Irish balladeer Ed Saultz performs a program of traditional and contemporary Irish music at the Dimmick Library Annex on Saturday at 3 p.m.

The free program is sponsored by the Friends of the Dimmick Library. Irish-themed refreshments will be served following the performance.

Saultz, who accompanies himself on guitar with the occasional use of the Irish drum, the bodhran, to accompany a dance tune, is in his second incarnation as a musician. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he played Appalachian Old Time Music.

"After that, I took 35 years off from music," Saultz said. "I started again when my wife and I were traveling in Ireland in 2002.

"We attended a regional music competition at the village of Fleadh Cheoil. We were walking around a lovely little village called Athea, and we wandered to the top of the town where there was a young lad playing the bodhran with two other musicians. He seemed lost in what he was doing. I was inspired back to get back to music. I decided to go one step further-to explore traditional Irish music. I fell in love with it and have been doing it ever since."

His mother's family left Ireland's County Kilkenny during the famine of the 1840s.

"I grew up in Winfield Park, N.J., in a strong Irish neighborhood," he said. "You'd hear from time to time, some of the older folks in town who still spoke Irish."

Besides the native Irish tunes, Saultz has been influenced by American Irish music, especially from the minstrel shows and vaudeville acts of the early part of the 20th century through the 1920s.

The singer remarked, "My songs come from all over. We have Irish music jam sessions where we exchange dance tunes and songs."

Saultz's signature song is based on a poem written by Bobby Sands. Sands, a member of the Irish Republican Army, who was captured by the British and imprisoned.

"He saw himself, not as a criminal, but as a prisoner of war," Saltz said. "The British wouldn't grant him that right under the Geneva Convention. He initiated a hunger strike-that eventually took his life. He wrote, Back Home in Derry, and Christy Moore put it to music. That's one of my favorite songs because it epitomizes the Irish struggle for independence."

"I love Irish music," he said. "It's a big part of my life. It sustains me through the most difficult of days."

"I get to drift away. While singing a song, I get to walk through the story in my imagination. It's extraordinarily fulfilling."

"At times it is transformational. Especially at a gathering when we get a rousing set of dance tunes going," he noted. "I get to drift away. When they play the horn pipe, the tunes are light and bouncy. Every time we play them, I close my eyes and think of myself tripping down the lane between stone walls back in Ireland."

Although more of a performer than a song writer, Saultz will sing one of his own songs, Natalie's Waltz. "I wrote it for a young girl who was born three months too early," he said.

The Dimmick Memorial Library Annex is located at 58 Broadway in Jim Thorpe. For information, call, (570) 325-2131.