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The University of Hartford

Notes from Celtic Airs
With your host Steve Dieterich November/December 2002

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, 2002

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