Did you happen to attend the 2002
New England Fiddle Contest on Labor Day weekend? After a one-year
hiatus, Riverfront Recapture revived the event and did an excellent
job. This year’s event was dedicated to the late Bill Domler,
for many yeas a folk DJ at WWUH radio.
In addition to the fiddle competition, those in attendance got their
first look at Sead, featuring vocalist Julee Glaub. Unfortunately,
their uillean piper Jerry O’Sullivan was unable to attend.
Sead’s fiddler Brian Conway introduced his new CD “First
Through the Gate”, an excellent collection of traditional
Irish fiddle tunes. His niece Maeve Flanagan, all-Ireland champ
in her age group in 2001, made quite an impression in the junior-junior
competition. Her pedigree and years of playing with some of NYC’s
best Irish musicians had an obvious effect on her performance. She
was accompanied by the third member of Sead in attendance on the
day, piano player Brendan Dolan. His father Felix introduced the
piano to Irish traditional music in the States a generation ago.
Based on the success and quality of this year’s event, it
appears the 2003 contest will have to be moved back to Bushnell
Park to accommodate what promises to be and even bigger crowd.
As fall fades to winter, our Celtic Airs concert series will become
busier. We host three nights of music before the end of the year.
On November 15th, we’ll introduce Aniar (an-EAR) on their
debut tour of New England. Aniar means “from the west”
in Irish, an appropriate title for this quartet that originated
in California, headed by acclaimed uillean piper Todd Denman. Tina
Lech, fiddle and vocals, was all-Ireland fiddle champ in 1993. She
currently lives in Boston. Guitarist Flynn Cohen also lives in Boston
when not on tour with Aniar. A former student of John Renbourn,
he’s equally adept at flat picking his steel-stringed guitar
for rhythm or playing melodies in finger style. Dublin-born Eamonn
Flynn was the keyboardist for The Commitments in a movie of the
same name. His work on piano and organ provides “a brilliant
juxtaposition of old and new” as he blends seamlessly with
the traditional pipes/fiddle/guitar of his band mates.
A mere six days later, on November 21st, Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies
will return to the University of Hartford. Based on the quality
of his latest release “ Honesty Box” and the great response
he receives each time he plays here, I couldn’t pass up this
opportunity to book him even in such close proximity to another
concert. Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies have a large and growing legion
of fans around the world and CT is no exception. He’s also
held in high esteem by his peers in the folk community as evidenced
by the fact that a growing number of his compositions are being
covered by other artists including The Black Family, Cherish the
Ladies, The Tannahill Weavers, the McCalmans, Gordon Bok and Fairport
Convention. His songs usually deal with the working class and miners
in his native Northumbria, though his best-known song “The
Bergen” tells the tale of a shipwreck on the Northumbrian
coast. The songs run the gamut from serious to humorous.
Jez’s early years on the folk scene were often spent with
Ged Foley, a fellow Geordie who departed to join the Battlefield
Band and is now with Patrick Street. Jez recorded his first solo
album in 1980, but by the mid-80’s had teamed up with Jake
Walton in a well received duet that recorded only one album together,
1986’s “Two A Roue.” After another period of solo
work, Jez put together the Bad Pennies in 1990 and has toured both
solo and with the band since then.
Susan McKeown, Johnny Cunningham and Aidan Brennan will present
the third installment of their Celtic Winter program on December
12th. The two previous tours were very well received and became
the basis for the positively reviewed album “A Winter Talisman.”
Susan is a wonderful vocalist and band mate/Irishman Aidan Brennan
provides very effective accompaniment on guitar. His wry sense of
humor is a perfect foil for the renowned wit of Scotland’s
Johnny Cunningham who is a master fiddler as well. Johnny and his
brother Phil along with Andy M. Stewart and Martin Hayden were the
founding members of Silly Wizard, a legendary band instrumental
in the Scottish folk revival of the late 70’s-early 80’s.
Susan has recently released a new album “Prophecy” in
Ireland and the U.K. and it’s already climbing to the top
of the folk charts there. As of this writing, no US distribution
had yet been arranged but I’m sure it will be available at
the concert here on 12/12/02.
Proceeds of these benefit concerts are used to partially fund the
operating expenses at WWUH. Tickets are available through the University
of Hartford box office, 1-800-274-8587 or 860-768-4228. You can
also access the box office web site at www.hartford.edu/hartt to
purchase your tickets.
I’m busy booking a great series of concerts for ’03.
Dates already confirmed are listed on the back of the program guide.
We put the tickets for each concert on sale about two months before
the date of the show.
Thanks very much for supporting WWUH, Celtic Airs and the Celtic
Concert Series throughout ’02. I wish you a joyous holiday
season and the best wishes for the New Year.
Copyright©WWUH: November/December Program Guide,