Augusta Irish Week 2015

Augusta Irish Week 2015

July 19-24, 2015

Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College, Elkins, West Virginia
304-637-1209 or 1-800-624-3157 Ext. 1209 •

Sun, Sea and Sound!


Earlier this year, Oxford University Press published Sun, Sea, and Sound: Music and Tourism in the Circum-Caribbean, a book I co-edited with my friend (and University of Pennsylvania professor) Tim Rommen.  It’s great stuff, I think – all the authors contributed brilliantly – but I find Tim’s introduction “Theorizing Music Touristics” to be a particularly important and unique contribution to the field.  In addition, I’m quite proud of my own chapter “Modern Mento: The Emergence of Native Music in Jamaica Tourism,” which draws on over a decade of field research and professional activity in Jamaica.  For more information, click here to visit Oxford’s information page, or you can just go ahead and click here to buy it from Amazon.

Ice Cream Truck Music


I am proud to say that “Ding, Ding!: The Commodity Aesthetic of Ice Cream Truck Music,” my work on the history, development, and issues surrounding ice cream truck music, has been published in The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, Volume 2 (Sumanth Gopinath & Jason Stanyek, eds.).   For more information about the book, click here to visit Oxford University Press’s information page.

This chapter is an extension of a project I began working on as a result of having taken Steven Feld’s class “The Anthropology of Sound” in the fall of 1998.  I presented an early version of my research (“Ice Cream Truck Music, the Sound of Frozen Novelties”) at three academic conferences in 2000-2001, and published a very short version of in the arts journal Esopus in 2005 as “Soft Serve: Charting the promise of ice cream truck music.”

I am fascinated at how people respond to this music.  Given the troubling range of opinions about Theodore Johnson III’s May 11, 2014 NPR piece about the song “Turkey in the Straw,” (which seems to draw very heavily on Richard Parks’s piece “Turkey in the Straw,” published in Lucky Peach earlier in 2014), it’s clear that the music played from ice cream trucks and the reasons for its continued use are more nuanced than most people realize.  “Ding, Ding!” should be required reading for anyone interested in how ice cream truck music works, why it sounds the way it does and what the reasons have been for its sustained success over decades.

Augusta Irish/Celtic 2014!

Augusta Irish/Celtic 2014

I am happy to be going into my third year as the Augusta Irish/Celtic Week’s artistic coordinator!  Augusta Irish/Celtic 2014, which takes place at Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia, runs from July 20-25!  We have a tremendous staff this year, which comprises:

Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College, Elkins, West Virginia
304-637-1209 or 1-800-624-3157 Ext. 1209 •

Augusta Irish/Celtic 2013!

Augusta Irish/Celtic 2013 Click on the image to download the full size flyer!

Augusta Irish/Celtic 2013 runs from July 21-26. Our staff will be as follows:

  • Ivan Goff – Flute
  • Kieran Jordan – Sean Nos Dance
  • Jimmy Keane – Intensive Tune Workshop (open to any instrument)
  • Brian Miller – Guitar Accompaniment in the DADGAD Tuning & Fundamentals of Guitar and Bouzouki Accompaniment
  • Eamon O’Leary – Banjo and “Concepts in String Arrangement and Ensemble Playing”
  • Máirtín de Cógain – Bringing Bodhrán to the Masses! (Beginner and advanced levels)
  • Robbie O’Connell – “Songwriting in the Tradition” and “Songs: Singing, Performance and Accompaniment”
  • Bridget Fitzgerald – Unaccompanied Sean Nos Singing in English and Irish
  • Patrick Ourceau – Fiddle (for basic to intermediate players)
  • Tony Demarco – Fiddle (for intermediate to advanced players)
  • Donna Long – Irish Piano
  • Jim Keenan – Set Dance
  • Ben Power – Road Scholar Program
  • Shannon Dunne – Set dance for the Road Scholar program, special assistant in Jim Keenan’s class and the Connemara Sean Nos Dance mini class
  • Sean Clohessy & Cleek Schrey – Staff Musicians
  • Mini-Classes include: Designing an Aran Sweater (Enrica Hofer-McMillon) • Connemara Sean-nos Dance (ShannonDunne) • Songs that Came Across the Sea (Carrie & Michael Kline) • Ceili Band (Daniel Neely)
  • Other classes available include: Blacksmithing (Woody Harman) • Fiddle & Bow Repair (Peter Horn) • Needlefelted Wool Sculptures (Enrica McMillon) • Pottery I: Handbuilding and Surface Decoration with Clay (Brett Kern) • Weaving with Linen (Wendy Clark)

Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College, Elkins, West Virginia
304-637-1209 or 1-800-624-3157 Ext. 1209

Junco Partner

Here’s one from the archives:

Junco Partner by the Freshmakers featuring King Django and Dr. Ring Ding

It came out on a Joe Strummer tribute record released in Italy in 2005(ish).

The track was recorded in the studio under Jammyland (60 East 3rd Street, NYC).  I think the group – called the Freshmakers – included me (banjo and bamboo sax), Bob Timm (rumba box), Jay Nugent (guitar), King Django and Dr. Ring Ding (v0x) and another guitarist, whose name I can’t remember at the moment.  Vic Rice engineered.  I’m pretty sure that this happened in December 2003/January 2004; the band laid the instrumental tracks down one afternoon, and Django and Ring Ding came in a few nights later and did the vocals during a snowstorm.

The people who released it said they’d send me a copy of the CD and a t-shirt in exchange for the track.  Perhaps needless to say, that never happened.

Irish Echo

My first column was published in the Irish Echo today.  Click here to read it.  In it, I mention a recording of Paddy Canny playing ‘Cielito Lindo’ – this is it:


I don’t remember where this came from – it’s just an excerpted bit from a longer track.  I doubt I’ll be hosting much music relating to the column here, but a couple of people asked me what this sounded like so have a listen if you’re interested.

ps. “Free the Tarbolton Three” is a saying that I believe Boston’s own Teddy Davis and Tina Lech came up with.

UPDATE:  Tom Madden wrote to me to let me know that the notation for “Blueberry Hill” (a fox trot) – in Morrison’s own hand – on appears on p. 68 of Veronica McNamara’s facsimile edition of the James Morrison notebooks (called The Professor, James Morrison” – His Original Handwritten Music Manuscripts for Irish Fiddle – click on the link to buy a copy, whydon’tcha?).

UPDATE:  Monsignor Charlie Coen tells me that he also plays ‘Cielito Lindo,’ as well as a few other tunes & songs as part of an “international” thing he likes to do.

Ochtapos Project

A while back I recorded a couple of tracks with a few friends.  Here are some previews:

Sample Jig Track Sample Reel Track

If you like what you hear, just drop me a line and I’ll send the full tracks your way!  If you’re interested, you can read the notes I’ve put together for these recordings by clicking here.

The Flanagan Brothers, 1926

The other day I was corresponding with Jeff Ksiazek of the Ward Irish Music Archives and he mentioned the difficulty of finding photos of old Irish musicians and it reminded me of the report WNYC’s Soundcheck did last May in which they talked about the Flanagan Brothers.  The best part of that report was probably the archival photo they dug out from December 9, 1926 taken at the WNYC studios.  Not only is it probably the best photo of the Flanagans I’ve ever seen (that’s Mike and Joe, left to right), but it’s one of the finer photos of Irish music in that era I’ve come across.

Click here to go see the original article.