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Music, News, People

Local Trad Performers Score Big at the Fleadh

Emily and Livia Safko with some of their fleadh trophies.

Emily and Livia Safko with some of their fleadh trophies.

The Delaware Valley will be well represented this year at the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Sligo, the annual “Olympics” of Irish traditional music sponsored by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, the international organization dedicated to the preservation of Irish music and culture. A total of 10 local Irish traditional music performers, most of them under 18, qualified at the annual Fleadh (pronounced “flag:) in Parsippany, NJ, last weekend for what are known as the All-Irelands. Some of them have already competed—and won—there.

One competitor, fiddler and concertina player Livia Safko of Medford Lakes, NJ, made Comhaltas (pronounced coal-tas) history when she placed first in four competitions at the Fleadh, any one of which would qualify her to compete in Sligo, which is hosting its second All-Irelands competition.

Livia took first in the under 15 duets, which she won with her older sister, Emily, on harp. The other firsts: under 12 fiddle, under 12 fiddle slow airs, and concertina.

Emily Safko also took home firsts in under 15 harp and harp slow airs.

Other local musicians also brought home trophies—some almost as big as they are. Catherine Bouvier of Merchantsville, NJ, a student of local harper Kathy DeAngelo, took home first place in under 12 harp and her twin sister, Olivia, won second place.

The Converse Trio—fiddlers Haley Richardson of Elmer, NJ, and Alexander Weir of West Chester along with piper Keegan Loesel of Kennett Square—took home first place in under 18 trios. They earned a third place in trios in last year’s All-Ireland completion, also in Sligo. Richardson and Loesel also won second place in duets in Parsippany last weekend.

Richardson, a second place winner in slow airs in Sligo in 2014, won first in under 15 fiddle and second in fiddle slow airs. Loesel took firsts in under 18 whistle slow air and uillean pipes solos and slow airs. Weir, a third place winner in fiddle slow airs in Sligo, earned a first in under 18 fiddle slow airs in Parsippany.

Fiddler Patrick “Patch” Glennan of Mantua, NJ, won a silver medal in his first competition.

Another Jersey winner: Katherine Highet of Voorhees, a second place in over 18 harp.

Mary Kay Mann of Media also won first places in over 18 harp slow airs and flute.

One interesting thing many of these winners have in common: They are or were members of the Next Generation, a group of young performers who play together at the Irish Center in Philadelphia, led by husband-and-wife team Dennis Gormley and Kathy DeAngelo (Comhaltas Hall of Famers) and Chris Brennan Hagy. “This is how they met each other and started playing together,” says DeAngelo. “[This is a] point of pride for me and Dennis. Six of them are or were my students.”

The photos below were shared with us by Katherine Ball Weir, Amy Safko, and Kathy DeAngelo.

The Safko Girls and Their TrophiesTeacher Patrick Hutchinson, Keegan Loesel, and Haley RichardsonDonna Richardson and daughter HaleyThe Safko SistersPatch GlennanThe Converse TrioLivia Safko and fiddle teacher Brian ConwayAlexander WeirThe Bouvier TwinsTeacher Alex Boatright and Livia SafkoTeacher Alex Boatright and Emily Safko
Dance, Music

We Were Wearing Our Movie Directors’ Hats, Too

Seamus Kennedy in a reflective moment.

Seamus Kennedy in a reflective moment.

These days, when we go to many Philly Irish events, we’re occasionally doing double duty. You’ll sometimes see one of us with both a still camera and a video camera draped about the next. We’re often confused about what to do with which.

We got over our confusion the day of the Philly Fleadh down at the Cherokee Festival Grounds last weekend, enough so that you can see some of the dancing, hear some of the music, and generally take in all of the fun.

Dance, Music

Picture This: The 2015 Philadelphia Fleadh

Maggie Carr Wreski and John Byrne share a laugh.

Maggie Carr Wreski and John Byrne share a laugh.

For one day, the Cherokee Festival Grounds was a microcosm of just about everything that is Irish in the Delaware Valley.

