Thursday, 29 December 2011

Village tunes in for Ceol Chairlinn

ONCE again the Carlingford Community Development in association with Saint Oliver's Primary School and the Carlingford Lough Youth Peace Project has organised the excellent Ceol Chairlinn Traditional Music Learning Festival in Carlingford from 3rd February until February 5, 2012.

This year's line up of tutors maintains the high standards the organisers have set for themselves since the festival was established in 2006. These include; Fiddle: Gerry O'connor. Accordion: Martin Quinn. Uilleann Pipes: Pádraig Mcgovern. Song: Len Graham. Banjo: Brona Graham. Flute/whistle: Catherine Mcevoy. Sean Nós and Set Dance: Micheál and Kathleen Mcglynn.

As in previous years, the Club Cheoil will be in Mckevitt's Village Hotel and the now established tutor and student session in St Oliver's Primary School.


Village tunes in for Ceol Chairlinn - Local Notes - Argus.ie

Friday, 16 December 2011

‘Fairytale of New York’ the most played Christmas classic of the century

The Pogues and Kristy MacColl’s “Fairy Tale of New York” is officially the most played Christmas song of the 21st century.



Music body PPL totals up every public airing of the song in Britain. Its calculations include plays on the radio, TV, and as background music in shops, bars, gyms, and restaurants. They began their calculations in 2000.

The song, released in 1987, never reached number one in the charts in Britain, but is played around the world every Christmas. It has also been featured in the UK’s top 20 chart on seven occasions.

Jonathan Morrish, spokesman with PPL, said “Fairytale of New York is a timeless classic which everyone knows and rightfully deserves its place at the top spot”.

Writing in the Irish Times, Joe Cleary, a lecturer in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, said that the song told the story of the reality of Irish emigration and what lay behind the “American Dream”.

He wrote, “With the exception of Joyce's ‘The Dead’ or Patrick Kavanagh's ‘Advent’, no work of the 20th-century Irish imagination has managed to illuminate a particular sense of Christmas so well as that song has done…It is at once a twisted love song, an emigrant ballad, and an anthem to the capital city of the 20th century. And it is perhaps for that reason that it is the only "Christmas classic" that one can hear without wincing in July."

Here’s the list of “The most played Christmas songs”:

1. Fairytale of New York (1987), The Pogues

2. Last Christmas (1984), Wham

3. All I Want for Christmas is You (1994), Mariah Carey

4. I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday (1973), Wizzard

5. Do They Know it's Christmas? (1984), Band Aid

6. Merry Xmas Everybody (1973), Slade

7. Driving Home for Christmas (1988), Chris Rea

8. Step into Christmas (1973), Elton John

9. The Power of Love (1984), Frankie Goes To Hollywood

10. Merry Christmas Everyone (1985), Shakin' Stevens

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/ent/Fairytale-of-New-York-the-most-played-Christmas-classic-of-the-century--VIDEO-135724498.html#ixzz1giTIPt8S


‘Fairytale of New York’ the most played Christmas classic of the century – VIDEO | Irish Entertainment in Ireland and Around the World | IrishCentral

A cultural feast of Irish tradition

Celtic Choice (by Fays) Irish ghilliesStoryteller Tomáseen Foley and his ensemble of dancers, singers and musicians bring to life earlier times in Western Ireland, where the spirit of Christmas drew families and neighbors together for evenings of lighthearted, jovial fun.

"A Celtic Christmas" recreates such a night before Christmas in a thatched farmhouse in Teampall an Ghleanntáin, where the rafters ring with Irish songs, traditional music and dance and stories of life in the distant parish, also Foley's birthplace.
ian.org

"I play the man of the house in the show," Foley says. "The singers, musicians, dancers and audience play the neighbors. We engage our audiences, and there's a lot of spontaneous laughter."

"A Celtic Christmas" will be presented at 3 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

New songs, dances and stories fill this season's production, mixed with material from previous ones.

"There are bits of old and new," Foley says. "And two stories are told, one in each half of the show. There's an inherent longing in all humans to be told stories."

One such story is about the Celtic traditions taught to Foley by his grandmother.

"She introduced me to the customs of the day, especially the twilight around Christmas," Foley says. "Candles would be lit and placed in every window. Each candle was lit by the youngest person in the house because it was believed that person could carry the tradition on longer. The family would gather around as each candle took flame and say 'May we all live till this time next year.' "

The largest candle was placed in the main window of the house. This candle was significant because if it blew out in the middle of the night, it was considered an omen that someone in the family would pass away during the coming year.

"My grandmother took extraordinarily good care with that candle," Foley says. "She was in her 80s at the time."

Celtic guitarist William Coulter, dancer Marcus Donnelly and musicians Marianne Knight and Brian Bigley join Foley this year.

Coulter earned a Grammy in 2005 for his compilation of Henry Mancini tunes, titled "Pink Guitar." He teaches classical guitar at the University of Southern California at Santa Cruz, and he tours with such Celtic music luminaries as Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Eilis Kennedy.

Donnelly began dancing when he was 8 or 9. He studied dance at the Celine Hession School of Dancing in Galway, Ireland. His dance company is based in Edmonton, Alberta.

"Marcus has taken Irish dance beyond the stiff-armed style of step-dancing," Foley says. "He's gone back to an old style of Irish dance, called sean-nós, and developed it into a more modern style. Sean-nós is looser and allows the use of arms. It doesn't have such strict patterns."

Knight sings, dances and plays button accor-dion, flute, whistle and bodhran. She was the first Irish-born dancer to win the North Amer-ican Dance Cham-pion-ship, Foley says. Bigley dances and plays uilleann pipes, whistle and flute.

"Uilleann is the Irish word for elbow," Foley says. "The bellows are under the player's right elbow and pump air into a bag under the other elbow. The air is pushed into the chanter, which is held across the knee and played with all 10 fingers.

"Some say that the Irish invented uilleann pipes so that they could drink and play at the same time."

Tickets for "A Celtic Christmas" cost $22, $26 and $30 or $12, $16 and $20 for ages 18 and younger. The show is not suitable for ages 7 and younger. Call 541-779-3000 or see www.craterian.org.

A cultural feast of Irish tradition | MailTribune.com

Friday, 9 December 2011

2011’s books on Traditional Irish Music

Joanie Madden playing the flute at the Coatesv...Image via Wikipedia
I am not sure what made 2011 such a prolific and significant year for books being published on Irish traditional music, but there have been several more that I thought were worthy of recommending to those with a serious bent on the music.

At this time of year they do make wonderful gifts for those on your list. While they appear expensive and not likely to be found discounted at Amazon.com, they will be appreciated for many years to come and provide valuable and authoritative insights into Irish music.

It has been 12 years since Armagh native and musician/journalist Fintan Vallely published his first Companion to Irish Tradition Music in 1999 which in 478 pages attempted to provide a comprehensive guide to traditional Irish music and musicians.

It was an ambitious and successful effort, but there were some criticism that it wasn’t comprehensive enough and there was demand over the years for a revised edition.

Vallely undertook the challenge and engaged a number of contributors to provide new and more detailed information for a second edition which he laboriously edited and published in November with the help of Cork University Press.

The new Companion will be 880 pages, and according to the publisher, “is the ultimate reference for all players, devotees and students of Irish traditional music. It is an indispensable reference guide to Ireland’s universally recognized traditional music, song and dance.

“This comprehensive resource -- now revised and greatly expanded -- is the largest single collection of such diverse, essential data.”

It will feature an easy to use A-Z guide to its collection of 1,750 articles by over 200 contributors known for their knowledge and contributions in the field of Irish music.

The book retails for around $80 plus shipping and can be ordered from Cork University Press. OssianUSA has ordered copies as well. Check out www.companion.ie or www.corkuniversitypress.com.

The Irish Traditional Music Archive on Merrion Square in Dublin is not only is a marvelous repository for traditional Irish music, but also is an active proponent of advancing the study of Irish traditional music through the publications it releases.

Earlier this year, they published a book on one of Northern Ireland’s great singers, Eddie Butcher from Magilligan, Co. Derry called All the Days of His Life: Eddie Butcher in His Own Words that also has a companion triple CD package including 67 songs for the transcripts in the main book.

The research was conducted by singer and song-collector Hugh Shields and his wife Lisa and published posthumously three years after Shields himself passed away. It has 216 fascinating pages for the lover of Irish song, especially with a Northern context exploring the life of a rural singer and the folk collector who befriended him. It’s $48 plus shipping.

