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Dance, Music

Come to the Wren Party!

Legend has it that it was the chattering of a wren who gave away St. Stephen’s hiding place in a bush, leading to his murder and martyrdom.

Fast forward several centuries to the Emerald Isle, where the so-called “wren boys” commemorated the feast day of St. Stephen—December 26—singing, playing music and dancing in exchange for applause and money to be collected for a party or dance for their village. They performed in colorful clothing and masks.

In the early days, they actually hunted for a wren, killed it and mounted it atop a stick. Thankfully, these days, the tradition continues, but with no avian casualties—a fake wren will do. Continue Reading

Audio, Music

Interview with Lunasa’s Trevor Hutchinson

The latest episode of “Tea with Irish Philly” features Trevor Hutchinson, who got up early one morning just to talk to us.

The band’s Irish Christmas show rolls into Wilmington’s Grand Opera House next Friday, December 14. (Details here.) The show also features vocalist Ashley Davis, a spectacular artist in her own right.

We chatted with Trevor about the show, guaranteed to get you in the spirit, along with the band’s latest album, Cas.

Here’s what he had to say. Listen to the podcast.

Editor’s note: All Irish Philly podcasts are now available on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and Spotify.

Music, Photos

Photos: “A Celtic Christmas” at the Irish Center

If you couldn’t catch Cherish the Ladies and singer Don Stiffe in their Celtic Christmas show at the Philadelphia Irish Center, we have the next best thing: a boatload of photos!

The longtime and well-loved Irish supergroup performed to a packed house. They had a great time, too—so much that they’ve promised to come back again and wow the audience with their Christmas show next year.

Take a look at our photos. Consider them an early Christmas present.

We have a couple of videos, too. Continue Reading

Music, Photos

More Photos! Cherish the Ladies “Celtic Christmas”

Local traditional Irish musician and photographer Bob Glennan took in the Celtic Christmas show featuring Cherish the Ladies and singer Don Stiffe at the Philadelphia Irish Center Saturday night.  Fortunately for us, he brought his camera.

He provided this great set of pics. Take a look.

Music, Videos

Sneak Preview: “The Christmas Letter,” With Cherish the Ladies and Don Stiffe

On Saturday, December 1, Cherish the Ladies with Don Stiffe take the stage at the Commodore Barry Arts & Cultural Center (the Irish Center) to present their amazing Celtic Christmas show. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets here.

One of the seasonal songs to be presented will be the poignant “The Christmas Letter,” with lead vocals performed by Stiffe. As the YouTube promo explains: “The song tells the sad story of forced immigration due to starvation and unemployment and a mother’s broken heart lamenting over the loneliness of a Christmas morning knowing that her family is forever torn apart and the only contact she’ll ever have is the letters that arrive for Christmas.”

Try listening to it without developing a little tremble in the lips and forming a few tears. Heart-breaking and lovely.

Here’s a sneak preview.

Audio, Music

Podcast: Interview with Derek Warfield

Derek Warfield, leader of the Young Wolfe Tones, continues his illustrious musical career, now exceeding the 50-year mark. We recently interviewed him, and he looked back on those 50 years—his life, musical upbringing, career, and hopes for the future of the Irish musical tradition. Continue Reading

Audio, Music

Podcast: Interview with Joanie Madden

Joanie Madden brings her band Cherish the Ladies to the Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center (The Irish Center) Saturday, December 1, for the first stop of the Celtic Christmas tour. Tickets here.

Joanie, who recently won the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish-American Writers and Artists, recently took time for a chat about the award, the band, her career, and the new Christmas music tour.

Jeff: So I guess I’ll just jump right into it. You recently received the Eugene O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish-American Writers and Artists. That had to be gratifying after so many years of performing.

Joanie: Well, you know, Jeff, first off it’s great to speak to you again, and secondly, you know, it’s always nice to receive awards and honors and we had a great night. It was actually Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas presented me with the award, and it was great to join this illustrious list of names of people that have won it previously. But it was a great night. What was great about it for me, more importantly, was that so many of the musicians in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut came out. You know, all my great friends in the music business, so it was wonderful to see them all there for that. Continue Reading