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