Chief O’Neill’s Pub – Chicago


Tony DeMarco preforms a live show at Chief O’Neill’s in Chicago.

February 7th, 2013 Show Time 8 pm Admission $15

Check out Chief’s for more info and future events.  One hell of a Pub!

tonydemarco BIOGRAPHY

Tony DeMarco: Irish fiddler. If that sounds slightly off, you have only to listen to the music on this recording to be cured of any preconceptions about the importance of ethnic purity in traditional music. There may have been a time when Irish music in New York City was played exclusively by Irish immigrants and their offspring, while their Italian neighbors strummed mandolins and sang opera. But the Big Apple really is a melting pot, at least for some of its disparate immigrant elements. Before World War II it really wasn’t very common for Italian and Irish Americans to marry each other. By the 1950s, however, this kind of ethnic mixing was fairly normal in Tony’s native Brooklyn, where the Italians and Irish lived side by side and attended the same parish churches.

Tony was born on May 20, 1955, the second of three children raised in East Flatbush by Paul DeMarco and his wife, the former Patricia Dempsey. Paul, a grandson of Italian immigrants, was a teenage lightweight boxing star who turned down an offer to turn pro and work with lightweight champ Paddy “Billygoat” DeMarco in order to pursue a more conventional career on Wall Street. Tony’s maternal grandfather Jimmy Dempsey was a New York City cop and a son of Irish immigrants who married Philomena “Minnie” Fenimore, one of several Italian-American siblings who married into Brooklyn Irish families.

Musical ability runs on both sides of Tony’s family. During the Prohibition years, Minnie Dempsey’s Italian immigrant father ran a speakeasy in East New York, where he played the piano and mandolin. Tony’s paternal uncle Louie DeMarco was a singer who performed with 1950s doo-wop groups, including “Dickie Dell and the Ding Dongs.” Tony’s cousin John Pattitucci, from the Fenimore side of the family, is a leading professional bass player who has recorded with jazz stars Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. But Tony definitely found his way to Irish traditional music via a different path than the one trod by musicians raised in Irish immigrant households.

As he puts it: “I never grew up with the competitive Comhaltas scene—I came through the hippie scene, the folkie scene.” His first exposure to Irish traditional music was through a Folkways recording of the County Sligo fiddler Michael Gorman. Tony had many other musical influences before this, and would have many more afterward, but for him the appeal of the Sligo fiddle style would never fade.

Tony has been performing and teaching Irish fiddle music for more than 30 years, and is now one of leading living exponents of the New York/Sligo fiddle style. The late Paddy Reynolds, Andy McGann and Martin Wynne were very influential on Tony’s playing, as was the music of New York/Sligo fiddlers of the generation prior, including Michael Coleman, James Morrison, Paddy Killoran, and James “Lad” O’Beirne. Tony’s album The Sligo Indians, released in 2008 on the Smithsonian Folkways label, is tribute to this style and the musicians that shaped his music. His landmark The Apple in Winter album with Brian Conway, now available on Compass Records, is a highly regarded example of the old Sligo-style twin fiddle music from New York. Tony’s popular A Trip to Sligo tutorial, co-authored with Miles Krassen, is scheduled to be re-issued soon.

Tony’s fiddling has been featured in music programs at New York University organized by Mick Moloney, as well as the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick headed by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin.

Come and enjoy Tony’s “All Instrument Welcome” workshops. These are great opportunities for players of different instruments to learn the same versions of tunes so they can play them together. These workshops focus on original and traditional tunes from the many luminaries that have shaped the Irish music repertoire in New York and the United States for the last century. Check the website for listings.

Tony has performed and recorded with many traditional and modern players and bands, including The Flying Cloud, Black 47, Celtic Thunder, Wishbone Ash, and the Kips Bay Ceili Band, and has appeared on various compilations on Rounder Records. Tony has performed at Boston College Fiddle Festival, the Chicago Folk Fest, Sligo Live Fest, Return to Camden Fest and Ennis Trad Fest, to name a few.
Don Meade and Anna Colliton, 2010

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: