Andrew John Hozier-Byrne—between us, known simply as Hozier—stopped by The Met Philly on his Wasteland Baby tour.
The 29–year–old 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.
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.
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.”
A standing room only crowd packed St. Malachy’s Church in North Philadelphia last Sunday for the annual concert by Mick Moloney and Friends concert to benefit to the exemplary church school.
That the church was so jammed should come as no surprise. This year’s concert, a memorial to longtime Moloney friend and accompanist, musical icon and dancer Eugene O’Donnell, featured an all-star cast, including Donie Carroll, Billy McComiskey, Haley Richardson, John Roberts, Jerry O’Sullivan, Niall O’Leary, Gerry Timlin, Seagda Coyle and Clare Horgan.
Moloney quipped that much of the show comes together at the last minute, sometimes without a lot in the way of rehearsal, but with such seasoned pros up on the altar stage, you’d never know it, as the group seamlessly transitioned from one set of tunes to the next.
We were there to take it all in. Check out our photo essay.
It’s a late Saturday afternoon at Paddy Whack’s Irish Sports Club, tucked away in a strip shopping center off Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philly.
Inside, fiddler C.J. Mills and frequent partner, singer-guitarist Seamus McGroary, are blazing away at a set of reels, playing for two little girls in sparkly dresses who are performing that day for Celtic Flame School of Irish Dance.
Suddenly, Mills leaps from the stage and climbs atop two high-top bar chairs, and plays away as if fiddling while poised inches away from the ceiling tiles is something he does all the time.
In fact, it is what he does all the time. He’s also renowned for jumping up and down while he plays on stage, as if he can’t contain the energy of the tune he’s cranking out. And he’s also known for playing with his electric fiddle propped behind his neck, which he does while he’s performing the balancing act on the chairs in Paddy Whack’s.
It took a while for him to learn how to play the fiddle version of a high wire act, but he loves doing it—and the audience loves that he does it.
The 2019 Philadelphia Ceili Group Irish Traditional Music & Dance Festival is over, but what a packed, fun-filled festival it was.
We showed you the Thursday night singers night last week, but that was just the beginning of a long weekend of tunes, high stepping, and workshops on how to do everything from play tin whistle to learn a bit of the Irish language to plumb the depths of your Irish heritage.
There was a dance exhibition by the Temple University Dance Team (go Owls!), along with a small orchestra of musicians from the area’s many traditional Irish music sessions, and a superb, intimate concert by piper Ivan Goff and fiddler Katie Linnane. There was a children’s story time, St. Brigid’s cross making, face painting, a hall full of Celtic and Irish vendors, and the kitchen kept on cranking out chow that had people going back for more.
If you were up for a pint or two, that was there, too.
Then, of course, there was the Saturday night finale concert in the ballroom, featuring singer Donie Carroll and Tony DeMarco and his band, the Atlantic Wave.
We have plenty of pictures, courtesy of Denise Foley and Jeff Meade.
The Philadelphia Ceili Group kicked off the 45th Annual Festival with its time-honored tradition of Singers Night. Hosted by Terry Kane (one half of the popular Jameson Sisters) and dedicated to the late Frank Malley, who was a driving force behind both Singers Night and the Festival itself, last night also brought poignant tributes to other beloved Irish Philadelphia musicians who have recently passed away.
The late Eugene O’Donnell, Kitty Kelly-Albrecht and Eugenia Brennan were all at the forefront throughout the evening, remembered in favorite songs and personal stories. Among the performers who took the stage were Ellen Tepper (the other half of the Jameson sisters) on the harp, Matt Ward, Rosaleen McGill, Jim McGill, Steve Stanislaw, John Handy, Kathleen Warren, Don Simon, Seamus Carmichael, Don Gill, Trish Callahan and Mike Albrecht.
Jeff took some photos and I got some videos. So, if you couldn’t be there in person, enjoy! And join us for the rest of the weekend; tonight’s Rambling House hosted by the River Drivers and the Ceili Dance with the McGillians & Friends starts at 8 p.m., and tomorrow’s day of concerts and activities begins at 11 a.m. and continues throughout the day and evening. For more information, check out the Philadelphia Ceili Group website.
Rosaleen McGill has been volunteering for the Philadelphia Ceili Group Traditional Music & Dance Festival since she was 8 or 9 years old. “It was a great tradition in which to grow up. It felt like being raised by a village. And people were always excited to tell me about their instrument or try to teach me a few words of Gaelic or how to make a St. Brigid’s Cross. There was always so much to get involved in and a beautiful range of ages.”
Now, here she is in her early 30s, and it never gets tired. Obviously not, because she’s on the board of the Ceili Group.
Just as obviously, the festival holds an incredible amount of appeal for her—and, she suggests, that’s as it should be, not just for her, but for anyone even the least bit interested in their Irish heritage and culture.
This year’s festival is certainly no exception.
“It’s a unique showcase of Irish culture,” McGill says. “It’s nice to have a culture all your own to dive deep into and examine the traditions and language and stories and the instruments that we have created, and not just celebrate the history, but all facets.”