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Into the Woods: Irish Music and Dance in Logging Era Minnesota

April 21 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Brian Miller

Franz Rickaby, one of only a handful of folk song collectors to work in Minnesota, wrote in the 1920s that “in the logging camp the hegemony in song belonged to the Irish.” Eoin McKiernan Library Director Brian Miller has spent over 15 years investigating songs, singers, fiddlers, dancers and other Irish cultural expressions in logging era Minnesota. Join him for this audiovisual exploration of Rum River logging camp jig dancers, Bemidji street corner ballad singers and Irish fiddlers who raised the roof on the Iron Range. 

This talk is part of the McKiernan Library’s 2024 local history project. This year’s focus is Irish culture in northern Minnesota during the logging boom years. In his annual Irish Arts Week talk, Miller will share new findings about Irish Minnesotan song-writers and the influence of Irish music hall performers on logging era music making. He will also speak about Michael Cassius Dean, a second generation Irish American who was working at the lumber mill in Virginia, Minnesota when he was recorded on wax cylinders singing Irish ballads 100 years ago this year. The talk will incorporate historical photos, archival sound clips and live performances by Miller himself.  

The presentation will take place in the classroom across from the McKiernan Library. There is no elevator access to that floor. This talk will also be presented as a Zoom webinar. REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR.

McKiernan Library director Brian Miller has presented on north woods folk song history at over 100 venues in Minnesota with his duo The Lost Forty and as a soloist. He is a winner of the Parsons Fund Award from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and was a 2023 performer at the Inishowen Song Festival in Donegal, Ireland. Miller is a native of Bemidji in the woods of northern Minnesota who fell in love with Irish traditional music and toured with the band Bua and other groups. His research explores the colorful connections between Irish cultural expression and his own hometown history.

This event is part of 2024 Irish Arts Week.


April 21
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
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St. Paul, MN 55104 United States
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