This year’s main concert (7pm, Saturday 27 April in Kilfenora Hall) featured Frankie Gavin and his celebrated Roaring 20s Irish Orchestra. The concert was opened by this year’s winner of an award from the Meitheal Summer School to play at the Kilfenora Trad Festival – Naoise Kettle. See below for notes on the performers. Tickets for the concert were €20 and available in advance online by clicking here, or could be bought at Custy’s Music Shop Ennis or any of the pubs in Kilfenora – Linnanes, Nagles and Vaughans. (Book tickets here)
Throughout his musical career Frankie Gavin has been fascinated and inspired by the music of legendary Irish musicians who emigrated to America in the early part of the twentieth century -giants such as James Morrison, Paddy Killoran and The Flanagan Brothers, whose family left Waterford for New York in 1911. Seventy years later, the 1981 De Dannan album Star-Spangled Molly, which included the band’s hit version of the original Flanagan Brothers’ song My Irish Molly-O, reawakened Irish interest in the music of this era.
Now Frankie Gavin has put together a new Irish supergroup to play the Flanagan Brothers’ music, a group whose first live performance, on Gala Night at Tradfest, Dublin in January 2018 was a huge success. Frankie Gavin and his Roaring Twenties Irish Orchestra comprises a four-piece front line of Frankie Gavin on fiddle, Emma Corbett on melodeon, Martin Murray on banjo, Carl Hession on piano and Monica Brennan on vocals. This core can be augmented by a four-piece brass section, clarinet and double-bass. The band has recently released a stunning CD By Heck, celebrating the Flanagan Brothers’ music.
Frankie Gavin, from Co Galway, is arguably Ireland’s most gifted traditional fiddle player, a winner of All-Irelands on both flute and fiddle, and voted Traditional Musician of the Year 2018 at the Gradam Ceoil Awards. He co-founded the famous De Danann band in 1975, and brought a more recent incarnation of that band to Kilfenora for the 2015 Trad Fest. He has performed with the cream of traditional Irish musicians of his generation and stars from other musical genres, eg Stéphane Grappelli, Yehudi Menuhin, James Galway, Elvis Costello and The Rolling Stones.
Emma Corbett is a young melodeon player from Ballymacarbry, Co. Waterford and is a former student of Bobby Gardiner. She was All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil champion in 2012, 2015 and 2016, has toured Ireland with the group Macalla na hÉireann and is a regular performer with Brú Broú.
Martin Murray, from County Tipperary, is a highly respected banjo, fiddle and mandolin player who has performed in many groups, including Mairtin O’Connor’s Chatterbox Band, and the Chieftains. He has also played and recorded with Bill Whelan, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Liam Clancy amongst others. In 1993, he released his own much praised album, A Dark Horse.
Carl Hession, from Galway, is a notable composer, arranger and pianist. Together with Frankie Gavin, Carl has arranged the brass and reed parts for this Flanagan Brothers project. He has All-Ireland titles as a soloist and as a member of duets and trios with flute player Matt Malloy and accordionist Joe Burke.
Monica Brennan is a noted singer from Connemara. Together with her sister Anne, she has shared the stage with some of Ireland’s finest artists including, Paul Brady, Sharon Shannon, Mundy, Declan O’ Rourke and Damien Dempsey to name but a few. She released “Timeless”, her first solo CD, in 2018.
Naoise Kettle from Wolfhill, Co Laois is the All-Ireland U18 Fiddle champion for 2018-19, and was previously the 2016 U15 Fiddle Slow Airs champion, having started on the fiddle at 10 years old. He is becoming a seasoned performer, playing as a member of Music Generation for royalty in Monaco (alongside Zoe Conway), and in front of Prime Ministers Leo Varadkar and Justin Trudeau (Canada). He was a member of the Laois group ‘Fiúntas’ that competed in the Siansa Gael Linn competition in the National Concert Hall in 2016 and 2017. He is also a budding film-maker whose work has been screened at film festivals around Ireland, winning an award from RTE and The Radharc Award for the best documentary at Ireland’s Young Filmmaker Of The Year 2015.