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Welcome to Irish Music Stories, the show about traditional music and the much bigger stories behind it. IMS is about everything--through an Irish music lens.

Whether you already play the fiddle or you know nothing about trad music or dance, I hope you'll join me, Shannon Heaton, as I learn how a band of Boston tweens ended up at a big music competition in Sligo, and what it meant to their families... and as I dig into the darker, sweeter side of Irish humor... and as I explore what learning Irish songs together is really all about.

Meet thoughtful and incredibly charming people in pubs, kitchens, and backstages throughout the U.S., Ireland, and beyond, underscored with toe-tapping and heart-soaring melodies that seem familiar, even if you've never heard them before.

Sep 11, 2018

There are traditional music and dance gatherings for every taste, temperament, and time zone. They’re easy to find on the internet. Also easy to find online: recordings, videos, discussion groups, tune learning apps, information, and community. So why bother with trad camp today? What’s the history on summer...


Aug 14, 2018

Living a creative life can be confusing and unsettling. Your output, how you play and collaborate, the company you keep—it all defines you. But mostly, it’s about relationships and time, which Liz Carroll considers beautifully in this episode.

Whether you already play the fiddle, or you’ve never heard of Liz...


Jul 10, 2018

The Irish tradition has always been about learning from each other. But do different recorded formats influence how we hear and absorb the stuff? Is there magic in the medium?

(And now that it’s much easier to record and FIND recordings online, are we moving away from sentimental feelings about hard copy recordings?...


Jun 12, 2018

Does it make sense to sing about Willie and Mary, when our playgrounds are filled with Ozzies and Loxleys? Do we really need to say “my love is like a red, red rose,” or can’t we use a modern metaphor and call her really hot? Laura Cortese, Cathy Jordan, Sam Amidon, Robbie O’Connell, and Karan Casey explore old...


May 8, 2018

It takes a village to play Irish music. And accordion player Billy McComiskey’s heart is full of pride and appreciation for his adopted village of Baltimore, Maryland. Tune in as Billy and his sons, Sean and Mikey, tell beautiful, universal stories, through an accordion lens. And hear from folklorist Maggie Holtzberg...