Frankie Gavin, left and De Danann
IRISH traditional music was never healthier, says one of Ireland’s best known musicians, fiddler and flute player, Frankie Gavin ahead of a headline gig at Fleadh by the Feale this weekend.
“Going to the Fleadh in Ennis last year, and I am going again this year, the standard of traditional playing is extraordinary,” he said.
And he is looking forward to the Frankie Gavin and De Danann celebrity concert in Abbeyfeale on Sunday night. He last played in Abbeyfeale in 2010.
“We had a great time there, It’s a great festival,” he said.
There is a change in the line-up since then but Frankie promises a lively, upbeat session.
“We play pretty fast. Music is supposed to be dance music I am fond of a bit of speed myself,” said the man who is in the Guinness Book of Records as being the fastest fiddler in the world.
“It is exciting music. A lot of people play slow and that is fine too. But there is more excitement in what we do, I hope.”
But Frankie, one of the founder members of the iconic trad band De Danann in the 1970s, believes our national broadcaster RTE should be doing more for Irish music.
“ You get a lot of it on TG4, on Raidio na Gaeltachta and every evening on Clare FM from 7pm to 9pm, and I’m sure Kerry Radio too. But we need more.”
And he described the positioning of Irish music programmes on RTE radio evening programmes as “tokenism” and argued there should be more programmes, particularly on television.
“It is all very well to be doing a one-off country music programme. But there are hundreds of thousands of people with strong connections to Irish traditional music.
“And there is nothing on RTE, radio and television, apart from the occasional concerts with Peter Browne. Or Ceili House on Saturday night.”
“The positioning of that is tokenism,” he declared.
“It is time that all changed. I would hope the new director general, Dee Forbes, will take that into consideration.”
“People come into this country to hear traditional Irish music. There should be a station that plays traditional music all the time.”
The celebrity concert featuring Frankie Gavin and De Danann will take place in Coláiste Ide agus Iosef starting at 8pm on Sunday night and is expected to be one of the highlights of this year’s Fleadh by the Feale.
The Fleadh kicks off this Thursday night with a Gathering Night of music and dance, and continues this Friday evening with a busking competition that is expected to attract scores of young players and a ceili.
Master-classes will take place on Saturday and a Youth Trad Session on Saturday afternoon featuring the master-class students is a new item on this year’s programme.
Another first will be the Trad Disco on Saturday night.
Throughout the weekend, there will be free, open-air live music in the Square as well as a pub trail of music sessions.
A platform will be laid in the Square on Monday afternoon for a genuine “cross-roads” ceili and Monday evening will see one of the most unique elements of the Fleadh, the senior bone-playing competition.
Go to www.fleadhbythefeale.com for full details. Tickets for Frankie Gavin and De Danann cost €20 Slice of Life or Abbey Tiles or by phone on 087 7697672 or 087 7419343.