Sean McCabe came to New York City in 1994 at the age of twenty five with the intention of putting together an Irish band with fiddles, accordions, mandolins, banjos, guitars, and of course, drums and bass. Inspired by the work of Steve Earl, especially the album ‘Train A Comin’, Sean felt he could forge a country/old-timey sounding band, singing songs with Irish themes. Sean was also inspired by the work of Irish writers James Joyce and Patrick Kavanagh, both of whom were inspired by their hometowns to create their masterworks.
Having never played guitar before, Sean bought a used one in a trinket shop, spent six months learning his first few chords and took it into the Times Square subway station. Initial reactions were not very encouraging, but Sean kept at it, singing the old Irish songs, and throwing in a couple of his own for good measure. His performing skills improved and soon his busking effort was paying the rent for his tiny room in Brooklyn.
Sean’s first gig, a year after he arrived in New York, was on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1995, aboard a yacht along the shores of The Hudson, with an accordeon and banjo player. Soon this trio, with the aid of a fiddler, was playing in pubs all over the five boroughs. It wasn’t long before a drummer and a bass player were added, and the band, calling itself The Prodigals, (after another busking band that Sean had been involved with in Paris called The Prodigal Sons), recorded its first CD. This band began a residency in Paddy Reilly’s on Second Avenue, America’s best known Irish music venue and the launching pad for Black 47, Eileen Ivers, Cherish The Ladies and many more successful acts. The band played mostly versions of Irish drinking and rebel songs and ballads, and became quite popular. Sean, being a poet, longed to perform more of his own material, and decided to leave the boys and form his own band. He called it The McCabes, at the drummer’s suggestion.(Sean tried but could not think of any other names), and soon this new band was performing not just in new York but at festivals in all of the northeastern states and as far away as Texas, sharing the bill with none other than ‘Blood Sweat & Tears’ at the Wildflower Folk Festival in 2000.
The McCabes won itself the Saturday spot at Paddy Reilly’s in 2001, and kept it until the fall of 2003. In the words of Steve Duggan, owner of Paddy Reilly’s and booking agent for many bands including Black 47, Paddy Reilly, and The Prodigals, The McCabes were one of the ‘best bands ever’ to play in his club, and the residency was one of the ‘most successful ever’. The McCabes first CD, ‘Live at Paddy Reilly’s’, was recorded there, and is still a favourite on jukeboxes throughout the Irish club scene nationwide.
The McCabes are now one of America’s best loved Irish bands and have appeared at most major Irish festivals, including the Stonehill Festival, The New York Irish Festival, the Chicago Gaelic Park festival, The Kansas City Irish festival, the West Palm Beach Irish festival. They have also appeared at Shea Stadium on the same stage that The Beatles played on so many years ago.
A host of great musicians have passed through the band, including fiddler Matt Mancuso(Lord Of The Dance), fiddler Clarence Ferrari (Lenahan), Mandolin player Darryl Conlon(Crossroads), drummer Steve Holloway(Riverdance), drummer Lez Warner(The Cult), drummer Mark Pardy(The Full Monty, Phil Coulter).
The McCabes have recorded three CD’s, Live at Paddy Reilly’s(2001), Whatever Makes You Tick(2002), and Dark Before The Dawn(2004), all of them showcasing Sean’s country folk originals.
Sean is still in search of that perfect synthesis of song and instrumentation that is to be found on Steve Earl’s masterpiece ‘Train a Comin’. The lineup has never been better, with Ryan Cavan on drums, Daniel Paccine on bass, Rick Snell on guitar, Matt Mancuso back on fiddle, and Sean himself strumming the guitar. He has since bought himself a Martin, preferring to hang the used guitar he bought at the trinket store on his studio wall, alongside a copy of the LP cover, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born In The USA’. Sean continues to write, prolifically, songs born in Ireland, but made in the USA.
The McCabes, never a band to rest on its laurels, have now started playing at Connolly’s Club on Times Square, New York’s newest and biggest Irish music venue, and in The fall of 2004, after the summer festival season, will perform there every Friday evening.
Ryan Cavan: Drums
Ryan Cavan is a twenty-seven year old drummer based in New York City. He is versed in the styles of jazz, pop, rock, hip-hop, funk, and big band. Depending upon the gig, you might catch him playing a full drum set, a conga, jembe and cowbell, a toy drum set, or his infamous garbage can kit. Ryan has been on the road and in the studio many times. He has performed and/or recorded with; Joseph Walsh, Elaine LaChica, Lenahan (Clandestine), Bob McGrath (Sesame Street), Kombo (Verve), The Jade Project, David O'Rourke, Izabella, Erika Weander, Doug Munro (Shanachie), Seth Horan (Benchmark artist, Vertical Horizon), Matt Katz, Anavana (Zip), Roxanne Beck, Anthony Mills (Harry Belafonte), Smite (Devious Semantics), Jon Faddis, Unspun, Pete Malinverni and Nick Jemerin among others. In addition, Ryan wrote the music and lyrics for the musical Steel Pterodactyl and has written for the Hunter College Dance Dept, where he is a resident musician. He also has several co-production/mixing credits. Ryan is an endorser of The Precision Drum Company and can be visited at www.RYANCAVAN.COM He enjoys 80’s guitar solos, really really long showers, researching the folkloric bathroom dances of western NY, yellowing the snow, pizza, 'high rolling', and unionizing the squirrels of Central Park.
Rick Snell: Guitarist
Rick Snell has played all kinds of music in and around New York for the last ten years. A conservatory trained student of jazz, his interests have led him to prepare a vast palate of sounds to draw from. With a particular love for the folk and indigenous musics of the world, he has extensively explored the intricacies of Irish traditional playing. He lives in Brooklyn.
Chris Posteraro: Bass
A Longtime resident of New York City, Chris Posteraro is the most recent
addition to the McCabes lineup. He has spent the last decade studying both
the Double Bass and Bass Guitar in settings ranging from Jazz to Classical
to traditional Irish music. Performing with a number of different ensembles
in recent years, he has toured Central America, Alaska and countless cities
in between. He likes Scotch. Buy him some.
Clarence Ferrari: Fiddle
Clarence Ferrari is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and engineer who currently resides in New York. He began playing bluegrass fiddle at the age of five in Nashville, Tennessee. When his family relocated back to New York City a few years later, Clarence became acquainted with Pete Seeger and The Hudson River Sloop Singers, performing with them throughout New York State. Clarence began studying classical music and composition in junior high school. During this period Clarence performed with various orchestras, including the Brooklyn Philharmonic. In high school Clarence naturally gravitated towards rock and jazz. He also tried his hand as musical director for a number of school theatrical productions and composed and conducted a liturgical choral piece.
Clarence began performing and recording with the Celtic-Rock band Lenahan in 1994, touring throughout North America and Western Europe. Over the years he has performed with musicians ranging from Davey Arthur of The Furies and Les Binks of Judas Priest to Tom Chapin and Tom Paxton. Clarence currently records and performs around the North East and beyond with numerous other artists including Ivan Rubenstein-Gillis and Dominic Chianese.