Documentary On Newstalk: Clear the Floor! The Story of Irish Music In Boston

Charting the development of Irish music in the most Irish of American cities, Boston.

In ‘‘Clear the Floor! The Story of Irish Music in Boston” Producer J.J. O`Shea travels to Boston to chart the development of music in this most Irish of American cities.

Broadcasting on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday 12th December at 7am, Repeated at 10pm, “Clear the Floor!-The Story of Irish Music in Boston” takes a look at the social history of the Irish in Boston as seen through the prism of Irish Music and Song.

Beginning in the years immediately following the Famine the programme charts the development of Irish Music in the place once described as the “greatest Irish City in the world!”

There is a particular focus on the Music Hall era and the later “Golden Age" of the Irish ceili bands and dance halls in the Roxbury area after the second world war. The programme shows how the music reflected the changing aspirations of the immigrants and the importance of music and dance in helping the newly arrived Irish to settle in their new location. It examines the role that music played in preserving a sense of pride and identity and the often overlooked part that American cities played in helping preserve the traditions of Irish music

Musicologists, Singers and Musicians illuminate aspects of the story as we meet Mick Moloney, Susan Gedutis and Dan Neeley. Joe Derrane, possibly the greatest American-Irish “box player” of his generation, tells of his first encounter with Irish music as a child and his memories of the glory days of the Roxbury dance halls.

Throughout the programme samples of music and song are used to illustrate

some of the points made by the narrator and contributors. We hear excerpts from the last ever session at “The Littlest Bar,” an important Boston venue for Irish music before it recently closed, impromptu renditions of song by Mick Moloney, as well as excerpts from significant recordings.

“Clear the Floor!-The Story of Irish Music in Boston” is at once a celebration of the power of music to sustain and inspire a community, of the musicians who made the music and of the people, far from home, to whom it meant so much.

QUOTES:

“The Irish arrived in Boston to find great racism ….. when they first started emigrating here, primarily in the 1850s and onward, they were really met with some suspicion. There are stories of riots on the docks when the “Irish papists” arrived.” Susan Gedutis, Musician and Author  “See You at the Hall: Boston's Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance.”

“It tested everything that America stood for: The Bill of Rights, The Constitution, Equality and so on, and America was very confused for a few decades….. And John Poole, capturing that mood, wrote this song “No Irish Need Apply……and this song became hugely popular reflecting a kind of defiant stance of the Irish against this discrimination and became part of the whole popular lore of America” Mick Moloney, Musicologist, Musician and Singer.

‘It was amazing! On Saturday night you’d see all the Irish coming down on the sidewalk, with the girls arm-in-arm. A lot of them used to wear the wide skirts, you know, with the petticoats underneath, and things like that. Some did, some didn`t, and it was a wonderful era. And I was fortunate enough to be right in it! Right up to my neck in it!” Joe Derrane, Musician.

“When you come over here and you live in the city and its nothing but concrete you start to recognize, wow, that grass really was green back at home! And so the music, I think, was another model for that same way of thinking. People started to feel really proud of their Irishness.” Susan Gedutis. Musician and Author “See You at the Hall: Boston's Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance.”

“Its probably not going too far to suggest that during the forties, maybe early fifties,  when traditional music was being disowned by the young urbanites at home in Ireland, it was, ironically, cities like Boston, Chicago and New York that helped to keep it alive.” J.J. O`Shea

 BROADCAST DETAILS:

“Clear the Floor!-The Story of Irish Music in Boston’ is part of the Winter Season of Documentary on Newstalk.

“Clear the Floor!-The Story of Irish Music in Boston’ will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday 12th December at 7am, Repeated at 10pm

“Clear the Floor!-The Story of Irish Music in Boston’ can also be listened to online at: www.newstalk.com

 Podcast available at: www.newstalk.com/documentaryonnewstalk after the broadcast.

 “Clear the Floor!-The Story of Irish Music in Boston’’ was written, produced and edited by J.J. O`Shea.