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Eileen Ivers, Beyond the Bog Road Tour View Additional Info

Fire from the Mud:
Celtic Fiddle Virtuoso Eileen Ivers Delves Deep into the Influential Sounds of Irish Immigration in Beyond the Bog Road

Charity from the Choctaws. Repurposed slave ships and New Orleans dance crazes. Icy Canadian islands, Appalachian hollers, railway camps in the desert. These are all scenes and skeins of Irish experience, a trail of tales left by millions of travelers fleeing famine and seeking hope.

Virtuoso Celtic fiddler Eileen Ivers—founding member of Cherish the Ladies, original Riverdance star, and lifelong traveler of Ireland’s musical paths—brings to light the riveting world of Irish stories and sounds, ones that will amaze even the most seasoned travelers through immigrant history.

Ivers is mapping out these compelling tracks for audiences across North America this March with a new multimedia concert, Beyond the Bog Road. The images, sounds, and tales of Irish immigrants’ desperate and daring journeys to and in America come together in Ivers’ stunning technique, unique artistry, and deep Irish-American roots. Ivers and her ensemble of 13 musicians and dancers will be performing in St. Joseph, Minnesota and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Through the multitude of immigrant lives run the bog roads of Ireland, the rutted ways where generations cut turfs for their hearths, turning mud into fire. These roads led starving men and women away from home, to face the daunting months-long trip across the uneasy ocean in the “coffin ships,” slave ships refitted for a new set of grim journeys.

Yet the story of Irish immigrants in America is also one of brilliant transformation from desperate refugees to cultural forces to be reckoned with. It is the story of a musical people who knew how to kindle even the damp earth and make it sing. “Irish music integrated with other North American music to form the root of everything from bluegrass to country,” explains Ivers. “This was one of the richest cross-fertilizations of folk music styles anywhere. And it’s still bearing fruit.”

Ivers has lived and breathed this cross-fertilization and its musical outgrowths from birth. She grew up in the Bronx, the daughter of Irish immigrants, raised on the music of her parents’ homeland. With a talent for mathematics—a field in which she pursued post-graduate studies—Ivers learned how to combine heart and passion with incredible technical precision. Her prowess with the fiddle won her not only nine All-Ireland Fiddle Championships, but also the admiration of musicians from Sting to The Chieftains to the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, among her many affiliations.

While a dedicated and celebrated Celtic fiddler, Ivers has always been forward thinking about her tradition and instrument. With ears wide open for new angles and future sounds, she has long been drawn to the multicultural and multifaceted American musical palate, and the pivotal Irish influences tucked into cornerstones of our history.

This fascination has led Ivers to long-lost stories and heart-wrenching moments that go far deeper than the sparkle and dash of brilliant fiddling or the simple pleasures of Celtic-themed stage shows. Beyond the Bog Road delves profoundly and wholeheartedly into the Irish experience’s impact on the New World and how it intertwined with African and Native American cultures, with Francophone and Appalachian music and dance.

Ivers brings together a gorgeous array of traditions from her family and her heritage, cherished airs, jigs, reels, and songs, as well as original compositions. She unites tunes from her father’s West Irish village to her father-in-law’s poetic memories of the “wakes” that honored departing immigrants, most of whom never saw their homelands again.

She ponders the tragic, hungry deaths of thousands of Irish immigrants en voyage to a Quebecois island, and the fellowship of Acadians who helped those who survived, by diving into the Pan-Celtic tunes of French Canada, where Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany met. Ivers and the Irish and Irish-American musicians and dancers featured in Beyond the Bog Road explore the songs and vibrant movements of the tenements, railroad camps, and stony lonesome settlers.

But Beyond the Bog Road soon moves into territory even many Celtic music fans will find unexpected and surprising. Ivers’ meditation on the suffering and injustice of the Great Famine recalls moving links to the New World: The Choctaws, sympathetic after their own losses on the Trail of Tears, sent what aid they could to starving Irish peasants.

The Black Bottom, a dance rivaling the Charleston in Roaring Twenties popularity, had an Irish side that harkened back to the rhythm rivalries between African tap and Irish step dancers in late 19th-century New York. This Afro-Celtic cross pollination was relished by Louie Armstrong and now gets a new dose of Irish energy thanks to Ivers’ and company.

Not content to chronicle the distant Irish and Irish American past, Ivers also pays tribute to the success of later generations of Irish descendents, humorously recounted on Vaudeville stages and revived with Ivers’ characteristic warmth. She also honors the continued expansion of the Irish diaspora, the post-war movement of people who brought her parents to New York, and its vivacious musical worlds, as the living traditions of new travelers have enriched and been enriched by jazz, African, and global sounds.

“What unites all these pieces is that they flow from the honest music of a strong and resilient people who overcame and continue to overcome much adversity,” notes Ivers. “And this music has now gone far beyond the bog road, to every corner of the globe.”

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Fire from the Mud: Celtic Fiddle Virtuoso Eileen Ivers Delves ...
Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Souls Press Quotes

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