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Audio, Audios, Music

“Scatter the Light”—An Interview with Fiddler Eileen Ivers


Premier Irish fiddler Eileen Ivers has released a stunning new album, “Scatter the Light.” We recently spoke with her about the album, the uplifting messages behind each of the tracks, and the uncanny timing of the album’s hopeful, empowering outlook.

Irish Philly: So what inspired you to compose this new album, Scattered the Light?

Eileen: Sort of various things. It came slowly, as an extension I think of even the last record I did, which was called “Beyond the Bog Road,” which really looked at Irish music and its journey, interacting with other roots elements and really forming the roots of Americana music and bluegrass and French Canadian. So it was a very in-depth record. And then after the record came out and all the research and just the touring with that, I started writing more in a certain vein and realized it was all sort of connected with this very upbeat, positive attitude. And I think also coming out of our joyful Christmas shows, I noticed that there was a wonderful sentiment that was happening when those shows would occur, which I loved. And I remember thinking to myself, why can’t this be carried through the year? This feeling of optimism and joy and really looking for those moments? And that’s when the penny dropped, so to speak.

And I felt, you know what, this is a way to connect the dots. And anytime I do a CD, I think I maybe sometimes overthink it because it does take me a little while between projects, but I think it’s such a major statement when you do release a brand-new piece of work like this because it doesn’t come lightly. And I really try to be very thoughtful about it. In short, it really was all of these tracks linking together in a very thematic way, which made sense, which made a statement. And therefore I did call it “Scatter the Light.”

Irish Philly: Well it’s funny that you should mention overthinking it. Because it didn’t come across that way. It really came across as more from the heart than from the head is if there was no conscious decision-making behind it at all, except that you’re going from your soul and your heart.

Eileen: Thank you. No, it’s funny, it really was happening in that way. But when you start to look at a collection of tunes in the body of work, then you, it’s funny, I realized, wow, there is this theme that ran through it, which is the thoughtful part I think of it. But the knee jerk reaction was interesting where I was just writing these tunes. It started with “Shine,” which is the lead track. And also feeling like I wanted those two gospely, faith-filled songs as part of this. And then these tunes just kept coming. “Road Trip.” very quickly. “Hold My Hand” came in a shot. It was literally looking at this picture—and again, heart took over and those words just came right out. And so it is interesting how music does come at different times in people’s lives and thankfully, this did all come and it’s a record I’m super proud of. Continue Reading

Music

Online Concerts Bring Comfort, Even if Only Virtually

Usually, the days and weeks surrounding St. Patrick’s Day are cause for great celebration and jubilation, all in the spirit of being Irish—even if you aren’t a drop of Irish. This time of year is also like Christmas for many local Irish pubs and musicians alike. Now, of course, it’s different. Countless watering holes are feeling the effects of closings and cancellations, as are many local musicians and bands who are losing income hand over fist due to canceled gigs.

Some acts, like John Byrne, Jamison, The Shantys and Oakwyn, offered live streaming concerts during St. Patrick’s Week, perhaps to maintain their own sanity and to help bolster the spirits of their fellow humans. Other Philly Irish musicians and bands followed suit, such as Ray Coleman, Neil Mac Thiarnan, Shelly Beard Santore, Brian Patrick McGuire, Shaun Durnin of Galway Guild, Bob Hurst of the Bogside Rogues, Joshua Mateleski of The Natterjacks, Mike LeCompt, Mike and Callie, Megan Glanz of The Natterjacks, Bill Donohue, Jr., Kevin Sullivan, Joe Mullin, and many others, who offered concerts on their various social media pages, with more shows scheduled as the week and quarantine continues.

The Dropkick Murphys, who we have covered extensively over the years, put on a free live streaming concert straight from their hometown of Boston. The two-hour event, filmed from what seemed to be a small club and offered via their website and social media accounts, boasted a steady rate of 130,000 viewers during the entire show. The rockers, some now in their 50s—as front man Ken Casey pointed out—were not short of energy or excitement, even in the absence of a live crowd. Continue Reading

Audio, Music, People

Still Much to Celebrate: Celtic Woman’s Máiréad Carlin Reflects on New Album

Celtic Woman was scheduled to perform in Philadelphia toward the end of this month, but then—well, you know what happened. With the onset of the novel coronavirus, the tour was canceled, and so went our latest chance to take in one of the biggest and longest-lasting groups in world Irish entertainment.

Fortunately, we now have a new CW album: “Celebration: 15 Years of Music & Magic,” featuring the 15 performers who have comprised Celtic Woman over the years.