On Saturday, this broad tree-lined lawn played host to a fèis—an Irish dance competition sponsored by the Celtic Flame School of Dance—along with open-air concerts by Burning Bridget Cleary, Jamison Celtic Rock, Seamus Kennedy, Ray Coleman, the Mahones, the Bogside Rogues, and pretty much of the royalty of Irish music from Philly and beyond, traditional and otherwise. People lined up for chips on a stick—what genius invented them?—hot dogs, burgers, bite-sized Guinness cupcakes with swirls of Bailey’s frosting–and again we ask, what genius invented them?–and cold brews to wash it all down with. There were vendors all over the place. If you wanted to buy a Goth-y corset, the Philly Fleadh was just the place to get one.

Thank America Paddy’s Productions for pulling it all off smoothly. We ran into one of the aforementioned Paddys, Jamison front man Frank Daly, who seemed a whole lot more relaxed about things this year than last. And that, even after a last-minute switch from the original festival location, Pennypack Park. Everything worked out for the best—maybe better than the best.

We have a pile of pictures from the day.

Here ya go:

AprilBusted by Seamus KennedyCJ Mills and Frank Daly of American Paddy's ProductionsWearing his fun paintMikey McComiskey and Alex WeirFintan MaloneChips on a StickTiny BubblesFleadh 6Got My Blanket, My Beer, and My babyKevin McGillin Having a Good LaughKevin McGillianTyler AldersonTyler Alderson and Diarmuid McSweeneyKevin bwPeggy HaasTake My Picture, She SaidCeili DancersDancers in a CircleFull FleadhHaving a BallJust Out of the Bouncy CastleKillen ClarkKim KillenMade in the ShadeMaggie Carr Wreski and John Byrne and Ray ColemanMaggie Carr Wreski and John ByrneMohawkPrivate Dance LessonsPutting on the SunscreenRabble RousingRock onRock stageRock stage1Rock stage2Rocking OutSeamus KennedyStaff taking a breakPrizes AwaitStep Dance CompetitionSwinging timeTyler Alderson and Diarmud McSweeneyfleadh15-0001fleadh15-0003fleadh15-0004fleadh15-0005fleadh15-0006fleadh15-0007fleadh15-0008fleadh15-0009




Celtic Thunder’s Emmet Cahill Coming to The Irish Center

Emmet Cahill, going solo.

Emmet Cahill, going solo.

One of the things that happens when you join a popular music group already in progress is that you inherit their fans. In the case of Celtic Thunder, you inherit the “Thunderheads,” as they’re called, admirers so devoted they’ll travel to other countries and continents at great expense to see their “boys” perform.

That’s what happened to Emmet Cahill when he was chosen to join the theatrical Irish singing group in 2010 at the age of 20. The adulation was an eye-opener. “When I first walked on stage and heard the cheering I was looking around for who they were cheering for,” he admits.

How did he cope?

“Oh it was awful, absolutely terrible, I’m still recovering from the emotional scars,” laughs Cahill, now the ripe old age of 24 and launching his first American tour of his solo career which will bring him to Philadelphia’s Irish Center on Wednesday, May 27. “Of course, it was absolutely brilliant!”

He’s talking by phone from his family home in Mullingar, County Westmeath, where he’s preparing his set list for the tour. “There’s sheet music all over,” he says. “You caught me in mid-destruction, as my mam likes to call it.”

Celtic Thunder was started in 2007 by producer Sharon Browne and musical director Phil Coulter, an experiment to see if five different voices from men of different ages (from 14 to 44 at one point) would meld. They melded just fine. The group has released 11 albums, appeared on countless PBS specials, and was Billboard’s top world album artist for three years.

Over the years, members have come and gone. Paul Byrom, Damien McGinty, and George Donaldson are probably the best known of the former singing mates who’ve moved on to solo careers. Sadly, Donaldson, who performed frequently in Philadelphia, died suddenly last year of a heart attack at the age of 46. Cahill had left the group by the time of Donaldson’s death, but he rejoined them for a tribute tour to the man they called “Big George” in Australia last year and was on the group’s most recent fan cruise in November.

Cahill grew up in a musical family—his father is a music teacher and both parents sing. He started piano when he was four and his mother had him in voice training at the age of seven. “When I was 12 I was still a boy soprano and I won a music scholarship to high school,” he says. “I also took up guitar and violin as well. I was quite busy as you can imagine.”

