Patrick & Cathy Sky

Music of Ireland: Reels, Jigs, and Hornpipes played on the fiddle and the Irish Uilleann pipes

PATRICK SKY, for those of you unfamiliar with the '60s, has been involved in singing, playing and performing his music and songs for over thirty years. In the past he has sold out Carnegie Hall and played for standing room only all over Europe and the United States. Among his major appearances are: The Montreal Expo, The Central Park Music Festival, Town Hall in New York and the Royal Festival Hall in London. He has the shared the billing with such artists as Pete Seeger, Buffy Sainte Marie, Joni Mitchell and Emmy Lou Harris, to name a few. Patrick has seven solo albums to his credit on the Vanguarard and MGM labels, and his latest release, Through a Window on the Shanachie label. In addition he has produced over thirty records for other artists such as Mississippi John Hurt, Rosalie Sorrells and the great Irish Uilleann piper Seamus Ennis.

It was while recording Ennis in the field that Patrick founded Green Linnet Records. This fact and Patrick's involvement in Irish music, especially piping, have made him one of the seminal figures of the Irish music revival in the United States. His book A Manual for the Irish Uilleann Pipes is the recognized text on the subject.

The Uilleann Pipes (pronounced ill-ann) are the traditional pipes of Ireland. Unlike the Great Highland bagpipes, the Uilleann pipes obtain air from a small bellows fastened to the elbow; hence the name Uilleann -- from the Irish word Uilla -- which means "elbow". The tone of the Uilleann pipes is soft and blends well with the fiddle to make sweet melodious music. Patrick also plays the guitar, bouzouki, flute, penny whistle, sings songs, and tells horrible stories.

CATHY SKY is a singer, guitar player, and songwriter in her own right. However, her prime interest lies in the Irish fiddle. She was the founder of the Post and Beam Coffeehouse in Kingston, Rhode Island, where she and Patrick lived for almost twenty years. She and Patrick lived in Ireland for two years where she learned songs and stories and studied the fiddle with Clare fiddle champion Tony Linnane. In 1994, she won an Emerging Artist's Grant from the Durham Arts Council to spend time in County Clare taking classes with Ireland's super fiddle master Tommy Peoples. Cathy has performed at the Bele Cher Festival in Asheville, North Carolina, the Rhode Island Irish Heritage Festival, First Night in Greensboro, South Carolina, and many other venues. She has been teaching basic Irish fiddle both in formal classes and individually since 1989.

Cathy has written Traditional Music columns for the Raleigh based Spectator and Independent weekly magazines since 1989 as well as scholarly articles for The New Hibernian Review. Patrick is a regular contributor to Iris na bPiobairi, the American Pipers Review and has also written articles for Treoir, the Irish traditional music magazine.

Both Patrick and Cathy have earned their Masters degrees in Cultural Studies/Folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Pat focused on early American music collectors and Cathy on the traditional music of County Clare, Ireland. Deeply interested in the historical and cultural background of Irish traditional music, they have co-taught courses in Irish Musical Traditions at Duke University Continuing Education and UNC summer Elderhostel programs. As musicians, Patrick and Cathy hosted the Irish Week Slow Jam at the Augusta Heritage Festival in Elkins, West Virginia in 1995, and were also the first instructors in beginning fiddle and Uilleann pipes during the founding session of the annual Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York.

In 1993, at the Fleadh Cheoil in New York City, an annual Irish musical competition, the Skys placed in several categories. Patrick took first place in the Piping Slow Airs class and second in Senior Piping. Cathy placed second in Senior Fiddling. They won third place in Duets for pipes and fiddle and TIED for first place in the New Traditional Song category. They were proud of this achievement, especially in a region where the Irish-American community is strong and the standards are high.

Their new show is an entertaining mix of old traditional, Irish instrumentals. Noted for their warm rapport with their audiences, the Skys bring to the stage over thirty years of performing experience.

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