Tiny Desk

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill

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12 min 53 sec

You're about to watch one of the best fiddlers on the planet and a subtle guitar master work their magic. For too many of us, Irish music is something that merely gets trotted out around this time of year, associated with St. Patrick's Day and the coming of spring — and made a cliche by commercialism and whatever other shallow notions make cliches what they are.

But for a moment, stop, put aside your notion of jigs and reels, and just listen. Martin Hayes plays his fiddle with an exquisite touch and tone, as well as a magnificent sense of melody and rhythm that never ceases to astonish.

I'm a year-round Irish-music guy. I've spent many summers at Celtic-music camps trying to improve my mediocre guitar skills and enjoying late-night Irish music sessions. I've seen Hayes at these camps as a teacher and performer; his playing has brought me to tears at times, and at others has made me burst out with joyful laughter. I couldn't be prouder to have him perform for us.

Hayes has worked with many accompanying musicians, and some are equal partners, but with Dennis Cahill you get delicate support. It's a rhythm that keeps the tune in; that accents and colors it but never overtakes it. It's brilliant restraint that serves the music and perfectly suits his parter. So with fresh ears, come join us in a rare treat with a familiar sound.

Set List
  • "The Mountain Lark/Tom Doherty's Reel"
  • "P. Joe's Reel/The Obama Reel"
  • "O'Carolan's Farewell To Music"

Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; photo by Gabriella Demczuk/NPR

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