Also released in 2011 was a re-mastered CD containing the concertina music of William Mullaly, who was born in 1884 near Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. Mullaly emigrated to the U.S. in 1910, and in 1926 he would record the earliest known records of concertina music in America and Ireland for Columbia Records on 10 tracks including the “Westmeath Hunt” for which this collection is named.


Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/story/ent/from_the_hob/2011s-books-on-traditional-irish-music-135316868.html#ixzz1g3X42d2o

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/story/ent/from_the_hob/2011s-books-on-traditional-irish-music-135316868.html#ixzz1g3WvcJzA

2011’s books on Traditional Irish Music | From The Hob | IrishCentra

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Daughter's tin whistle is playing on my nerves

Tin Whistle, Sally Gap, Wicklow, IrelandImage by IvanWalsh.com via Flickr
A DAD'S LIFE: THE FEADÓG bloody stáin . Is it even an instrument? Or is the tin whistle a jigging, reeling, anti-Sasanach weapon of parental torture?

I’m disgusted at myself. I wanted to be that encouraging parent, the one who has the kids trying everything and not caring whether or not they succeeded just as long as they gave it a rattle. Music, sports, drama, performance art, whatever, just get out there and express yourself kids. You know, that type of insufferable parent.

Of course, this requires a complete personality overhaul. For a start, I do care if they succeed or not. I’ll be the one tripping the other kid as she rounds the final corner of a 400m final just ahead of mine. It’s a fight out there, we all need a little help.

The other thing is music. I can play Wild Thin g badly on the guitar, and the opening to Desire . That’s where it ends. In school, I was a bass in the choir mainly because I harassed the teacher into letting me stay. Not for a love of Pie Jesu , for the love of the events the choir got to attend and the class and study it missed. Girls liked choir, I liked girls. Simple.

In college, I bobbed the head along when someone pulled out a guitar at the end of a party, eyeballing them enviously as they plucked their way through a medley of tunes designed specifically to woo philosophy undergrads. The type of crap we wouldn’t touch in daylight but was pick-up gold late on a Saturday night.

But once college was out of the way, I realised just how much that guitar-playing guy wound me up. If it’s late and the party’s rocking and we’re chatting and having fun and you start with the James Taylor, I will make you wear that instrument. As for the bongos, seriously, stern words will be had.

That’s where I’m coming from with the music, a position of resistance, resentment and retribution. It’s why I don’t go to gigs, the stuff sounds so much better on my iPod or in the car, without other people clapping and whooping and getting all misty-eyed

at the talent. I like to be able to turn it up and down, skip through and rewind. The tunes have to suit the mood.

I’m a musical misery. When someone starts to play or sing in front of me, I cringe. It could be John Lennon back from the dead, whispering to me a personal version of Imagine , and I’d be like, ‘Ah here John, stop will ye, you’re embarrassing me.’

Typically, I married into the von Trapp family. When I met them first, they used to clear away the dinner dishes while harmonising through Walking in the Air from The Snowman . I didn’t know what to do with myself, standing there, plate in hand, waiting for the kitchen floor to swallow me and praying that they would stop and ease my pain.

The missus will break into song if you belch and the tone reminds her of a tune, and now her daughter has followed suit. She’s a strummer, she’ll be the cool girl at those college parties who can unearth a guitar from somewhere and intimidate every boy in the room.

I stick on a CD on the way to school and by the time she’s got to the chorus for a second time of something she’s never heard before, she’s singing along. She’s belting it out and she’s getting it right.

This is not from my genes, this is alien. While I don’t understand it, I am self-aware enough to realise she is blessed not to have my musical embarrassment syndrome and so encourage her to the hilt.

She may or may not be the next Kim Deal – it’s a bit of a long shot – but she can have a go if she fancies it. That’s my job isn’t it, to encourage her, let her know everything’s possible, try it all, be supportive and make encouraging noises?

Then she comes home with a feadóg bloody stáin . She sits and twiddles this thing, stands and twiddles, walks around the house blowing and sucking, making an approximation of the brainwaves of a beef cow as the abattoir doors loom. It’s torture. I hate it. She knows I hate it. She plays it louder.

She plays it when she’s supposed to be brushing her teeth, doing her homework, emptying the dishwasher. She plays it all the time. She plays it in my face. She tin whistle taunts me. I am not the encouraging dad, I am the killer of hopes and dreams. I will be the killer of something. Might have to get her bongos for Christmas.

Daughter's tin whistle is playing on my nerves - The Irish Times - Tue, Dec 06, 2011

Monday, 5 December 2011

Twitter Christmas single flies towards top of charts

It started with a late night tweet. But it could end up as as the Christmas No 1.

The first-ever charity single recorded using Twitter, #twitterxmassingle, was launched in Dublin yesterday, and raced straight to number 4 in the Irish iTunes chart.

Written by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, 'Winter Song' came about after Brenda Drumm from Newbridge in Co Kildare tweeted on Saturday November 19: "Wouldn't it be great to have a Twitter Xmas Single?" Within hours @BrendaDrumm was getting tweets from musicians, singers, studio technicians, and other well-wishers across the country eager to help.

Recording of the Christmas single took place just eight days later, on Sunday November 27, when 140 people gathered in the Westin Hotel in Dublin.

Organisers picked the track 'Winter Song' as their single because it fitted the season, and also because the record is a fundraiser for the Neonatal Special Care Unit in the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin.

"It's a beautiful song but also perfect because it seems like the lyrics were written by someone who has watched their child being cared for in the neonatal unit," added Ms Drumm, a cancer survivor who began using Twitter in 2007 when she took a year off to battle the illness.

Featuring 16 solo singers, along with a choir of 90, all the vocals on the track were recorded in the banqueting hall of the Westin Hotel.

Organisers hope the track, available through iTunes, could hit number one by December 25.

Commenting on the project, Ms Drumm said she had been "overwhelmed" at the response to a very short and sweet tweet.

"In just two weeks we have taken a tweet and turned it into a single, which is now being tipped to be the Christmas No 1.

"I had no idea that anything like this would happen and it really just shows the power of Twitter and the generosity and good will in the hearts of Irish people," she said.



Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/music/news/twitter-christmas-single-flies-towards-top-of-charts-16086536.html#ixzz1fg1034Ua

Twitter Christmas single flies towards top of charts - News, Music & Gigs - Belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Friday, 2 December 2011

Trad band Four Men & a Dog bring their trad magic West

Four Men and a DogCover of Four Men and a Dog
Monroe’s pub Saturday night, December 3
Well known trad group Four Men and a Dog, who are celebrating 21 years on the road, will perform in Monroe’s pub in the city this Saturday night, December 3 as part of a nationwide Irish tour.

The current line-up features Cathal Hayden on fiddle and banjo, Donal Murphy on accordion, Gerry O’Connor on banjo and fiddle, Kevin Doherty on guitar and vocals and Gino Lupari on bodhrán and vocals.


Four Men & a Dog have forged a reputation for their with their eclectic blend of music, mixing Irish with a wide spectrum of other genres, including rap, Southern rock, jazz, blues, bluegrass, polka, country swing, and salsa.

Four Men and a Dog made their debut performance as a band in Murphy's Bar, Dungiven, County Derry, in 1990 and stole the show at the Belfast Folk Festival later that year.

Barking Mad, their debut album won an award for Album of the Year from Folk Roots magazine in 1991, marking the first time that an Irish group had ever won the prize.

They have recorded six albums to date and plan the release of a new studio album next Spring.

Doors for their Saturday night show in Monroe’s are at 8.30pm and the tickets are €15, available from the Dominick Street venue, www.monroes.ie or at 091-583397.

Trad band Four Men & a Dog bring their trad magic West | Galway City Tribune | galwaynews.ie

Celtic Connections lights up January in Scotland

Woody GuthrieCover of Woody Guthrie
Coming up in mid January, the Celtic Connections Festival, will light up the winter season in Glasgow, Scotland with music. There will be pipe bands, cutting edge contemporary Scottish and world musicians, tunes on fiddle, harp, guitar, whistle, bodhran, and other instruments, and songs from the many traditions and languages that intertwine with the music and history of Scotland.

All told, there will be more than three hundred events as the nineteenth edition of Celtic Connections unfolds across the city. Whether the venue is a small listening room or the main auditorium of the Royal Concert Hall, though, the festival artists, staff, and audiences maintain a welcoming and friendly atmosphere that only adds the spirit of the music they share.

