By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published March 15, 2012
Among the many activities planned in Atlanta for St. Patrick’s Day will be appearances by Irish musician Liam O’Connor.
Kicking off an Irish Pride Festival on the afternoon of March 17, and later giving an evening concert at the Buckhead Theatre, O’Connor will perform music rooted in the Irish tradition, accompanied by traditional Irish dancers.
“Ireland is in the unique position of being the most important country in the world on one day of the year, March 17. America has strong links to this country and Atlanta is one of America’s greatest cities,” O’Connor wrote by email.
“It is a wonderful feeling to be able to bring my show to the people of Atlanta and my performance in the Buckhead Theatre will hopefully be a continuum of the links between the two countries,” he wrote.
Born in Newmarket, County Cork, O’Connor was raised in a home where music was a central part of family life. At the age of 10, he joined the O’Connor Family Band.
The many instruments he found in the house as a young boy have obviously had an influence on O’Connor, as he is known for his mastery of nearly 20 instruments, including the piano, the traditional Irish concertina, and his staple, the accordion, on which he is a virtuoso.
His music does not fit into a certain genre, but blends many styles, including blues, jazz, reggae, classical, all with a traditional Irish flair, to create a unique experience.
“It is hard to pin my musical influences down to any individuals,” O’Connor said. “I am more influenced by genres and in both my live work and my records you will hear ethnic sounds from reggae, world music, Brazilian beats and even rock and roll.”
“Touring the world has broadened my ear to take influence from many types of music,” he said. “I have always believed that no one can own music. It is lent to us and it is what we do with it that’s important. We take it, we add to it, and we pass it on.”
O’Connor’s music has taken him all over the world, but he continues to perform a show in the Irish city of Killarney every summer, where in 2010 he was named the ambassador of Killarney.
He recognizes the power of music and says the greatest thing about performing is “to see the joy on the faces of my audiences and to see the memories that music can invoke and create.”
He will give a brief preview of his concert to open the Irish Pride Festival, which is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on March 17, following the St. Patrick’s Day parade, in the Old Macy’s Building on Peachtree Street. Other performers include Running With Desire, a U2 cover band, the Drake Irish dancers and the Mulligan Irish dancers. The festival also will offer traditional Irish fare, arts and crafts, vendors and an Irish step dance contest. Admission is free.
The evening concert at the Buckhead Theater will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through Ticket Alternative and are $25 to $45.
The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is a long-standing tradition in Atlanta. This year will be the 130th Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade, an annual event in downtown Atlanta to celebrate Irish culture in Atlanta. The 2012 parade, which proceeds down Peachtree Street starting at noon on March 17, marks the 154th anniversary of the first Hibernian Benevolent Society of Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
“The connections and friendships between America and Ireland are long and fruitful to both countries,” wrote O’Connor. “Our bloodlines are connected back into the mists of time. They continue as strongly today. Therefore the celebrations surrounding St Patrick’s Day are very important for both countries. Indeed who would you want at your most important celebration but your best friends, and Ireland and America share that bond and celebrating together enhances that.”
“The greatest accomplishment that any musician can have is to entertain and to pass on the music and I have been lucky enough to accomplish both so far.”
For more information and details, please visit stpatsparadeatlanta.com. To purchase tickets for the Liam O’Connor concert, please visit www.ticketalternative.com/Events/17675.aspx.