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Music and Dance! Kevin McGillian Ceili Set for Saturday

Everyone who is anyone in the Philadelphia area traditional Irish music scene knows of, has met, or been influenced or encouraged by the late accordion player Kevin McGillian.

McGillian, born in County Tyrone, passed away April 1 at the age of 90. To say he is deeply missed is a vast understatement.

However, his music lives on this Saturday night as Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann’s Delaware Valley Chapter hosts its Kevin McGillian Ceili at the MacSwiney Club, 510 Greenwood Avenue in Jenkintown, Pa. Continue Reading

Audio, Music

Audio Podcast: Interview with Celtic Woman’s Máiréad Carlin

Celtic Woman’s Destiny World Tour is coming to Reading, Pa., June 18, 2016, at the Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading. If you’re willing to drive a little farther, you can also catch them at Eisenhower Auditorium in University Park the night before.

We interviewed singer Máiréad Carlin, one of the four current members of the troupe, which began in 2004 and took off from there.

Máiréad is classically trained, with a background in opera and folk music. She’s well known in her native Northern Ireland for many things, not the least of which is her duet with Glee’s Damian McGinty, singing Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run,” celebrating Derry’s designation as City of Culture in 2013.

She joined Celtic Woman in August of the same year.

We spoke to Máiréad about her career, about going Celtic Woman, and about music generally and what it means to her. We started by asking her: Why is the world still so enamored of Irish music and dance, more than 20 years after Riverdance.

Here’s what she had to say.

Music, Photos, Videos

Mick Moloney, Jimmy Keane and Robbie O’Connell in Concert

Longtime Philadelphia Ceili Group member Jim McGill shared an old  program with Mick Moloney before his concert with Robbie O’Connell and Jimmy Keane Saturday night at the Philadelphia Irish Center/Commodore Barry Club.

I didn’t get a look at it, but it was from the first time Mick played at the center, many years ago. It was a photo, of course, of a much younger and bushier Mick Moloney. O’Connell had a look at it and he drew laughs from the audience when he described Moloney as looking like “Sasquatch with a banjo.”

That’s kind of how the evening went. A concert with these three masters of the trade is an informal affair. They all had stories to tell—moonshine and the Tennessee World’s Fair figured prominently in one particularly quirky tale—and even though the three of them were up on stage in the bright lights and the rest of us were sitting in the ballroom in the dark, it felt like a much smaller room, with friends sharing gossip, a few well-worn tunes and a drink or two.

Better to show you than to tell you. So what we have is three videos and a small collection of photos from the concert. Hope you like them. Continue Reading

Music, News, People, Photos

Dropkick Murphys Welcome Vets Backstage

The Dropkick Murphy’s front man Ken Casey doesn’t just give his name to his charity, The Claddagh Fund—he gives his all. When DKM blew into town last weekend for a sold-out concert, part of its 20th anniversary tour, at The Electric Factory, Casey and crew carried a banner in the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade promoting the band and the charity, which raises money to help underfunded nonprofits in Boston and Philadelphia.

One of the Boston-born Casey’s pet projects is any organization that serves military veterans, so he met with some from one of the Claddagh Fund’s grantees, Healing Ajax, backstage before the show, where they mingled with fans who made donations to the fund to get into the meet-and-greet.

Healing Ajax is a peer support program in which veterans help other veterans adjust from the battlefield to the homefront. Many of the vets are young men from the Iraq and Afghanistan fronts who may be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, or other mental health issues. Continue Reading

Music, Videos

Video: The Next Gen Plays “Mairi’s Wedding”

Getting an early start on St. Patrick’s Day, the Next Generation youth Irish music group, accompanied by dancers from the Broesler School, gave a crowd-pleasing performance at the Garden State Discovery Museum.

We captured some video from the concert—an old favorite called “Mairi’s Wedding.”

Chris Brennan Hagy, Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley lead the group—as they have with dedication for years.

Audio, Music, News

Podcast: Here’s How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Without the Booze

It’s almost time for the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade. Sunday, March 13, will be here before you know it. It will also be time to celebrate at the 2nd Sober St. Patrick’s Day at WHYY studios at 6th and Race, immediately following the parade.

St. Patrick’s Day—which would include parade day—can sometimes serve as an excuse for people to drink till they fall down or get sick in the street. Some of them, including a fair number of Irish-Americans no doubt, believe boozing and carousing is what day is all about.

Really? Not necessarily. OK, party—but your party can still be lots of fun without the hooch. And if you want to drink in anything, drink in some of the fun, food, dance and some of the best Irish music you’ll hear anywhere at the Sober St. Patrick’s Day party—and we hasten to add, this is all G-rated family fun. By all means, bring the kiddies.

We spoke with Katherine Ball-Weir of the Irish cultural organization Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Delaware Valley Branch, who together with Frank Daly of American Paddy’s Productions and the great local Irish band Jamison, is working hard to get this party started. Continue Reading

Music, News

Good News RUNA Lovers–They’re Playing at Home!

These days, it’s not unusual for Shannon Lambert-Ryan and her RUNA band members to get recognized in the airport. “We’ll hear, ‘hey, aren’t you from RUNA,” says Lambert-Ryan a Philadelphia native. “We’ve had a lot of fun moments like that and they’ve been steadily increasing.”

One reason is that RUNA spends a lot of time in airports and on the road. They’ve criss-crossed the country, taking their unique brand of Celtic roots music from Canada to Florida, from New England to the Pacific Northwest, picking up fans all over whom they fondly call “RUNAtics.”

“In January we left two and a half feet of snow to head to Florida where it was 80 degrees,. It was bizarre,” says the singer, who founded the band with her Dublin-born husband, Fionan de Barra. Continue Reading

Music, News, People, Photos, Videos

On To 25 Years!

Some old favorites–Albannach, Screaming Orphans, Timlin & Kane, Searson, the Brigadoons, Jamison, the Hooligans–were back, but there were some new acts at this year’s Mid-Winter Scottish & Irish Festival. We saw Gabriel Donohue with Vonnie Quinn, the Mudmen, McLean Avenue and, while Brother wasn’t there, Angus Richardson and Drew Reid were and they joined Albannach on stage to make it Albannach Plus 2.

We sampled Scottish barbecue (pork and peat!), fish and chips, McDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes, bacon chocolate (yes, you read that right–it was good), Guinness (thanks Sean Crossan!) and, for the umpteenth year in a row, did not have haggis. (We tasted some in Bethlehem at Celtic Fest–we don’t like liver.) Continue Reading