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Eddie and Josh Coffey Perform Traditional Irish Music in Paducah on St. Patrick's Day, March 17

Local musicians Eddie and Josh Coffey perform traditional Irish music in Paducah on St. Patrick's Day, Friday, March 17.
McCracken County Public Library/Barrel and Bond
Local musicians Eddie and Josh Coffey perform traditional Irish music in Paducah on St. Patrick's Day, Friday, March 17.

Local musicians and father-and-son duo Eddie and Josh Coffey reinstate their traditional Irish music performance in celebration of St. Patrick's Day for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic this Friday, March 17. Austin Carter speaks to Josh Coffey ahead of his performances at the McCracken County Public Library and Barrel & Bond.

"What makes Irish music unique is instrumentation and ornamentation," Coffey begins. "By ornamentation, I mean the extra little frills added to notes, like what fiddlers or bagpipers call a roll or perhaps a slide into a note. I would say that makes it very recognizable. The instrumentation often is a fiddle, bodhrán, pennywhistle, bagpipes or accordion, and sometimes a guitar or bouzouki."

Irish music is deeply ingrained in the American musical tradition, Coffey continues. "Especially in fiddle traditions. I would say folk music in general — I'm a fiddle player, so I know its history more than a singer-songwriter might know how ballads came over through the U.S., but a fiddle is easily transported. So, [Irish settlers] brought their music fairly easily on the fiddle and shared it with other instrumentalists. You can clearly hear that inspiration in bluegrass and old-time music in Appalachia."

Coffey cites Darol Anger as being one of his first deep dives into traditional Irish music. He began listening to Anger's album Diary of a Fiddler after Clayton Campbell, a Draffenville-based fiddler and friend of Coffey's, lent him the record. "I just fell in love with the style," Coffey recalls, "the Mixolydian mode, which I think is a telltale sign of Irish tradition in fiddle tunes. There are lots of songs in Mixolydian mode, which means the flat 7th is present. So, I fell in love with it. From there, I really started exploring Irish music on my own and learning a bunch of tunes. So, thanks, Clayton."

Eddie and Josh Coffey have two performances of Irish traditional music on St. Patrick's Day, Friday, March 17. The first is at the McCracken County Public Library as part of its Front & Center Series. The duo will perform acoustically on the first floor of the library from 2 to 4 pm. The performance is free, open to the public, and family-friendly. Then, the duo will move toward the riverfront with an evening performance at bourbon bar Barrel & Bond from 8 to 10 pm.

For more information about the McCracken County Public Library's performance series, visit their website. Visit Barrel & Bond's Facebook page for more information about the Coffeys' evening performance.

Austin Carter is a Murray State grad and has been involved with WKMS since he was in high school. Over the years he has been a producer for WKMS and has hosted several music shows, but now calls Morning Edition his home each weekday morning.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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