One of the things the Irish are most boastful of (besides U2 and Guinness, of course) is their strong literary tradition. And for ten years, the Irish television show “Other Voices” has celebrated the link between that rich past and the Irish music of today. Now marking its 10-year anniversary, the show is coming to New York for live performances to be filmed for Irish television station IRT. But as formal as the occasion might seem, even as of last week, the show’s organizers had no idea what would be performed.
“Maybe two days before the show, I’ll sit down and figure it out,” says Thomas Bartlett, one of the organizers and performers for the show. “Part of what we want to do is match readings by Irish poets with different songs that tie things together as something of a narrative, although precisely what that narrative will be is unclear.”
Actor Gabriel Byrne and musicians like Martha Wainwright and Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National, in addition to many more, will come together to create a sort of variety hour that’s a far cry from your average gig.
“It started out with people coming to see a specific artist who was on the bill and they find this very informal community of people playing together and making things up as we go along, making new connections and trying new collaborations,” Bartlett says. “People keep coming back for that as much as for a specific artist, which was kind of what I had been hoping — that it could turn into a self-sustaining community of musicians and listeners together.”