We recently interviewed Máiréad Carlin, a seven-year member of Celtic Woman from Northern Ireland, about the abrupt end to the tour, but—more to the point—the new album’s capacity for comfort in trying times.

Irish Philly: We were looking forward to seeing you in Philadelphia. Quite a disappointment, but understandable circumstances, I’m sure.

Máiréad: Absolutely. I mean, my goodness, I think it was a shock for everybody. The news trickled through the world. I think over the few weeks that we were out there and we genuinely didn’t realize the magnitude of what was about to come. And we really only find out ourselves the day before we announced that we were going to go home and have to postpone the tour. It was such a disappointment because for us, this is a celebration. Continue Reading

Music

A Conversation with the Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney

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. Continue Reading

Arts, Music

Caitríona O’Leary Sings Ón Dá Thaobh

Caitríona O’Leary did not conceive of the concept to translate the music of Joni Mitchell into Irish, that idea originated with the poet and writer Liam Carson who is the founder and director of IMRAM, the Irish Language Literature Festival. She did not do the initial translation of the lyrics from English to Irish (although she has done so on other projects), that “transcreation” was brought about by poet Gabriel Rosenstock.

But it is the Donegal born singer who has infused the words with her ethereal voice and her passionate rendering of the Irish interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s classic song, “Both Sides Now.”

In her vibrant and eclectic career, Caitríona has performed music that spans multiple genres, a variety of time periods and several languages; it’s absolutely instinctual that she was drawn to singing Joni Mitchell in Irish, “Ón Dá Thaobh.”

“She’s such an amazing songwriter. Her music just bowls me over, it really does. I can’t sit through all of the album ‘Blue’ without just being an emotional mess, reduced to tears every time. It’s so unique, actually, she has a voice all her own – her singing voice, but also a poetic voice. She just touches on subjects and brings everything to life, she brings a whole story to life in just a few words. I think she is absolutely remarkable, so it was a total joy for me to immerse myself in her music and her songs, and to be part of the “transcreation” of them into Irish…that’s the word that Gabriel Rosenstock always uses. He doesn’t translate, he transcreates. Of course, he says that in Irish!” And, in Irish, that word is “trascruthu.” Continue Reading

Music, Photo Essays, Photos

Photo Essay: Hozier at The Met

Andrew John Hozier-Byrne—between us, known simply as Hozier—stopped by The Met Philly on his Wasteland Baby tour. 

The 29yearold folk rock singer from County Wicklow (UP WICKLOW!) is on the road supporting his second album, the tour’s namesake, with opening act Angie McMahon.   

Born to a blues drummer father and artist mother, the Trinity College graduate realized international and commercial success with his 2014 debut single, “Take Me to Church.” The popularity of the song was helped with a now iconic video featuring renowned ballet dancer Sergei Polunin which was directed by famed visionary, David LaChapelle and choreographed by Jade Hale-Christofi  Continue Reading

Music

A Dream Come True for Megan Ruby Walsh, Celtic Woman’s Newest Member

Like so many children of musicians, Megan Ruby Walsh, the newest member of the Celtic Woman cast, was destined to join the lyrically inclined ranks.

Both her parents were musicians. She was just 4 years old when her mother took her to a rehearsal of the local musical society. At that point, Walsh was hooked.

“Music just speaks to everyone,” Walsh said in a recent interview, “and I fell in love with it. I fell in love with singing. I fell in love with the feeling I got when I sang. I think that was because I grew up in a musical family where music was played every day, like when we were in the car, while mom was cooking, while dad was cooking—the music was playing all day. It just became such a big, big part of my life. I knew what I wanted to do when I was 4.”

And actually, to be more specific, Walsh’s first love was musical theater. She sang her first solo at age 7. It was “Tomorrow” from the musical “Annie.”

From that point on, there was no looking back. Continue Reading

Music, People

No Strings Attached: An Outpouring of Generosity for John Byrne Band Cellist Maura Dwyer

It was the first of November, the night the John Byrne Band hosted a release party for Byrne’s new CD, “A Shiver in the Sky,” at World Café Live.

Maura Dwyer, who plays both fiddle and cello for the band, had just gone offstage to the green room to warm up the violin. Before she did that, she had propped the cello up in a corner, which, she says, is usually a stable position. Suddenly, she heard the sound of guitarist Andy Keenan crying out in alarm onstage. That was followed by a resounding bang.

Long story short: Dwyer’s cello had tumbled off stage, breaking in two pieces.

John Byrne, who was also offstage, has a pretty fair idea how it happened.

“We were sound checking the drums,” Byrne explains. “I guess the vibrations from the kick drum (the bass drum) somehow did it. The cello went right off the stage. Nobody was even near it. None of us could believe it.” Continue Reading