The disappointment of 2020 has hit everything we hold dear.
The devastation we all felt with the cancellation of our beloved Michigan Irish Music Festival has left us heartbroken. There is a huge void for all who love MIMF as September 2020 has arrived.
My sincere hope is that I can fill that void with some wonderful memories of festivals past!
Irish music has been a part of me all my life. My roots are from County Galway (grandmother) and County Meath (grandfather). When Chris asked me to do this, I started to think about how Irish culture – especially Irish music – has impacted my life. I thought about how, in my young life, my Grandpa would play all the rebel tunes on his squeezebox. My aunts would dance to the jigs and reels. It runs deep in my soul.
I have been a part of Irish music festivals in Muskegon since the very first one. In 2013, I was asked to photograph MIMF. For me, it was a no brainer. Some see me as a historian for the festival. I suppose they are correct, and I humbly accept that role!
When Chris asked me to do this, I immediately realized it was going to be a very difficult task. Where do I start? How do I pick a list of top 10 photos? I have literally thousands of photos from all those years. How do I pick a hundred photos… How do I pick 10? What about all the festivals I did not photograph (pre 2013). Can I do this without representing those years?
I realize I am overthinking this…
MIMF has been a staple in our community, a crown jewel in the heart of our festival lives. Our community has embraced this festival and our volunteers show up proudly every year to make it the best it can be. Our venue is arguably the most beautiful of all festival venues. Every year, we gather the finest musicians in all the land. Thousands of fans fill the tents and leave with their bellies and hearts full. I can do this…
I clear my mind. I start at my beginning, sorting through all the photos. My list totals 25 photos. I based my choices on a variety of things. Some are personal, and some are simply because they belong on such a list. In my heart, every photo was chosen with all the volunteers and fans in mind.
This festival is a HUGE success every year because of you!
I sincerely hope you enjoy my look back at festivals past. I look forward to the party it will be in 2021.
#1 – Jig Jam – I’ll start with my favorite photo: Jig Jam in 2016 having a great time at MIMF – pretty standard stuff from every group that comes through town! This one is very special. The boys liked it so much they made it the cover of the Live In Tullamore album, which is truly an honor for MIMF and for me personally.
#2 – Connla – This photo is of my dear friend Ciara McCafferty of the group Connla, taken during the 2019 fest. For me, the perspective through the harp strings and the lighting bring the performance to life. I can feel the power in Ciara’s voice. Connla is one of my favorite bands!
#3 – Dave Curley – This is a photo of one of the greatest performers to grace the MIMF stage. Dave Curley is hands down my favorite performer. The photo is from the 2016 MIMF. I found the perfect angle to highlight Dave as he mesmerized the intimate crowd with his beautiful music. Do not miss any chance you get to see him. You will not be disappointed.
#4 – Moxie Strings – The Moxie Strings from 2018. My dear friends Diana and Ali are always shining stars at MIMF. For me, this photo oozes happiness. Their involvement in our community with local kids is such a blessing. Their sets are always packed because their hearts and music are so beautiful.
#5 – Scythian – Scythian circa 2018. This band has been an MIMF favorite for years. For me the, perspective of an adoring packed house as they take their final bow tells the story of a typical Friday night at the MIMF. I went black and white to accentuate the lines of the lights above. I love the photo, as it gives you the band’s point of view.
#6 – Heritage Landing – Second to none… We have the most beautiful venue. Year in and year out, the beauty of Michigan delivers. The photo speaks for itself.
#7 – David Howley – This photo from the 2018 MIMF warms my heart. We Banjo 3 was not at our festival that year. They were busting their butts at the top of the music charts. What did David Howley do with his well deserved time off? He came to our festival! He wanted to chill with us, and came to support his friends and their families. He made himself available to everyone. He sat in on sets with friends. He is one of us, and one of the coolest dudes that I am honored to call my friend.
#8 – Gaelic Storm – 2019 MIMF saw the return of Gaelic Storm. Padraig Murphy never disappoints! The MIMF crowd delivered for the brave, crowdsurfing Murphy. I’m happy to report that there were no broken legs on this trip around the crowd.
#9 – Doolin – In 2019, our stages were graced by this phenomenal group from France: Doolin. This photo is a huge example of the energy these guys bring. They were to be the headliner for 2020 – a HUGE loss for all of us with the cancellation of MIMF 2020. These guys will be back, count on it. Their rendition of La Boheme was exquisite! They are absolutely one of my favorite bands to listen to and photograph.
