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Old Bay Céilí Band: Irish Dance Band

Posted Aug. 20, 2012, at 2:23 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 21, 2012, at 11:17 a.m.

The Old Bay Céilí Band plays traditional Irish dance music. Inspired by the golden era of Irish-American dance halls, the Old Bay Céilí Band infuses that tradition with vibrant new energy. Comprised of some of the best traditional musicians from the Baltimore, Md. and Washington, D.C. area, the band’s strong rhythmic pulse and soaring melody can lift dancers across the floor or bring audiences to their feet.

The group has performed across the U.S. and Ireland, and in 2008 and 2009 competed in the senior céilí band competition at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, the world competition of Irish traditional music. The band has excited audiences at festivals around the country including the Dublin Irish Festival, the Maryland Irish festival and the Richmond Folk Festival.

Sean McComiskey (button accordion): is among the most innovative young performers on the button accordion, with a unique harmonic style that has earned him a spot in the pantheon of Irish accordionists. As the son of legendary button accordion player Billy McComiskey, Sean has been surrounded by Irish Traditional music his entire life and has developed a deep appreciation for the rich tradition of which he is a part.

Jim Eagan (fiddle): fondly recalls being enchanted by the violin even at a very young age. Until he was 15, Jim exclusively studied classical violin, both through Suzuki classes and at the Baltimore School for the Arts. Jim was first exposed to the Irish fiddle playing of Brendan Mulvihill while competing at a Feis at Glen Echo Park. They later met and his first lesson was arranged. Brendan is a primary influence on Jim’s playing, which is reflected in his musical style.

Laura Byrne (flute) is highly regarded for her proficiency in the Irish traditional style of flute playing on both sides of the Atlantic. She moved from her native Vermont to attend the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. In 1999 Laura won the U.S. Eastern Fleadh championship in New York and since then has played at countless festivals, ceilis and concerts in the U.S. and Ireland.

Josh Dukes (drums) learned the art of ancient rudimental drumming studying with Dominick Cuccia who is a widely respected instructor/performer in the fife and drum community. In 1997 he enlisted in the Army and has since earned the rank of Master Sergeant as well as being selected as one of three Drum Majors for the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps “The official escort to the President,” the only military unit of its kind. Josh also plays the guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, flute and tin whistle.

Matt Mulqueen (piano) was born into a family steeped in traditional Irish music. His older brothers played button accordion and fiddle, and his sister became a champion step-dancer. This environment instilled in Matt an irresistible desire to learn and play Irish music. His first music instruction came in the second grade when he joined the boys’ choir at his elementary school. At age nine, Matt asked his parents if he could learn to play the piano. He began with group piano lessons at a local community college. From there, he progressed to private lessons in Irish and classical music.

Danny Noveck (fiddle) plays traditional Irish music on fiddle, guitar, and tenor banjo. He has performed and recorded with an eclectic mix of artists, from the genre-busting American Cafe Orchestra and contradance bands such as Fresh Fish and Wild Asparagus, to well known Irish musicians such as John Whelan, Liz Carroll, and Randal Bays. He is also a noted composer whose tunes have been played and recorded in both Ireland and the United States. He appears most recently on releases by Boston fiddler Eric Merrill, banjoist Sam Bartlett, and New York flute player and piper Christopher Layer.

Brendan Bell (flute) and his music are deeply rooted in the traditions of South Sligo and East Galway. He has been fortunate enough to learn from flute players such as Damien Stenson, Harry Bradley, Kevin Crawford, Laura MacKenzie, and many others. A former Scottish highland bagpiper, Brendan finally made the smart choice to play an indoor instrument.

Bob Smith (banjo) has been involved in traditional Irish music in the Washington- Baltimore area, for more than 20 years, performing at festivals, céilís and other events in the mid-Atlantic region. He formed his own group in 1987, the Wild Geese, with fiddler Donna Long, flutist Frank Claudy and guitarist Andy Thurston.

And Jim Keenan, renowned Irish dance caller will join the band at the Dance Stage to offer lessons in Irish Dance before the group takes the stage.

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