Monday, March 19, 2007

Something after St. Patrick's Day

Lauren Onkey writes:

As an alternative to all the Irish crap that's peddled at this time of year, I recommend Mick Moloney's cd McNally's Row of Flats, which came out last year on Compass. Mick is a musicologist/folklorist at NYU. His book & cd Far From the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish-American Immigration Through Song, which came out in 2002, is a study of 19thc. Irish immigrant songs. He plays banjo, mandolin & guitar, and is a beautiful singer.

McNALLY'S ROW OF FLATS is a collection of songs by Ned Harrigan & David Braham, made popular in Harrigan & Hart's musical comedies on Broadway in the 1870s and early 80s. Harrigan's shows were wildly popular among working class Irish Americans in New York--a mix of minstrelsy (Harrigan & Hart were in minstrel shows early in their career) and vaudeville. They've sort of disappeared--the plays were never published, and this isn't the kind of pseudo traditional music that gets hauled out for St. Patrick's Day, what with the minstrelsy and all.

Moloney did an interview on NPR's Fresh Air last year when the cd came out; he talks about the collection and 19thc. Irish American music, and he sings a couple of songs from the set:

I published an essay on Harrigan a while back in jouvert where I tried to sort out the relationships between Irish and black characters in the play.

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