Local singer-songwriter Mike Gallagher has made a name for himself performing traditional and original Irish tunes. His latest album, “Saints & Scholars,” is a blend of the old and the new. Gallagher has been a presence on the local music scene for nearly 30 years. He has a clear, tenor voice that sounds as if he was born in Ireland, not in Pittsburgh. The arrangements on the new album feature instruments like acoustic guitar, fiddle, and tin whistle, giving the disc an authentic feel. Highlights include “The Voyage” and the more contemporary-sounding “Sweet Peggy-O.” Produced by Al Snyder, he of the Corbin-Hanner Band and a producer of other Pittsburgh-based artists, the album has a sound that’s as clear as Gallagher’s voice.
Musical historians have pointed out that our folk song tradition grew out of the English and Irish ballads and protest songs that immigrants brought to this country. Gallagher, in addition to his traditional songs, is also an accomplished folk singer and songwriter. In a recent appearance at Club Café, he performed original folk songs that, along with his Celtic ballads, bridged the gap between the two genres. He’s an engaging performer and established an immediate connection with the audience. With less of an Irish tinge to his voice, he sang with a sincerity that was touching and gave close attention to the lyrics.