Mike (Mickey) Brady
Honored February 20, 2010
Mike Brady was one of many fine fiddle players to come out of East Clare. Although he did not receive the same notoriety as many of his contemporaries, there was no doubt that he was the equal of many of them as a musician.
Mike, also known to many as Mickey, was born November 10, 1939 in Flagmount, Co Clare and lived in Bay Shore, Long Island for many years until his passing in July 2009. Music was always in the family. His father played fiddle, and as a youngster, Mike was sent to the great P. J. Hayes to learn to play. He played at house dances, sessions and sat in with the Tulla Ceili Band on occasion. He also played with Bill Loughnane, Vincent Griffin and Paddy Canny. He would later reminisce frequently about playing in the “grand” sessions that took place at Pepper’s in Feakle.
Mike arrived in Brooklyn in 1958 and played music as a member of the Patsy Tuohy Club there. Among the jobs he held, he probably spent the longest time with the Queens Surface Corp., retiring from there several years ago. After marrying and starting his family, he became too busy for the music, but returned to it toward the end of the 1990s.
Mike played frequently at the Doonbeg Social Club and could often be found sitting in with different bands at various ceilis around Queens and Long Island. Eventually, along with Brendan Fahey, John Fitzpatrick, Pat Murray and Denis O’Driscoll, Mike would become a founding member of the Ceol na gCroí Ceili Band, a debut that was delayed slightly while he recovered from a heart attack and bypass surgery. Mike not only enjoyed playing music for dancing, but he enjoyed dancing as well. At many of the céilithe he played for, Mike could often be spotted coming off the stage to dance the old time waltzes.
Mike’s fiddling blended in so seamlessly with other musicians, sometimes even those he had not yet played with, while at the same time, it stood out in the superb way he embodied that old East Clare style of fiddle music, as influenced by Canny and Hayes, with its lift and naturally tempered intonation.
He loved to just play the music wherever and whenever he could, even if by himself. He’s also been known to occasionally blast out a few tunes on the button accordion. He preferred reels more than anything else, one of his favorites being the Blackthorn Stick. He knew so many tunes, but like lots of other musicians, he admittedly did not remember the names of most of them. Although a shy, unassuming man by nature, who just wanted to stay in the background, Mike always wanted the people he was with to be happy and smiling, particularly other musicians.
For those who knew him, one thing that stood out from any conversations with Mike was how much he loved and cherished his entire family, starting with his wife, Jane, who also had a musical background. He’d often talk about his son, the cop, or his brother in Ireland, or one of the grandchildren, and throughout all the many chats, it was quite obvious how proud he was of all his children, Brian, Nancy, Michael and Frank, and his 6 grandchildren (Samantha, Heather, Victoria, Elvis, John and Evan), as well as his extended family.
Mike was also a long time member of the Mulligan Quinn Branch CCE, and was always playing at their monthly sessions in Mineola. In May 2009, he received a Service Recognition Award from the branch at their last monthly ceili of the season.
In recent years, Mike’s family in Ireland had been requesting a recording of his playing, at least according to Mike. As a proof-of-concept, Mike recorded 10 tracks with Denis O’Driscoll in a living room on non-professional equipment. In Dec. 2007, a private CD of Mike’s playing, Music from Flagmount, was issued. After getting mostly positive feedback from that effort (including some airplay on ClareFM radio), he started to talk about making plans to do another, more professionally produced recording, this time a duet album with flute player, Pat Casey. His untimely passing in July 2009 would prevent those plans from being realized.
We salute and honor Mike Brady, a great family man, a great musician, and a dear friend.
–– Denis O’Driscoll (Keyboardist, Green Gates Ceili Band)