He always had his sights set on a solo career in music. In 2010, he was at the Royal Irish Academy of Music studying opera and theater where he was awarded the John McCormack Bursary for the most promising young tenor, named the most promising young singer at the Academy, and was a multiple prize winner at the National Feis Ceoil singing competition.

Then to his own surprise he found himself auditioning for Celtic Thunder. “I knew nothing about Celtic Thunder and I didn’t even want to do it but my Dad pushed me into it,” says Cahill. He thinks the fact that he really didn’t know what he was getting into—and was reluctant to even do it—curbed any audition stress he might have felt that would have affected his performance. They grabbed him up. “I guess those are the ones you get, the ones you don’t care about,” he says, laughing. “It helps when you walk in and you’re easy going.”

Though someone as musically gifted as Cahill might be dreaming of the rock star life, the 24-year-old was classically trained and raised on old recordings of famed Irish tenor John McCormack, who was also from Westmeath, operatically trained and enormously popular in both Europe and the US in the early 20th century.

So there are plenty of McCormack songs among the sheet music Cahill is using to build his set list. “I like to think I’m following in his footsteps,” says Cahill. “He made a career in America singing Irish songs. He was so well-loved in the States. So I’m going to be singing some of the songs he made famous during my tour.”

Songs like “I Hear You Calling,” and “Macushla” – don’t worry if you don’t think you know them. You’ve probably heard them and can even download McCormack’s versions from iTunes to refresh your memory.

“I’ll be doing Irish favorites, like ‘I’ll Take You Home, Kathleen,’ and I’m known for singing the likes of ‘Danny Boy.’ In Celtic Thunder, it was my big solo song,” he says.

Expect some Rogers and Hammerstein, some gospel music (when he’s home he’s the cantor at Mullingar Cathedral) and, when he picks up the guitar, some old folk tunes. “I do modern songs as well,” he adds. “I want there to be something for everyone, from grandparents to kids.”

While he’s inherited a tight fan base from Celtic Thunder, his goal for his US tour is to introduce himself to Thunder fans and others who may not know that he’s also a good storyteller (“I have no trouble getting up telling embarrassing stories about myself and my childhood. Most of them are fresh in the memory,” he quips, giving himself a jab about his age.) and to create new fans—Emmet Cahill fans. He hopes the smaller venues for his US tour will let fans get to know him, up close and personal.

“I’m really looking forward meeting people and letting them get to see me up close. I know from my Celtic Thunder experience, especially from the cruises, that that’s something people are interested in. They ask me, ‘Emmet, what do you do when you’re off?’ They’re sometimes more interested in that than the songs I’m singing. When I’m up on stage, I want people to feel that they know me, that I’m a guy they could go have a beer with.”

And, he says, that’s not out of the question. “There’s no barrier. If you walk up to me in the street to have a chat and ask me how it’s going I’ll tell you if it’s good or going crap,” he laughs. “I think people see me as a young fella from Ireland singing songs and having a bit of craic.”

Which, of course, is what he is. And enjoying every second of it. “What other job gives you the opportunity to bring happiness to people?” he says. “I want to do that as long as possible.”

Catch Emmet Cahill at the Irish Center, 6815 Emlen Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119, on Wednesday, May 27, at 7;30 PM. Order tickets here. 

Arts, Music

Strumming a New Tune

Zakir Hussain (photo by Jim McGuire)

Zakir Hussain (photo by Jim McGuire)

Back in December, premier Irish guitarist Tony Byrne got an unusual email. Would he be interested in going on tour with Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain and his troupe of Indian and Celtic musicians?

“Are you free, are you interested?” Byrne recalls. The answer was easy. “Being on a stage like that, I couldn’t say no.”

Speaking from his hotel room outside Washington, D.C., on the fourth night of the tour, Byrne has absolutely no regrets about playing in Hussain’s show “Pulse of the World: Celtic Connections.” He joins some of the world’s best Indian and Celtic musicians: Rakesh Chaurasia, bamboo flute; Fraser Fifield, flute and pipes; Jean-Michel Veillon, flute; Ganesh Rajagopalan, violin; Charlie McKerron, fiddle; Patsy Reid, fiddle; John Joe Kelly, bodhran—and Hussain himself, widely acknowledged as the master of the Indian tabla drums, one of the most devilishly complex percussion instruments on the planet.

Celtic Connections explores the surprising ties between the rhythms and melodies of two distinctly different genres of world music. Those connections can be close indeed.

