For many, Irish music brings to mind traditional old country folk circumscribed by flute and bagpipes. Something boxed off and far removed from modern day trends. But for the Irish-American band Seanchai and The Unity Squad nothing could be further from the truth. Headed by frontman Chris Byrne this unique musical outfit embodies several different musical stylings while calling upon their Irish roots.
When Byrne’s began Seanchai he did so with a direct purpose of not getting bogged down in the staunch traditions of Irish music. Though he is educated and informed of his heritage from the Emerald Isle he places importance on creating music that tells of the modern day experiences of Irish- Americans. A former member of the NYPD and a current professor of Criminal Justice at St. John’s University this multi-talented man is no stranger to the social abrasiveness that is New York City. Many of Seanchai’s songs speak to this.
Marrying elements of funk, punk, hip-hop, reggae, and of course Celtic rock Seanchai synthesizes world cultures. The effect of which is a unique, interesting and frolicking sound that travels across the globe and back through feisty and spontaneous melodies. Songs like “Rebel Hip-Hop” that showcase rapping backdropped by the Irish flute perfectly exemplify Seanchai’s incomparable sound. With instruments including bass, guitar, whistle, uillean pipes (a variation on the bagpipe) and bohdran (traditional Irish drum) there is no lack of variety here.
Seanchai and The Unity Squad have succeeded in giving voice to the felt accumulation of the Irish-American experience. All the historical conscience that comes into play for many immigrants and first-generation Irish as they attempt to maneuver within the complex melting pot that is America, and particularly New York City. When one listens to Seanchai you feel that a new mosaic tradition is coming into play.
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– Amanda Decker