Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Michael Coleman and His Impact on Irish Music

I get a lot of questions about my style of fiddle playing. For example, you could be playing Clare style, Donegal style or Dublin style. The possibilities are endless. However, I play in the New York Sligo style. The New York Sligo style is the style played by Irish fiddlers from Sligo, a county in Ireland, who immigrated to New York in places such as the Bronx and brought along their music and gave it their own accent. Sligo style playing was made popular by a fiddler named Michael Coleman.

Michael Coleman was born in Knockgrania, near Ballymote, Sligo, Ireland. Michael's father, James was a flute player. As a child, Michael learned to Irish Step Dance and play Irish fiddle. He performed at house concerts hosted by friends and family.

Michael competed at the Sligo Feis Ceoil in 1909 and 1910, placing joint third both years.

In October of 1914, Michael sailed to America with one of his friends. He performed at many gigs, playing fiddle while dancing at the same time. In 1917, he settled in New York and married Marie Fanning, originally from Monaghan, Ireland. Together, Michael and Marie had one child named Mary.

Between 1921 and 1936 he recorded many 78-rpm records under different record labels. He was mainly accompanied by pianists on his records, and occasionally guitarists.

The achievement Michael is most well known for is being one of the first Irish fiddlers to record.

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