Anne Geaghan on this year’s Return to Camden performances
This year’s Return to Camden Town’s Friday concert at King’s Place was presented by Pride of London banjo player Mick O’Connor accompanied by former Thatch ceilidh band accordion player John Bowe.
Both players have a gentle, soothing approach and were well supported on stage by the steady keyboard skills of Pete Quinn. Mick, John and Pete glided through popular tunes.
After a short interval Mórga entered the stage with a rousing programme presented by Danny Diamond the fiddle player in the Mórga quartet. Danny’s fellow band members David Munnelly on accordion, Dominic Keogh on bodhrán (he is also a fine flautist) and Jonas Fromseier from Denmark on bouzouki presented a programme of Irish American music, Irish music composed in the ‘70s and session-style arrangements of well-known tunes.
The following night, Saturday, the performances moved to the London Irish Centre in Camden and we heard the London Irish Pensioners’ Choir perform lovely ballads with audience participation.
Crossharbour followed with new compositions from Orlaith McAuliffe and Tad Sergeant. Rosie sang her heart out ending with a fine interpretation of Banks of the Claudy.
Sam Proctor on fiddle and Philippe Barnes on tin whistle played new tunes with Orlaith. Waterford based Caladh Nua concluded the Saturday concert with a showcase of music from Ireland’s south-east.
Singer Lisa Butler sang authoritatively, played the fiddle and introduced her four colleagues, Derek Morissey (accordion), Paddy Tutty (fiddle), Brian Mooney (banjo) and Caoimhin O Fearghaill (guitar).
Up the road at Cecil Sharpe house, the set dancers were out in force to welcome back the Tulla Ceili band. The band made many new friends in 2012 and delivered the best tunes – polkas, slides for the Connemara, Caledonian, and Clare Sets. This time, as then, they were greeted by a sea of happy faces and deft footwork. The Ceilidhs were poignant as tributes were paid to the wonder ful Marian Savage who passed away in 2015.
For may years Marian added a lovely sparkle to Return to Camden Town.
Mairead Casey from Longford was back again for workshops and a fine display of Sean-nós steps.
On Sunday afternoon an orderly queue waited eagerly before heading upstairs to the presidential suite to hear Bobby Gardiner on accordion and his daughter Lynda on concertina. Mary McNamara, who earlier had led a concertina workshop and did a guest slot with the Tulla band, was joined by daughter Sorcha Costello on fiddle.
Tom O’Connell from West Limerick on accordion and Peter McAlinden from London added more great music.Afterwards, preparation began in McNamara hall for Sunday night’s concert – a tribute to the late Jimmy Philbin from Cornamona, Co Galway who died earlier this year. The Good Mixer band and le Cheile were gems demonstrating precision teamwork and seamless harmonies.
PHOTOS: ANNE MULLEN