A Sojourn Through Celtic Lands
Posted by suze72
Brian O’Donovan, the curator/radio personality of the weekly WGBH radio show A Celtic Sojourn, came to the Lowell Summer Music Series with a number of Celtic musicians to present A Celtic Sojourn Roots & Branches Festival. This turned out to be a fine evening at Boarding House Park as the rain never arrived.
Initially the show was to be moved indoors, but an improving forecast caused the Series to hold it outdoors and we were glad for it.
Although I am sure the format was ‘choreographed’, it felt free-flowing. The best known of the bands, Cherish the Ladies, were first to the stage after an introduction by O’Donovan. This was my first time seeing them, although I was familiar with them.
Celebrating their 30th year, Cherish the Ladies consists of Joanie Madden on whistle, flute and vocals; Mary Coogan on guitar; Mirella Murray on accordion; Maeve Flanagan on fiddle; and Kathleen Boyle on piano. They also had a Scottish singer with them, Hannah Rarity, who added her lovely voice to the other fine vocals.
Toward the end of their initial set of songs, a quartet of dancers (Cara Butler, Michael Boyle, Garrett Coleman, and Jason Oremus) came to the stage to delight the crowd. I have not seen Riverdance in person, but the dancing was similar to that well-known show. Leaping and whirling punctuated their lively performance throughout this show.
Matthew Byrne, a musician from Newfoundland, was next to the stage. Singing both songs he wrote as well as songs he interpreted, Byrne regaled us with his wonderful voice as well as his wit. He and Madden shared some moments of humor that carried through the show (Madden joked about having to marry him, despite the age difference).
Following Byrne was The McCarthy Family, who appeared to be familiar to many in the audience, and for good reason. Tommy McCarthy on fiddle and his wife Louise Costello on banjo and accordion own The Burren, an extremely popular Irish pub in Davis Square, Somerville that has presented excellent music for almost twenty years (stop in for a pint or a bite to eat). On this night they performed with their daughter, Rose McCarthy, on fiddle and nephew, Peader Giles, on uilleann pipes.
Last up and following The McCarthy Family was a traditional Irish band with one of the best, if not the best, band names I have heard – Socks in the Frying Pan! I wish one of them had explained how they came up with that!
A trio composed of Shane Hayes on accordion, Fiachra Hayes on fiddle, and Aodán Coyne on guitar, with all providing vocals, they play traditional tunes which they have updated. The Hayes brothers teased each other in a good-natured manner, while Coyne stood back and smiled.
Throughout the show, O’Donovan who MC’d the show came out from the wings to talk a bit about the musicians, Celtic music in general, and banter with the musicians (especially Madden whom he has known for the length of the band’s existence).
Once all the acts performed at least one number, the show became more loose with Byrne joining the Ladies, dancers coming to the stage, Boyle playing with The McCarthys, and all musicians and dancers creating the finale.
The music consisted of both traditional Celtic tunes and original tunes. I do not know enough about Celtic music to tell you the difference between jigs and reels, but both were played!
I enjoyed listening to the collaborations among the bands as well as the addition of the dancers at various points during the show. The vocal harmonies, of each group separately as well as together, were sublime. The harmonies of the instruments were fantastic. The show has a wonderful flow to it, something I imagine is due to both O’Donovan’s mastery at being an MC and the professionalism of the bands.
Thanks to the Series for bringing this show to Boarding House Park. It may not have been the best-attended show of the season, but I think everyone there thoroughly enjoyed the performances by these wonderful musicians and dancers. O’Donovan curates A Celtic Sojourn a couple of times each year so you can see one before they hopefully return to the Series!
About suze72I've loved the arts all my life... I go to a lot of concerts, take lots of photos and want to share them. Every once in a while I do something other than a concert, too. The Boston area is full of opportunities to indulge my passion - I'd like to help make it yours too!
Posted on August 24, 2015, in concert photos, concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged A Celtic Sojourn, Boarding House Park, boston, Brian O'Donovan, Celtic music, Cherish the Ladies, concert photos, concert review, Irish dancing, Lowell Summer Music Series, Matthew Byrne, music, Socks in the Frying Pan, The McCarthy Family. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.