This season. that music will include a celebration of the centennial of American folk song legend Woody Guthrie, as the one hundredth anniversary of his birth is observed by musicians from many traditions. There will be a setting for a mass in Scottish Gaelic, sung in a cathedral. There will be a strand of programming with concerts featuring political songs. World music collaborations are always part of the music at Celtic Connections, too, and this winter that will include From Senegal to Donegal and Mali to Manchester, a new collaboration between Manchester’s Michael McGoldrick and Mali’s Fatoumara Diawara. That show also brings together the talents of Irish group Fidil and Senegal’s Solo Cissokho. Orchestra Baobab, from Africa, are also on the bill, as is the Swedish trio Väsen. Music from the middle east, from American soul, pop, and bluegrass, Native American music, and blues are all part of the strands which find connection to Celtic music during the festival. There will plenty of music from Ireland as well, including the return of festival favorites Cherish the Ladies and Luka Bloom.

At the heart of it all, though, are the musicians of Scotland. who are well represented by legendary performers and rising stars. Session A9, Blazin’ Fiddle, and the Treacherous Orchestra will be among the groups adding their music to this lively mix. There will be a night of accordion and fiddle greats sharing classic dance band tunes, and there will be a concert featuring songs of Scotland having to do with World War I. Composer Corrina Hewat will offer The Oak and the Ivy, a suite for six harps. Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis will be on hand, as will top fiddle and cello duo Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas — and hundreds more musicians.

Formal concerts are not the limit of what goes on during Celtic Connections, though. During the day there are talks and radio interviews open to the public, as well as a highly popular series of concerts featuring musicians competing for an opener slot at the following year’s festival. At the weekend there are workshops where you may learn about the fiddle or the whistle or the bodhran, with different tracks for those who’ve never tried the instrument before and those who wish to advance their knowledge. You may learn various sorts of singing too, and there’s a strand of talks and films in Scottish Gaelic as well, called Ceol’s Craic. In the evenings, after the main scheduled concerts begin winding down, the fun and the music and the craic (that is Gaelic for conversation and good fellowship) do not stop, either, as the Festival Club, late night music sessions, and the well loved House of Song hosted by the welcoming presence of presenter Doris Rougvie, all go on through the night and into the early hours of the morning.

There’s information about artists, schedules, tickets, and venues at the Celtic Connections web site.

If you’ll not be making it to Glasgow (or even if you are and there’s just so much going on), BBC Radio Scotland, Celtic Music Radio from the University of Strathclyde, and RTE from Ireland often broadcast programs from the festival through their internet sites. If you are in the UK, you’ll be able to see BBC Scotland and BBC Alba television broadcasts from the festival as well, and RTE and TG4 from Ireland often do television broadcasts and post festival roundups which are available world wide on line.

Celtic Connections lights up January in Scotland - USATODAY.com

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Chieftains commemorate 50th anniversary with tour, new album

English: The Chieftains performing at the Inte...Image via Wikipedia
Legendary Irish outfit The Chieftains will embark on U.S. and European legs early next year, celebrating the group's 50th anniversary and a new collaborative album, "Voices of Ages."

The quartet, helmed by Paddy Moloney (Uilleann pipes, tin whistle) along with Matt Molloy (flute), Sean Keane (fiddle) and Kevin Conneff (bodhran, vocals), will kick off the U.S. portion of the run with a Feb. 17 show in Santa Barbara, CA. The 21-date outing moves from the West Coast to the East, including a two-night stand March 11-12 in Virginia Beach, VA. The North American trek will conclude with a St. Patrick's Day (3/17) performance in New York City.

A dozen U.K. gigs follow the U.S. tour, keeping the band on the road through mid-June.

The Chieftains will celebrate their 50th anniversary with the release of "Voices of Ages," a collaborative effort featuring music by The Decemberists, The Civil Wars, Paolo Nutini, Bon Iver and The Secret Sisters, among others.

"With 50 years of glorious music behind us," Paddy Moloney says, "I can think of nothing more exciting than to spend another 50 years collaborating with the best voices of the future."

The forthcoming album follows the band's 2010 effort, "San Patricio," which the six-time Grammy winners worked on with Ry Cooder.

The Chieftains commemorate 50th anniversary with tour, new album

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bonaparte's Retreat at Passionfruit Theatre, Athlone

http://www.bonapartesretreat.eu/

3-piece Traditional Irish Group ...

Stephen Ducke : Flute

Louisa Bennion : Concertina

Hubert Chenot : Fiddle

Saturday 19th November @ 8.30pm

Tickets €5

Bookings phone 086 3338457

Tickets also available on the door

http://passionfruittheatre.com/passionfruit/music/upcoming-gigs/171-bonapartes-retreat

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Irish ambassador expresses fascination with Sir John A

Having 60 years of tradition is enough reason to celebrate, but the traditions of the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann go back far longer then its 60 years in operation.

Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann is an international organization aimed at promoting and preserving traditional Irish culture. The 415 branches in 15 countries gather to uphold traditional Irish music and promote and foster the Irish language.

Here in Kingston, the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Harp of Tara Branch has been operating for 31 years. For the 60th anniversary of the organization, the Kingston branch hosted representatives from branches throughout the Canada East region, which covers Ontario and all provinces east of it.

It was for that reason that the Irish Ambassador to Canada, Ray Bassett, made a stop in Kingston this past weekend, where he presented awards of recognition to members of each branch in Canada East.

"Comhalts is a very important organization, keeping alive the traditional music and general tradition. It's spread all over the world now, and it's a great organization," Bassett said, leaning over a table in Dox restaurant of the Holiday Inn where he stayed Saturday night.

"I felt when they asked me that I had to come for that reason, and because it's very important to the community here, both for the Irish-born and those of Irish decent."

However, there was another reason Bassett found Kingston a point of interest.

"I also wanted to come to Kingston because I'm quite interested in John A. Macdonald and I'm interested in some of the history here," he said.

"John A. Macdonald was such a telling figure in Canada and the more you read about him the more you realize this guy had so much ability.

"And he had a very Irish and Scottish weakness, which is of course for the drink," he added with a laugh.

Around 100 people gathered in Kingston for the 60th anniversary celebration, organized by members of the Harp of Tara branch. With live traditional Irish music, step dancers and culinary delights, the event was one that meant a lot to the founder of the Kingston branch, Anne McConnell.

McConnell began the Kingston branch in 1978 after travelling to Ottawa with a friend to take in a traditional Irish concert put on by Comhaltas based out of Ireland.

"At that time there wasn't much (Irish) dancing and music in Kingston," McConnell explained.

"But these were like the cream of the crop of performers in Ireland."

The lack of Irish music and dancing in Kingston all ended there. McConnell arranged to the Irish Comhaltas Music Tour to come to Kingston the next year, and in 1979, the concert took place at the KCVI auditorium.

"It was a huge success," McConnell recalled.

"As a result of that, then we started a branch of Comhaltas."

The group grew gradually, but it didn't have one of the pillars of the organizations objectives: Irish musicians.

That's when the Kingston Ceili Band changed everything.

The Ceili Band, which is now independent of the Comhaltas, celebrated 25 years together in 2006. The band has been a driving force of promoting and developing Irish music in Kingston — as has McConnell.

With no Irish pubs in Kingston at the time, McConnell knew that too had to change if the Comhaltas of the Limestone City were going to properly foster the preservation of Irish culture. After all, the growing Irish music scene needed a venue to entertain in.

So McConnell and her husband opened up Finnegan's and Muldoon's, two side-by-side Irish pubs on Ontario Street where Irish music brought passers-by off the street and into the open arms of Kingston's Irish community.

Now, about 30 years later, McConnell is still active with the Kingston Comhaltas, who host monthly ceilis and have Irish dancing and music workshops, as well as Irish language classes and a conversational group. The Harp of Tara branch even hosted the world's first wheelchair ceili at Providence Manor, when one of the dancers with the organization who works there invited the group to come in with some musicians and dancers. Stephen Rayner, chairman of the Kingston branch, choreographed a dance routine that was wheelchair-friendly. The participants enjoyed the event so much they've held three or four more wheelchair ceilis since.

"It's something that we really do appreciate, I mean, it's a lot of fun, and it's preserving our culture," Rayner said of why the Comhaltas Harp of Tara branch has continued thriving all these years. Rayner was one of the Kingston Branch members honoured with an Achievement Award at Saturday's event.

"But mostly it's enjoyable. We wouldn't do it if it wasn't fun."

