Written by Phil Cerroni
By Sissy Courtney
Jigsaw, a three member Irish band, played jigs with names like Virus Kick and Spotted Dog and reels which were hundreds of years old as residents and visitors at Christus Saint Joseph Village in Coppell tapped their feet to the beat. Their audience joined in to sing some Irish pub, bar maid songs and an Irish lullaby.
Peggy Fleming played the fiddle while her husband Ken Fleming switched between accordion, tenor banjo, and guitar, and Kevin Alewine played guitar, mandolin and flute.
“Most of the music we play is actually dance music,” Ken said.
Some of their songs were Polkas from southwestern Ireland, and others were waltzes.
The band told facts about the Celtic music between tunes.
Country and western music had its roots in Ireland; and sometimes the tunes are named by the person who wrote them, and sometimes they’re named by the person who remembered it last, according to Ken.
Peggy sang a traditional ballad called The Fields of Athenry about the potato famine and how people had to steal food to survive and how they were arrested for the crime. The ballad is popular with soccer and rugby teams in Ireland, according to Peggy.
Irish songs are often sad.
“A loved one has gone missing or somebody died,” Ken said.
The group started the North Texas Irish Festival 30 years ago.
“It started out as a big party in the NFL Pub down on Oak Lawn,” Peggy said. “Six or seven hundred people showed up, and the capacity of the club was 300, so people were lined up out the door. We moved from there to Fair Park the next year, and it’s been at Fair Park ever since.
The festival is the first weekend in March.
The trio also started O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in the fall at the Lakeview Camp & Conference Center in Waxahachie.
“Musicians come from Ireland to teach Irish music to anyone who is interested in playing – beginners and advanced,” Peggy said. “The enrollment is 250 people for a three or four day retreat.”
The retreat has concerts and enrichment programs taught by 32 instructors, most from Ireland.
“Some come to just enjoy the music,” Ken said.“People have come from as far away as Alaska and Puerto Rico.”
Ken described their audience as “wonderful.”
“They are appreciative of the music,” Ken said. “They listen to it. They understand about the music. We like to talk about it, because we are so passionate about it if we get an audience that is a listing audience. When we play a lot of the pubs and noisy festivals, you can’t really hear anything with glassware clinking in the background. This gives us an opportunity to play the music in a way that it can be heard.”
Jigsaw performs at Trinity Hall Pub and Restaurant in Mockingbird Station in Dallas the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 7 to 10 p.m.