Traditional sounds of the Emerald Isle will soon fill a Queens venue.
Uilleann piper Cillian Vallely and flutist Kevin Crawford will present a night of Gaelic Folk Music at the New York Irish Center in Long Island City on Friday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 a piece in advance, but $25 at the door.
Vallely, who hails from County Armagh in Northern Ireland, actually brought the uilleann pipes into the mainstream by playing them with Bruce Springsteen on The Boss’s 2014 album “High Hopes.” Plus, he was a soloist in the Broadway production of “Riverdance.”
Vallely grew up in the heart of a folk music family that performed all over the world. His father plays the pipes. His mother is a fiddler. One brother tickles the piano ivories. The other rocks the concertina, a free-reed instrument related to the accordion.
The other performer, Crawford, was born in Birmingham, England, but he moved to Ireland’s County Clare while in his 20s. Considered a virtuoso flute player, he was selected as Irish Echo Musician of the Year in 2001. He also plays tin whistle, low whistle, and bodhrán, a handheld frame drum with goat skin similar to a tambourine.
Vallely and Crawford are members of Lúnasa, arguably the most acclaimed and influential traditional Irish band of modern times. With flute, whistles, double bass, fiddle, and uilleann pipes, the group has sold more than 250,000 albums and accumulated seven award-winning studio albums. (Lúnasa is a Gaelic festival celebrating the beginning of the harvest season. It can also mean “August.”)
Uilleann pipes, whose name comes from the Gaelic word for “elbow,” are a form of bagpipes that can create a wide range of notes. Because they are quieter than most others, they are often used in indoor concerts. They feature a chanter, an eight-finger-hole section that creates the melody, which has a range of two full octaves, including sharps and flats. They also have reed drones and regulators with closed keys that musicians can open to add rhythm and harmony to the sound.
Images: Cillian Vallely/Kevin Crawford/Lúnasa