Téada is one of the top ensembles playing Irish traditional music today and they're playing at the Richland Community Hall Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
Formed in 2001, leader and fiddler Oisín MacDiarmada says the popularity of the music is greater in some parts of the world than in others. A highlight for the group this year was traveling to Japan and Taiwan.
"We played to about 40,000 people by the end of the tour, so it was a huge, huge experience for us and just amazing to see how the people reacted to the music," he says. "I mean there were so many people very eager to communicate with us after the show. You could discern their excitement and interest, so it was phenomenal."
On the the North American tour, American guitarist and bouzouki player Sean Earnest is substituting for Téada's Irish guitarist. To him it's a dream come true, having grown up listening to Téada albums and playing with them informally in post-show sessions.
"I have a great job," says Earnest. "My job is getting to go up on stage and play music, for money in some cases, with people that I idolize and enjoy their company. How often does that happen? I'm under no delusions, I'm a very lucky guy."
A member of a newly-successful traditional Irish group called The Yanks, Sean Earnest looks to Téada founder Oisín Mac Diarmada as a role model.
"He's a multi-instrumentalist, he has a sense of the ensemble sound as well as what he's doing," says Earnest. "I think it was a shrewd move indeed to invite the great Seamus Begley to join the band."
Seamus Begley comes from a musical family of nine brothers and sisters from the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry. In the 1950s, the siblings learned the musical profession by playing in the the family's dance hall. Oisín MacDiarmada says that Seamus Begley brings a lifetime of memorized material to the group.
"Irish is his first language, and certainly when he's at home, I don't think he speaks a hell of a lot of English to the people that he knows," says MacDiarmada. "Seamus will tell you himself, growing up in West Kerry, his main influence that he speaks about is one of his schoolteachers, so a lot of the Irish songs that Seamus sings came from that time. And then the other influence on him was through his mother, and the radio coming in from the States."
Sean Earnest admires Téada's arrangement of the Marty Robbins country & western song, "Saddle Tramp," on their new album.
"It's completely out of left field from the traditional perspective, but it's well within Begley's ability, which seems to know no bounds. It's a triumph for the band to be able to take a song that couldn't conceivably be farther away from the Irish canon, and make it dovetail into an album that is otherwise populated by almost exclusively straight-up traditional music," says Earnest.
"I think Téada has withstood the test of time and has been able to make the innate and inherent sounds of traditional Irish music appealing to markets and listenerships that may not have originally come to Irish music. Because they present it in a way that is both traditional and innovative at the same time -- there's no sacrifice made. I think that's what's kept them at the top of the game for so long."
Téada will perform at the Richland Community Hall this Saturday at 7:30 p.m.