“A lot of these styles of music are linked, especially through percussion instruments, and a lot of the wind instruments as well,” says Byrne.

Still, the instruments, the styles of playing them and the musicians themselves are different enough that the contrasts are also pretty clear—and if some of it sounds like experimentation, it’s because it often is, says Byrne.

“The Indian musicians who are playing with us will pick up on a motif in a small line we play, and then they can come back to you with a little four-note phrase. It’s like they’re echoing back to you, and call and answer. You have a match, and a mismatch at the same time.

“They can dip in and out. That’s really fun when that happens. The more concerts we do, the more that that happens. We have a blueprint, but we can all deviate from that. It’s great to see that developing. It’s almost like jam sessions. That’s really exciting.”
Earlier in his musical career, Byrne was a rock drummer, and when he learned to play guitar, he incorporated a lot of percussion into his right-hand technique. That’s good when it comes to rhythm, but Byrne has to hang in there with the melody as well, which can be complex.

“I’ll always lock into John Joe and Zakir’s playing but I also have to lock into the chords,” Byrne says. “You try and cover all the bases.”

Even though Byrne’s style of play is powerfully percussive, that’s no walk in the park, either. John Joe Kelly is most directly in Byrne’s sightline, he says, “so we naturally, almost instinctively think together what to do.”

Zakkir is a bit more challenging. “Zakkir can play in any time signature. The guy has never missed a beat in his life. Its mesmerizing to watch him do it.”

If you’re a musician, though, that kind of challenge is what you live for.

“You’re always striving and trying to making it better,” Byrne says. “You become more focused and you become really alert. It is a challenge but it’s an exciting challenge as well.”

Pulse of the World: Celtic Connections will roll into Philly on March 27 for a concert at Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street. The show starts at 7. Tickets and info here.


Dance, Music, News

Philly’s First-Ever Sober St. Patrick’s Day

Family-friendly fun

Family-friendly fun

It seemed like four-time All-Ireland fiddle champion Dylan Foley and his bandmates hadn’t gotten through more than a few lines of a jig set when people had taken to the dance floor. When the tunes were over, he looked out to the audience in the auditorium at WHYY, gathered for the first-ever Sober St. Patrick’s Day party, and marveled—albeit in a cheeky way.

“We’ve been trying to get people to dance to our music for years. Who knew all we had to do was take away the alcohol.”

Foley’s quip drew laughs, but in a way he was right. A St. Patrick’s Day bash without booze is inexplicably freeing. Well over a hundred people crowded into the auditorium on Sunday following the Philadelphia parade—so many of them, in fact, that organizers had to scramble to find more chairs. Everybody seemed relaxed, and maybe it was because they could just be themselves. They didn’t need booze to have fun. In fact, it was precisely because no alcohol was served that many party-goers in recovery really could relax at a St. Patrick’s Day party for the first time in years. That’s if they’d ever gone at all.

The place was filled with families, too, and that’s not something you’re likely to see during a St. Patrick’s Day pub-crawl, either. Hot dogs moved, well, like hotcakes, and everybody noshed on cookies, chips, soda bread, cheese, and other party foods. Some of the best musicians you could find anywhere played for hours. Dancers, still fresh from the parade—they’re kids, so they don’t tire the way we do—pranced about the floor as party-goers clapped. The only thing that was missing was the one thing that precisely nobody missed at all.

“The appeal is great music, great dancing, and a place to go where you don’t have to worry about drinking,” said Katherine Ball-Weir, who, with partner Frank Daly, pulled off the spectacularly successful event.

Hosting a first-ever event of any kind can be a little nerve-wracking. You can never predict how it’s going to over. “Nobody knew what to expect,” said Ball-Weir.

At first ticket sales were a bit slow. That changed. “Every time somebody bought a ticket, I got a notice on my phone,” said Daly. His phone didn’t buzz much at first. But “in the last four to five days, ticket sales picked up,” says Daly, “which is typical.”

And some people decided to go really late in the game.

“Somebody bought seven tickets at 4:42,” Ball-Weir laughed. “The party started at 4.”

Now that they’ve proved the concept, Daly said, “I think it’ll grow every year, absolutely.”

