By Earle Hitchner
Only their vaunted Clare rival, the Kilfenora Céilí Band, has been
playing stellar Irish traditional dance music longer than the Tulla
Céilí Band. Founded in 1946 by pianist Theresa Tubridy and fiddler Bert
McNulty, the Tulla have been going strong for more than half a century
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"A Celebration of 50 Years," released in 1996 on Green Linnet
Records, was a fitting tribute to their golden anniversary. It was
capped a year later by their appearance at the Washington Irish Folk
Festival in Wolf Trap, Vienna, Va., and the 90-minute video, "The Irish
Folk Fest From Wolf Trap," produced by WLIW-TV in 1998 of their
appearance and that of other musicians. Guesting with the Tulla at Wolf
Trap were former members Mike Preston on flute and Martin Mulhaire on
button accordion, both of whom played on what many aficionados of Irish
dance music consider the greatest recording of a céilí band ever made,
1957’s "Echoes of Erin" (Dublin), sadly not yet available on CD.
But if you want to hear them in the flesh rather than just on vinyl
or digital disk, the Tulla Céilí Band is coming back to the U.S. for the
second time in two years this month for four concerts along the East
Coast. Featuring famed father-son fiddlers P.J. (a founding member) and
Martin Hayes, the 10-member ensemble, plus former Open House percussive
dancer Sandy Silva, will be performing on Thursday night, June 24, as part
of the popular Midsummer Night Swing series held outdoors at Lincoln
Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, NYC. A
dance lesson with Megan Downes begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by actual
dancing to the Tulla from 8:15-11. For tickets and more
information, call (212) 721-6500 or (212) 875-5766. You can also go to
www.lincolncenter.org on the Internet.
The other three performances by the Tulla Céilí Band will be on June
25 at the Irish American Home Society, Glastonbury, Conn.
( 521-2696); June 26 at the Music Hall, Portsmouth, N.H.
( 436-2400), and June 27 at The Burren, Somerville, Mass.