Since the mid-1990s, East Clare fiddler Martin Hayes and Chicago-born guitar player Dennis Cahill have struck the most interesting musical partnership. Martin Hayes was born into the rich musical tradition of East Clare music while Dennis Cahill’s musical background is more urban and influenced by Rock and Jazz. Yet, over the years, both musicians have managed to integrate their respective musical influences into the most beautiful and innovative approach to traditional Irish music. This performance of “The Castle” and “The Nightingale”, two jigs composed by Tipperary fiddler Sean Ryan (1919-1985), is emblematic of their lyrical, understated and novel execution of well-known tunes.
Over the years, both musicians have perfected a trademark live performance style consisting of very long sets of traditional tunes lasting sometimes over 20 minutes and often turning into genuine emotional roller-coasters for the receptive audience. Starting with a slow hornpipe or a slow air, the musicians will slowly build the music up into what could be compared to an Irish musical “stream of consciousness” with dozens of tunes with different time signatures. Toner Quinn writes:
Going way beyond the standard three-or four-minute set introduced new possibilities of Zen-like highs, almost trance-evoking performances, and a particular feat of traditional music musicianship which simply hadn’t been seen before […] It is the endless, climactic rises and clever, subtle falls that Hayes and Cahill orchestrate that manage to spellbind audiences. Just as one thinks it might wind down, they bring the atmosphere into totally different territories and begin to build again. The Journal of Music
Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill’s latest recording as a duo Welcome Here Again was released in 2008 on the Green Linnet record label.