both as a duo and within different line-ups over the past number of years. Both have multiple All-Ireland titles to their names and have toured as members of world-famous acts such as The Chieftains, Atlantic Arc Orchestra, NOTIFY and Heartbeat of Home. Performing a repertoire of Traditional Irish and recently composed Irish melodies, this duo has the ability to transport their audiences.
Since forming in Boston in 2009, Nashville-based string band Della Mae has established a reputation as a charismatic live act comprised of some of the finest players in bluegrass, Americana and beyond. 2020 sees a brand new album, and a welcome return to touring in the UK and Ireland. Originating from different musical backgrounds and states across the US and Canada, each member brings distinct elements that make Della Mae such a beloved band. Together they have a completely original style – sensitive yet assertive, intense yet playful, steeped in tradition yet undeniably current. Versatile instrumentalists and vocalists, they draw from a bottomless well of roots influences to create vibrant original music that conveys expansive musical vision. They were IBMA’s Emerging Artists of the Year in 2013, GRAMMY Nominees in 2014 for their debut album on Rounder Records and named among Rolling Stone’s “10 bands to watch for in 2015”.
Trad Gigs for Children: Goitse
The Ark presents a series of special gigs for children of all ages from popular and multi-award-winning quintet Goitse, a band at the forefront of new Irish trad music. ‘Goitse’ (an informal Irish greeting meaning ‘come here’) features all-Ireland Bodhrán champion Colm Phelan and Conal O’Kane, fast making a name for himself as one of the finest guitarists of his generation. The gripping rhythm section sets a powerful drive for the music while the sweet, charismatic voice of Áine McGeeney draws audiences into a song. These energetic music concerts will explore the Listening and Responding strand of Music Curriculum in particular in relation to exploring our unique heritage of music through its style, songs and indigenous Irish instruments. Performances demonstrate for children the particular skill of traditional musicians for learning and performing music from memory. Children will also gain an understanding of regional differences in Irish music and folk music from other parts of the world.
Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Temple Bar TradFest, (3) Cherish the Ladies, (4) Liam Ó Maonlaí (Hothouse Flowers), (5) Boxing Banjo, (6) Connla, (7) Réalta, (8) Stockton's Wing, (9) Daoirí Farrell, (11) Ralph McTell, (14) Oisín Mac Diarmada, (15) Kevin Burke, (16) Mary Bergin, (17) The Mulcahys, (19) Tim Edey, (20) Aoife Scott, (21) Catherine McEvoy, (22) Pádraig Rynne, (23) Goitse, (24) Della Mae (unknown/website); (10) The Henry Girls (12) Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, (13) Séamus Begley, (18) Seth Lakeman (by Walkin' Tom).