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Irish band to perform Sunday at City Hall

Traditional Irish band Chulrua will give a concert this Sunday at 3 p.m. in New York Mills at the City Hall Ballroom. The event is sponsored by the New York Mills Cultural Center. The band features Irish button accordion legend Paddy O'Brien, Fid...

Traditional Irish band Chulrua will give a concert this Sunday at 3 p.m. in New York Mills at the City Hall Ballroom. The event is sponsored by the New York Mills Cultural Center. The band features Irish button accordion legend Paddy O'Brien, Fiddler Dale Russ, and guitarist Pat Eagen.

Chulrua (pronounced cool-ROO-ah), translates from the Irish as "red back," and was the name and distinguishing feature of the favorite wolfhound belonging to ancient Irish hero Fionn MacCumhaill. It's also the name of the musical trio fronted by button accordion player Paddy O'Brien, with fiddler Dale Russ and guitarist Pat Egan. Their newly released CD The Singing Kettle will be available for purchase at the concert as will others by Paddy O'Brien.

Chulrua spent most of the summer on tour in Ireland to great success, and they are coming to New York Mills as one of their stops on a midwestern fall tour. For those interested in Irish traditional music, Chulrua is the real thing and not to be missed. Paddy O'Brien is a

legendary button box player in the States and in Ireland.

Button accordion icon Paddy O'Brien has amassed a veritable hoard of rare versions of tunes and stories gleaned from more than 40 years of patiently seeking out and spending time with older musicians throughout Ireland. A native of County Offaly in the Midlands of Ireland, Paddy is revered by Irish music aficionados worldwide. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant to record 500 dance tunes (a small fraction of his repertoire), which he has put together in a compilation known as the Paddy O'Brien Tune Collection.

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The music Chulrua plays is the old instrumental dance music of Ireland: jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas, and slides. They also play walking marches, songs, slow airs, set dances, and the harp music of Turlough O'Carolan and others. They strive to present these tunes and songs in keeping with the old tradition--as they were handed down from generation to generation in Ireland.

The heart of Irish music is the session, where tunes are played and traded, and conversation about music is the central theme. Sessions can be held anywhere, but are usually the best--and most relaxed--in a small, intimate place like the kitchen of a house or a small pub. The music we present onstage comes from that tradition.

Together Chulrua has almost 70 years of experience performing at community fairs and festivals, colleges and universities, folk clubs, and a variety of other venues--doing concerts, workshops, dances, and school residencies all over the United States.

Besides the band to enjoy there is a literary side to this event. Author Erin Hart is Paddy's spouse and she is accomplished at singing in the Irish a cappella tradition and she has suggested that she may sing one or two songs on Sunday.

Bill Margeson, Chicago correspondent for Irish Music Magazine wrote about Chulrua: "The music. Button box wizard Paddy O'Brien gets it. Really gets it.

"What I like in a musician now," states Paddy, "is the one who plays the nicest tune, even more than the technical musicianship." In that one sentence the legendary Offaly-born button box player encapsulates a life spent in the center and soul of Irish music. And that center is the music itself. Not the current fashion. Not the current "hot" group. Not "the buzz." The music. Period. Full stop."

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