So for the 60th anniversary of Comhaltas internationally, the Kingston branch brought together members from the seven branches in Canada East, who represented some 430 members. The key focus, apart from the music and dancing, was the 2011 Achievement Awards being handed out Saturday night by Ambassador Bassett. Two couples from the Kingston branch were honoured with the awards: the aforementioned Rayner, and his wife, Julie Bowes, and Bob MacDiarmid and Angeles Garcia, who dedicate much of their free time to hosting weekly language classes and organizing the monthly ceilis.

Bassett, who has been serving as Ambassador to Canada for just over a year, said he was very glad to be giving out the awards, which recognized members from each branch in Canada East who'd worked tirelessly and selflessly, volunteering to promote Irish culture in their communities.

On his first trip to Kingston, Bassett said that Irish natives feel very strongly about the Comhaltas organizations, and that the organizations are a big part of Irish culture in Ireland itself. The CEO of Comhaltas of Ireland, he said, was in fact an Irish senator he noted.

"I'm actually really quite excited to do it," Bassett said of handing out the awards. He noted that the standards of the musicians in Comhaltas organizations are very high, and it's always fun to see them perform.

"I think every artist, in any kind of area, likes to be rewarded," he said.

"The awards tends to reinforce the commitment and also it's a recognition of excellence."

Bassett said another reason he wanted to be in Kingston to present the awards was down to wanting Canada East Comhaltas to know the Irish appreciate their efforts.

"I hope people feel that the Irish government are recognizing what these organizations are doing and their talent," he said.

"What Comhaltas is doing is very, very worthwhile, and I just want to show strong support of that."

For the members of the Comhalts Harp of Tara branch, having Ambassador Bassett at the 60th anniversary event embodied what their organization stands for.

"It means an awful lot. Really, it's a great honour to have him come," said McConnell, who is now the chairperson for the Canada East regional board of Canada for the Comhaltas.

"I think it's nice to have that stamp of approval from the Irish, that's what it is really," Rayner agreed.

tstafford@thewhig.com


Irish ambassador expresses fascination with Sir John A. - The Whig Standard - Ontario, CA

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Canadian traditional musicians to perform in Northborough

NORTHBOROUGH —
Direct from Prince Edward Island, Canada, to Northborough, will be the extraordinary talents of fiddler Roy Johnstone and singer/songwriter Steve Sharratt. Invited to perform in town by resident (and traditional music fan) Liam Kearney, the performers will appear on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall on West Main Street.

While well-recognized in the field of traditional music - and the winners of multiple awards together and separately - organizers say the foot-stamping appeal of Roy & Steve can only be truly appreciated when you hear them live. In Northborough, they plan to perform the best of their Celtic and folk tunes along with original songs and some fine new gypsy tunes.

Johnstone and Sharratt come from the red cliff shores of Prince Edward Island, Canada's smallest province. As long-time performing partners and accomplished recording artists, they will bring their toe tapping kitchen party music to venues across New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine this month. The dynamic pair is known to lift an audience to their feet with musical energy and and engaging style. This current tour, dubbed "Fiddler in the House", will highlight traditions from their native country, as well as Irish, Scottish and Acadian tunes.

"The theme of 'fiddler in the house' is appropriate not only for the obvious reason of bringing our music into new places, but as it relates to PEI history as well. At the turn of the 20th century at least one house in every community on PEI had a fiddle. Often there were more, but the one fiddle would be shared by the father and several of his sons and the sons had to wait until their father left the house in order to try to play a tune on the prized instrument . As well, the fiddle was often associated with the work of the devil and was not an instrument to be taken up by the fair sex, although a few did," fiddler Johnstone said.

"You couldn't have a dance, a wedding or a funeral in the community without a fiddler. He was nearly as important as the preacher and the school teacher. Dancing and house parties were the main form of entertainment after a hard day working in the fields or cutting wood in the forests and the fiddler was key." added Sharratt.

From that romantic tradition comes this modern day line up of concerts in local halls and homes. This will be the pair's sixth annual tour of what Canadians call the "Boston States".

"We've met some great people on our visits and hope to see some familiar faces and look forward to meeting some new ones on this tour." says Sharratt.

They will be performing music from their recent live CD, "Live at Loon", recorded at the 2010 New Hampshire Highland Games as well as some new Celtic material from Johnstone's travels in Cuba .

The Northborough concert is open to the public, and all are welcome. Tickets ($18/each) can be reserved by calling 508.344.4932.


Canadian traditional musicians to perform in Northborough - Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News

Monday, 10 October 2011

Music, dancing and storytelling highlight Celtic family evening

Kick up your heels for A Celtic Family Evening with the Martin Family Band Saturday, Oct. 15, at Bucks County Community College. The show, featuring Irish and American fiddle tunes and Irish step dance routines, gets underway at 7:30 p.m. in the Gateway Auditorium on the campus at 275 Swamp Road, Newtown.

The band revolves around the eight-member Martin family: parents Nelson and Elaine, 20-year-old Emily, 18-year-old Melissa, 15-year-old Brian, 13-year-old Christy, 10-year-old Zach and 5-year-old Alex. Nearly all play the fiddle, while Emily adds bagpipes and banjo, Melissa picks up the accordion and Irish whistle, and Nelson and Brian play guitar. Family friend Earl Pyles completes the group on drums.

Traditional Irish step-dancing and storytelling round out the program. A reception follows the show, where audience members can meet the performers and enjoy free refreshments, many of which are homemade.

Tickets are $15. Children under age 12 are free. Proceeds benefit CCC Celt, which maintains the BCCC Library’s Celtic Collection and provides an annual scholarship to Bucks.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.bucks.edu/cultural; at the BCCC Bookstore in the Library Building on campus; at the Newtown Book & Record Exchange, located at 102 S. State St. in Newtown Borough, or at the door. For group sales, call 215-968-8087.

Music, dancing and storytelling highlight Celtic family evening - Entertainment - Bucks Local News

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Musical sisters bag three Fleadh prizes

The Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann logo.Image via WikipediaTHREE SISTERS from Newcastle swept the board at the recent 2011 Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, coming away with three coveted pieces of silverware.

Between them, Lottie, Courtney and Katie Cullen brought home all of Wicklow's three titles from the 53rd Fleadh Cheoil which took place in Cavan at the end of August.

Lottie was the first to show her hand to the competition when the 16 year old played the Uilleann pipes in the Under 18 competition. A member of the Craobh Chualann branch of Comhaltas Ceolteori Eireann and previous winner of five All-Ireland titles, Lottie soon made it clear that the competition from England, America and beyond were no match for her playing skills.

Her title winning performance was so impressive, that the teenager was asked to take a starring role in the opening ceremony of the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle, Co. Meath, last weekend.

Fresh from her Under 18 win, Lottie joined her sister Courtney to represent Leinster in the highly competitive senior duet event, with Lottie again on Uilleann pipes and Courtney on the fiddle.

A truly electrifying performance from the pair ensured that none of the 15 subsequent performers ever got a look in at the title.

With two cups already secured by the Cullen girls, their sister Katie entered the fray, joining Lottie and Courtney for the senior trio competition. In front of a packed auditorium, Lottie on pipes, Courtney on the flute and Katie on the fiddle wowed the crowd and romped to victory against strong national and international competition.

Also representing Wicklow at the fleadh were Sean Luke Kelly, a promising young Uilleann piper from Delgany who put in a mature and polished performance at Under 12 level; and Gavin Paul from Wicklow Town, who also performed extremely well in the Under 15 bodhran competition.

The Cullen sisters will be displaying their title winning talents at the WicklowTrad.com music sessions in Wicklow town tonight and on Friday - for more information visit www.wicklowtrad.com

Musical sisters bag three Fleadh prizes - Entertainment - Wicklowpeople.ie:

1st Annual Fairfax Feis - Festival of Irish Music & Dance October 14-15th

The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and Heartbeat Music© announce The 1st Annual Fairfax Feis - Festival of Irish Music and Dance http://www.fairfaxfeis.com. The Feis will be held October 14-15th in venues throughout downtown Fairfax in Marin County, California.

A Feis is a traditional Gaelic arts and cultural festival modeled in the traditional Irish Flead Cheoil where music, dance and poetry and storytelling go on in pubs all throughout the towns. This is the 1st Feis to be modeled on the traditional Fleadh Cheoil in Ireland to be held in northern California.

