Monday, August 1, 2011

Paddy in the Holler, 7/31/11 at Crossroads Coffee

Last week I noticed a post on the Richmond Folk Music Society's Facebook page about a performance by Paddy in the Holler at Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream in Richmond, VA on Sunday, July 31, 2011.  I didn't know what this was but I was intrigued enough to check it out.
O'Flaherty (tenor banjo), Dailey (bodhran), Costa (fiddle)

It turns out Paddy in the Holler is a traditional music trio comprised of Patrick O'Flaherty, from Connemara, Ireland (a native Gaelic speaker), Mary Dailey, a West Virginia ballad singer, and Jimmy Costa, an old-time musician also from West Virginia.  I'm so glad I attended this performance because their music is exactly the kind of stuff I like to hear: a mixture of Irish and Appalachian folk trad music.   

I was pleased with the way the musicians began playing...merging from soundcheck into performance without so much as an introduction; letting the music speak for itself.   The setlist included traditional Irish (reels, hornpipes, airs, etc.), old American folk songs, stringband blues, songs sung in Gaelic, waltzes, fiddle tunes and more. 

Each musician played multiple instruments throughout the evening: Irish tenor banjo, bouzouki, mandolin and button accordion for Patrick O'Flaherty, guitar and bodhran (Irish frame drum) for Mary Dailey, and fiddle, clawhammer banjo and guitar for Jim Costa.  The different combinations of instruments - and the ease with which each musician played them - combined with the variety of material, kept me very interested throughout their two set performance.

In fact, I was surprised by how many tunes & songs I recognized, including Flowers of Edinburgh, Miss Mcleod's (AKA Hop High Ladies), Cold Frosty Morning, Hard Times Come Again No More, Red Haired Boy, Hills of Connemara, Drowsie Maggie, Turkey in the Straw, Minstrel Boy, Scotland the Brave, Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine and Ragtime Annie.  It's comforting to know that even musicians at this level still find enough enjoyment in these relatively common session and jam tunes to want to play them in a performance setting, rather than doing a more obscure repertoire.  It demonstrates the beauty and vitality that remains in these popular tunes.
O'Flaherty (mandolin), Dailey (guitar), Costa (ba

I was also glad to just have the opportunity to hang out for a while at Crossroads Coffee, a shop I rarely have the chance to visit.  Not enough good things can be said about this place.  It has a neighborhood feel, being a little removed from the main drag of Richmond, however if you sit there long enough you notice that an eclectic bunch of folks come through, giving it the feel of a coffee shop/cafe you might find in a more metropolitan area than Richmond.  The food at Crossroads is excellent with many choices ranging from your standard coffee shop fare (bagels, paninis, wraps) to more refined and foodie oriented options (Thai Peanut Rice Bowl), to shakes and other sweet treats.  Add an impressive beer list and overall good "juju" and you have a place that I wish I lived closer to so I could visit more often.  While characteristically busy this night, the staff always seemed jovial and never stressed (unlike some other places I can think of!).

Granted, for a musical performance the confines of Crossroads can be a little cramped as it's not really designed for this kind of thing, but the respectful crowd of folk music listeners and regular patrons there for a Sunday evening snack or beer/coffee made sure that everyone who wanted to could see and hear clearly.

Finally, I'd like to mention that Patrick O'Flaherty of Paddy in the Holler owns a pub in Lewisburg, WV called simply The Irish Pub. From looking at the website it appears that they have lots of good live music there, including Mr. O'Flaherty himself performing many nights of the week.  At only 3.5 hours from Richmond it might be worth a weekend visit some time.

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