When not building custom made guitars at the Fodera factory in Industry City, Joe Mayer can be found weaving a path between a medley of banjo, mandolin, and fiddle cases as his foot-strapped tamborine keeps time to the Celtic sounds of the Brooklyn Bards. A sunset gathering at the gazebo in Shore Road Park greets passing crowds with traditional Irish sea shanties and ballads from a faraway glen. The tin whistle of Donal Nolan rises to the purple and red clouds hovering over the harbor and the steady strum of Kiernan Hamilton’s six string grounds the performers creating a musical jam that welcomes other players to join in. As the chorus comes around, a hearty three part harmony fills the air.
As the grip of Covid-19 loosens, the Brooklyn Bards can finally practice together outdoors. They have not played since Saint Patrick’s Day. Local demand for their Celtic playlist has carefully but cautiously returned. This Sunday, at 6pm the Irish Haven bar in Sunset Park will be the first regular gig for the Bards.
Today’s phone interview with Joe Mayer offers some insight into the origins of the band as well as the centuries old songs that were crafted by sea-faring Irishmen. The Brooklyn Bards burst open the door to a unique genre that refuses to fade away. Here are a few snippets of their recent outdoor practice sessions. If you want a taste of the 2017 Great Irish Fair from their performance at the Ford Amphitheater on the Coney Island Boardwalk that includes the drummer, Robert Montemarano click here.