#10 – FEIS – A big part of MIMF is the FEIS. Every year, these wonderfully talented kids grace the stages at Muskegon Catholic Central hoping to become champions. This high flier was captured dancing her heart out at the 2015 MIMF.
#11 – Mr. MIMF – This iconic 2015 photo of “Mr. MIMF,” Seamus Kennedy, really belongs in the top 10. We have seen it many times throughout the years of advertising the fest. Year in and year out, Seamus never disappoints. He delivers, whether its raising a toast to an adoring packed house in the Pub Tent or singing silly songs to the wee ones. Beloved by all… “Mr. MIMF” Seamus.
#12 – Runa – I have this crazy love of the tools of the trade… Music in motion, or better said: music frozen in time. My dear friend Cheryl Prashker sets the tempo for the Magnificent band Runa. This 2015 photo was inspired purely by the music and a killer angle on the chimes.
#13 – We Banjo 3 – 2015 saw the triumphant return of We Banjo 3. The boys’ meteoric rise was starting to unfold. This stage selfie with the packed house in the background is a HUGE statement piece. Being in the right place at the right time netted me this memorable moment in MIMF history.
#14 – Crowded Sunset – Once again, Michigan delivered. Some years we have cold and rain. Some years we have hot hot hot. 2013 brought us spectacular weather with amazing sunsets. The sun aligned with the golden hue of a wonderful day at MIMF, and the view from the stage looking at the crowd that day netted one of the most beautiful settings the festival has ever seen.
#15 – Alexander Fedoryka of Scythian – In 2013, Alexander Fedoryka of Scythian Rocked the MIMF stage. For me, everything about this photo is perfect. You can hear the beautiful music as you look at the perfect color and clarity of this moment in time.
#16 – The Fans – My tribute to the WONDERFUL fans. Every year, you show up without fail. You drink and soak up all that MIMF has to offer… Everything Irish. You are the reason everyone works so hard all year long. You are the reason MIMF does not disappoint. You are the reason these marvelous musicians want to return to our little festival. You are loved and appreciated! I will not date this photo, as this is how great you look every year.
#17 – Mick Broderick & Dave Curley – 2018 brought back the dynamic duo of Mick Broderick and Dave Curley. Once again, perspective and color make this one of my favorite photos, and of course, so does my friend Mick!
#18 – We Banjo 3 – 2014 was the year We Banjo 3 came into our lives. So much fantastic music has graced our stage because of these boys. From then to today, they have risen to the top of the billboard charts, and they continue to ride at the top of the game. I have had the honor and privilege to photograph these fine lads for the last 6 years, and have taken thousands of photos of them. I have also had the honor of them using one of my photos on the inside cover of their award-winning album, Haven. These are not just my friends, they are my brothers. I am proud to present one of the first photos I ever took of them: the baby faced We Banjo 3, live from MIMF.
#19 – The Banjo! – In the shadow of photo 18 comes the opportunity for me to get a little creative. I choose this photo because of perspective and simply put… The banjo! Through the years, I have heard banjo music and liked it. When Edna and Martin turned up the heat in 2014, I found a new love for the banjo, and oh yeah, Dave is in the background. This is a fond memory of my introduction to the power of the banjo.
#20 – Gaelic Storm – 2019 brought the lovely Katie Grennan to MIMF with Gaelic Storm. I love the Pub Tent stage… The lighting is superb and the angles are stunning. Katie’s music is amazing too.
#21 – Quadruple Exposures – 2016 was the year I explored some of the more intricate abilities of my camera and challenged my abilities. This is one of my first quadruple exposures. Everything composed in the camera, with little Photoshop editing for color and vignette. Jig Jam all together as one.
#22 – Gaelic Storm & Doolin – One of the most exciting elements of these festivals is the collaborative efforts of these fine musicians. Some of the most memorable moments happen when bands become one. 2019 MIMF saw the likes of Gaelic Storm and Doolin come together to raise the tent.
#23 – Gaelic Storm – MIMF and Muskegon fan favorite Gaelic Storm graced our main stage once again in 2019. They are truly one of the greatest Irish bands in all the land, and truly deserving of a top 25 spot in my list.
#24 – Aoife Scott – Ah, my dear Aoife. The forever face of MIMF. I could write a book about how much I love Aoife Scott. Her smile lights up the room. Her voice angelic. She is simply adored!
#25 – 2021 – I love taking photos of the performers and all the other wonderful things the MIMF bring to us every year. The best is the photos of you.. The fans. I love capturing you in your element, capturing your smiles, and I love capturing your happy moments enjoying all the festival has to offer. The best is always saved for last. Thank you for letting me share your moments. Here’s to 2021. Oh my, what a party it will be!