"As everyone says, I'm deeply honored to be honored. When one goes about their life and what they do, it's not to have a whole bunch of awards and feel that that's the basis of why you do things, but on the other hand it's always gratifying to be recognized by your community for what you do."
Welsh music is either the poor stepchild of the Celtic world, or its best-kept secret. So I was glad to see a whole contingent of Welsh musicians showcasing and schmoozing at the Folk Alliance International in Kansas City.
It's worth noting that, enthusiastic as the proceedings were, they also carried a peculiar gravity. Perhaps this had to do with nostalgia's more serious side, the wish to honor what's gone before and the realization that all things cannot stay the same forever.
This month sees the appearance of a new constellation of neo-traditional stars in the Irish music firmament: the Teetotallers -- flute player Kevin Crawford of Lunasa; guitarist John Phillips, formerly of Solas; and fiddler Martin Hayes of the duo Hayes and Cahill.
Revisiting the stack of CDs I brought back from Folk Alliance 2013 reveals that there are more interesting Canadian acts I haven't shared with readers yet -- which is fitting, since the meeting was in Toronto.
My taste runs towards traditional and roots music, but many at Folk Alliance favor singer-songwriters. My second rundown of folk recordings I picked up at this year's Folk Alliance meeting focuses on musicians from Britain, who were there in force this year.
Her lively, fleet-fingered playing has made her an icon in Irish music, though she has not played in the U.S. in recent years. However, as part of what has become a de facto "St. Patrick's Month," she is doing an American tour in March, as are several of the top names in Irish traditional music.
I wasn't going to cover Tsuumi Sound System. Just the phrase "Sound System" conjures up deejays and a front rapper, and -- although as Jerry Seinfeld would say "not that there's anything wrong with that!" -- it just isn't what I go out of my way to shoot.
Every year in February, Folk Alliance International brings together folk musicians, promoters, labels, organizers, agents, managers, DJs, journalists, and other folk lovers, for a giant trade show and music showcase.
Martin Hayes is a traditional Irish fiddler and the son of a traditional Irish fiddler, so he is well aware that traditional music is a constantly evolving form. Hayes is a masterful fiddler who is known for his soulful playing as well as his ability to fly through a brisk improvisational melody.
Just prior to St. Patrick's day, I find myself in the timely position of reporting on a fine Celtic artist and band, Cara Dillon, who was in town for GlobalFEST, and treated the crowd to some truly wonderful music.