Tradfest shows what music can be
February 6, 2019
By Colleen Taylor
"What also makes Temple Bar TradFest remarkable in its use of Dublin’s most historical and austere spaces, from City Hall to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. These tourist attractions-turned-music venues were not just significant for aesthetic and acoustic reasons, but for symbolic ones as well. Two of Chicago’s most accomplished traditional musicians, fiddler Liz Carroll and accordionist Jimmy Keane, played a fantastic set to a sold-out room in Dublin City Hall, and as I saw it, wrote new narratives over the building’s structural history. Built in the late 18th-century and designed according to London’s neoclassical trends, the Pantheon-like building projects imperial opulence, making it impossible to ignore Ireland’s colonial past. But then, Liz Carroll and Jimmy Keane filled that massive dome with their charming Midwest accents, their superb tunes that came from the West of Ireland via Chicago, and wrote an optimistic epilogue over what that edifice represents, set the tune of a jig. The history of the space said these two humble, unpretentious, and utterly skilled traditional players did not belong there, but their lively music and livelier stories of Irish emigres in Chicago, echoing up through the dome, said they did. It was reverse diaspora, post-postcolonialism in its best form."