Button box and fiddle fans can hear two consummate instrumentalists straight from Ireland on Friday at Northern Light United Church.
Charlie Piggott, multi-instrumentalist of DeDanann fame, and a fellow Irish recording artist, fiddler Gerry Harrington, are kicking off an Alaska tour this evening in Haines. They are joined by Seattle singer/guitarist Peter Gilmour, who is Irish by birth.
At 8 p.m. Friday, the trio will perform at Northern Light as a benefit for the Alaska Folk Festival, a nonprofit organization that presents concerts year-round in Juneau.
Piggott and Harrington are household names in Ireland, said producer Greg McLaughlin of Juneau. "Sweet," "lilting," "evocative," "inspired," "masterful," "enchanting" and "seasoned" are just of a few of the adjectives that have been applied to their music.
The pair has performed previously at Dublin's National Concert Hall, the Cork Folk Festival, Holland's Festival of European Accordion Music, and the Cincinnati Folk Life Festival. They're considered a breath of country air in a field that has become citified.
"In the United States they haven't made a huge impact, but we have lots of people playing Irish music," McLaughlin said.
Piggott is one of the founding members of DeDanann, and both he and Harrington have many popular recordings under their musical belts. Harrington fiddled with the trio Smoky Chimney, and previously recorded with box player Eoghan O'Sullivan.
"What I like about them is their music has an older sound and feel," said John Walsh, the Anchorage musician who set up the tour. "They have a better appreciation for traditional sounds. Most of their albums are recorded on the first take, and there is no over-production. So it's a very traditional sound."
Guitarist Gilmour was born and raised in a musical family in Dublin. He started playing professionally in the 1970s. After moving to Vancouver Island in the early 1980s, he turned his attention to jazz and traditional Irish music. In the last few years, he has played Irish music exclusively, touring in Japan and Ireland as well as the U.S. He plays with an unusual open tuning, which, combined with his jazz sensibilities, makes for interesting listening, Walsh said.
This is Harrington and Piggott's first trip to Alaska. After completing their Juneau gig, the group will go on to perform in Anchorage, Palmer, Fairbanks and Homer through Oct. 15.
Tickets are available in advance through both locations of Hearthside Books for $14. Tickets are $16 at the door.