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Notes from Celtic Airs
May / June 2006
by Steve Dieterich

  Dervish planned to open their March '06 tour of the U.S. at the University of Hartford's Millard Auditorium, one of their favorite American venues they say. Cathy Jordan planned to make her live debut on bouzouki, helping the boys with accompaniment on some of here songs. She chose Hartford for the debut as she feels the audience here is very supportive.
  The band flew in from Ireland to JFK, arriving early on the morning of 3/2/06. Their concert in Hartford was scheduled for 7:30PM. They reached their hotel in Hartford well before snow began to fly at noon that day. The snow was light, even by Irish standards, and they had no trouble reaching the University of Hartford by 3:00PM. They planned to play a bit together before their sound check, working on some new tunes and songs to be included in the set list for this year's tour. Sound check would begin at 5:00PM., or so they thought. Unfortunately, the powers that be decided to close the University due to "bad weather" and at 4:00PM public safety arrived to tell Dervish their concert had been cancelled and that they should return to their hotel.
  Once I finished a full day's work (my patients weren't deterred by the snow!), I went to the hotel to commiserate with the band. How disappointing to look out the window at 7:00PM, 30 minutes before we should all have been going on stage, and note that the snow had stopped and the roads were well plowed!
  So that the evening wouldn't be a total loss, they tried out all the new material on me to see what I thought. As you'd expect, I was duly impressed and wished they could have been playing to 400, not just one! Cathy's bouzouki playing was quite accomplished! Though not part of their planned stage show, she also joined Brian and Michael on some of the tune sets, replacing the recently departed Seamie O'Dowd in the Dervish rhythm section.
  I attempted to find a replacement date for them at the end of this tour but couldn't procure a venue at the University of Hartford. They won't be back on America's east coast til 3/07. I've got a tentative date with them for 3/10/07 already!!
  After 11+ years and almost 100 concerts, this is only the second time we've had to cancel due to bad weather with the artists already on site! Do you know the other time?? (See * at end of this article for the details.) Too bad, it promised to be a great night and a sold out auditorium!
  Because of the cancellation of our Dervish concert 3/2/06, the new date for our 100th Celtic Airs/ WWUH concert is 7/28/06 when the Old Blind Dogs will return. Jim Malcolm will be leaving the band at the conclusion of this tour, providing just one more reason why you'll want to make sure you're on hand for the festivities that evening!
  The next concert in our series takes place May 13th when we welcome the Scottish vocal trio North Sea Gas to the University for the first time. Though new to our audience, they are a well-established band, veterans of the Scottish traditional music scene. They celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2005 with a "Grand Tour of America". We had hoped to be a part of that tour but couldn't find a mutually acceptable date. Ah well, better late than never!
  The trio is composed of Dave Gilfillan (lead and harmony vocals, guitar, banjo, mandola, bodhran), Ronnie MacDonald (lead and harmony vocals, guitar, bouzouki) and Grant Simpson (harmony vocals, fiddle, mandola, guitar).
  Dave is the founding member of North Sea Gas, well known for his heartfelt renditions of traditional ballads. Add to this a great sense of humor on stage and it's clear why he and the band have been fan favorites all over the world.
  Ronnie MacDonald, better known as "Mac", was a member of the band in its earliest days then left to establish a solo career in Australia for 12 years. Eventually, his love of Scottish traditional music and ensemble singing forged a reunion with Dave. His rapier wit and tongue in cheek humor form a perfect pairing with Dave; Martin & Lewis?, Laurel & Hardy?, Rowan & Martin anyone?
  Grant Simpson began his fiddling career at age 6. By the ripe old age of 12, he made his first recording as a member of the Elgin Strathspey and Reel Society. When not touring with North Sea Gas, he's in great demand as a studio musician and can also be found leading informal sessions at a wide variety of Scottish venues.
  Together they produce wonderfully tight three-part harmony singing reminiscent of their Scotts Trad contemporaries, the McCalmans. With the wide variety of instruments they play, stirring instrumental sets are also an integral part of their live performances. Add their infectious sense of fun and you can easily predict you're in for a great night of entertainment! Make a point to meet and greet North Sea Gas, Saturday May 13th at 7:30PM in the Wilde Auditorium.
  Pictured on the cover of this edition of the Program Guide is the Irish band Grada who will make their second appearance in the concert series Friday, June 16th in the Wilde Auditorium. The name Grada means illustrious, and as if this isn't praise enough, Folk Roots Magazine calls them "gripping and electrifying."
  The band was "discovered" and promoted by Trevor Hutchinson, double bass player for the acclaimed Irish band Lunasa. Trevor also produced their two outstanding albums. Like Lunasa, Grada is often cited as one of the forerunners of the contemporary wave of Irish traditional music. "Contemporary" and "traditional" are definitely NOT contradictory terms in the hands of talented musicians such as these. "Grada plays with obvious respect for the ancient origins of their music but without any apparent fear that they might break it through their experimentation." (Irish Music Magazine).
  Grada is a quintet composed of Nicola Joyce (vocals, bodhran, fiddle, whistles), Alan Doherty (flutes, whistles, vocals), Brendan O'Sullivan (fiddle, viola), Gerry Paul (guitar, bouzouki) and Andrew Laking (double bass, guitar, vocals). Their national origins may come as a surprise to you. Not unexpectedly, 3 are from Ireland (Nicola, Alan, Brendan) but Gerry and Andrew are from New Zealand, definitely NOT one of the seven Celtic nations! Do yourself a favor and enjoy a warm, early summer night of great music with Grada June 16th at 7:30PM in the Wilde Auditorium.

  Tickets for all our concerts go on sale two months before the performance date and can only be purchased from the University of Hartford Box Office. Call 1-800-274-8587 or 1-860-768-4228. On line purchases can be made at hartford.edu/hartt.

  Don't forget, I'd love to see you at the 100th concert 7/28/06, featuring the Old Blind Dogs. Thanks to all my loyal Celtic Airs listeners. Please tell a friend or two to check out the show Tuesdays 6:00-9:00AM. I'll do my best to entertain and inform them.

  Please tune in to Celtic Airs every Tuesday morning from 6:00AM - 9:00AM on WWUH, 91.3 FM for traditional Celtic music.

WWUH: Program Guide 2006 ©

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