Lineup for the Feis:
Girsa, Todd Denman & Friends, Shay & Michael Black, Dale Russ, Brosnan School of Irish Dancing, Culann’s Hounds, Kyle Alden, Lucia Comnes Band, Gerry Carthy, Colm Ó Riain, Gerry Forde, The Gas Men,The Mild Colonial Boys, Tipsy House, Vinnie Cronin & Barry O ’Connell, Pat Hamilton, Iseult Jordan & Liz Stires, Riggy Rackin, Pat & Sean O Donnell, Healy School of Irish Dance, Sinead & Roisin Lafferty, Ciaran Marsden & Friends, David Winter & SF Irish Pipers Band, Declan Hunt,The Toast Inspectors, Ted Anderson, Robyn Mercurio & Suzuki Cady, Set dancing with Michael Reimer & Friends, Poetry reading with Sara Berkeley-Tolchin.

Friday evening, October 14th. @ 6:00pm - The Feis Kicks off at The Fairfax Pavilion and at 8:30pm @ The Sleeping Lady Bar & Restaurant.
Saturday, October 15th @ 10:30am - SF Irish Pipers Band March from Sleeping Lady to Fairfax Pavillion.
Saturday, October 15th - 11am-7:30pm - Irish music and dance at Fairfax Pavilion. Tickets $30
Saturday 7:30pm Music in Venues throughout Downtown Fairfax - The Sleeping Lady,19 Broadway, Nave’s Bar, Sorella’s Cafe and Fairfax Coffee Roastery.

Tickets $15-$30 available on the website www.fairfaxfeis.com, at the door, and selected venues in the Bay Area (call 415 451 1924 for details).

1st Annual Fairfax Feis - Festival of Irish Music & Dance October 14-15th:

Monday, 3 October 2011

Ward Irish Music Archives hosts American Sheet Music Conference

The Ward Irish Music Archives will host the 7th annual American Sheet Music Conference this weekend at the Irish Fest Center, 1532 Wauwatosa Ave., Wauwatosa.

Dealers and collectors of antique sheet music from across America, as well as teachers, professors and artists, are expected at the conference.

The event begins at 4 p.m. Friday with a swap meet of music-related items. A series of seminars will be held on Saturday. Closing out the conference is ragtime entertainment in a program called "Sunday Cabaret with Bill Edwards."

The event is open to the public. Admission is $5 each day.

For more information, visit www.irishfest.com.

Why Seán Ó Riada is Irish music's pop icon

The composer’s groundbreaking arrangements of traditional music had a formative influence on an entire generation, writes SIOBHÁN LONG

FISHERMAN, PHILOSOPHER and polyglot; broadcaster, composer and arranger: Seán Ó Riada occupies a place somewhere between that of a tortured genius and what you could term an iconoclassicist. This year, the 40th anniversary of his death and the 80th anniversary of his birth, offers a timely opportunity to delve beneath the surface of this maestro whose legacy is still debated in both traditional and classical music circles.
Those who have made Ó Riada’s acquaintance second-hand through his music might struggle to understand what all the fuss was about. Who was this man who cut a swathe through our characterisation of Irish cultural identity from the early 1950s to the late 1960s? Was he truly the white knight who rescued traditional music from the lower caste to which it had been consigned? Did Ó Riada’s film scores (in particular, that for Mise Éire ) act as a lightning rod, connecting us emotionally with the story of our own genesis as a nation, or did they exploit a weakness for sentimentality at play beneath the hard-worn veneer of Irish life?

And what of his liturgical works? Hell-bent on writing music for 40 Masses, Ó Riada died after composing the music for two, with his setting for Ag Chríost An Síol embedding itself deep within the psyche of almost anyone who set foot inside a Catholic church over the past five decades.

Ó Riada died at the age of 40, having shaken the foundations of traditional music. In his film scores he unearthed a stateliness in Irish music that had hitherto been untapped. In his use of the harpsichord, he doffed a cap to the musical inheritance bequeathed by Turlough O’Carolan, among others. With Seán Ó Sé and Ceoltóirí Chualann, he gave traditional music its first “pop” hit with their muscular rendition of An Puc Ar Buile . Without Ó Riada’s influence, it’s worth asking, would we be experiencing today the bold inventiveness of The Gloaming, the ambitious compositions of Dave Flynn or the inquisitiveness of the sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird? One of his students, the pianist and composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, recalls Ó Riada’s charisma, a “numinousity or psychic presence” that filled a room.

“I came to traditional music through him,” Ó Súilleabháin says, “and, in so doing, found it already residing inside myself, tucked away securely in some postcolonial cultural mess that so many of us inherited. He was the first public figure with the necessary panache and courage to break through old modes of cultural thought in the Irish situation. He brought both clarity and vision into play.”

Seán’s son, Peadar Ó Riada, remembers his father as a man with a hunger, an inquisitiveness about the world, which extended to his attempts to teach Peadar, at various intervals, Arabic, Urdu and Mandarin. “It was his love of a nation, that emotion, that’s what meant most to him,” Peadar says. “There’s a word in Irish, ‘tír grá’, which is a translation of patriotism, but it’s different in Irish, because we’re of the land. In our culture, we didn’t own the land. It owned you. That was Seán’s guiding force, and the language that he used to express it was music, because it had no borders and no limits. What he wanted was for us to get our independence culturally. He saw that our culture was as good as anyone else’s.” Ó Riada’s real genius, according to Peadar, was that he didn’t get bogged down in the intellectualisation of music.

“Seán was fearless,” Peadar says. “He didn’t care what others thought about what he did, because you don’t when you’re riding that horse. You don’t worry about falling off. The exhilaration and emotion of the act demand all your attention.”

Garech a Brún, founder of Claddagh Records, was a close friend of Ó Riada’s, and it was in Luggala, a Brún’s Wicklow estate, that his final recording, Ó Riada’s Farewell , was made. “Seán was the most delightful, charming, knowledgeable man that I’ve ever met,” says a Brún. “He had a huge interest in what is now called world music, and he wanted to see a fusion of the arts and, in particular, of music and poetry.” Ó Riada’s film score for George Morrison’s Mise Éire , a film about the 1916 Rising and the War Of Independence, had a formative influence on a generation, a Brún suggests. “At that time, Seán was breaking new ground. Everyone in Ireland was ashamed of traditional music, yet everyone reacted positively to his score. At that time it was so ingrained in Irish people that fiddle players, for example, were old-fashioned people with string tying up their trousers. They couldn’t see it as part of a modern Ireland. “Back then, there was one pipemaker, Leo Rowsome, and four pipers. How many are there now? Really, his influence was enormous.”

At the time, there were musicians who declared that Seán Ó Riada did composing in Ireland a great disservice, because he chose to bring classical forms to bear on traditional music. Yet was this not what Grieg had done a century before with Norwegian music and Dvorak with the music of Moravia?

Ó Riada suffered from what his friend the poet John Montague calls a double muse. Montague has written extensively of the composer in his memoir The Pear Is Ripe , and in the poem The Lure . “With Mise Éire ,” says Montague, “Seán transformed the whole Irish music scene. But I think the impossibility of reconciling his two gifts, as a composer in a classical vein and as an arranger of traditional music, was an enormous challenge, much as [the poet] Michael Hartnett struggled between writing in English and in Irish.”

Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains was a member of Ceoltóirí Chualann, the group formed by Ó Riada in 1960 that dramatically reinterpreted Irish music, with its orchestrated arrangements and its insistence on affording each player space within the arrangements. This was in stark contrast to the céilí bands of the day, where musicians were in competition with each other.

‘He was a genius, a fantastic brain and a bit of a show-off,” Moloney says with a laugh. “He was so colourful and charismatic. What turned me on to him was Mise Éire and his brilliant arrangement of tunes such as Róisín Dubh . I just loved the way he treated them. I wasn’t satisfied with the céilí band thing either, but maybe he was a little too hard on them. I did disagree with the use of accordions, though. I thought they were too brash, and always out of tune with themselves. Seán was a true traditionalist at heart, and he made a great contribution to the revival of traditional music. He’s been criticised for paying such attention to arranging tunes and putting them into harmonies, but I never disagreed with what he was at.”

For Ó Súilleabháin, the Ó Riada legacy is tangible throughout traditional music today. “In his work with traditional musicians – the actual embodied tradition where the musician came with the music – he was, in my opinion, post-modern in his approach and thinking,” Ó Súilleabháin says. “He was part of a rebalancing of the creative process which had increasingly viewed the performer – musician, actor, dancer, builder, etc – as a craftsperson, as against the creative high ground of the literate artist: composer, playwright, choreographer, architect. The subversive impact of this turn-about is still working itself through the system on all sorts of levels, largely with a refreshing impact. His legacy, to my mind, is one of a wind of inspiration rather than any one identifiable rock of achievement.

