Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Civic reception for Kilfenora band


CLARE COUNTY Council’s high-tech chamber last night provided a platform for the Kilfenora Céilí Band to showcase its talents.

In a forum that is more accustomed lately to hearing councillors quarrel over the growing size of potholes on the roads, the céilí band last night provided rich entertainment and some relief after the council’s recent battles with the floods and the freeze.

One of Ireland’s best-known Irish traditional music bands, the Kilfenora Céilí Band was last night being honoured by the county council after celebrating its centenary in 2009.

The céilí band, which includes a farmer, a carpenter, a social worker and a number of teachers from Co Clare, shared the limelight with music legends Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young at last year’s Glastonbury festival in England.

The band is made up of three fiddle players, two flute players, a pianist, an accordion player, a drummer, a banjo player and a concertina player.

The current line-up has been together by and large for 17 years under the leadership of John Lynch.

According to the mayor of Clare and Fine Gael councillor Tony Mulcahy: “In hosting a civic reception in honour of the Kilfenora Céilí Band, the council also is recognising the contribution of traditional Irish music artists and groups throughout Co Clare over the years to preserving a unique part of Irish culture and heritage.”

The founding of the Kilfenora Céilí Band has its origins in a fife and drum band which was based in the north Clare village of Kilfenora in the 1870s.

In the early days, the band’s engagements included house dances which later progressed to playing in local parochial halls and eventually venues far beyond the boundaries of the parish.

At last night’s civic reception, band leader John Lynch said: “I think that in granting the band a civic reception, Clare County Council is recognising Kilfenora’s unique style of music which has been nurtured through the different manifestations of the band since the flame was lit in 1909.”


Monday, 8 February 2010

Chieftains' Irish-Mexican music project is simpatico

By Edward Ortiz, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.
Feb. 7--The music of Mexico is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the legendary Irish band the Chieftains.

But Mexico is where this Dublin-based band has been living -- musically. In its soon-to-be released CD, "San Patricio," the group tastefully blends Irish and Mexican music.

The band will perform songs from "San Patricio" (due out March 9) at UC Davis' Mondavi Center as part of its monthlong U.S. tour.

"The reason this Celtic band is melding Irish and Mexican music has a lot to do with history," said Paddy Moloney who founded the Chieftains and plays Uilleann bagpipe and tin whistle.

"Over a year ago, I was doing a music project on the Civil War, and that's when I came across the history of the 'San Patricios,' " said Moloney, who will be joined on the Mondavi stage by fiddler Sean Keane, bodhran drum player, vocalist Kevin Conneff and flutist Matt Molloy.

The little-known San Patricio brigade fought for the United States under leader John Patrick Riley in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. The brigade was composed of recently arrived Irishmen.

"The San Patricios were not too happy about shooting Catholics," said Moloney. "Nor were Riley and his men happy to be under the command of American Protestant generals."

The members of the brigade were harshly treated and ostracized as Irish Catholics. They soon decided to follow their conscience and crossed the Rio Grande to fight on Mexico's side.

But things ended tragically for the San Patricios. Most were wiped out after making a last stand at the convent of Churabusco in Mexico City. Those who survived the battle were captured and executed.

The brigade is a celebrated chapter in Mexican history and an obscure footnote in Irish history. In the United States the brigade's soldiers were seen as traitors, and their rebel tale has mostly faded.

For Moloney, the story of the San Patricios became a metaphor for yearning and dreams lost, as well as for the commonality between Mexicans and the Irish.

Exploring the likeness of two musical cultures has been done before by the Chieftains, who plumbed the similarities of Irish and American roots music with the CD "Further Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions" in 2002.

But with the "San Patricio" project, the group is exploring dissimilar cultures. The project gained heavy traction over a year ago when Moloney visited Churabusco. He was in Mexico to record four artists for the CD. Once there, he realized he was falling down a music rabbit hole.

"That was when we came across other artists like Los Folkloristas," said Moloney. "My eyes were opened to Mexican music -- so much so that I could have put out at least four CDs of music."

And the result is a 19-track CD that Moloney co-produced with Ry Cooder, in which Mexican music bleeds into Irish music. Moloney tapped Los Tigres Del Norte, Lila Downs and Linda Ronstadt, among others, to get the job done.

"I spent a year and a half doing the 'San Patricio' project, and it was one of the most enjoyable I ever had as a musician," Moloney said. "It brought out every ounce of energy out of me."

On one track, Los Folkloristas, a long-standing champion of Latin American music based in Mexico City, perform with the Chieftains on the Mexican classic "La Golondrina." On another, Los Tigres Del Norte, the legendary nortena band from Sinaloa, Mexico, perform on the heartfelt "Cancion Mixteca."

Los Cenzontles, a Bay Area-based Mexican American folk-roots group, will perform with the Chieftains at Mondavi. The two bands were introduced by Cooder.

Recently, Los Cenzontles appeared with the Chieftains at a Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, Scotland. It was their first foray into performing in Europe.

"It was a bit of a leap of faith for the Chieftains to invite us to play with them," said Eugene Rodriguez, co-founder of Los Cenzontles and one of its guitarists.

"It's a real natural fit having Mexican and Irish music together," he said. As their performance unfolded, Rodriguez said, it became instantly apparent that Moloney was onto a great concept with the "San Patricio" project.

"The cultures share a lot in common. Both have had rocky histories, both have cultures that are resilient and buoyant, and both are Catholic countries," Rodriguez said.

"There's also a lot of crossover in the music, in the sense of mood and rhythm, and especially the 6/8 rhythms, which you find in mariachi music," said Rodriguez.

The music of the two countries also share a strong tradition of storytelling through music.

For Moloney, that became clear during the recording sessions with Los Tigres Del Norte.

