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The University of Hartford

Notes from Celtic Airs
With your host Steve Dieterich March/April 2009

As you may or may not know, WWUH is a listener supported, volunteer staffed, commercial free radio station providing alternative music, news and public affairs programming to the greater Hartford area AND to the world via our live webcasts at wwuh.org . I’ve been doing my “volunteer bit” each week. Once or twice a year, we give you the chance to do the “listener supported” bit during our Spring Marathon and our Fall Fundraiser. Your financial support keeps WWUH on the air. We are a commodity you can choose to utilize or not. If you want to continue to enjoy the programs we offer to entertain and enlighten you, you must pay for that privilege. You may also be making it possible for listeners less fortunate than yourself to be able to continue to listen to WWUH. We offer everyone who is interested, music and information that can’t be found on other stations in this area. If we’re an important part of your life, dig deep in your pockets to support this wonderful resource you are so fortunate to be able to enjoy!
            The Celtic Airs concert series was launched 15 years ago to allow you to see the artists you hear on my program in person. The series also helps pay the expenses of the radio station. To date, concert goers have contributed more than $120,000 to support the operations of WWUH radio while enjoying more than 130 nights of wonderful Celtic music live, up close and personal!!
            In March and April, we’ll present musicians you’ve seen and enjoyed here in the past. Karan Casey will be back for the fifth time (twice with Solas , twice before as a solo performer) on Thursday March 19th. The four very talented Johnson sisters from Scotland, performing under the name Give Way, will be back for a second time on Friday April 3rd. Both concerts take place at 7:30 in the Wilde Auditorium. There’s plenty of free parking available nearby in the University’s F and K lots.
            Karan Casey will be presenting selections form her acclaimed 2008 album Ships In the Forest. She’ll be accompanied by Caoimhin Vallely (her husband Niall’s brother) on piano, Kate Ellis on cello and Robbie Overson on guitar and harmony vocals. I suspect some songs from her past will also be heard this evening.
            Karan first came to the attention of American audiences during her four years as the lead vocalist for the ground breaking U.S. based quintet, Solas. She started producing solo recordings while still with Solas and eventually decided to pursue a solo career to further develop and exhibit her vocal talents. Her efforts met with rave reviews around the world. The Wall Street Journal said “Karan Casey is one of the true glories of Irish music today.”  This accolade was further confirmed by her selection as “Best Female Traditional Artist” twice by the readers of Irish Music Magazine. The Associated Press called Karan’s voice “so beautiful, it’s almost impossible to avoid falling under her spell.”
            Like the subtle nuances of fine wine, Karan’s singing has evolved from her first solo album Songlines , released in 1997 , to her fourth album  Ships in the Forest  released in 2008 at the age of forty. Her traditional material has been strongly influenced by her former mentor Frank Harte (R.I.P.), the famous Irish song collector. Over time, she has also added a variety of contemporary ‘power ballads’ that are steeped in social relevance. She’s equally adept singing in English or Irish.
            In the past fifteen years, Karan Casey has performed at a wide variety of famous venues and festivals. On Thursday March 19th, in the midst of  ‘St Patrick’s Week’, you’ll have a chance to see her in the cozy confines of the Wilde Auditorium. Don’t miss this opportunity to behold a truly remarkable talent.
            It’s a rare thing for a family to produce one talented musician. To produce FOUR musically talented siblings is almost unheard of! This places Scotland’s Johnson family in a rarefied position. The four Johnson sisters, Give Way collectively, have taken the international music scene by storm, achieving acclaim wherever they have performed.
            The girls began performing together in 1998, so though very young, they are seasoned performers! Fiona was playing fiddle at age five, Kirsty accordion at age four joined by Amy at age five and Mairi  piano at age 6. Their roles have evolved over time and in  their current ensemble performances you’ll find Fiona on fiddle, vocals and guitar, Kirsty on piano , accordion and vocals, Amy on percussion and Mairi on piano , keyboards, vocals  and bass.
            Their live set list encompasses traditional Scottish ballads, haunting airs and lively jigs highlighted by exquisite, spine-tingling vocal harmonies only siblings can  produce.
            In the studio, they have already recorded two albums, Full Steam Ahead (2003) and Inspired (2005). A third studio album is promised in conjunction with this Spring 2009 tour of America.
            After Give Way’s debut performance in the Celtic Airs concert series on 9/21/07, the audience left the Wilde Auditorium with smiles on their faces (and songs in their hearts?) asking when the Johnson sisters would return? Well, the answer is Friday, April 3rd.
            Tickets for the WWUH / Celtic Airs concert series are only available from the University of Hartford box office. They’re open Monday–Friday, 10:00 AM-6:00PM. Call 1-800-274-8587 or 768-4228. If you prefer to purchase on line, go to www.hartford.edu/tickets.
            These concerts begin at 7:30PM, doors open at 7:00PM and unsold tickets are available for purchase as of 6:30PM in the lobby of the Wilde Auditorium.
            Celtic Airs can be heard Tuesday morning from 6:00-9:00 AM on WWUH, 91.3 FM OR streaming live on the internet at WWUH.org.
            Thanks for your ongoing support of WWUH radio and the Celtic Airs concert series.

 

Copyright©WWUH: March/April Program Guide, 2009

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