The Old Bay Céilí Band
The Old Bay Céilí Band plays traditional Irish dance music. Inspired by the golden era of Irish-American dance halls, the Old Bay Céilí Band infuses that tradition with vibrant new energy. Comprising some of the best traditional musicians from the Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C. area, the band’s strong rhythmic pulse and soaring melody can lift dancers across the floor or bring audiences to their feet.
The band has performed across the United States and Ireland. In 2008 and 2009, the Old Bay Céilí Band competed in the senior céilí band competition at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann - the world competition of Irish traditional music. Equally at home playing for a local dance or lighting up a festival stage, the band has excited audiences at festivals and venues around the country including National Folk Festivals in Lowell, Bangor and Richmond, The Dublin Irish Festival, the Maryland Irish festival and The Kennedy Center. Members are each highly regarded musicians in the Irish traditional music scene and are: Laura Byrne, Brendan Bell, flutes; Jim Eagan, Danny Noveck, fiddles; Sean McComiskey, button accordion; Bob Smith, tenor banjo; Matt Mulqueen, piano and Josh Dukes, drums.
The Hedge Band
The Hedge Band was formed in 2005 by Laura Byrne, Donna Long, Pat Egan, and Billy McComiskey- four of Maryland’s pre-eminent Irish traditional musicians. All perform, teach, and are recognized and respected in Maryland and far beyond its borders.
Donna Long has traveled the world playing the piano and fiddle and entertaining audiences with Cherish the Ladies. She continues to foster an impressive music studio in Baltimore, where she teaches both fiddle and piano.
Her recordings with fiddler Brendan Mulvihill and her more recent solo recording Handprints are highly acclaimed. In 2001, she was commissioned by The Library of Congress to compose music for piano and fiddle which she titled “Before the Snow Falls” and “Pandora’s Box."
Pat Egan is from County Tipperary Ireland. He spent years performing in Westport, Co. Mayo before moving to the U.S. to join the band Chulrua. Also known for his work on the great recording “Music at Matt Molloys”, Pat still tours internationally with Chulrua which includes highly esteemed musicians Paddy O’Brien, accordion and Patrick Ourceau, fiddle.
Laura Byrne is one of only a handful of musicians to successfully cross over to Irish traditional music from another discipline. She graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in 1995 for classical flute but now is highly regarded on both sides of the Atlantic for her proficiency in the Irish traditional style. Her solo recordings Tune for the Road (2005) and Lucky Day (2010) received rave reviews and receive radio airplay in the U.S. and Ireland.
She released an acclaimed duo recording in 2014 with New York-based Sligo style fiddler Rose Flanagan. In 1999, Laura was the winner of the U.S. Eastern Fleadh Championship in New York. Laura founded and directs The Baltimore Irish Trad Fest and teaches Irish flute at Goucher College.
A recipient of the 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellowship, Billy McComiskey is a world-renowned accordion, or “box,” player and composer. One of only a few American born musicians to win the senior All-Ireland Championship, Billy is credited along with Brendan Mulvihill and Andy O’Brien for bringing Irish traditional music to the Maryland/Virginia area by way of their trio The Irish Tradition. Regarded as one of the world’s greatest button accordion players, he also recorded and toured with fiddler Liz Carroll and guitarist Daithi Sproule in their group Trian. His solo recording Making the Rounds was recently re-released on Compass Records and he released his newest solo recording Outside the Box on the same label in 2008.
The musicians of the Hedge Band have performed independently of each other at countless festivals and venues around the world including the Kennedy Center, The White House, Lincoln Center, and many other great venues across the U.S. Mexico and Europe. Laura, Billy, and Pat are recipients of Maryland State Arts Council grants.
Rose Flanagan and Laura Byrne
Forget Me Not by Rose Flanagan and Laura Byrne with Eamon O'Leary, guitar and bouzouki and Brendan Dolan, piano,Available on CDBaby and Itunes.
Forget Me Not Is Impossible to Forget by Earle Hitchner
Forget Me Not, the debut duo album by fiddler Rose Flanagan and flutist Laura Byrne, is an irresistible reflection of their shared core values in Irish traditional music. They believe in preserving tradition without knee-jerk duplication, ornamenting a tune without ostentation, and otherwise playing together in a way that allows their distinct musical personalities to blend in a melody without capsizing it. All of that is the outcome of separate, longtime listening, learning, training, teaching, and mentoring carried into their music together over just the past few years.
Each is a popular, highly effective instructor prized by various music schools, camps, and festivals and especially by her adopted hometown: Bronx-born Rose Flanagan in Pearl River, N.Y., and Vergennes, Vermont-born Laura Byrne in Baltimore, Md. Each is a member of a céilí band—Green Gates for Rose, and Old Bay for Laura—where close musical communication and balance are paramount. Each has previously been featured on recordings: Rose on Cherish the Ladies in 1985 and Craic in the Catskills in 2011, and Laura on her solo albums Tune for the Road in 2005 and Lucky Day in 2010 as well as the Old Bay Céilí Band’s Crabs in the Skillet in 2011. Each has been individually honored for achievement: Rose, an alumna of Fordham University, was inducted into Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s Mid-Atlantic Region Hall of Fame in 2013, and Laura, an alumna of the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University, has received the prestigious Individual Artist Award for solo performance from the Maryland State Arts Council in both 2010 and 2011.
Perhaps most striking on this album is the inescapable sweet center of their tandem playing that is neither cloying nor constrained and that ultimately forms an Irish traditional music bridge between New York City and Baltimore, where tempo, detail, and feeling are served by skill. Rose and Laura could not be more compellingly paired than on the 11 tracks they perform together with the sure, subtle support of Dublin-born Eamon O’Leary on guitar and bouzouki and/or New York-born Brendan Dolan on piano. Add in two standout solo tracks—Rose’s rendition of the reels “Glencolmcille/Martin Wynne’s #4/The Curlews” with Brendan backing her, and Laura’s unaccompanied rendition of the slow air “Sliabh Geal gCua Na Féile”—and what you have left is what’s incontestably right. This is music played with transportive, hand-in-glove grace by two admired American masters whose formal emergence as a recording duo on the aptly titled Forget Me Not should be cause for widespread celebration and, no doubt, praise.
—Earle Hitchner writes about Irish traditional and other roots music for The Wall Street Journal.