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Notes from Celtic Airs
Septermber / October 2007
by Steve Dieterich

  In September, the Celtic Concert Series will bring you something old and something new (but nothing borrowed and nothing blue!)

  We'll start out with the old on September 8th when Lunasa will appear in the Millard Auditorium (reserved seating). This band takes its name from the ancient Celtic harvest festival honoring Lugh, the patron saint of the arts. Well known Irish music critic Earle Hitchner says "Lunasa has managed to achieve an elusive goal for any Irish traditional band: and identifiable trademark sound." He goes on to say that Lunasa is the most inventive and exciting instrumental band in the Irish tradition today. The Lunasa sound is based on a melody line provided by the combination of uillean pipes, fiddle and flute with the distinctive rhythm underpinnings provided by the upright bass and percussive guitar style. If you're unfamiliar with Lunasa, allow me to provide a brief history. The band began in 1996 as a trio comprising fiddler Sean Smyth, guitarist Donogh Hennessy and Trevor Hutchinson on upright bass. After a successful tour of Scandinavia, they returned to Ireland and added John McSherry and Michael McGoldrick on flutes, whistles and pipes. To support a 1997 tour of Australia, Kevin Crawford was recruited to substitute for McSherry and/or McGoldrick who were often busy with other bands. This ensemble recorded the band's first, eponymously named CD in late 1997. By 2000, McSherry and McGoldrick had departed and were replaced by Cillian Vallely of the well known Aramgh musical family. This revamped group recorded the bands 3rd CD "The Merry Sisters of Fate" in 2001 (preceded by "Otherworld" in 1999), followed by "Redwood" in 2003 and "The Kinnity Sessions" in 2004. Founding member Donogh Hennessy left in 2006 and was ably replaced by Paul Meehan. This current line up recorded the bands most recent CD "Se:" in 2006. Hopefully that brief description brings you "up to snuff" on Lunasa. Please note: I think the very best way for you to become familiar with the band is to see them in person September 8th, 2007 at 7:30 in the Millard Auditorium.

  As I said in a recent issue of the Program Guide, one of my greatest joys is presenting NEW, TALENTED bands to you. Remember, almost all the bands presented in the Celtic Airs concert series were new/unknown the first time they appeared here. The most recent examples were Bodega (7/6/07) and Cara (8/10/07). The next newcomers I expect to impress and entertain you are Give Way, our guests on 9/21/07.
  This young band comprises the four very talented Johnson sisters from Scotland. I believe their musical skills and versatility and heir youthful energy will propel them to international renown. Each of the girls began playing music around the age of five, and the family band first performed together in 1998. They were acclaimed after performing in Scotland's prestigious Celtic Connections Festival in 2002. Their success in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk competition convinced Ian Green, of the well known Scottish traditional label Greentrax, to bring out their first album "Full Steam Ahead" in 2003. By 2005, they were ready to produce a very successful second album entitled "Inspired." This family band is composed of Fiona (21) on fiddle, whistle, guitar and vocals, Kristy (20) on accordion, keyboards and vocals and the twins Mairi & Amy (18). Mairi plays piano and bass and is an accomplished vocalist. Amy began her musical career on accordion but now devotes herself to drums and percussion. She too is a talented vocalist. Folk Roots Magazine says a Give Way concert "is jolly good fun, hugely infectious. Their exquisite harmonies and bold tunes will put a smile on your face and stay in your head long after you've returned home." I encourage you to come out to see Give Way on September 21, 2007 at 7:30pm in the Wilde Auditorium and see if that's how they affect you as well!

  Our October offering will combine the old and the new all in one evening of great music. We're proud to bring back Julee Glaub and Jerry O'Sullivan joined by "newby" Mark Weems on October 26th at 7:30pm in the Wilde Auditorium.
  Julee was born in North Carolina. After graduating from Wake Forest, she spent seven years in Ireland absorbing traditional ballads from older singers and the Traditional Music Archives in Dublin. On her return to the USA, she came to New England to be closer to the heartbeat of Irish music in America and settled in CT , halfway between Boston and New York City. While living in Canton for seven years, she released her first solo CD "Fields Faraway" in 2001. About the time she returned to North Carolina in 2004, she released her second album "Blue Waltz". Once more a North Carolina resident, she joined forces with Marks Weems, a talented singer who plays guitar, fiddle, banjo and piano as well. They perform as a duet called Little Windows whose set list often includes Appalachian, Irish, and Old Time music. Their singing in tight harmony is "almost like hearing two voices coming from one person" according to one reviewer. I suspect the concert here will focus on Irish material to accommodate the considerable talents of the evening's third musician, Jerry O'Sullivan on uillean pipes and whistles. Jerry was born in New York City to Irish parents and began his performing career on Scottish Highland pipes. A few summers later, during one of the family's annual summer visits to Ireland, he took up the uillean pipes. He perfected his skills on this difficult instrument with expert players in Ireland and New York City. By now he's appeared on more than 90 albums with diverse artists and has toured extensively in the US and Europe. Julee tells me she's looking forward to meeting lots of old friends and introducing you to her new and old musical accomplices when this talented trio appears in the Wilde Auditorium on October 26th at 7:30pm.

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  Tickets for the Celtic Airs Concert Series are available only from the University of Hartford box office. Call them at 1-800-274-8587 or 1-860-768-4228, or contact them online at hartford.edu/hartt. Tickets for each concert go on sale two months before the concert date.

            Celtic Airs, the Tuesday morning installment of WWUH's " FM On Toast" can be heard 6:00-9:00am at 91.3 FM, or streaming live on the internet at wwuh.org.

            I look forward to talking to you each week and hope you're enjoying the show. Take a tip from me and other devoted concert goers; if you like this music on the radio, you'll LOVE IT live in the intimate confines and acoustic perfection of the Wilde Auditorium.

See you at an upcoming concert!

WWUH: Program Guide 2007 ©

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