Thursday, 11 March 2010

Irish stars at Katharine Cornell: Crawford and Vallely

Irish traditional music masters Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely create a melodic, lyrical beauty that flows like a clear mountain stream. They are making the last stop of their nine-town New England tour at Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven this coming Saturday evening at 7:30, before beginning a tour as members of the Irish super group Lunasa in April. Boston's Ted Davis will provide guitar accompaniment.

Kevin Crawford, left, and Cillian Vallely perform Saturday. Click on photo to enlarge. Photo courtesy of KCT Concerts
Mr. Crawford and Mr. Vallely, who performed here last year to rave reviews, began performing as a duet with the release of the album, "Common Ground" last year, an album the Irish American newspaper, The Irish Echo, ranked number three on its list of top 10 Irish albums of 2009, calling it "A pinnacle performance from...two uncommonly gifted Irish traditional musicians."

Kevin Crawford was born in Birmingham, England and now lives in Ennis, County Claire. He has played with Moving Cloud, Foxglove, and Grianan among others. His recording career spans more than 15 years. He excels on the flute, whistle, and is an accomplished bodhran player (an Irish drum). He often sprinkles his concerts with humor, sharing his wealth of knowledge of traditional Irish music between songs.

Cillian Vallely has played on the Vineyard many times since his first visit with Billy Kelly in the early 90s. He learned to play Irish music as a child from his parents, who are both well-known Irish musicians and founders of the Armagh Pipers' Club, a group that has fostered the revival of traditional music in Ireland's north for more than three decades. Mr. Vallely plays uilleann pipes (Irish bag pipes) and the low whistle.

He has become one of the most prominent musicians in contemporary Irish music and has recorded on more than 40 albums. He was featured as the uilleann pipe soloist in the Broadway production of "Riverdance" and toured with Nashville singer Tim O'Brien in "The Crossing." Mr. Vallely has played with Natalie Merchant, Fairport Convention, and Moody Blues. He has played with Lunasa since 1999.

KCT Concerts has developed a series of traditional and traditionally influenced concerts over the years that surely rival similar attempts anywhere. This duo plays with a relaxed professionalism and intensity that allow them to blur the line between traditional structure and modern improvisation. They will no doubt be high notes in KCT Concerts' unfinished symphony.

KCT Concerts presents Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely, 7:30 pm, Saturday, March 13, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Vineyard Haven. $25; $20 in advance; free for children. Tickets available at Aboveground Records, Island Entertainment, Alleys, Scottish Bakehouse, Oak Bluffs General Store. 508-693-6996; 693-6237;

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