“This is why it is so difficult for people who existed or exist outside his psychic domain to understand what all the fuss was about. The best way into Ó Riada remains the poems written about him: Heaney’s In Memoriam Seán Ó Riada , Kinsella’s A Selected Life and Vertical Man, Montague’s Ó Riada’s Farewell, among others.”

Antoine Ó Coileáin of Gael Linn, on whose label most of Ó Riada’s traditional-music recordings were released, is unequivocal in his belief that his legacy is secure. “I really think he saw into the soul of what the Irish psyche is,” says Ó Coileáin. “His concept of the Irish nation is one that I can relate to, very much. In particular, the historical film scores, Mise Éire and Saoirse , are deeply moving, and capture the quintessential spirit of Ireland.

“And I think that’s why he left an enduring legacy. He also had a kinetic energy that set something in motion that has rolled on through the generations. We can follow the thread through so many groups from the 1970s onwards: from The Bothy Band and Horslips to Relativity. I believe that he was the guiding force, the unseen hand on the shoulder for a lot of those people, so that in a way what we witness today as the thriving state of Irish music is due in very large part to the influence of Ó Riada. He dug deep into the roots of what makes us Irish and inspired tremendous confidence in ourselves. He achieved so much in his short life. He was very much ahead of his time.”

Féile na Laoch/The Festival of Heroes, a celebration of Ó Riada’s legacy, runs in Cúil Aodha, Co Cork, until Monday; feilenalaoch.com

Essential listening: Ó Riada recordings

Mise Éire (Gael Linn)

Ó Riada sa Gaiety (Gael Linn)

Ceol An Aifrinn 1 Aifreann 2 (Gael Linn)


Vertical Man (Claddagh Records)

Seoda an Riadaigh: The Essential Collection (Gael Linn)

Why Seán Ó Riada is Irish music's pop icon - The Irish Times - Sat, Oct 01, 2011

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

IFNY – Irish Film New York showcases quirky, brilliant Irish talent

In any given year, the graph of Irish culture in the U.S. is skewed disproportionately towards the month of March, offering us more options around St Patrick’s Day than any of us could possibly attend, followed by swift decline in excitement when that month is over.
This year is different: Imagine Ireland, a celebration of Irish culture across the full spectrum of the arts, spoils us for choice for the full twelve months of the year, offering music, dance, film and theatre, not just in major coastal cities, but across the country. And now, as the autumn schedule unfolds in these parts, fans of Irish film are treated to a new festival that aspires to become an annual event in NYC.
At the end of the month, Irish Film New York offers a broad range of contemporary Irish features, from drama and documentary to comedy, starring household names and actors who soon will be.
The festival is the brainchild of Niall McKay, a Wicklow native who comes to town from the West Coast with a reputation for getting things done. McKay is the founder and director of San Francisco Irish Film Festival, an event that has been a highlight of the Cali-Irish calendar for more than a decade. McKay recently relocated to NYC, and in an impressively short space of time has put together a three-day salute to the best of current Irish cinema.
The series opens on Friday, Sept. 30, with “Knuckle”, Ian Palmer’s documentary about the brutal sport of bare-knuckle boxing in the Irish Traveller community. Palmer’s cameras followed rival clans for more than a decade to capture the bruises and the glory of their illegal backstreet bouts, and the big money changing hands on the bloody outcome. This underground sport was showcased, in fictional form, by Brad Pitt in Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch,” but Palmer’s “Knuckle” is the real deal.
In lighter vein, Marion Quinn’s “32A” is a coming-of-age dramedy set in Dublin in the 1970s. The title refers to both the lead character’s burgeoning womanhood and her bus route into town in search of devilment. Marion, sibling of a formidable family of filmmakers that includes actor Aidan, director Paul, and cinematographer Declan Quinn, captures the look and feel of Dublin at that time. Her film will appeal tremendously to nostalgists of pre-boom, pre-bust Ireland (and these days, that’s everybody).
The laborious process of raising money to finance a film often results in a director’s theme passing its sell-by date before the film is finished, but Darragh Byrnes’ droll comedy “Parked” is right up-to-the-minute on Ireland’s current economic plight.
The film centers on the travails of returning emigrant, Fred Daly, who lands back in Ireland friendless, broke, and reduced to living in his car. Despondent about the turn things have taken, Fred is cajoled by a fellow car park dweller into giving life and love another try. Colm Meaney, one of a handful of Irish actors always worth the price of admission, plays the hapless lead character, and Finnish actress Milka Ahlroth his love interest. An Irish-Finnish co-production, ‘Parked” was well received at the Helsinki Film Festival.

IFNY – Irish Film New York showcases quirky, brilliant Irish talent

Monday, 26 September 2011

Ever-growing Banjo Burke Festival returns to the Catskills

This year the “Irish Alps” celebrates the fifth annual Banjo Burke Festival, which will be held in East Durham, New York over Columbus Day Weekend, October 7-10. The gathering offers an opportunity to enjoy traditional Irish music, dance and hospitality amidst the beautiful fall foliage of Greene County’s Catskills.

The Banjo Burke Memorial Fund is a public charity founded to honor the memory of the late Joe “Banjo” Burke, a brilliant musician, singer and collector of songs who was also a well-known hurler in his native Kilkenny and at Gaelic Park.

The Fund helps to support Parkinson’s research, as well as Irish traditional arts and sports. The Banjo Burke Festival is the main event on the Fund’s schedule, and has grown into an amazing tribute to a man who was devoted to traditional music, song, and sport.

This year as always the festival will feature performances by gifted Irish musicians, singers, and dancers across the weekend. Various workshops will also be offered, giving aspiring and accomplished musicians alike a chance to study with the experts.

Bridget Burke, who was married to Joe for 22 years before he passed away in 2003, is one of the dynamos behind the festival and a member of the board of directors for the charity. She spoke with The Irish Emigrant, sharing her excitement about the upcoming weekend.

“Our festival is different, it’s not like some of the larger festivals,” Bridget said. “It’s small and intimate, with a great focus on traditional music.”

Those looking for a festival focused strictly on traditional music and song will find exactly that at the Banjo Burke Festival. The weekend will feature continuous performances at all participating local houses, offering fantastic traditional atmospheres whilst keeping all in attendance warm and dry.

“All of our events will take place indoors, so no one has to worry about the weather,” Bridget continued. “Our venues are smaller and more intimate - the festival is a grouping of smaller events in different houses, so there’s more of an ambiance, a closer interaction with the performers.”

Speaking of performers, those bringing their skills to the area over the weekend include [deep breath]: Brian Conway, John Nolan, Aine Meenaghan, John Whelan, Pauline Conneely, John Walsh, Rose Conway Flanagan, Joy Grimes, The Pride of Moyvane Céili Band (Margie Mulvihill, John Reynolds, Felix Dolan, Jimmy Kelly), Hearts Content (Tom Dunne, Linda Hickman, Iris Nevins), Ceol na gCroí Céilí Band (John Nolan, Linda Hickman, Brendan Fahey), Pat Kane, The Jameson Sisters, Lawson, and more. On top of this fabulous lineup, many surprise guests are also set to pop along, both on Saturday and Sunday.

“The workshops will also be small,” Bridget said, stressing the added value of such intimate gatherings for those eager to learn and improve. “Musicians will get far more attention from the teacher; it’s a wonderful opportunity for learning. Not only are there music workshops, there will be Céilí workshops, as well as set dancing.”

The organizers promise that even if attendees have only been onlookers to this point, know nothing about Céilí, or have tried it but still feel unsure of the steps, the classes will open up a whole new world to them.

Instructor Pat Kane is vastly experienced at teaching groups with mixed ability levels, and will pull in beginners whilst still challenging those with more experience. He has been dancing Céilí since the 1970s, and has been teaching Céilí at parties and festivals and as an artist in residence at schools in the Twin Tiers area of western New York and Pennsylvania for many years.

Ron Bruschi and Marie Newman will teach set dances, including pointers on footwork. This year’s festival will also feature conversational Irish classes, a new addition which will round out the Irish cultural experience perfectly.

If you would like to contribute to the legacy of the inimitable Joe “Banjo” Burke whilst learning more about Irish music, language, and tradition, head up to the Catskills this Columbus Day weekend and experience a different type of festival which mixes the best of performance, education and friendship.

