Music preview: Mark Dignam gathers friends for a 'reverential' Irish concert at Club Cafe

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It won't be "Oh, Danny Boy," it will be no "Danny Boy" at Club Cafe Friday night when Mark Dignam and friends present the concert "The Calm Before the Storm."

The folk-rock musician will be joined by Callan, Broken Fences, Josh Verbanets and others for a more "reverential treatment" of Irish music before the green-beer storm hits the clubs over the weekend.

Mark Dignam and Friends

Where: Club Cafe, South Side.

When: 8 p.m. Friday.

Tickets: $10;

Mr. Dignam is a Dublin native and onetime Grafton Street busker who settled in Pittsburgh in 2000 at the urging of longtime friend Karl Mullen. Since then, he's become a popular fixture in the acoustic scene. His concert will focus on more poetic elements of Irish song with works by W.B Yeats, Dominck Behan and Christy Moore as an alternative to the St. Patrick's Day fare.

"The thing for me, even over in Ireland, there's an aspect that turned out to be a McDonald's-ization of the culture. There's a tendency to see Irish music as either that post-Pogues stuff, or it's the 'Danny Boy' thing. There's just a different aspect that I'm trying to push."

Not that he has anything against the Pogues.

"No, not them themselves, but they've had an influence. I'm not a big fan of the Dropkick Murphys, and there's a tendency in the post-Pogues era to think Irish music all has to be completely Saturday night bouncing off the walls kind of stuff. What I'm trying to do is give people the option -- great songs, great cultural stories, telling the stories of your ancestors."

What he didn't do is round up the usual suspects from the Celtic music scene. Callan is certainly a regular, and Bruce Foley is a master of the pipes. He also has added indie folk duo Broken Fences, indie rocker Verbanets, singer-songwriter Ben Shannon and Zoob.

"I picked pretty much all of the songs and got people who wouldn't normally do Irish music and said, 'Here's a number of songs that you've never heard before.' That's going to be an interesting aspect of it. And then at the end, anyone in the audience can get up and do something."

What people shouldn't do is go in expecting it to be some kind of downer or a concert.

"I'm a folk-rocker and you'll never take that away from me," he says, "I will have my band and some will be rocked up. More Van Morrison than it is the Pogues."


Scott Mervis:; 412-263-2576.


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