Shaskeen Blog & Press 2010


Four Decades of Irish Music and Song

The members of Galway based Shaskeen know that 2010 will be a year like no other as they celebrate the band's 40th anniversary. Like other bands Shaskeen has brought traditional Irish music to life for millions of people across the world through performances and recordings in the past four decades but the members did it the Shaskeen way.

An entire generation has matured on the music of the band that was put together to play on Friday nights at the Oxford Tavern in Kentish Town in 1970. Since then over 2000 Friday nights have passed and the music of Shaskeen lives on, albeit with a slightly different line up.

The name Shaskeen comes from the Shaskeen Reel so as one can imagine the band has been heavily influenced by ceili music and in the past four decades has been true to the ethos that brought Tom Cussen, Benny O Connor, Sean McDonagh, Johnny and Maureen Minogue together all those years ago. Today the band is still steered by Tom Cussen who is joined by Eamon Cotter, Patsy McDonagh, Johnny Donnellan, Pat Costello, Pat Broderick, Tony Howley and Geraldine Cotter.

Shaskeen became an instant success as soon as the London leg of its career was complete. Following the move back home in 1972 Tom and Benny, through a series of coincidences and with the help of PJ Hernon  & John Dooley put Shaskeen back together and almost immediately the band took the traditional Irish music scene by storm. Having friends in Ireland and the UK allowed the band to develop and cultivate a fan base in both countries which in turn opened up the US and Europe as people with Irish roots started to travel more and settle in  far off places. There is no doubt that the combination of the extensive travelling undertaken by the band and their 15 albums has had a major impact in spreading the Shaskeen message.

Over the years the band's recordings have been linked with wonderful producers and musicians. Sleeve notes credit people like the late Dermot O Brien, PJ Curtis and Kieran Hanrahan through the years.

Tom Cussen comments "over the past 40 years the band has met challenges from a number of quarters but we've managed to navigate our way through and we're very proud that the Shaskeen name and our particular slant on traditional music is still very much in evidence. Some of the challenges we met go back to our own return to Ireland. We survived that and although it wasn't planned we managed to keep Shaskeen alive, the economic downturns we met in 40 years have had an impact on audiences but the recordings kept us alive in people's minds. There was the mass introduction of discos and night clubs which we steered around and in recent times the development of online media and social networking presented a challenge but we embraced all of this very early on. Our ability to react is one of the strengths of the band and one that we're very proud of. That's the same for any product in any market and just because we play music and enjoy it doesn't mean we're not a product so we must react to market forces while being true to our heritage".

It is right that any entity that survives four decades in a competitive and changing environment should celebrate and the band is planning to mark its birthday throughout 2010.

The band has already blocked off many dates during the year for appearances at home and abroad but as the first gig played by them was in May 1970 the members have decided to mark that period with a series of special 40th anniversary performances in what's become known as the Ruby Tour (details below). These performances will be special events and a must for Shaskeen fans and for lovers of traditional Irish music as played by the members of the band.

There are no immediate plans to return to the recording studio as the 15th album from the band was only released in early 2009 but the band has been tinkering with re-mastering some of the earlier albums that will be contained on a 40th anniversary compilation album to be released later in the year. This will evoke some memories but more importantly will pay tribute to those members of the band who played with Shaskeen over the years.

Shaskeen has been hugely influential in the preservation and development of traditional Irish music at home and abroad. The members of the band have built on the foundations laid down in Kentish Town 40 years ago (and before) and have preserved and nurtured their corner of our culture to ensure the next generation can continue the journey of our great music and songs. As Shaskeen goes into its 5th decade it does so with as many hopes and dreams as was the case 40 years ago but on this occasion the band has the support of a legion of fans and believers who know how important Shaskeen has been to preserving our musical heritage.

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Shaskeen - The Ruby Tour

Celebrating 40 Years 1970 - 2010

1st  May: Monster Ceili, Cois na hAbhna, Ennis, Co. Clare

7th May: Shaskeen in Concert, The Well, Moate, Co. Westmeath

8th May: Shaskeen in Concert, The Glens Centre, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

15th May: Shaskeen in Concert, Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork

22nd May: Shaskeen in Concert, Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre, The Naul, Finglas, Co.Dublin                                                                                

12th June: Shaskeen in Concert, Carnegie Arts Centre, Kenmare Co. Kerry

18th June: Shaskeen in Concert, Town Hall Theatre, Galway

18th Aug: Festival of St. Loup. Guingamp, Brittany, France