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The University of Hartford

Notes from Celtic Airs
With your host Steve Dieterich July/August 2009

Some concert series take a break for the summer. Some concert venues close their doors when warm weather arrives. Not so the Celtic Airs concert series at the University of Hartford!! We continue to bring you excellent Celtic music in ALL seasons of the year.
            Here’s a hot tip; get your July 4th weekend off to an explosive start when Bua return to the Wilde Auditorium on Friday July 3rd ! Bua means “innate gift” in Irish, and this Irish traditional quintet, loaded with talent, lives up to the name. Based in Chicago, the band is comprised of some of America’s most talented young musicians including Jackie Moran (bodhran, banjo, vocals), Chris Bain (fiddle), Sean Gavin (uillean pipes, flute), Brian O’hAirt  (lead vocals, concertina, whistle) and Brian Miller (guitar, flute,   vocals). Irish Music Magazine described them as “the essence of a superb band. Their sound and style is a throwback to the bands of the 1960’s and 1970’s, keeping the music moving down the path of tradition.”
            At the instrumental heart of the band is Chicago born fiddler Chris Bain. In 2001, he and Jackie Moran realized that though there were plenty of talented Irish musicians in Chicago (Liz Carroll, Jimmy Keane, Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill, John Williams, Larry Nugent and more), there was no full time, all traditional Irish band in the city. They put together the first Bua ensemble at about the same time Jimmy Keane was forming his band Bohola. During it’s early years, the band went through some line up changes and recorded a debut CD “Gan Bua”. By 2005, the current line up was in place and a second album, “Live At Martyrs” (a very popular folk venue in Chicago), was recorded in May 2006. This well reviewed album brought Bua to the attention of a wide variety of music critics, promoters, festival organizers and venues and a successful career was launched!
            Chris Bain grew up in a musical household that often hosted touring bands from Ireland and Wales. In 1997 he moved to Wales to attend university and began to spend a lot of free time in Ireland, soaking in the traditional music in seisuns in Donegal and Sligo.
            Jackie Moran was born in Thurles, Co. Tipperary and moved to Chicago at the age of ten. As he grew, up, he became a stalwart of the Chicago Irish music scene as a highly sought after bodhran and banjo player.  For a time, he toured as a featured performer in River Dance and The Trinity Irish Dance Company.
            Sean Gavin was born in Detroit, son of well known Co. Clare fiddler Mick Gavin. His driving style on flute and uillean pipes clearly reflects his immersion in Irish music from and early age.
            Brian Miller is from Minneapolis and was greatly influenced by Irish music luminaries Paddy O’Brien and Daithi Sproule who were both living in the area. He honed his traditional music skills while living in Cork City where he can still be found performing with accordion player Tommie Cunnife when not on tour with Bua or Canadian flautist/singer Norah Rendell (a member of the Celtic band Outside Track, seen in our concert series in January 2009.)
            Brian O’hAirt’s voice stands as a hallmark of Bua’s unique sound. His vocal talent afforded him the great acclaim of being named the youngest and only American to win the All Ireland Senior Men’s Ballad championship. Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, singer for Danu, hails Brian’s voice as “breathtakingly sweet and full of sensitivity.” Though American by birth (St. Louis), his dedication to the tradition has led him to become an adept singer in Irish Gaelic.
            Bua’s third CD “An Spealadoir” (The Harvester) was recently released in the U.S. by Mad River Records based in Redding , CT!
            Bill Margeson of  The Irish American News describes Bua’s talent concisely: “Clearly this group is no locally based collection of musicians  trying to break out of Chicago. They are a band who have established themselves in the eyes and ears of a far greater Irish community.”
            Indeed, it’s Bua’s time and they’re on their way to YOUR neighborhood!! Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy them Friday, July 3rd at 7:30 PM in the University of Hartford’s Wilde Auditorium.
            The concert series will present two shows in August. On the 7th, the very entertaining duo called Pipeline will reprise a very successful January 2008 debut. On the 21st, Tommy Sands, a living legend of Irish folk music, will make his debut here, joined by his talented children, daughter Moya and son Fionan.
            Pipeline, comprised of Dermot Hyde (vocals, uillean pipes, whistles) and Tom Hake (vocals, bouzouki, guitar and harp) were, in my mind, the surprise hit of the 2008 concert series!! They’ve recently released their second album, “The Red Line”, and will be touring this summer to promote it. The duo is based in Germany where they are also heavily involved in musical theater. I think this later pursuit explains their marvelous stage presence. Coupled with their musical prowess, they produce a very exciting show!
            There are countless duos in the world of Celtic music, but Pipeline almost redefines the term. Hyde and Hake are both serious multi-instrumentalists who can produce a frighteningly beautiful and mesmerizing collage of sound as they seamlessly unite the music of Ireland, Scotland, Galicia and Brittany. Wonderful songs interspersed with their witty and informative stage patter makes for an unrivalled evening of entertainment!
            The Living Tradition said “Pipeline are the kind of ambassadors who keep this music alive and kicking. This is magic music from two magically musical people.” Come see for yourself when Pipeline return to the Wilde Auditorium Friday August 7th at 7:30 pm. This is a show you DON’T want to miss!
            Are there enough superlatives and accolades to describe Tommy Sands? The man is an icon of Irish folk music. His songs are known the world over, covered by artists including Joan Baez, Kathy Mattea, Dolores Keane, Sean Keane, Dick Gaughan and the Dubliners to name a few. His compositions have been praised by Irish Nobel Poet Laureate, Seamus Heaney and the father of American folk music, Pete Seeger. The well respected U.S. magazine Sing Out called him “the most powerful songwriter in Ireland, if not the rest of the world.”
            Tommy and his talented siblings (Ben, Colum and Anne; The Sands Family Band) are from Co. Down, North Ireland. He is a singer, songwriter, and above all a social activist who has already achieved a legendary status in his own lifetime. For three decades he’s been a man walking the one road that bridges two cultures, Catholic and Protestant, encouraging people  of opposing viewpoints to coexist peacefully. His painfully beautiful and moving song “There  Were Roses” defines what has been called ‘The Irish Problem’ in a haunting and unforgettable way.
            Tommy recently released his seventh solo album “Let The Circle Be Wide” joined by his talented children Moya (fiddle, bodhran, whistle, vocals) and Fionan (banjo, mandolin, vocals) who will accompany him on this concert tour as well. Their 2008 American performances were described variously as “Enchanting”, “Irresistible” and “Charming”. Don’t miss your chance to see Tommy, Moya and Fionan Sands Friday August 21st at 7:30 pm in the University of Hartford’s Wilde Auditorium. Mark my words, you’ll regret it if you don’t take advantage of this opportunity!
            Tickets for the WWUH/Celtic Airs concert series are only available through the University Box Office and go on sale two months before the concert date. Call 1-800-274-8587 or 1-860-768-4228 or purchase on line at www.hartford.edu/tickets
            If you’d like to be added to our concert e-mail list, send an e-mail to wwuh@hartford.edu with “Celtic Mailing List” in the subject line. In the body of the message, give us your full name, street, town and state address. Concerts occur roughly once a month. You can also hear all about them on Celtic Airs, broadcast every Tuesday morning, 6:00-9:00 am on WWUH radio, 91.3 FM

Copyright©WWUH: July/August Program Guide, 2009

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