Sanctuary Sessions: Trad Music for Civil Rights at the Newes


On Sunday, March 5, at 5 pm, traditional Irish musicians throughout the country will participate in Sanctuary Sessions: Trad Music for Civil Rights, a collective action to support the protection and preservation of individual rights that are perceived to be under threat from the current administration. According to a press release, on-Island musicians will come together at the Newes from America Pub in Edgartown to make music, encourage positive dialogue, and raise money for the ACLU’s continued effort to defend our rights under the Constitution.

Sanctuary Sessions: Trad Music for Civil Rights was organized by members of Boston’s Irish music community out of a shared frustration over the current administration’s apparent disregard for social dignity, collective responsibility, women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, a fair minimum wage, and related social issues. These musicians reached out to the broader traditional music community, and found a large number of musicians around the country who share these frustrations and who agreed to participate by holding fundraisers their home communities. Currently, there are events planned in Boston; Martha’s Vineyard; New York City; Chicago; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; South Bend, Ind.; Portland, Maine; Montpelier, Vt.; Baltimore; St. Louis; Cincinnati; Charlottesville, Va.; Asheville, N.C.; San Francisco; and Los Angeles.

Irish traditional music is a term that generally describes oral-tradition song and instrumental dance music, played on instruments like fiddles, flutes, bagpipes, and banjos, at informal gatherings called “sessions.” Although it is very commonly seen in pubs, it is also heard on the concert stage, in film, in theatrical productions, at festivals of all sizes, in all manner of educational contexts, and in the home. It has proven itself an important part of this country’s cultural fabric time and again. Many of the world’s finest Irish musicians live in the United States, and many have immigrated here legally. The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded 13 traditional Irish musicians the National Heritage Fellowship, which is this country’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. While many Irish-American musicians have been recognized for their excellence at home and abroad, one can find people playing this music in virtually every city in the world.

A complete listing of Sanctuary Sessions: Trad Music for Civil Rights events can be found on Facebook at