May 4: House Concert with Randal Bays & Davey Mathias

Randal Bays and Davey Mathias 
I don't often post musical events here, but this one doubles as a visit to a local urban permaculture homestead (our house in Squirrel Hill):  Join us for a lively evening with Randal Bays and Davey Mathias on Irish traditional fiddle and guitar, along with (mostly true) stories.

Randal Bays is a self-taught American musician (based in Seattle) whose mastery of the intricate art of Irish fiddle playing has earned him an international reputation among fans of Irish music.  He’s known as an exciting and dynamic performer on both fiddle and fingerstyle guitar whose music grows out of a deep respect for the ancient wellsprings of the Irish tradition.

As one reviewer put it, Few players have his subtle and warm touch.  His playing is light and fluid yet still has a sense of power and passion.  He's simply a joy to listen to.” (Dirty Linen Magazine, April 2001).  Bays's 2005 release, “House to House” was selected by the Irish Times as one of the top five traditional recordings of the year, and the Cork Examiner called him "a rare beast, a master of both the fiddle and the guitar.”  

After wandering into a wild session on a rainy night in Portland, Oregon in 1978, Randal took up the fiddle and started teaching himself to play Irish traditional music.  He was influenced by many of the Irish musicians in the Northwest, including Kevin Burke, Michael Beglan, Michéal Ó’Domhnaill, and many more who passed through, including James Kelly, Joe Burke, etc.  He eventually met the Clare fiddler Martin Hayes in Seattle and agreed to provide guitar accompaniment for Martin’s landmark debut recording in 1993.  This led to the first of many trips to Ireland, where Randal’s fiddling found great acceptance among fans of traditional music.

In recent years Randal has toured and recorded with many of the finest Irish musicians, including James Keane and Daíthí Sproule (in the band Fingal), James Kelly, John Williams,  Martin Hayes, Tony McManus, Aine Meenaghan, Roger Landes, and Dave Marshall.  He has performed all over the U.S., Europe and Canada, including appearances at major festivals such as the Gaelic Roots Festival in Boston, the San Francisco Celtic Music and Arts Festival, the Festival Des Musiques-Vivantes in France, the Willie Clancy Summer School and Festival in Ireland, Catskills Irish Arts Week, Augusta Heritage Week, and many more.

Randal is a dedicated and thoughtful teacher of Irish fiddling, often in demand for workshops and music camps, and is a co-founder of the Friday Harbor Irish Music Camp in the San Juan Islands.  He’s also composed original scores for several award-winning films and documentaries.  You can learn more about him and hear sound clips at .  A bit of video from a recent house concert with stellar guitarist Davey Mathias, from South Carolina, is available on YouTube.  More videos of Randal with other musical partners are there as well, in the Related column.

Davey Mathias (based in Columbia, South Carolina) has played guitar since the age of 9 and has studied a wide variety of traditional styles. He honed his DADGAD guitar accompaniment, learning from Dathi Sproule and Paul Brady, with a nice mix of his own thoughtful style. He brings an authentic and respectful sound that complements Irish traditional music beautifully and has performed with Irish music masters such as Liz Knowles, Patty Furlong and Asheville’s Half Nine as well as Randal Bays.  Davey is an accomplished tenor banjo player, as well, and applies his warm, laid-back banjo sound to the Irish melodies.

Doors open at 6:30, concert at 7 p.m.;  a session is likely to follow, so bring instruments if you play!  Suggested donation is $15, with all proceeds going to the artists.  Seating is limited, and reservations are required;  RSVP to Maren via email or phone (412-251-5814;  please don't call after 9pm).  Please let me know if you're coming (even if it's a maybe) as soon as possible, and I'll send you directions for car, bike, bus, or stroll through Frick Park as you wish.  Likewise, let me know if you realize you can't make it after all, as there may be a waiting list.  If you're driving, please carpool if possible (I'm happy to help connect people), as parking can be tight on our street.


"Bays is the genuine article."  -- The Rough Guide to Irish Music.

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