Mostly Celtic

My band, the Hanshaw Trio, has been booked for a St. Patrick’s Day gig at the Moosewood Restaurant here in Ithaca.

One of the persistent questions in my musical life is the question of identity. There are musicians who are experts in a particular tradition like Irish music, or Renaissance, or Baroque; they study their genre by listening to recordings, studying with masters, doing research in music libraries, and so on. Then there are musicians who just do their thing, working on their own and developing their own ideas and techniques. And all sorts of others in between.

“Who’s right?” is probably not a proper question. Musical identity depends on the musician’s interests, learning style, background, passions, gifts, etc.

If you come to our show, you won’t be getting authentic Irish music. I have very little background in it — I played a year or so with a guy who knew Irish music well, and I took a class on Irish ornamentation for dulcimer, and I have some recordings with some Irish music on them, and that’s about it. Our fiddler is in the same boat I think. Our guitarist comes from a rock and roll background.

But does that mean you should be disappointed in our show? Or that the Moosewood should be embarrassed to promote it? Or that we should feel ashamed of our lack of “authenticity?” I don’t think so. We play a lot of Irish and other Celtic tunes, and some other things, and we play them the way we like them. We’ve got energy, good rapport with one another, and some creative arrangements. Our instruments sound great together. It’s not like we’re promoting ourselves as a traditional Irish band — we call ourselves “mostly Celtic,” and that’s what we are.

Come to the show and hear for yourself.