By Evan Solochek + Photo By Richard Galling
With Milwaukee’s strong Irish heritage, it’s no wonder that traditional Irish music is a fixture in this city. For proof, just check out Irish Fest, the Badger State Feis, the Cream City Feis, the renowned Celtic Irish Studies Program at UWM and the numerous pub sessions that occur on a weekly basis throughout the city. And prominent at each one of these Irish institutions is Milwaukee’s very own Cé. This local trio, made up of Asher Gray (flute, whistle, bouzouki, bodhrán), Randy Gosa (guitar, tenor banjo) and Devin McCabe (fiddle, concertina, whistle), play traditional and contemporary music from Ireland, England and Brittany. And while young, these three multi-instrumentalists have more than 35 years of musical experience between them and bring to this old-world craft a unique modern perspective, not to mention a level of skill often only seen in musicians twice their age. To hear more from Cé, check out myspace.com/cemusic or cemusic.net.
1. How did you three meet?
I (Asher) met Devin when I was 14 or 15 and we’ve been playing together in sessions and different bands like Anam Rí and now Cé. Around the time that Anam Rí was coming to an end we started playing tunes with Randy in sessions around Milwaukee. It just seemed right that the three of us start a new group because we all shared a common passion for the music.
2. How would you describe Traditional Irish music to someone who had never heard it before?
Traditional Irish music is dance music. It is directly connected to the roots in the dancing that accompanies it. Tunes provide a framework for dancing and for musicians to improvise over.
People who aren’t familiar with the music are sometimes surprised to see three guys in their 20s playing traditional music. I think it gives a little edge and helps to keep the audience’s attention. Anyone that plays it, though, knows that it’s music for all ages. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an 8 year old playing with an 80 year old.
4. Who would Cé like to collaborate with and why?
We have always wanted to work with singers. As an instrumental band, our music yearns for that final element of vocal expression. Recently, Randy has been working with a singer from Boscobel named Andreas Transo, who would be a lovely addition.
5. What are your goals for Cé?
We’re focusing on getting more gigs around the country and in Europe. There are so many great festivals and venues all over the world that focus on world and Celtic music. We’re also going to record a new album and hopefully release it this summer. VS