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There is an extremely talented new band who has just recently debuted its intro to the world album, and it is a beauty! Known as Maċa, named after the Irish goddesses known as the three Morrigna who have images of strong, fierce and independent, self governing women, these ladies are going to be a force to be noticed and admired.

From New Ross, County Wexford, Saoirse, Naoise, and Ciara Carty are three incredibly gifted musicians who are also blessed with what I call, the gift of “the craic.” Great times surround and follow them wherever they are. Winners of TG4’s Réalta agus Gaolta—Ireland’s Most Talented Family, they decided to formaly create a band and share their love of music with all of us. While they had previously recorded an EP, they decided to set a new album as a priority and began working on it this last pandemic year. With encouragement from good friend Rónán O’Snodaigh of Kila, they began composing songs and tunes for SPIRAL named for their logo which showcases the fluidity and changes of their lives, music, and rising career. A successful :fund:it campaign has allowed them to produce and now distribute their dream.

Full of spirit and energy, they put on a series of mini concerts from their bedroom allowing us to get to know and enjoy their laughing, teasing, bantering (as only sisters can do…), as well as be amazed at their playing and singing. Saoirse, who is the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Naoise, the fiddler, concertina master, and vocalist, and Ciara who handles the bodhran, percussion, whistles, flute, and vocals have a way of pulling you into the joy, mischievousness, and soul of their music.

When asked about their musical background, they all agreed that sports were their first love until preteen years when they became interested in music. Their folks were not musicians, but encouraged and hauled them around to lessons and sessions. They were fortunate to live near and get to play at pubs with the great Sean Keane, Sharon Shannon and Eddi Reader. Disney’s Raglan Road noticed them and offered them a long residency in Disney World and off they went. Getting to play there with The Byrne Brothers, Colin Farrell and other well known musicians whet their appetite to form their own band.

SPIRAL is a brilliant collection of Irish Trad tunes arranged with a modern, yet respectful twist that is refreshing, and songs that pull on your experiences and immediately involve you in the music. All were composed by the ladies and they have every reason to be quite proud of their work. They feel it is very important that their audiences feel that they know who Maċa is after seeing them. From specially designed outfits to their music and stories, they want to give to their listeners a piece of themselves that they will take and remember them by; that what they see on stage is who they truly are and will be known and appreciated for. Music, and telling their story through it, is who they are and we are now being gifted with them and their music. Head to their website and get a copy!
With the world crippled by the Covid pandemic, musicians and students have heavily begun to rely on online teaching and learning. One very special opportunity now available is a set of two Banjo technique books by the talented and popular We Banjo 3 leader, Enda Scahill. Four time All Ireland Banjo winner, member and guest musician of bands such as The Brock McGuire Band and Chieftans, Enda had published Learn Irish Banjo – Enda Scahill’s Essential Foundation Techniques Volume 1 in 2008. This past fall, he added a volume and working with Sound Slice has put out ebook versions which add valuable videos of him modelling the techniques and exercises and playing the tunes. The speed can be slowed down for learners to learn the fingering, and then put back to regular speed to play along with Enda as the learner progresses.

The program also includes interactive displays of the banjo fretboard, waveform displays, changing the tunes to different keys, and many other options. It is well set up for all levels of players from the beginner establishing good habits and basic techniques to the advanced student looking to work with a banjo master musician. Hourly music lessons can be quite costly. At $19.99 for Volume I and $21.99 for Volume II, these are absolute steals, and true gifts of music which you can order at www.soundslice.com

A quick mention for all Irish music lovers, IRISH MUSIC MAGAZINE has just come out with their Annual 2021 issue which features an incredible number of interviews with Irish musicians both new and those around for many years including Maċa, Joanie Madden, Nathan Carter, Coscán, Maurice Lennon, Andy Cooney, Marie Nesbitt, and Runa to name just a few. The much looked forward to “yearbook” of this magazine is well worth your time and purchase.

Keep and eye out as many bands and musicians are ready to debut new albums. I’ll be reviewing as many as possible and also looking forward to those upcoming from Goitse, Shane Hennessy, and others. Hopefully, we can start looking forward to some live performances by the mid or end of this new year!

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