"We got to talking about customs, and I told them about my grandmother who lived up in the mountains and how we'd go there on holidays where there was no electricity or running water, and she used oil lamps and there would be music and songs after work each night," Moloney said.

"And all the members of Los Tigres, they said this is exactly what they remember doing, too. So that's when it all really started to gel."


Call Bee arts critic Edward Ortiz, (916) 321-1071.


To see more of The Sacramento Bee, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sacbee.com/.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Paddy Keenan and Tommy O'Sullivan Live at Passionfruit

Paddy Keenan and Tommy O'Sullivan will play at the Passionfruit Theatre in Athlone on Friday February 12 2010

For more info, see www.passionfruittheatre.com

East meets West in traditional music-thon

If you are a follower of traditional Irish music, then this is an event not to be missed. Brainchild of well-known local traditional musician Richard Murray, this will be the first such event of its kind in Galway. Richard has enlisted the support of his friends and colleagues along the western seaboard and beyond to run a charity event, playing traditional music continuously for one full day in Galway hostelry, Tí Coilí, on Mainguard Street. Starting at 11am on Saturday Feb 13 the event will run until close on that night.

With the concept in mind all that was left for Richard was to recruit a charity to benefit from this fantastic event. This was quickly resolved when Richard heard the words of Adi Roche CEO Chernobyl Children’s Project Intl (CCPI), while she was speaking from Dublin Airport last Christmas as she welcomed 70 children from Belarus to Ireland for the Christmas holiday. He was so moved by those words that it brought him to get in touch with Camp Claddagh about the idea of the Music-thon in order to raise funds to ensure a holiday for 22 children in Galway in July of this year.

Needless to say Camp Claddagh were delighted to be associated with the event and very thankful to all those who are offering their support to this very worthwhile fundraiser.

Camp Claddagh is a group of volunteers who came together five years ago and established the Galway based outreach group of CCPI with the principal aim being to bring children from the areas affected by the Chernobyl disaster, to Galway for a wonderful summer holiday. This has been successfully achieved, bringing over 150 children to Galway so far and their work continues as they move into their 2010 programme.

It costs approximately €500.00 to bring one child over to Galway for a holiday. These children not only receive very real health benefits from being removed from the radiated environment in which they live, for a month, but they also receive a ‘fun filled holiday of a life time’, in its very true sense, as in 99.9 per cent of the cases the holiday in Galway will be the one and only holiday the child will ever experience.

The work of Camp Claddagh could not continue without the support of people like Richard and his friends who are prepared to give so freely of their time and energy and for this, on behalf of the committee, but more importantly on behalf of the little children whose lives you will change for the better, Camp Claddagh thank everyone associated with the event most sincerely.

There will be no cover charge for the event. All that Richard and Camp Claddagh ask is that people donate as generously as they can to a voluntary collection on the day.

The line-up for the event is very impressive, with well known local musicians such as Barry Brady, Dominic Keogh, Ronan O Flaherty, Jonathon “ Banjo” Harty, Edel Fox and many more among those who will sit in on the session at some stage during the day.

Why not make a note of the event in your diary and call down to Tí Coilís on the day. Be assured that you will enjoy the music and at the same time provide support for Camp Claddagh.

If interested in participating or filling a sponsorship card further details can be obtained from Richard Murray (087) 2502055 or Fiona Conneely, Camp Claddagh Outreach Group, (087) 2096374 or 091 574074.


Grab your instruments and head for West Kerry

LET it freeze, let it flood, let the rest of the country grind to a standstill, but deep in West Kerry preparations are already well underway for one event that just keeps gaining momentum, despite the nationwide doom and gloom. It's the five-day traditional music festival Scoil Cheoil an Earraigh, now in its sixth year, and already a firm fixture in any traditional music lover's calendar.

From February 17 to 21 the village of Ballyferriter is set to be gripped by traditional music fever, with visitors to the remote spot flocking to a host of classes on the harp, accordion, bodhrán, banjo/mandolin, uilleann pipes, flute, concertina, whistle, fiddle, bagpipes, mouth organ, sean-nós singing, and sean-nós dancing. There'll also be master classes on the concertina, fiddle, accordion and tin whistle, and two concerts featuring some of Ireland's finest traditional musicians on Friday and Saturday, February 19 and 20 in Ballyferriter Church.

Deirdre Grainbhéal, Cillian Ó Briain, Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, Fergus Ó Flaitheartaigh, and Úna Ní Chíosáin are just some of the local musicians who'll be sharing their knowledge of West Kerry's rich musical heritage through the classes, while two of this year's special guests, Noel Hill and Tony Linnane, will be performing on Friday afternoon, February 19, at Tigh Bhric's.

Other events focusing on West Kerry's rich cultural heritage include an informal Irish language conversation group for anyone interested in adding to their cúpla focail, a lecture on the life and songs of Séamus Ó Muircheartaigh - An Spailpín Fánach – by Breandán Feiritéar and a historic walk led by local man Danny Sheehy.

Classes cost €5O per person and are aimed at adults and young players aged 10 years plus. A special ticket for €70 includes the cost of three days of classes, the Friday and Saturday night concerts, and lecture.

Tickets for the Friday and Saturday night concerts are €15 and will be available at the Scoil Cheoil an Earraigh official opening on Friday night, during registration, at the information desk in Óstán Ceann Sibéal, (which will be operating from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Thursday to Saturday), and at Siopa na Cille (opposite Ballyferriter church).

Bookings are now being taken for all classes. To book phone Niamh Ní Bhaoill or Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich on 087 9967501/086 8185964, or email eolas@scoilcheoil.com.

For further information on all events visit www.scoilcheoil.com.


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