By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
Máirtín de Cógáin is full of surprises.
A native of Cork, Ireland, de Cógáin plays the bodhrán, an Irish drum. He sings, he dances, he tells stories. He writes plays and acts. He’s an ambassador of Ireland and all things Irish.
When you see de Cógáin with the Irish music group Legacy, you might see a bit of everything he has to offer.
“We try to accommodate all the styles of Irish music. Irish music is like crack: It’s additive. But you can’t buy it on the streets,” he said, laughing. “We might do a bit of dance; you never know what might happen. I’ll tell a few stories. We’ll get the crowd singing, no doubt about it.”
Legacy is the focus of this month’s Music Mix at the Link Centre. The Jackson-based group is on the Mississippi Arts Commission roster, and the concert is supported by the MAC’s minigrant program, which helps fund high-quality touring artists.
De Cógáin has been performing with his Legacy members, Valerie Plested and Don Penzien, since about 2005.
“We’ve been fast friends ever since,” he said. “They’ve stayed at my house in Ireland and I’ve stayed in their house in Jackson more nights than I can remember.”
Legacy performs a mix of both traditional and original Irish music.
“I’ve written some of my own songs,” de Cógáin said, “and we try and find some of the traditional stuff that no one plays, that’s dead and buried, and we find femurs and bits of skull and teeth and we get the DNA and reestablish it and give it a new set of clothes and spray paint it, and it’s brand new.”
Most folks may say they aren’t very familiar with traditional Irish tunes, but de Cógáin said they’d be surprised at how at home they are with the sound.
“It’s firmly established in all aspects of American music. Even if you take the Delta blues, Irish is in jig time and the only music you find that in is the Delta blues, and of course Appalachian music,” he said. “It’s a really old style that’s constantly rejuvenating itself. It’s an ancient culture that’s been developing for so long; that’s the reason I love it. There’s a kind of spirit in it you don’t find in ‘X Factor’ or ‘Pop Idol,’ something that comes from spirit rather than from a pocketbook.”
The drumming, storytelling, singing Irishman promises a good time at the Legacy show in Tupelo.
“It’s gonna be a magical night,” he said. “We’re going to give people a great night of it. We’ll bring out all our guns blazing.”
Hear ‘em live
When: 7:30 p.m. tonight
Where: Link Centre Concert Hall
Cost: $10/adults, $5/students
Info: (662) 690-4011