The aim of Toraigh is to become ever more original while holding tightly to the traditional, through new and different arrangements, original songs that connect to their roots, creative use of bodhran, and other rhythms, as well as the exploitation of modern electronic techniques of music generation.
Mary started playing piano as a youngster, but as she grew older her interests shifted. In high school she taught herself to play guitar with her brothers, playing mostly folk music jamming with friends. Mary's Dad sang Irish songs around the house while she was growing up. In the spring of 1992 after many years of music deprivation, Mary decided to learn the fiddle. She tried lessons, but primarily used books and recordings to learn the traditional Irish style that she was really looking for. In the meantime, her brother began learning to play the flute. Tim and Mary were soon playing the simple melody lines of old Irish ballads. Soon, their older brother Patrick joined in, backing them up on his guitar. Pat's girlfriend talked the owner of a popular local pub where she worked into having the group play for St Patrick's Day the following year and she joined the band as well as a vocalist. Mary and her bandmates named the group Paddy's Night Out after a song made popular by the Wolf Tones. By St Patrick's Day 1993 rolled around they had developed a full repertoire and added Bob Midden on bass. Paddy's Night out performed together for about 5 years and then dissolved when Mary's brothers both moved away. Mary and Bob, who had fallen in love, formed a new group that focused on the traditional dance music of Ireland. Since 2002 Mary has been studying with Dan MacDonald, a Cape Breton fiddler who joined Toraigh. Mary's musical interests continue to grow, and along the way she has also learned to play the bodhran and is currently learning the tenor banjo.
Bob started playing music when he was 10 years old in the school band. He didn't know anything about music and no one in his family had ever played a musical instrument so when he had to choose an instrument he chose flute because that's what the band needed most. The high school Bob attended didn't have any organized musical activities, so Bob didn't play flute again until about 1982. Eventually, Bob was coaxed into playing with the church choir for Easter and, as they say, one thing led to another until eventually he was playing flute and bass guitar at services every Sunday, but longed for another musical venue.
Through the years Bob had played folk music from the 60s & 70s during occasional gatherings with friends, listened to classical and jazz and even country, but never quite seemed to find what he was seeking. Several years later after moving to Bowling Green, OH, he started taking classical flute lessons and was ready to join the community orchestra when, one sunny Sunday afternoon, while strolling through an historical re-enactment with his two sons, he encountered two guys playing traditional Irish and Scottish music. Hearing this music, something strongly connected to his soul. These musicians helped him locate sheet music and recordings. While sharing some beers at a pub outside Cleveland one Friday night listening to a popular Irish band that played there regularly, Bob discovered that his friend and his friend's sister and brother had a family band that was booked to perform their first gig on St. Patrick's Day about six weeks later they needed a bass player. So Bob joined the group, Paddy's Night Out, February of 1992. About six years later, on Dec 27 1999 to be precise, Bob married his friend's sister, Mary Dennis. Paddy's Night Out dissolved when Mary's two brothers moved away, Mary and Bob set out on their own and founded a new band, Toraigh.
Bob's first attraction in Irish music was to the folk songs and ballads of the Clancy Brothers and the Fureys. But eventually his tastes evolved to the high energy dance music and more elaborate arrangements of songs characterized by Altan, Solas, Dervish, Danu, Flook and other more modern traditional Irish groups. Bob was also intrigued by the innovative use to electronica and other ethnic rhythms by such high profile groups as Capercaillie. These influences helped shape the music of Toraigh which still carries a few remnants of those early years with Paddy's Night Out.Bob sees music as a powerful force for uniting all people.
Martin Koop started writing songs and playing guitar at 15 years old. At 17, he appeared as a vocalist on Illimitable, a compilation album of Toledo, Ohio artists. Martin left home at 18 to play music in Austin, Texas, where he started to learn his craft as a street musician on Austin's Sixth Street, and played country and western music with Sam Price and the Texas Gamblers. Next, he lived in Nashville, Tennessee, playing music and writing songs, and collaborating with great undiscovered writers and pickers. In Nashville, Martin was a featured songwriter for a Bluebird Café early show. Martin traveled to Norwich, England for two years - playing music, writing songs, tending a pub, and exploring the rich history of the English countryside. In 2001, Martin earned the Minstrel Soup Poetry Olympics Bronze Medal for performing original songs. He has been playing traditional Irish music with the band Toraigh for approximately one year. Martin aims to write songs that are tuneful, meaningful, penetrating, simple, and occasionally funny.
Toraigh performs at festivals and celebrations, pubs and coffee houses, art museums, weddings and indeed, anywhere traditional Irish music is appreciated. Some of the venues at which Toraigh has played or will be playing in the near future include the Toledo Museum of Art, Mickey Finn's Pub, the Dayton Celtic Festival, the Newport Irish Heritage Festival in Kentucky, the Cincinnati Celtic Festival, the Black Swamp Arts Festival, the Tiffin-Seneca Heritage Festival, the Grand Rapids Apple Butter Festival, Bowling Green City Park Concert Series, Bowling Green State University Kobacker Hall with the BGSU Symphonic Band, Easy Street Café, the Toledo Hibernian's St. Patrick's Day Festival and many others. The band owns a complete professional sound system suitable for small to medium venues of up to 500 persons. Fees vary depending on location, expenses, attendance, and other factors but are usually in the $350-1000 range. For information about bookings contact Bob Midden:
Our performance schedule is posted at our web site:
The band's currentinfluences are Altan, Solas, Dervish, Danu, Flook, Patrick Street, the Bothy Band, Jerry Holland, James Kelly, Zan McLeod, Solas, Capercaillie, and other traditional bands with a modern feel. Martin's songwriting influences include John Gorka, John Prine, Doc Watson, and he is inspired to live a musical life by Andrea Zonn.