For more information about the Banjo Burke Memorial Fund, festival registration, fees and the full festival schedule, visit JoeBanjoBurke.org.

The Irish Emigrant - Ever-growing Banjo Burke Festival returns to the Catskills

Friday, 8 July 2011

Almonte Celtfest returns this weekend, Promoting Celtic culture in the Valley

EMC Events - Celtfest is coming up this weekend (July 8-10), and offers more fun and excitement for its 15th year.

"This year's event literally is bigger and better," says Jim Mountain, Almonte Celtfest Organizing Committee. "It is a tribute to all the performers, volunteers and supporters who have made Celtfest possible over the past 15 years."

Beginning Friday night and running through Sunday, Almonte's annual celebration features three jam-packed days of Celtic art, music and song, language and culture. The event takes place in "one of the best natural amphitheatres in Canada - Gemmill Park," as well as Almonte's Old Town Hall.

"Come and celebrate with us the great traditional and contemporary music, song and dance of the Ottawa Valley region," says Mountain. "Discover your inner Celt!"

He notes nearly 200 performers will entertain residents and visitors during the festival.

With Celtfest's growing popularity, musicians and bands desire to make the festival's playbill, and apply for the opportunity to travel and perform here.

Although Celtfest runs rain or shine, Mountain hopes Mother Nature cooperates.

"If the weather is perfect, we can expect more than 5,000 visitors," he says.

The Almonte Celtfest Organizing Committee sees the occasion as a regional destination event, which is "fully" backed by the Town of Mississippi Mills and the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program (Department of Canadian Heritage). In addition, more than 60 local businesses lend support.

Once again, this year's Masters of Ceremony are Reg Gamble and Terry-Lynn Mahusky.

Pub night

Almonte Celtfest Pub Night is back Friday, July 8, and from 8 p.m. until close, area pubs and restaurants will feature live entertainment.

In Almonte, Corkery Road, - a four-piece Celtic band that specializes in high-energy, infectious and traditional music - performs at the Barley Mow, and Les mots dits Anglais is at the Naismith Sports Pub. Beginning at 7 p.m., Irish harpist Clare Dwyer entertains at the Heirloom Café.

Carleton Place's Ballygiblins and St. James Gate (Cratur) will also keep patrons thoroughly amused.

Catch Montreal-based group Salty Dog, playing Celtic folk music with a distinctively 'Maritime' flavour, at JR's Downstairs Pub Saturday night (July 9).

Gemmill Park

At the Almonte Old Town Hall Saturday, July 9, Celtfest (partnered with the Ottawa Valley School of Traditional Music and Mississippi Mills Musicworks) offers a number of workshops - Irish fiddle (Matt Pepin), Cape Breton fiddle (Don Fletcher), piano accompaniment (Jim Hunter), bodhran drum (Alistair Dennett), tin whistle and Irish flute (Chuck Quick) and Irish harp (Clare Dwyer).

Each workshop, running from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., costs $20.

Early in the day, visitors to the Almonte Farmers' Market can catch the sounds of The Barley Shakers.

There is no admission charge for Celtfest's main stage performances at Gemmill Park, however, donations will be accepted. Organizers ask that no pets be brought to the event.

Commencing at 2:00 pm and ending at dusk, Saturday's lineup is as follows: The Cape Breton Fiddlers (2:15 p.m.), The Boxty Band (3:15 p.m.), The Barley Shakers (4:10 p.m.), Julie Fitzgerald & Friends (5:05 p.m.), Brandy N Port (6 p.m.), Wade Foster and doubleback (6:55 p.m.), Salty Dog (7:50 p.m.) and The Rogues (8:45 p.m.) who in 2010 won a "battle of the Celtic bands" event over 64 other bands in the USA.

According to Mountain, Celtfest also features outstanding food and refreshments, and excellent artisans.

"There's also a Celts children's area with face painting and games," he adds.

Day three

On Sunday, July 10, Celfest commences with the Fiddle Mass at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

From noon until 6 p.m., the action starts back up in Gemmill Park. Main Stage entertainment is as follows: Monday Night Fiddlers (12 p.m.), Les mots dits Anglais (12:40 p.m.), Valley Heritage Radio's Dai Bassett (1:15 p.m.), Triple Trouble (1:45 p.m.), Corkery Road (2:25 p.m.), Heather Dale Band (3:20 p.m.), the Celtfest Friends tribute to the 15th Anniversary (4:25 p.m.) and at 5 p.m. The Rogues.

The O'Connell Acoustic Session Tent is a huge draw, says Mountain.

"It's a huge jam session," he adds. "People just come for it. It's like a community coming together, and is a true reflection of this area."

Award

Danny O'Connell Memorial Award, established in 2004, is owned and administered by the Community Foundation of Ottawa, which provides a cash award annual to a traditional fiddler under the age of 25.

"The award will be given out on stage Sunday," says Mountain.

Mississippi Mills Mayor John Levi will be speaking during the festival's opening ceremonies.

"The town is a huge support," says Mountain. "In addition, they helped us secure a Trillium grant."

For more information, please visit www.almonteceltfest.com

"Celtfest takes thousands of volunteer hours and a year to do it," says Mountain.

Almonte Celtfest returns this weekend, Promoting Celtic culture in the Valley - Events - By Tara Gesner Almonte/Carleton Place Local Community News

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Saline Celtic Festival Offers Great Music Line-Up

Cathie RyanCover of Cathie Ryan
“You can’t swing a cat without hitting a fiddler,” is a fact at the July 9 Saline Celtic Festival, according to entertainment chair Sheila Graziano.

Two high school fiddle groups – Fiddlers ReStrung from Saline, and The Tecumseh Fiddlers – will launch the day on the Red Dragon Stage.

The Tecumseh Fiddlers are directed by Saline High School grad Amy Feldcamp Marr. One of the original members of the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic, she played with that group at the first Saline Celtic Festival.

“Amy has established, from scratch, the entire orchestra program in the Tecumseh Schools, and started this fiddle group four years ago to give to the Tecumseh community some of the riches she gleaned from her own experiences in Saline,” Graziano says.

The high school fiddlers will be followed by Blue Fiddle, featuring Tom Ware on fiddle; and a performance by the current (and youngest ever) U.S. Open Scottish Fiddle Champion, Maura Shawn Scanlin. Fiddler Matt Mancuso, a former lead fiddler for Lord of the Dance, plays with The Cathie Ryan Band; Cape Breton fiddler Dan MacDonald is part of North Atlantic Drift; and fiddlers Devin Shepherd and Rose Duffy are one-third of the band Chicago Reel. Local fiddler Brad Battey will play for the CommonWealth Dance Collective.

“Now that’s a lot of fiddles,” Graziano says.

The festival’s headliners are The Cathie Ryan Band, Chicago Reel, North Atlantic Drift, and Blue Fiddle.

Blue Fiddle’s sound draws from Irish, bluegrass, folk, roots, jazz, and polka. Formed in 2004, the Arkansas-based acoustic trio comprises multi-instrumentalists and award-winning songwriters Joe Hamilton, Tom Ware and John Lindquist.

Beth Patterson, who will host the Mr. Pretty Legs In Kilt contest Friday evening before entertaining the pub crowd, will host the Red Dragon Stage on Saturday, and perform throughout the afternoon and evening. The multi-instrumentalist is primarily a player of the eight and ten stringed Irish bouzoukis.

Irish American Cathie Ryan had a seven-year tenure as lead singer of Cherish the Ladies. The Detroit native has released four critically acclaimed CDs on Shanachie Records and is featured on more than 40 compilations of Celtic music.

Chicago Reel performs traditional Irish music, with two fiddles, banjo, button box, piano and vocals and songs rooted in the Sean Nos (old style) tradition.

Dan MacDonald, Ross Griffiths and Brian Taheny from North Atlantic Drift play Cape Breton fiddle, Sligo fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, Uilleann pipes, Highland pipes, whistles and bodhran. The three will also teach workshops on the Friday evening.

Bryan Kelso Crow, host of the Brecon Stage and well known as the host and producer of NPR’s Celtic Connections radio show, will perform with Mike Shanahan as The Celtic Connections Band.

“We’re very excited to have Road Kilt, our ‘house’ Celtic rock band return for Friday’s Pub night,” Graziano says. “Based in Washtenaw County, the group includes two alumni of Saline High School: fiddler Jessie Nieves, and my son Ezra. It’s an all new show with original material – these folks have been busy this past year.”

