Return home

Traditional Irish musician presents workshop, concert

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 3/5/23

Randal Bays wants to keep traditional Irish music alive and heard by new generations.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Traditional Irish musician presents workshop, concert


UTICA — Randal Bays wants to keep traditional Irish music alive and heard by new generations.

“I feel it’s a great gift from the past, from the people who suffered and struggled to hang onto it,” Bays said. “It’s a unique musical tradition that’s really fueled by the passion of the community, as opposed to the commercially driven music with which our world is now filled.”

The Seattle-based traditional Irish musician makes a rare appearance in the northeast Friday, March 10 in Utica to teach tunes in a comfortable and non-intimidating setting. Later that evening, he will also give a performance of traditional Irish music.

The workshop, running between 60 to 90 minutes, is at 2 p.m. at Mohawk Valley Strings, 2048 Genesee St. It is designed to be multi-instrumental applicable to melody instruments such as fiddles, flutes, whistles, banjos, mandolins and other instruments typically found at an Irish music session.

The concert is at 7 p.m. at the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley-Museum, 623 Columbia St.

Bays is an American born, Irish-style fiddler and guitarist who is well known on both sides of the Atlantic for his fiery fiddling and devotion to the traditional style of playing.

“I’ve been a musician since I was 8 years old,” Bays said. “After playing many kinds of music I stumbled into a great Irish traditional session when I was in my 20s in Portland, Oregon. It went in my ears and I knew instantly that it was my music. I’ve seen that happen to many people over the years, regardless of their ancestry.”

Bays has a special love for the fiddle traditions of Counties Clare and Galway, where he’s spent many a night playing tunes with the masters of that intricate style of music. County Clare is in the southern region of Ireland in the province of Munster, while County Galway is in the south of the province of Connacht in the west of Ireland.

“I have a lot of traditional fiddle tunes from County Clare and County Galway, plus some rare compositions by people like Paddy Fahey, Sean Ryan, etc.,” Bays said. “I also play some finger style guitar solos in DADGAD tuning. And of course, a few little stories.”

He has recorded and toured in the U.S., Ireland and Europe with such musicians as Martin Hayes, James Keane and Daithí Sproule, James Kelly and many others. In 2021, he received the Irish Artist in America Achievement Award from O’Flaherty Irish Music in Texas.

Craobh Dugan-O’Looney, with assistance from the Government of Ireland Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Emigrant Support Program, Meitheal North America and Comhaltas North America, is sponsoring the workshop and concert.

Tickets for the workshop and concert are $25; the workshop only is $20 and concert only is $10 in advance or $20 at the door. Registration is required on Eventbrite.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here