Members of DeDannan, the traditional Irish music group that is just a few days into its current U.S. tour, are already finding the American way of life a bit hectic.
After losing their way more than once in the traffic maze between New York City and Washington, they barely arrived in time Saturday night for their concert at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall. Somehow, the experience left them primed for their performance.
They began with a couple of reels, wound tight by fiddler Frankie Gavin, and accordionist Jackie Daly, and embroidered by Alec Finn on the mandolin-like bouzouki; playing the "bones" (similar to the jug-band "spoons"), Johnny McDonagh created the illusion of cloggers kicking their heels high. On the jigs, McDonagh made subtle use of the bodhran (a hand drum), as Charlie Piggot's tenor banjo rang out in swift syncopated tones.
Maura O'Connel silenced the hall with her beautiful readings of traditional pieces. Her soprano voice was never more poignant than on the bittersweet ballad "Maggie."
But it was "Mr. O'Connor," written by the great Irish harpist Turleigh O Carolan, that best defined the DeDannan's traditional yet spontaneous music. Although nearly 300 years old, "Mr. O'Connor" was very much alive and kicking on Saturday night.