Needham History Center & Museum Needham History Center & Museum, Needham Massachusetts 02492

The Irish-American Musical Experience


    The Irish-American Musical Experience

    A Concert and Lecture with the group Ask Your Father.
    Sunday, March 17th at 2:00 pm.
    at the Needham Historical Society, 1147 Central Avenue.
    Admission free.

    Join us for a musical celebration of St. Patrick’s Day! “Creating a National Identity: Songs of the Irish Americans” is a lecture and music presentation which explores the fascinating history of the songs that evoke strong emotional visions of Ireland, but are of American authorship. This program traces popular songs from the 1840’s through to the early 20th Century as a key to the cultural identity of Irish-Americans. Songs of labor, emigration, homesickness and struggle – the music of a people who have traveled far, achieved much and recorded their journeys in songs with fullness of feeling and tremendous faith.

    Ask Your Father  performs acoustic ballads and songs in the American folk tradition.  Made up of the husband and wife team Rich & Dee Kelly and their partner Rick Spencer, the trio is based in Norwich, CT.  Rich Kelly is a seasoned multi-instrumentalist who performs on guitars, mandolin and Irish cittern, while Dee Kelly is a highly experienced singer with a love of songs that tell a good story.  Rick Spencer sings and plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and concertina. With the recent release of their latest recording, “Where We’ve Been,” Ask Your Father remains committed to sharing the music and stories they love with audiences of all ages. Their story, like their songbook, grows continually.

    Rich Kelly hails from Boston, Massachusetts, born into an Irish-American family where the songs and stories of exile and rebirth in a new nation were common. Rich began playing guitar as a teenager and moved to NYC, where, for a time during the 1990’s, he played guitar, mandolin, tin whistle and percussion with an Irish folk trio, called The Terrible Beauties. During this time Rich met Dee Myers, an accomplished actress and singer.  Dee Kelly was born near Cincinnati, trained in theater and voice and came to NYC after working in regional and summer stock theaters. The two were married in 1996. Rich and Dee spent many weekends playing and singing in Irish seisuns (jam sessions with other musicians) around the city. They began performing in 2003 under the name Ask Your Father. In 2007, they happily made the acquaintance of Rick Spencer and a musical meeting of the minds has proven to be a joy.

    A Connecticut native, Rick Spencer is known internationally for his work as a performer, researcher, historian, and songwriter. For over 25 years, he has traveled and performed in concert halls, folk festivals, museums, libraries, historical societies, and not a few pubs. He has been a part of numerous recordings in the roles of singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, and was a founding member of Forebitter, one of the most widely known and respected groups specializing in sea music.

    This program is free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served.  For more information about this program, or about the Needham Historical Society, please contact Gloria Greis at 781-455-8860 or