No one could have been more thrilled than William Spencer Reilly, founder and producer of Sober St. Patrick’s Day, a concept now taking hold in many cities, including New York, Dublin, Belfast, Richmond, Va., Casper, Wyoming, and Avon Lake, Ohio.

“Both of these guys did a terrific job. I’m just thrilled,” said Reilly. “More than any other city, we wanted it here because of its history. You couldn’t have asked for a better team to do this. I have no doubt it’s going to grow in Philly.”

The party is also likely to do things for the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, which sponsored the event, Reilly said. (CCE is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of traditional Irish music. Many people who previously haven’t been exposed to the tradition could become dedicated followers as a result.

Musicians like the party, too, but for another reason.

“Brian Conway (one of the top fiddlers in the world) put it best,” Reilly said. “He described it as ‘an oasis because people actually listen to me.’”

We have pictures from the party. Check them out.

014_2157014_2171014_2168014_2151014_2146014_2142014_2137014_2136DSC_7722DSC_7720DSC_7710DSC_7707DSC_7703DSC_7696DSC_7688DSC_7685DSC_7666Mairead Comaskey and Maria Sooy of the Emerald Isle DancersPhiladelphia Rose Mairead Comaskey with her mother BredaA Gathering of Roses at the Sober St. Patrick's Day ParadeSeige of EnnisQuite a LineupNot A pretty sight3Not A pretty sight2Not A pretty sight1Erin's Pride dancer
Music, People

The Henry Girls Coming to Newtown Square

Joleen, Lorna, and Karen McLaughlin, the Henry Girls

Joleen, Lorna, and Karen McLaughlin, the Henry Girls

Before three of them became “The Henry Girls,” a rising Irish folk and trad trio who will be appearing next week in the Philadelphia area, they were known as the Henry sisters, six girls named McLaughlin brought up by music-loving parents in the countryside around Malin, a pretty little town on Trawbreaga Bay on the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal, the northernmost point of Ireland.

The “Henry” honors their grandfather, but the name comes from a practice common in Inishowen, a tiny, remote spot with a small pool of surnames. Like all the Dohertys, Divers, and McDaids—common names on this rural peninsula—the McLaughlins acquired a nickname to distinguish them from all the other McLaughlins they’re not related to. They became the Henry McLaughlins, after their grandad.

The music was familial too. Their mother Kathleen sang around the house, their father Joe played the button accordion and mouth organ, and all six girls took music lessons “and Irish dancing as well,” says Lorna McLaughlin, who taught herself to play the accordion so she could busk with older sister, Karen, in Australia, where they lived for a time after college.

But only three of the girls made music a career. There’s Karen, who is 40, a fiddler, Joleen, the youngest of all the Henry sisters at 30, who plays harp, and Lorna, 38, who also plays the keyboard.

They were raised on a mélange of music from Donegal’s Altan (“the first band I saw live,” says Lorna) and Clannad to Queen, Beck, the Everly Brothers, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and the Andrews Sisters, whose tight harmonies are often used to describe the Donegal sisters’ own vocal blending, the kind of exquisitely close melodic interplay only siblings and can achieve.

“I can see how our voices just clicked,” says Lorna. “Karen has a deeper voice, Joleen has a higher voice and mine is in the middle. We also have similar speaking voices. Our voices are similar in tone so when we sing together it sounds like one voice.” (Listen to those harmonies on this live version of “Sweet Dreams.“)

One thing that didn’t come naturally to them was the idea that they could become well known and acclaimed for doing what they love to do. “When you grow up in rural Ireland, you never imagine you’re going to become a recording artist,” says Lorna who, along with Joleen, still lives in Malin. “It was not something that was encouraged. We were encouraged to love music and to enjoy playing it, but we never pushed ourselves in that direction.”

In fact, the Henry Girls are the epitome of the old saying, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” They had no strategic plan. When Lorna and Karen returned from their Australia sojourn, the three sisters hatched the idea of making a recording. Lorna and Karen had written a few songs while they were away and had played in a band together. “We didn’t know what we were doing and we hadn’t even any gigs,” laughs Lorna. “We got help from the rural development board and then, suddenly it began getting played on the radio. We started getting more coverage. People picked us up in Germany. It’s all a bit of a mystery how it evolved.”

