Milwaukee’s Irish Fest returns for its annual run at the Festival Grounds on Thursday. And as is our habit, we’ll feature a few of the bands playing there over the course of the week. While there will be music with an obvious Irish feel, the focus of this year’s festival will also have a distinctly American sound. That’s because many of the acts will spotlight how traditional Irish music evolved into the bluegrass sound we think of as native to Appalachia.It’s a slice of ethnomusicology that fiddler Bruce Molsky knows very well. Molsky will teach courses all week in the Irish Fest Summer School about old-time fiddling. He’ll also perform at the festival. He’s considered the leading practitioner of the old-time fiddle tradition today.
Earlier this year, Molsky and Swedish multi-instrumentalist Ale Moller came by the Lake Effect studio and performed several songs, including the Nyland Set, Diamond Joe, and the Fox Halling. They spoke with Bonnie North. Molsky will play and lead a series of summer school sessions at Irish Fest in Milwaukee this week. Moller’s schedule didn’t allow him to make it to this year’s festival.