Category: Archive

Girsa are ‘young girls’ no longer

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

From Pearl River, N.Y., and outlying towns reaching into N.J., these young women–some are in college now–displayed impressive maturity on stage while their mothers toted covered trays of complimentary hot food to a side table to keep the crowd fed. But free food wasn’t needed to keep the throng rooted. Even in this still early phase of the group’s public profile, their music has the potential to become as cherishable as Cherish the Ladies’ music. Joanie Madden, CTL’s leader, is quoted as saying that Girsa is “a force to be reckoned with.” And they are.
It was obvious that Maeve and Bernadette Flanagan, Kristen and Emily McShane, Deirdre Brennan, Blaithin Loughran, Pamela Geraghty, and Margaret Dudasik were excited, but the tunes and songs they performed showed no sign of overeagerness. Rose Conway Flanagan, Margie Mulvihill, Patty Conway Furlong, and other music instructors had taught them well, not just in execution but also in comportment. They had fun on stage but never lost their focus, and their generous acknowledgment of their parents and teachers (at times the same) made the occasion more personal and personable.
A fluid group to accommodate the varying availability of individual members, Girsa additionally featured on stage sisters Lindsay and Sarah Buteux on concertina and fiddle, as well as Blaithin Loughran’s younger sister Neidin on banjo and whistle. Girsa also yielded the spotlight to such guests as fiddlers Brian Conway, Rose Conway Flanagan, Bernadette Fee, John Reynolds, and Dylan Foley; button accordionists John Whelan and John Nolan; keyboardist Felix Dolan; and singer-guitarist Gabriel Donohue, who produced and engineered the band’s CD. Their presence and performance were an implicit seal of approval for Girsa, who are keeping the proud N.Y./N.J. tradition in Irish music alive and thriving.
Generational gaps evaporate in Irish traditional music. It welcomes performers of all ages who respect its history, cultural continuity, and communal vitality. The members of Girsa understand that. You can see it in their faces and posture as they perform with heart, joy, and pride.
It will be fascinating to monitor the evolution of this group, who have, according to their CD liner notes, “the most dedicated manager in the world,” Pat Geraghty, Pamela’s mother. My hope is that they stick together and stick it out during this very difficult economic period for Irish traditional acts.
What’s certain in these uncertain times is this: whatever ails you musically, Girsa will cure. You can see them in action from 5 to 8 p.m. on these two Sundays, April 12 and 26, at Christy’s, 87 North Middletown Rd., Pearl River, N.Y. (845-735-6588).
For more information about the band, contact Pat Geraghty at 845-304-8152 or patgeraghty@girsamusic.com, or visit www.girsamusic.com.
I’ll be formally reviewing Girsa’s debut album in a future “Ceol.”

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