Other local acts include Blackthorn, Ealain Ceime Irish Dance School, and Ann Arbor Morris.

“Once again, I’m overwhelmed at the quality and variety of performers who will be gracing our stages,” Graziano says. “Our musicians are from around North America as well as from across the pond, representing music from Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton and the United States. Always eager to involve the public, there are plenty of hands-on – and feet-on – activities both Friday evening and Saturday. It’s part of my mission to offer opportunities for people to get involved and inspired. For those who prefer to simply listen and watch, there will be 12 solid hours of stage activity to enjoy!

“My heartbeat hastens every time I think about how cool this fest is going to be. I have ‘audience envy’ – I wish I could sit and listen and watch all day rather than running around like a crazy person making sure everything is OK.”

The July 9 festival, running from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., also will feature jousting knights, clan encampments, living history reenactments, pipe bands, weaving demonstrations, sheepdogs, rugby games, an Irish Song and Dance competition, food and drink, Celtic merchandise, Highland athletics, and Millie the Mill Pond Monster. Festivalgoers can take part in a “Celtic Survivor” contest, or the Haggis Hurl, Celtic Clobber or Golf Chip.

Tickets for the July 8 Pub Night at Mill Pond Park are $5 at the gate. Tickets at the gate on July 9 are $5 for ages 13 to 17; $15 for adults; $10 for seniors and veterans. Active military, and children 12 and under are free. After 8 p.m., the cost is $5. Adult tickets are $10 when purchased online.

Tickets may also be purchased in advance at various locations in Saline; at the City Hall office counter; and at the Celtic Festival Office in City Hall.

For more information visit www.salineceltic.org.

Saline Celtic Festival Offers Great Music Line-Up - Saline-Milan, MI Patch

Saline Celtic Festival Offers Great Music Line-Up

“You can’t swing a cat without hitting a fiddler,” is a fact at the July 9 Saline Celtic Festival, according to entertainment chair Sheila Graziano.

Two high school fiddle groups – Fiddlers ReStrung from Saline, and The Tecumseh Fiddlers – will launch the day on the Red Dragon Stage.

The Tecumseh Fiddlers are directed by Saline High School grad Amy Feldcamp Marr. One of the original members of the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic, she played with that group at the first Saline Celtic Festival.

“Amy has established, from scratch, the entire orchestra program in the Tecumseh Schools, and started this fiddle group four years ago to give to the Tecumseh community some of the riches she gleaned from her own experiences in Saline,” Graziano says.

The high school fiddlers will be followed by Blue Fiddle, featuring Tom Ware on fiddle; and a performance by the current (and youngest ever) U.S. Open Scottish Fiddle Champion, Maura Shawn Scanlin. Fiddler Matt Mancuso, a former lead fiddler for Lord of the Dance, plays with The Cathie Ryan Band; Cape Breton fiddler Dan MacDonald is part of North Atlantic Drift; and fiddlers Devin Shepherd and Rose Duffy are one-third of the band Chicago Reel. Local fiddler Brad Battey will play for the CommonWealth Dance Collective.

“Now that’s a lot of fiddles,” Graziano says.

The festival’s headliners are The Cathie Ryan Band, Chicago Reel, North Atlantic Drift, and Blue Fiddle.

Blue Fiddle’s sound draws from Irish, bluegrass, folk, roots, jazz, and polka. Formed in 2004, the Arkansas-based acoustic trio comprises multi-instrumentalists and award-winning songwriters Joe Hamilton, Tom Ware and John Lindquist.

Beth Patterson, who will host the Mr. Pretty Legs In Kilt contest Friday evening before entertaining the pub crowd, will host the Red Dragon Stage on Saturday, and perform throughout the afternoon and evening. The multi-instrumentalist is primarily a player of the eight and ten stringed Irish bouzoukis.

Irish American Cathie Ryan had a seven-year tenure as lead singer of Cherish the Ladies. The Detroit native has released four critically acclaimed CDs on Shanachie Records and is featured on more than 40 compilations of Celtic music.

Chicago Reel performs traditional Irish music, with two fiddles, banjo, button box, piano and vocals and songs rooted in the Sean Nos (old style) tradition.

Dan MacDonald, Ross Griffiths and Brian Taheny from North Atlantic Drift play Cape Breton fiddle, Sligo fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, Uilleann pipes, Highland pipes, whistles and bodhran. The three will also teach workshops on the Friday evening.

Bryan Kelso Crow, host of the Brecon Stage and well known as the host and producer of NPR’s Celtic Connections radio show, will perform with Mike Shanahan as The Celtic Connections Band.

“We’re very excited to have Road Kilt, our ‘house’ Celtic rock band return for Friday’s Pub night,” Graziano says. “Based in Washtenaw County, the group includes two alumni of Saline High School: fiddler Jessie Nieves, and my son Ezra. It’s an all new show with original material – these folks have been busy this past year.”

Other local acts include Blackthorn, Ealain Ceime Irish Dance School, and Ann Arbor Morris.

“Once again, I’m overwhelmed at the quality and variety of performers who will be gracing our stages,” Graziano says. “Our musicians are from around North America as well as from across the pond, representing music from Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton and the United States. Always eager to involve the public, there are plenty of hands-on – and feet-on – activities both Friday evening and Saturday. It’s part of my mission to offer opportunities for people to get involved and inspired. For those who prefer to simply listen and watch, there will be 12 solid hours of stage activity to enjoy!

“My heartbeat hastens every time I think about how cool this fest is going to be. I have ‘audience envy’ – I wish I could sit and listen and watch all day rather than running around like a crazy person making sure everything is OK.”

The July 9 festival, running from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., also will feature jousting knights, clan encampments, living history reenactments, pipe bands, weaving demonstrations, sheepdogs, rugby games, an Irish Song and Dance competition, food and drink, Celtic merchandise, Highland athletics, and Millie the Mill Pond Monster. Festivalgoers can take part in a “Celtic Survivor” contest, or the Haggis Hurl, Celtic Clobber or Golf Chip.

Tickets for the July 8 Pub Night at Mill Pond Park are $5 at the gate. Tickets at the gate on July 9 are $5 for ages 13 to 17; $15 for adults; $10 for seniors and veterans. Active military, and children 12 and under are free. After 8 p.m., the cost is $5. Adult tickets are $10 when purchased online.

Tickets may also be purchased in advance at various locations in Saline; at the City Hall office counter; and at the Celtic Festival Office in City Hall.

For more information visit www.salineceltic.org.

Saline Celtic Festival Offers Great Music Line-Up - Saline-Milan, MI Patch

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Paul Keating | Catskills Irish Arts Week | The Green Hills of the Catskills | Cultural Conversation by Earle Hitchner - WSJ.com

When Paul Keating became artistic director of the Catskills Irish Arts Week in November 2003, he knew its coming 10th anniversary as a weeklong summer school for Irish traditional music and dance represented a rare opportunity. "It was a chance to further establish the school and enhance its programming," he recently recalled over the phone from his home in Hillsdale, N.J. "So I increased the instructional classes and expanded the rental of classrooms in a nearby elementary school that doubled the space for teaching." Mr. Keating also found additional funding sources, hired a lawyer to handle visa applications for overseas artists, refined the live sessions of Irish music so that they'd be more comfortable for performers and listeners alike, and scheduled music lectures for each weekday and more CD launches throughout the week. "I wanted it to be as good as it could be," he said.

The 17th annual Catskills Irish Arts Week will be held from July 10 to 16 in East Durham, N.Y., and the artists Mr. Keating has hired to teach and perform there attest to how successfully he's accomplished his goal during the past eight years of his tenure. "It certainly is one of the biggies of Irish music summer schools each year and is part of the working musician's calendar of choice," noted John Carty, a renowned fiddler and banjoist living in Boyle, Ireland, who will be teaching at CIAW for the second time. "You hear people talking about Willie Week, the Catskills and Drumshanbo in the same breath," Mr. Carty added, referring to Ireland's Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay and Joe Mooney Summer School for Irish Music in Drumshanbo.

To Myron Bretholz, a gifted player and teacher of the bodhran (a hand-held Irish frame drum) who lives in Baltimore and was CIAW artistic director in 2001, prestige alone doesn't explain its full appeal. "For many folks, CIAW provides them with more Irish traditional music, dance, songs and crafts in one concentrated week than they're likely to hear and see during the other 51 weeks of the year," he said.

Paul Keating | Catskills Irish Arts Week | The Green Hills of the Catskills | Cultural Conversation by Earle Hitchner - WSJ.com:

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