Who knew?

Well, it was sure news to me.
"The students and instructors of the Blue Ridge Irish Music School (BRIMS) have been actively bringing traditional Irish music and dance in its most vital and exciting form to central Virginia since 1999," says Lori Madden, administrative director of the school and a parent of one of the musicians. "There is a thriving and growing community of Irish music, song and dance in our area."
Before my conversation with Madden, I had never heard of BRIMS. As it turns out, there's quite a lot to know.
BRIMS has performed in many local venues such as Starr Hill Music Hall, the Prism Coffeehouse, Garth Newell Music Center, the Oakridge Summer Festival, First Night Virginia, and Acoustic Charlottesville, as well as in schools and libraries and at benefits. The performers have also been featured several times live in the studio with DJ Anne Williams of WNRN's "Acoustic Sunrise" show and in the studio of WTJU.
In addition to performing, the school also offers classes and workshops, traditional Irish music sessions, and sponsors monthly Ceilis (pronounced KAY-lee), traditional Irish social dances, for which BRIMS members provide live music. In April of 2000, students even took a trip to Ireland to study the music and culture. And as if that list weren't enough of a testament to ambition, BRIMS has also produced a compact disc, The Virginia Reel: Traditional Irish Music in and Around Charlottesville, which has been favorably reviewed here, in Washington, and, appropriately, in Ireland as well.
"I can't over-emphasize how remarkable all this is," Madden says. "Over several years, BRIMS has proved itself to be an organization of great importance, doing wonders for Irish music in Virginia."
BRIMS shows are known for fun, high-energy music, and spirited dancing. Many of the young people who perform have been playing and dancing together for several years and demonstrate tight musical camaraderie as they play and sing. "Audiences at BRIMS performances are often roused to stamping, dancing, and cheering," Madden says.
Here's your chance to join the rowdy fun. On Thursday, April 4, BRIMS performs a benefit concert at Starr Hill Music Hall. Proceeds from the show and sales of their CD will go to benefit community programs and classes offered by the school. "Last year's benefit event drew a large and enthusiastic crowd," Madden says. All signs point to a repeat performance.

The Blue Ridge Irish Music School's annual fundraising concert is at Starr Hill Music Hall at 7pm, April 4. "Pay-what-you-may," with a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for kids. 980-BRIM.