During 2014 I had the great honour to interview 'an Irish music phenomenon in West Coast America', Hanz Araki. When I was asked to do the interview I did recognise the name of Araki but must admit to not being very familiar with his music. However within a few short hours I was literally 'a dedicated follower of fashion'...the music fashion of Hanz Araki that is!! The son of Irish and Japanese parents, Hanz is an outstanding flute player and traditional singer. His most recent album 'Foreign Shore' was about to be launched at the time and I was immediately transported into a new world of Irish traditional music.
I listened to the new album, thanks to Little Sea Records and was privileged to then interview the man himself. A true gentleman he turned out to be. Shortly after the feature was published in Irish Music Magazine Hanz contacted me and said he would like to come to Muff and visit with myself early in 2015. Of course I agreed but never imagined himself turning up in Muff. But true to his word, Hanz kept in contact and earlier yesterday evening we met in the heart of Muff......none other than the Squealing Pig bar.
Hanz not only brought himself to Muff, but also his equally talented and gifted partner Colleen Raney. Colleen is a gifted traditional singer who has recently released her fourth album, titled “Here This is Home”. She has been referred to as 'among the best in her genre'.
On arrival in Muff yesterday evening the folks arrived in the 'Pig wee bar' and enquired where they might eat. They were directed to The Border Cafe where Colleen assures me she had one of the 'best hot chocolates' she's had in a while.
These two amazing people are passionate about all that is Irish. And in particular real Irish culture. It was a sheer delight to engage in good old Irish banter about real Irish tradition and what it really means. A true appreciation of Irish culture is hard to find in the present world. How apt that these two Americans (Irish Americans) come to our village and teach me and my family about the reality of keeping our traditions alive.
The folks enjoyed the resident 'Thursday band' in The Squealing Pig and I'm assured they will certainly make a return trip in the near future.
Sometimes the North West of Ireland gets lost among the cities nationwide, but tonight this wee village of Muff was alive with all that is traditional Irish music folk. I can honestly say that I met these two folk last night as strangers. I left them a short time ago as friends. What an honour that really was (and is). Here's to keeping the true tradition of real Irish traditional music alive.