The Chieftains, the powerhouse group that reawakened an interest in traditional Irish music 57 years ago, is headed back to the Kimmel Center on March 11 for their Irish Goodbye tour. What that means exactly is perhaps deliberately left unexplained. Does it mean we’ll never hear from the Chieftains live again? Or is there a hidden meaning altogether?
We recently chatted with the Chieftains leader Paddy Moloney to find out more about that subject, plans for the show, and to look back on more than half a century’s worth of Chieftains music-making.
Here’s what he had to say.
Irish Philly: Well, let me just jump right in here and ask about your return visit to the Kimmel Center and Philadelphia.
Paddy: One of my favorite cities is Philadelphia, I just absolutely love it. It’s magic altogether, it’s a great place to go.
Irish Philly: Well, I do know. The Kimmel Center is an especially great place to play.
Paddy: Oh the Kimmel, well the Kimmel to me is like an egg. And the people are up at the top of that egg looking down at the top of you. And everything just evolves—it’s brilliant. Coming back, I just absolutely adore the place. And we’ve been going there many times and always loved it, always loved the Kimmel. There are great people there, too.
Irish Philly: Yes. Well I have to tell you something. Several years ago, I was a drummer in a bagpipe band, and my band accompanied you guys.
Paddy: Great stuff.
Irish Philly: That was a real thrill for us, let me tell you.
Paddy: Well, we’re going to reenact the same thing again this year. With the march, “The Battle of San Patricio” and “The Andro” at the end, the people dancing around and all that. We’ve also got a choir, one of your local choirs joining in to do the songs we did on The Long Journey Home—Shenandoah, and the song that Elvis Costello wrote the words for, I did the music. And that was the anthem from The Long Journey Home. So, we have that as part of the show that’s going on.