Interview: Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill by Jordan Koepke 2016 hi-res
Irish fiddler Martin Hayes and American guitarist Dennis Cahill make up an impressive duo of traditional and innovative folk music. After meeting in Chicago in the 80s, the two formed a jazz/rock/Irish fusion band called Midnight Court. The two musicians have worked together for nearly two decades, including as part of Irish-American supergroup The Gloaming, which The Cedar presented last year at The Walker. They have won Ireland’s Meteor Choice Prize (Ireland’s version of a Grammy) and performed internationally, including for President Obama and leaders of the European Union. The duo will be performing at The Cedar on May 29th at 7:30pm.
We spoke with guitarist Dennis Cahill to learn a little more about the music he and Martin make.
1. How did you two meet?
I met Martin when he moved to Chicago and we were both working the same clubs and bars and hotels, everybody knew everybody. A bit later we started a band called Midnight Court, kind of an electric jazz Irish fusion thing that was a lot of fun.
2. As someone from Chicago, what brought you to Irish music?
My folks were from Ireland but I didn’t grow up with Irish music.  I started playing the folk circuit in Chicago, sort of  the John Prine scene, and there was always a bit of Irish music around. The Irish bars had the great bands like Stockton’s Wing coming through.
3. You two have been working together for around two decades. How has your sound changed during that time?
The core part, the concept has stayed the same, it’s the nuances that have changed. We’ve been stretching the music out, still keeping it traditional and looking for new ways to approach, open it up more. The more we play it becomes really about the tune itself, the spirit, than the technical part of it.
4. What is inspiring you right now?
Jazz musicians like Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, Bill Evans, classical composers such as Arto Part, Bach, Beethoven, and older Irish musicIans like the Tulla Ceili Band and Tommy Potts.

Dennis adds that right now he’s listening to the oud, a Middle Eastern instrument  like the lute or guitar . “I love the sound,” he says. “Check out Anouar Brahem.”

Dennis Cahill

Martin Hayes

There are at least two artists named Martin Hayes.
1) a fiddler
2) an electronic artist