Sligo, Ireland ? The Irish music "session" – regularly connected with the great pubs of Ireland and the wild beauty of the west of Ireland – is now set to take a new path on American airwaves. Renowned Irish traditional band Dervish will bring the sounds of a spirited Irish session to American public radio audiences through a weekly radio program, "Irish Heartbeat with Dervish." The program goes into production this month at the band’s Sligo studios in the West of Ireland.
Hosted by Dervish’s charismatic lead singer Cathy Jordan, the program will feature guests from among Ireland and the United State’s top traditional and roots musicians, as well as noted figures from Ireland’s literary and wider arts world. Already confirmed are Matt Molloy (of The Chieftains) with John Carty, Moya Brennan of Clannad, The Celtic Tenors, Irish rock band The Saw Doctors, singer Susan McKeown, fiddler Frankie Gavin (De Dannan), and leading traditional groups Danú and Téada. Many others are in discussion.
Spellbinding music, exciting collaborations and engaging conversations with guests will all be part of "Irish Heartbeat with Dervish." Listeners will get a true sense of sitting close in a music session at a pub or party in Ireland—a memorable experience with lively instrumental tunes traded back and forth, moving songs, chat, laughter, and always a great sense of fun, or as the Irish say, "craic" (prounounced crack).
"Irish Heartbeat with Dervish" will launch initially on flagship station WCMU-FM (an NPR-affiliate in Michigan) and its seven-station network later this year, and will be offered to over 800 public radio stations across the country. A Christmas special is in the works, with plans for a St Patrick’s Day show as well as broadcasts from some of Ireland’s major festivals and landmarks. The program’s website irishheartbeat.ie has just been launched, and will be regularly updated with program and guest information, audio clips, and more. (For now, information can be found at the band’s website, dervish.ie.)
Radio Telefís Éireann (RTE), Ireland’s public service broadcaster, has committed to "Irish Heartbeat with Dervish" and plans to begin airing the program there on its new digital audio channel later this year.
The program is the brainchild of Dervish co-founder and accordion player Shane Mitchell. "We wanted to capture the character and spirit of a pub session, which is the natural home of our music," he says. "We came up with the idea of a regular radio show with guests jamming with the band, to send to America. I must say I’ve never seen the band so excited about a project!" The members of Dervish will make up the program’s house band.
Together since 1989, Dervish is considered one of the Irish music world’s leading performers. The six-member group has released 10 albums and two DVDs on their own Whirling Disc label, and have received numerous awards including "Trad Band of the Year" for 2007 by Hot Press (Ireland’s top music publication) and Irish Music Magazine’s "Band of the Year" a decade earlier. Michael Flatley (Riverdance, Lord of the Dance) called them the "best band in Ireland."