Despite the warm welcome to the field of folk music, it still didn’t occur to the McLaughlin sisters that this might be the start of something big.

“We really weren’t focused on it. We all had different things going on. I was busy teaching community music,” says Lorna, who is co-founder of the Inishowen Gospel Choir, modeled on the Dublin Gospel Choir. The community choir, which she says “came together like magic” when she and friend Siobhan Shields advertised for singers, backs the trio on several tracks on their latest CD, “Louder Than Words” and has since performed all over Europe.

At the time, “Joleen was just finishing her degree and Karen had gotten married and started having kids,” Lorna explains. None of that kept from a nomination for an Irish Film and Television award for best original score for the film, The Shine of Rainbows, starring Aidan Quinn which featured songs from their roots-influenced first album, “Dawn.” Or from joining Irish music icon Mary Black on her album, “Stories from the Steeples” and doing a song with Dublin singer-songwriter Imelda May. Or from recording a second album, “December Moon.”

“But I suppose we didn’t focus on things until we were invited to the Milwaukee Irish Festival (in 2011). We got such great reactions, that’s when we realized that this could be something we could do. Something we could do seriously.”

The Henry Girls have produced three CDs that reflect their eclectic musical influences and wrap everything in those killer sisterly harmonies. For lovers of trad, “Dawn,” their first, showcases their loving familiarity with Irish roots music. You can hear Joleen’s sharp harp playing on tunes like An Portan Beag, Lorna’s sweet accordion tones on Glashedy Boat Song, and their harmonies, as precise as a murmuration of birds, on Richard Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day.”

“December Morn,” their second offering, is the first of likely many singer-songwriter albums, mixing their own work with brilliant covers, like their cute version of Elvis Costello’s reggae-rhythmed “Watching the Detectives.” (Hear the Henry Girls’ take on the tune on this video.)

“That seemed like an unlikely song for an Irish group to do,” says Lorna of the Costello tune. “But it’s an amazing song. We just liked it. When we do it live, we don’t introduce it anymore. When we get to the chorus, people just go, “ahhhh. I know that song.’”

“Louder Than Words” again showcases the Girls’ own work along with reworkings of songs they previously recorded, like “ James Monroe,” a song, “Reason to Believe,” that they picked up from the Inishowen Gospel Choir, which sings along on the track, and what sounds like an Andrews Sisters throwback, “So Long but Not Goodbye.”

The Henry Girls have already started a whirlwind tour of the US—10 gigs in 10 days—starting in Massachusetts and ending in Madison, NJ, on March 21 at Drew University. They’ll be appearing at Burlap and Bean, 204 South Newtown Street, in Newtown Square on Friday, March 20, starting at 7:30 PM.

They still have no strategic plan. Not only that, but they do their own business management and booking, Lorna’s job. But they are more focused on being and growing The Henry Girls as a musical entity.

“Chatting to our mother early on about what we were doing, she said, ‘God, girls, you are living the dream,’” laughs Lorna. “We feel lucky to where we’re at at the moment, having the opportunity to go overseas and play at all these lovely venues, writing music. Of course, you never really think you’ve done your best. You feel your best is yet to come, and that’s what drives you, keeps you from getting too settled. Because once you think you’re a success, you’re done, aren’t you? We’re still developing our sounds. We want to keep growing musically. But we want to keep enjoying it so we’re not going to push ourselves too hard.”

So far, for The Henry Girls, that no-push non-plan has been working. There’s no reason to change it now.

You can see and hear more of The Henry Girls on their YouTube Channel.


FullSet Warms a Cold Winter’s Night

Piper Martino Vacca

Piper Martino Vacca

Michael Harrison, fiddler and leader of the stunningly talented Irish traditional band FullSet, admitted their tour might have been better planned.

It began in New England, about at the same time the region was blanketed with 120 feet of snow, accompanied by plagues of lice, frogs, locusts and rivers of bloods.

OK, maybe not that much snow, and maybe we’re making it up about the lice, frogs, locusts and rivers of blood, but the timing couldn’t have been worse, and the travel was harrowing at times.

Last Friday night, the band rolled into Philly for a concert at the Philadelphia Irish Center, where the weather outside was frigid, but subtropical in comparison to New England.

In no time at all, the joint was jumping, bringing the ballroom crowd to its feet at the end.

We have the pictures.