The Irish Experience in America is a special concert tracing, in song, the emigration and assimilation of the Irish in America from the nineteenth century to the present day. Music and song hold a special place of prominence in Irish life and so provide a remarkable window into the heart and soul of the Irish character.
Robbie O’Connell is uniquely qualified to take us on such a musical journey. His songwriting draws heavily on his experiences as an immigrant during the past fifteen years and his background with the traditional ensemble, The Green Fields of America, as well as with the Clancy Brothers, brings a breadth and depth to his solo concerts that few performers can match. As he moves freely between unaccompanied traditional ballads and recently written songs, he captures the everyday feelings of Irish immigrants, over the years, in a more immediate way than history books ever can.
We empathize with the challenges and hardships of the early immigrants as well as revel in the joy and humor of the indomitable Celtic spirit. Songs such as Kilkelly, based on a series of actual emigrant letters, pack a powerful emotional punch while Hard To Say Goodbye takes a hilarious look at the present day realities of transatlantic travel. Muldoon, the Solid Man celebrates the unbridled hubris of the upwardly mobile political hack and Paddy’s Lamentation warns fellow Irishmen to stay home and avoid the horrors of the civil war. Two Nations explores the rarely discussed disparity between ethnic identity in Ireland and the USA while You’re Not Irish satirizes our tendency to reduce people to stereotypes.
These songs and others are sewn together by O’Connell’s easy style that combines humorous anecdotes and historical background in a well-balanced blend. His skillful guitar accompaniment is evocative and his easy-going narrative style adds richness and color to his performance. All in all, The Irish Experience in America is an informative and unforgettable evening’s entertainment.