The London Lasses — the capital’s first ladies of song and dance

The London Lasses — the capital’s first ladies of song and dance

The London Lasses celebrate a quarter of a century of music making in the capital and beyond

THE London Lasses will be launching their 25th anniversary album LL25 over four dates in Ireland in June.

Featuring all new material and including both past and present band members, LL25 celebrates the band’s musical journey over the past quarter-century and showcases the powerfully traditional signature sound which they´ve become known for.

The album spans four centuries of Irish music, from Planxty Thomas Burke penned by the harper-composer Carolan (1670-1738), to newly composed tunes by concertina player Edel Fox, flute player Tommy Fitzharris and harper Michael Rooney.

Captivatingly sung by vocalist Bróna McVittie, the album´s four songs include the beautiful Bánchnoic Éireann Ó — The Fair Hills of Ireland, a song in praise of Ireland dating from the 1700s.

LL25 is a celebration of both the close-knit group of musicians who have been part of the Lasses’ story so far, and the long history of traditional Irish music in London, a rich cultural heritage which they are extremely proud to be part of.

The London Lasses, almost by definition, play traditional Irish music in what is known as the London style.

This emerged from around the middle years of the 20th century when musicians from all over Ireland, in London to find work (of any sort) would come together and play. And they would have to find common ground to play together, so what became known as “the London swing”.

Musically, it’s logical that a new variant of Irish music would arise. For maybe the first time in history, in the mid 20th century, musicians from every county in Ireland came together in one place on a regular basis — weekly, sometimes daily. Thus an identifiable, and new, sound in Irish traditional music evolved.

Some would go even further. They would argue the pub session is almost certainly a product of London immigrant life, that Irish traditional music sessions began, not in Ireland, but in London.

How the traditional session — now antiquated to seisún — developed will be argued probably for as long as Irish music is played. But whatever its origins, fortunately this precious heritage is in safe hands with the likes of the London Lasses playing the music in formidable fashion, promoting it widely, and handing it on to the next generation. As band leader Karen Ryan, Director of the annual Return to London Town Festival and one of the leading lights of traditional Irish music in London, says: “This album is one that’s very close to my heart. It brings together 16 wonderful musicians and brings back a lifetime’s worth of musical memories and friendships.”

Since first getting together for an informal tour of the US in 1997, The London Lasses have performed at some of the biggest festivals and venues in the world including the Royal Albert Hall in London — where they played the first ever BBC Proms céilí, Cambridge Folk Festival, Dublin City Hall, the Concertgebouw, Philadelphia Irish Festival and Glastonbury

The London Lasses, LL25

CICD210 (LoLa Records in association with Cló Iar-Chonnacht

London Lasses on tour

Thursday, June 1 - Matt Molloy´s, Westport (Co. Mayo)

Friday, June 2 - The Dock, Carrick on Shannon (Co. Leitrim)

Saturday, June 3 - An Taibhdhearc, Galway (Co. Galway)

Saturday, July 29 - Fiddler´s Green Festival, Rostrevor (Co. Down).