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The University of Hartford

Notes from Celtic Airs
With your host Steve Dieterich September/October 2002

     This is the back to school addition of the program guide, so all contributors have been asked to introduce themselves to the students at the University of Hartford. Hopefully, other readers who have recently found WWUH will also find something educational here.
WWUH is a listener supported volunteer staffed radio station broadcasting as a community service of the University of Hartford. I think that you’ll find most if not all the volunteers were first (and continue to be) listeners. Most of us come from the community served by this station. Our programming is “alternative music” and public affairs shows unlike any you’ll hear on most of the FM dial.
I became a WWUH listener 15 years ago. My favorite shows were the reggae programs, the oldies shows, and the Celtic music edition of the AM folk programs. My tastes, like many of our listeners, were obviously eclectic!
Ten years ago, my predecessor on the Celtic program decided to move to California. Over five years of listening, we had become acquainted and she asked if I’d consider replacing her. I tried to side step her by saying I was too busy and had no radio experience. She blocked my escape by telling me that if I declined the offer, it was likely there would no longer be a Celtic music show on WWUH. I had no sly reply to this ultimatum and accepted the challenge with trepidation.
Four hundred and seventy plus shows later, I’m glad I accepted the challenge! Not only do I love doing my show, I also enjoy the research into the artists and music that I do to prepare for each program. It’s a labor of love and the positive feedback from listeners makes it all worthwhile.
As an offshoot of my program, and to help this commercial free station raise funds to cover our operating expenses, I began promoting concerts featuring some of the best Celtic artists in the world. This concert series has been a great success. We’re well known to the traditional Celtic musician community now and they seek us out when planning tours of the U.S. because our audience is so attentive, knowledgeable and supportive. We show them respect and enthusiasm and receive the same in return.
Our next concert features Danu on Sept. 20 at 7:30pm in the Millard auditorium. This septet from Waterford, Ireland is one of the most acclaimed and highly sought bands in traditional music circles today, despite the fact that all it’s members are still under 30! Their playing is energetic and full of improvisational fire, but as good as the tunes are it’s the vocals of Ciaran O’ Gealbhain that will make the biggest impression. His vocal style is reminiscent of Kevin Coneff of the Chieftans and his reputation among Irish traditional musicians continues to grow and grow. Oisin Mac Auley from Co. Donegal has replaced Jessie Smith on fiddle, but otherwise the lineup remains intact with button accordion player Bennie McCarthy and flutist Tom Doorley providing most of the melodies backed by the rhythm section of Tom’s brother Eamonn on bouzouki and Noel Ryan on guitar. Donnchadh Gough can augment the rhythm on bodhran or join in on the melody on uillean pipes.
Irish Music magazine’s readers voted Danu best overall Irish traditional group in 1999 and best live traditional band for 2000. Last year Danu was named best band of the year at the BBC 2 Folk Music Awards. The Irish language television network TG4 proclaimed Ciaran O’Gealbhain winner of the singing prize in its 2001 traditional music awards.
I like to introduce our audience to new bands whose CD’s have impressed me. My next opportunity to do so occurs Friday Oct. 4th when Chulrua pays their first visit to us at a 7:30pm concert at the Wilde Auditorium.
Chulrua (cool-roo-ah) was the favorite wolfhound of Irish folk hero Finn MacCool. I’m hoping this trio will also be one of the favorite groups you see in our 2002 Celtic Concert Series. The band is comprised of Paddy O’Brien on button accordion, Tim Britton on uillean pipes, flute, and whistles, and Pat Egan, guitar and vocals. Their style is very traditional. All have extensive experience in Irish traditional music and they are very knowledgeable about the material they present. They enjoy imparting their wisdom to their audiences and talk quite a bit about the stories behind the songs and tunes they perform.
Paddy O’Brien (Co.Offaly) is regarded as one of the tradition’s most important repositories, and is alleged to have collected and preserved more than 3000 tunes! He was an all Ireland button accordion champion and also a member of the award winning Castle Ceili Band. Pat Egan (Co.Tipperary) has been touring since 1985 with a variety of Irish bands and has been guest artist on a number of critically acclaimed albums. Tim Britton is one of the most well known pipers of the current generation. He’s played with Touchstone, Johnny Cunningham, and Mick Moloney’s Green Fields of America among others. He’s also sought after as a teacher for workshops AND constructs and repairs uillean pipes! Dirty Linen Magazine proclaims Chulrua “a must for Celtophiles!” “Button accordion and uillean pipes never sounded so sweet”, says Don Meade of The Irish Voice. “This is terrifically crisp, clear music”, said Fintan Vallely in the Irish Tribune.
I hope you’ll come out to enjoy these wonderful Irish Traditional bands and to show your support for WWUH radio. Tune into Celtic Airs Tuesday mornings 6-9am for a weekly dose of the finest Celtic music new and old and the latest concert updates. If you’re a new or returning University of Hartford student, looking for a worthwhile organization to get involved with during your time here, come visit WWUH and see what we’re all about. Thirty plus years on the air is just one sign that we’ve got something unique and valuable to offer.

Copyright©WWUH: September/October Program Guide, 2000

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