Tony Lawless,TradConnect Founder Talks to CMF (Interview)

Meet Tony Lawless, the man who created a social network to get traditional musicians get together, talk, share musical experiences and techniques. TradConnect has been getting membership from both sides of the globe.

Sheila Langan of The Seisiún Network tagged him as “the Mark Zuckerberg of the traditional Irish music world”. Read the full article here. TradConnect is a growing community. I  signed up for membership which is free. There is that wonderful camaraderie that people in the traditional music scene share. I call the common language as tradspeak.

Newbies need not worry. Everyone is welcomed to learn from seasoned musicians. All you need to do is take advantage of the video tutorials that other members post.There is also the  regulated and updated site forum where everyone can post his or her ideas and get replies from members. I even get ideas to write for  my blog there. Everyone is really eager to help in spreading Irish music.

I am glad Tony shared his time with me in answering questions and also sharing his musical life to everyone.

Conor Ward ( Fiddle )Cathal Cusack ( Guitar )Ailis Ni Riain ( Concertina )Tony Lawless ( Fiddle )Carmel O Hara ( Bodhran ) Richard Sheehan ( Flute )
Conor Ward ( Fiddle )Cathal Cusack ( Guitar )Ailis Ni Riain ( Concertina )Tony Lawless ( Fiddle )Carmel O Hara ( Bodhran ) Richard Sheehan ( Flute )

A social network site for traditional musicians is a unique idea! Most of the time, it’s just about music lovers and people looking for dates. This one is neat! How many members are registered?

At present we are fast approaching 700 members which is fantastic considering that we have only really been live since the end of April. In addition we are in the summer months here in Ireland where people are generally on holidays. My aspiration is to have thousands before the year is out. A tall order I know but I am ever the optimist.

What were the challenges maintaining TradConnect?

Maintaining the site needs to be a labour of love and I use it at an alternative to sitting in front of the TV. The biggest challenge is moderating the site, making sure no spammers get in, moderating content. On the latter it has been quiet easy because we have attracted a very nice bunch of members who respect their fellow members and know how to behave on sites like this. I feel like I know most of them personally at this stage. We insist on people registering with their real names to give a sense of community. This helps. The other big challenge is deciding how to develop the site, what to add, ideas for its improvement etc.

Have you met some of the members in person?

I have a number of members who are planning visits to Ireland in the near future and have promised to call to our Dublin session. I have also reconnected with some old friends who are now on the site. As time goes by I am sure we will have lots of visitors here in Dublin.

Tell us a bit about the traditional scene in Dublin today…

The trad scene in Dublin is a bit limited I feel. For the amount of musicians I feel that there should be a lot more musicians out playing and that is part of what TradConnect is about. If people can connect up, and play and practice some tunes they should be able to start more sessions, and get more music going etc. There are some very well established sessions in the Cobblestone, Hughes etc. However I think we could and should have a lot more. Through TradConnect I am sure more people will meet up and start playing.

What are the top 5 albums that influenced your life?

My biggest influences come from people rather than albums. I lived in London in the late eighties and was taught by the great Clare musician Brendan Mulkere. His influence on music have been amazing. In addition I has the pleasure of hanging out with flute player John Blake, Brian Rooney, Lamont Gillespie, Declan Folan and others that really inspired me. Beyond that I love the playing of Brian Rooney, Josephine Keegan, Kathleen Collins, Tommy Peoples and lots of others.

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