Wednesday, February 5, 2014

“How America Saved Irish Music” CD Explores Irish/American Music Connections to New Orleans

by Marc Gunn

“How America Saved Irish Music” is the title of a new CD by Marc Gunn and Jamie Haeuser that will be celebrated at a party/show this Saturday, January 25 at 7 PM at The Irish House at 1432 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans.

The CD’s theme focuses on the vibrancy of Celtic music in America and the impact of Irish music on American folk genres. Gunn, who plays the unusual instrument known as an autoharp, joined up with Haeuser, who plays the Irish drum called the bodhran. Guest artist Sick, well known in New Orleans for his brilliant fiddle playing, is featured on several songs.

“We’ve been working on this for about five years,” remarked Gunn. “After I moved to New Orleans a few years ago, we started talking about the connections in Irish and American music, extending possibly even to jazz.”

The impact of the Irish Diaspora of the 19th undisputed. Not as well documented has been the role of America in the preservation of Celtic music. Much as Ireland’s warrior monks preserved Western civilization (at least according to bestselling author Thomas Cahill in “How the Irish Saved Civilization”) American musicians took in Irish music and musicians, sometimes adapting its forms to the energy and pace of a rough new frontier, sometimes merging with other dynamic genres, while always respecting its roots.

“We just went exploring – through our memories and stories from ancestors and historians – to choose music that represents the Irish experience there and in America” said drummer/vocalist Jamie Haeuser. “For example, “Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot” is not technically an Irish song – but it represents the strong influence of Celtic music on American Folk music.”

The paired original songs – “Men of New Basin Canal” and “Bridget’s Prayer” – came about after Jamie went to a ceili (Irish music party” at the now-demolished Deusches Haus in New Orleans. Driving home, she realized that driving along the Pontchartain Expressway in New Orleans, she was paralleling the old New Basin Canal. Between 10,000 and 30,000 Irishmen died of yellow fever while digging that canal. She couldn’t go to sleep until she got the lyrics down. Marc followed with the hard-driving music.

The second song is from the perspective of a canal laborer’s wife. “Streets of Laredo/Bard of Armagh” is a literal mash up of 19th that delineates not only a shared melody – but perhaps the success of many, many Irish century on the culture and life of America is century popular music entertainers on the vaudeville circuit. “Leaving of Liverpool” references how so many Irish families wound up in New Orleans – the cheapest way to get from Ireland to the States was by cotton ship to Louisiana.

The Irish House is a family-friendly venue. There is no cover charge for the show. Find out more about The Irish House at

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