A Word With Goitse’s Tadhg Ó Meachair

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On Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m., the Kahilu Theatre will present the Irish band Goitse (pronounced go-wit-cha) with members from the Big Island Hawaii Irish Dance troupe. Ticket and event info can be found below.

I had a chance to speak to Tadhg Ó Meachair, one of the founding members of the band, about a variety of topics including current and future projects. Although he was on tour in Europe, we found a way to make it work.

Tadhg has established himself as a force in the world of traditional Irish music. As well as extensive tours of the US and Europe with Goitse, he has performed on a variety of stages around the world to huge crowds and esteemed audiences –  from Ireland’s National Concert Hall to Music Crossroads in Zambia, from the infamous Festival Interceltique de Lorient, to a garden party hosted by Uachtarán an hÉireann, the President of Ireland.

What can Irish music fans look forward to at your upcoming show at the Kahilu Theatre?
People can look forward to a lively, fun time! They’ll be listening to some energetic Irish traditional music, a few songs both in English and in Irish (or Gaelic), and most of all, a bit of craic as we say! We play a mix of older instrumental music from Ireland as well as a lot of our own compositions, and these all stem from a dance music tradition, so people should be clapping and tapping along for the show!

Will this be Goitse’s Big Island performance debut?
The concert at the Kahilu Theatre will actually be our first-ever concert on any of the islands. We are more than excited to get out for a visit!

What can you tell me about your current album Úr?
Úr is our fifth studio album as a band, and the first with our new banjo player, Alan Reid. The word itself is a Gaelic Irish word for ‘fresh’ or ‘new.’ But it also has older connotations. In the past, it has signified ‘heather’, and was a name given to one of the letters in the ancient ‘ogham’ alphabet. In many ways, we felt this mirrored the music we play. While we compose our own melodies and enjoy adding to the canon of Irish traditional music, many of these compositions sit side-by-side with older melodies on various tracks on the album. Some of the sources for the album, in fact, are collections that date back to the 1800s.

What music have you been listening to lately?
We have a very eclectic taste in music in the band. If you were to listen in on everyone’s music player on the tour bus, you could hear old traditional music, modern folk, pop, some Swedish fiddle music, heavy metal – really everything. There’s even the odd bit of Mongolian throat singing thrown in!

Besides touring, which projects are you working on right now or projects for the near future?
So, as well as each of our individual endeavors – including performances, recordings, composition projects, teaching and more – we always enjoy our Goitse projects outside of touring. While we released Úr in 2019, it won’t be long again before we look at assembling material again for the next album. That part of the creative process is always highly enjoyable. As well as that, we’re just after performing some kids’ shows at Temple Bar TradFest in Dublin. Putting that show together, and getting to interact with a younger audience, was so rewarding. We often also incorporate workshop and lecture opportunities into our tour schedule, so all of these outlets keep everything fresh for us!

Is there someone whom you’ve never collaborated with, but you’d like to?
Ha-ha! It’d be amazing to get to work with any number of musicians. It’s nearly impossible to choose one! Over the years we’ve had the chance to work with some legends of the Irish music scene like Dónal Lunny and Danú. From further afield, we collaborated with Les Espoirs De Coronthie from Guinea for the Junction Festival in Clonmel, and toured Malawi and Zambia with a wonderful Malawian roots-rock Afrojazz band called Mafilika. The possibilities for collaboration are endless really, so it’s hard to choose one! Speaking for myself, I’ve been loving Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats this last while, and it’d be amazing to put something together with them. There’s a strong folk element in the music, and it’d be a blast to have the big-band vibe with B3 and horns and the works!

What are the qualities you most admire in your bandmates?
The ability to put up with me in close quarters for long stretches of time! I joke, of course, but they are all great people and some of my best friends, as well as being stellar musicians.

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we go?
Just make sure to check out the concert – and grab our music from the website at www.goitse.ie or wherever you find your music that best supports musicians and composers! Thanks a million!

If you go… Have a good show!

Event: Goitse in Concert
When: Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, at 7 p.m.
Where: Kahilu Theatre
Cost: $50/$25
Info: Tickets can be purchased at kahilutheatre.org, (808) 885-6868 or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela (Waimea).


Steve Roby is a music journalist, an L.A. Times bestselling author, and a Big Island filmmaker. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.

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