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Stunning Traditional Irish Music performed by
Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill

Venue: One Longfellow Square, Portland ME ~ May 8, 2010

Aug 27, 2010
Kimmy Sophia Brown

When I went to see this duo, I was expecting it tobe an understated evening. I expected to hear pretty Irish reels and jigs played in a subdued manner. It’s just two guys, I told myself. They weren’t going to have bagpipes with fireworks coming out of them like Gaelic Storm or Flogging Molly. How intense could it get?

That night, One Longfellow Squarewas packed to the gills, and the two men came out and began to play. The darkened house and the lilting tunes (why is it that Irish tunes are always  lilting, and yet they are--)thrummed along until the whole bunch of us were on a hypnotic journey with Martin and Dennis. They played in an understated way, like whirling dervishes. They whirled like gentlemen at first, maybe more like twirling dervishes, pulling us all into the centripetal force of the whirling, which sped ever so lightly along, until Martin’s legs were going up and down off the stage, his wild, long, curly hair flying, his arms and fingers constant and channeling the god of music, with a building, unifying, joyous frenzy. The audience, eyes fixed on the pair, were one in focus, many legs, feet, knees, hands bouncing along with Martin’s, and the whole place levitating with the transcendent hypnosis of the music.

Martin Hayes, Dennis CahillIt seemed to me that each medleylasted about 30 minutes, and they played several medleys. Dennis started off stately and lovely on the guitar, and then the pace accelerated, and accelerated more, but not to the point of driving off the cliff into oblivion, but with control, balance and poise. And intensity. Did I mention intensity?

Martin mentioned that he wasexperiencing flu symptoms, and I wondered which kind of flu, hoping it wasn’t the stomach flu. I got visuals of the possibility of a kind of Vesuvius eruption happening between the bow and strings. But he didn’t manifest anything publicly. In fact he stated that as long as he was playing he felt fine. He felt the symptoms between tunes. His sense of humor was charming andunderstated, and Dennis was his straight man, constant and faithful.

Over the years they have receivedmultiple awards and recorded several albums. Anyone who enjoys Irish music in its spare simplicity will love these two guys. I would relish the chance to see them live again, and plan to enjoy their CDs until the next time I have the opportunity.

Checkout Green Linnet Records Website, featuring their latest CD, Welcome HereAgain, at

You can also visit to find out about tours and other details.

For music lovers visiting Portland, Maine, I highly recommend
One Longfellow Square ~ "Portland's Premier Arts Venue"
Check them out at

Photo by Derek Speirs

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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