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Notes from Celtic Airs
July / August 2007
by Steve Dieterich

  The next two concerts in the WWUH/Celtic Airs series allow me to do something I really enjoy; introduce you to new artists! Sure, it’s always nice to welcome back old friends/known entities that you’ve enjoyed in years past, but as they say, variety is the spice of life!
            Almost all your “old favorites” were new and unknown to you when I first presented them here. Good examples include: Dervish, Danu, Solas, Lunasa, Old Blind Dogs and Grada just to name a few. I do the scout work and only bring in groups I think you’ll enjoy. Thanks for trusting my judgment and for giving these new artists a chance to impress you. I’d like to think you feel I’ve never “steered you wrong.”

            Our newcomers for July are Bodega who will appear in the Wilde Auditorium  Friday, 7/6/07 as part of their first North American tour. Though their name may suggest Latin talent, they are actually a five piece band from all over Scotland whose members are all still under 21 years of age (so who’s going to drive the rental car in the US?) The band was formed in March 2005 while all five were attending The National Centre of Excellence In Traditional Music. Loaded with talent, they progressed quickly and were winners of the prestigious BBC Young Folk Artists of the Year Award for 2006. In February 2007, they were among the featured performers at the North American Folk Alliance convention and were a big success, prompting many venues and promoters to jump on the Bodega bandwagon for this debut tour. Their self titled CD, released to critical acclaim, boosted their image still further.
            In a review of their appearance at the 2006 Croppredy festival, UK music critic Geoff Hughes wrote “When you see young talent like this, you know the future of folk music is in good hands. They were fantastically good!” The members of  the quintet clearly live for the music and love playing it together. Lightning fast fingers and tight vocal harmonies characterize their performances.
            Band members include Gillian Chalmers on fiddle, pipes and whistles who hales from Aberdeenshire like the Old Blind Dogs. She is now a student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dance (RSAMD). Ross Couper is a highly regarded young fiddler who is also proficient on guitar and drums. He’s the youngest performing member of a well known Shetland musical family and was named 2004 Young Shetland Fiddler of the Year.
            Bodega’s rhythm and bass guitar riffs are provided by multi-instrumentalist Tia Files from Oban. She is also a skilled piper, fiddler, and drummer. (Oh, for just a wee bit of such musical talent!!) Now residing in Glasgow, Tia is pursuing a career as an instrument maker.
            From the Carloway on the Isle of Lewis comes prize winning Gaelic singer Norrie MacIver, another multi-instrumentalist in this very talented ensemble who is proficient on accordion, guitar and djembe. It’s his singing skills which have brought him acclaim as a winner in The Royal National Mod, the Scottish equivalent of the All Ireland Fleadh. Like Gillian, Norrie is currently a student at RSAMD.
             Last but not least in this impressive line up of young virtuosos is June Naylor from Uig, Isle of Skye. Though she took up the clarsach (wire strung harp) only 5 years ago, she has already won multiple prizes at The Royal National Mod.
            The individual talents of these young musicians are impressive in their own right. As an ensemble, they’ve created something phenomenal! I hope you’ll take my hearty recommendation to come see them in person on 7/6/07 at the University of Hartford’s Wilde Auditorium. I’m willing to wager you’ll be quite impressed.

            The next group of newcomers I look forward to presenting to you is the band Cara who will appear in the Wilde Auditorium  on Friday 8/10/07. After listening to the exceptional Irish traditional music produced by this quintet, I’m sure you’ll be very surprised to discover that they are all Germans!! In Irish, Cara means ‘friends’ and this group of friends came together in the summer of 2003.
            I’ve not read much about Cara, but the music on their two CDs, “In Colour” and “In Between Times” told me all I needed to know; this group is a winner! They have a sound that’s Lunasa-like at times (twin flutes in close harmony) with a bit of the Bothy Band flavor as well.
            Husband and wife Sandra and Claus Steinort are both wonderful flautists whose seemingly effortless flute duets speak of their emotional closeness. Claus is also a very good uillean piper and concertina player. In addition to her flute playing, Sandra plays piano and is one of the two stunning leads vocalists in the band.
            Sandra’s vocal partner is Gudrun Walther. The intertwining of their beautiful soprano voices has enthralled many audiences. Gudrun is also a member of another Irish folk band ‘More Maids’. In addition to her singing, Gudrun is Cara’s violin/ viola player.
            Guitarist Jurgen Tryz is well known on the German folk music scene after 15 years of active participation in promoting this genre. He and Gudrun are founders of the group ‘Deitsch’ which plays the traditional music of Germany.
            Rolf Wagels is described as “a two meter giant, the biggest and best bodhran player on the European continent.” His talents are also showcased in two other Irish traditional bands, ‘DeReelium’ and ‘Steampacket.’ His bodhran playing has been favorably compared to John Joe Kelly of Flook, best of the new generation of Irish bodhran players.
            In 2006, Cara was a very busy band, well received at festivals in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, England and Ireland. They’ll launch their first American tour in the summer of 2007. Your chance to partake of their musical mastery comes the night of August 10th in the Wilde Auditorium. Trust me; if you enjoy Irish traditional music, you should be on hand that night to see Cara!

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  Tickets for the Celtic Airs Concert Series are available only from the University of Hartford box office. Call them at 1-800-274-8587 or 1-860-768-4228, or contact them online at hartford.edu/hartt. Tickets for each concert go on sale two months before the concert date.

            Celtic Airs, the Tuesday morning installment of WWUH’s ‘FM On Toast’, can be heard 6:00-9:00am at 91.3 FM, or streaming live on the internet at wwuh.org.

            I look forward to talking to you each week and hope you’re enjoying the show. Take a tip from me and other devoted concert goers; if you like this music on the radio, you’ll LOVE IT live in the intimate confines and acoustic perfection of the Wilde Auditorium.

See you at an upcoming concert!

WWUH: Program Guide 2007 ©

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