Longtime favorites at the New World Festival, the Press Gang perform the instrumental dance music of Ireland on fiddle, accordion and guitar. They return this year with Hanz Araki, “an Irish music phenomenon in West Coast America.”
Based in Portland, Maine, these three musicians have become popular over the past four years for their skillful playing and deep understanding of the music–and for their humorous stage presence. As American performers in the Irish tradition, the Press Gang bring a unique perspective to the music. They intersperse their repertoire of Irish melodies with related tunes from Quebec, Scotland, and Appalachia, and some fine New England waltzes. They temper their arrangements with a musical sense of adventure, making each show spontaneous and fresh.
Accordionist Christian “Junior” Stevens is regarded as one of the most talented young squeezebox players in the US. He has performed widely and is a highly regarded teacher. Apart from his mastery of the Irish style, he loves exploring Cajun and Quebecois accordion music.
Fiddler Alden Robinson became fascinated with Irish music as a child on the coast of Maine. He studied traditional music at University College Cork and has since become known throughout the country as a performer and dance musician. His musical interests are expanding into the world of the traditional Franco-American music of northern New England.
Guitarist Owen Marshall has performed and recorded with many top performers of traditional music, including Aoife Clancy, Liz Carroll, Darol Anger, John Doyle, Andrea Beaton, and Jerry Holland. In addition to being a respected performer, Owen is in demand at music camps throughout the US.
The path of a musician is often unpredictable. One wouldn’t imagine that six generations of mastery of the Japanese shakuhachi would lead Hanz Araki to a career in Celtic music, however that is exactly how it played out for the accomplished flute player and traditional singer. The son of Irish and Japanese parents was exposed to a broad spectrum of musical influences.