When the builders of the Erie Canal began their project, they had no idea what they might encounter.

You could say the same about the local Craobh Dugan branch of the Irish cultural organization Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann when they launched their tribute to the canal, “The Irish and the Erie - The Irish Contribution to the Building of the Erie Canal.”

When the canal was finished cannons were set off at every lock to commemorate the occasion.

The Craobh Dugan folks are commemorating their recording of their program in a slightly quieter, but no less celebratory way.

At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday April 17, Craobh Dugan will hold an official CD release party for their recording of the Erie program at Stockdale’s in Oriskany.

“It will be our regular open session, but we will be playing the tunes and songs from the CD during the session,” notes Bill Fahy, who, along with Shack 9 Studio’s Jim Inman and program creator Mike Hoke, produced the CD. “Stockdale’s will be serving up the Guinness and their menu will include some Irish favorites.”

Recording a CD of the show was not part of the original plan, but in retrospect, it’s a natural.

Branch chair Chris Hoke had set a goal for the Craobh Dugan branch to put a CD together about four years ago, but after a few attempts it didn’t get very far. When Fahy took charge of the project last summer, it struck him the “The Irish and the Erie” could be the perfect recording vehicle for the group.

“It occurred to me that we had performed the ‘Irish and Erie’ show about seven or eight times and the group was well rehearsed so using the material from the show could be recorded live,” says Fahy.

The next step was to decide where to record it. With Fahy having heard the CD the Rusty Doves had recorded at Shack 9 Studio, the choice was an easy one.

“I liked the sound he got on the CD and thought he did a great job bringing out the best of the performance,” recalls Fahy. “After discussing the project Jim came onboard with us.”

The CD, featuring branch members Mike Hoke, Ed Campbell, Sue Romero, Bill Fahy, Skip Mansur, Mike Carroll and Jim O’Looney, examines, through a mix of narratives interspersed with songs and dance tunes, the contributions made by the Irish in the digging of the Erie Canal. Also included is a booklet giving more detail on the music and production.

Admission to the launch party is free; the CD (or download cards for those that like their music digital) will be available for purchase at this and all Craobh Dugan performances,. It can also be ordered through the group’s website at www.uticairish.org or through CDBaby.com.

Mark Sisti is an experienced performer who writes about local music for the Observer-Dispatch. Email him at msist1@roadrunner.com.