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Ireland’s Téada Bringing Folk Tunes to Sebastopol

From the start, the members of Téada have been committed to Irish folk music for its social nature.

“Folk music is easy to connect to because it’s kind of the music of the people. The reason it’s lasted is people like to listen,” said Oisín Mac Diarmada, the fiddler of the band who founded Téada in 2001. “It’s been a part of people’s socialization for hundreds of years.”

The Irish folk band is coming to Sebastopol’s HopMonk Tavern on Friday, for the only Bay Area show on their U.S.-Canada tour.

The harmonious sounds of the renowned band include Damien Stenson on the flute, Sean Gavin on uilleann pipes, Patrick Doocey on guitar and Mac Diarmada on the fiddle.

Téada, pronounced TAY-da, released their debut album in 2003 following an appearance on an Irish TV show that increased the band’s national popularity. Since then, they’ve released five more records and performed countless gigs in cities around the world.

“One of the reasons Irish music is so popular is because it’s very accessible,” Mac Diarmada said. “It’s the kind of music you can spend a lifetime studying and researching because there is so much history, but you can also just show up and enjoy and connect with it right away.”

Téada’s past performances include major shows and festivals across the U.S., Europe, Africa and Asia.

“We did an amazing tour of Japan and Taiwan some years ago where we toured for several weeks,” Mac Diarmada said. “It was incredible to play all those big cities but also to go to smaller places where people were not used to seeing westerners. That was amazing to experience a totally different culture.”

The band’s most recent album, Coiscéim Coiligh, released in May 2022, features a collaboration between the late Irish musician Seamus Begley and American actor John C. Reilly.

Reilly took a liking to the band’s music while filming on location in Ireland and became friendly with Begley, who had provided vocals on several Téada records and performed with the band. The song couples Reilly and Begley’s vocals with Téada’s traditional folk music for a unique recording of “Eileen Óg.”

Despite the band’s global reach, Mac Diarmada applauds a certain nuance he has noted in local audiences here.

“From an outsider’s perspective, people in California seem liberated and they’re not too shy, compared to people in other places,” he said. “People seem comfortable in themselves and like to move to music. I love that about California.”

Those who attend the show at HopMonk and feel inclined to move to the music won’t be the only dancers at the venue. Step-dancer Samantha Harvey will join the band for their performance.

Harvey is a woman of many arts — a dancer, accordionist and pianist — and is married to Mac Diarmada. Harvey’s step-dancing work is derived from sean-nos, a style of Irish percussive dancing.

A native of Ventura, Harvey met Mac Diarmada on tour in California and now performs alongside the band, furthering the cultural richness the band strives to provide.

Mac Diarmada said the season in which they began their tour — early spring — is a particularly noteworthy time to perform because “people have an excitement about Irish music” due to Saint Patrick’s Day.

“We don’t take that for granted at all,” he said. “We are a tiny little country, and we are so shocked and honored that people around the world think about Ireland in March and are excited to get out and do Irish things. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Following their spring performances, the band resumed the tour in mid-July through the Western states. They’ll conclude their U.S. shows in California before heading back to Europe.

After their show in Sebastopol Friday, they’ll wrap up their Northern California route with a show Saturday at Pacific Grove in Monterey County.

Even if audience members have no prior experience with Irish music, Mac Diarmada assured attendees that they will enjoy the upcoming show.

“Music is such a great way of bringing people together, and most people around the world know that Irish people like to have a good time,” he said. “If you haven’t heard Irish music before, hopefully we will hook you for life!”

Source : The Press Democrat