I’ve been a big fan of flute player Conal O’Grada since I first got his debut solo recording, the brilliant Top of Coom. I never thought I’d see him perform live though, and a few weeks ago, when I ended up missing another concert because of a previous commitment, I’d even joked that it wasn’t like I was missing out on seeing Conal O’Grada.
I was therefore more than a little excited when I got an email from The Shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society saying that they’d put together a house concert in Fairfield featuring O’Grada, fiddle player Diarmuid O’Brien, accordion player Paudie O’Connor and piano player Ciaran Coughlan, all of whom had just arrived in the U.S. on their way to the Mid Atlantic Region Fleadh Cheoil.
Last Thursday, Jenn and I made our way down to the same lovely house in Fairfield where we’d previously seen the Kane Sisters perform, and were treated to another great music event. There’s something about traditional Irish music that makes it work especially well in an intimate setting, and our hosts had a room that was perfectly suited to hosting a few performers and twenty-five or so appreciative listeners.
It was some great craic, with Conal, Diarmuid and Paudie each taking a solo turn on their respective instruments, accompanied on several tunes by Ciaran on his piano, and then, after an intermission, they all blew through a bunch of sets together. I was, of course, especially impressed by Conal’s performance, and it was great to get to watch him play from only a few feet away, but Diarmuid and Paudie were excellent too.
Oh, and I finally picked up a copy of Conal O’Grada’s most recent album, Cnoc Bui, which is possibly even better than Top of Coom.
All in all, it was a grand way to spend a warm spring evening.