As a singer, songwriter, world-class guitarist, and producer, the Co. Clare native Gerry O’Beirne blends elements of traditional Irish music with contemporary original songs.
A well-known solo artist, O’Beirne has toured with such well-known folk luminaries as Patrick Street, Andy M. Stewart, Kevin Burke, the Waterboys, Midnight Well, and the Sharon Shannon Band.
However, no matter where he goes, said O’Beirne, he always looks forward to “working his way down south towards Louisiana.”
“If you could organize your life the way that you would like it, I would stay in New Orleans for a month,” laughed O’Beirne. “But it doesn’t often work out that way.”
During his long career, O’Beirne’s music has always incorporated dimensions of literature and art. 1874, a track from his 2010 collaboration with fiddler Rosie Shipley, Yesterday I Saw the Earth Beautiful, was inspired by the very first impressionist exhibition that took place in Paris in 1874.
His 2008 album, The Bog Bodies and Other Stories: Music for Guitar, features two haunting pieces inspired by the Irish “bog bodies,” the centuries-dead cadavers found naturally mummified in the peat bogs of Ireland and Eastern Europe.
“Bog bodies are people fashioned by the bog, and processes in the bog, so that they now almost look like works of art themselves,” said O’Beirne. “In my music, I tried to give a heightened sense of them as people, but also, in a funny way, that Mother Earth sort of took them back, and made them into works of art.”
In December 2015, O’Beirne performed Trèo, a popular bar and art gallery in New Orleans.
In Irish Gaelic, trèo means direction. According to Trèo’s owners Pauline and Stephen Patterson, that meaning is apt when describing both the bar, and the bar’s location on Tulane Avenue. Both, said Pauline Patterson, are “following new directions.”
“Trèo is predominately a bar,” explained Pauline Patterson. “But its direction is the arts, whether that art is food, cocktails, the art of conversation, or music. Our December art events include artists who live outside the States, but have connections with New Orleans. Because Gerry O’Beirne’s music takes Irish music in a new direction, he really suits the theme of the December show.”
O’Beirne is currently working on a new album that highlights life in Dingle, Co. Kerry, by telling tales of famine towers, canny Irish horse trainers, and romantically eccentric locals.
“People often say you can’t speak about music,” said O’Beirne. “But I always think that one art form responds very easily to another. People are extraordinary creations. Cities can be extraordinary creations. And whether you live in New Orleans, New York, or Dingle, your obligations for living there are cultural ones.
Information about upcoming events is available at Trèo
Information about Gerry O’Beirne is available at Gerry O’Beirne