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Mairead Nesbitt / Celtic Spells show
« on: March 18, 2024, 09:40:01 PM »
I got to see 2 of Máiréad Nesbitt's Celtic Spells show in California!

Before the first show, it got kind of chilly outside. Fortunately, they opened the doors a few minutes early because it started pouring unexpectedly outside a few minutes later. The venue was smaller than one that Celtic Woman would perform in, but larger than a venue Chloë would typically perform in. I had front row and the stage was below eye level. There was an array of speakers on top of the stage that impeded view a little (mostly of the footwork of the dancers). The performers were at least 20 feet from the front of the stage as well.

In the band, they had a keyboard, guitar, drums, and the usual assortment of Irish instruments, including the harp, bohdran, whistles, and uillean pipes. They were spread out wide across the stage. There was a video screen at the back, showing scenes of Ireland throughout the show to help set the mood. Dancers came out onto the stage every few songs. There were also a couple of singers.

Máiréad was on stage for most of the show, sometimes off to the side, sometimes center stage.

Between Máiréad, the band, the singers, the dancers, and the video screen, there was a lot to take in at once.

The music worked really well live, with some of the tunes sounding even better than they did on the album. The drum arrangements were engaging and the percussive tapdancing during Dance of Destiny was epic!

Máiréad tossed in There Is No Night, the gorgeous slow air from Raining Up and Hibernia. It's overwhelmingly beautiful and it had me mopping my face in appreciation.

I wasn't too high on the vocal arrangements, which didn't achieve much harmonic synergy between the singers. That said, The Ballad of the Perfect Storm was incredible live. Máiréad played tin whistle during that song. The melody is captivating and the lyrics, as those who listened to the album will know, are phenomenal. It's soooo good and the percussion in the live show made it even more amazing.

Most of the tunes in the set list were from the album, slightly re-ordered, with a few additions including what was possibly my favourite arrangement of Shenandoah.

The show closed with a variation of the David Downes Paring Glass, concluding each verse and chorus on a major chord instead of a dreary minor chord.

The second show was in a theatre on a high school campus. It was surprisingly large. It probably had a capacity of a few thousand people. Infortunately it wasn't filled up. When introducing the show, they pronounced Máiréad something like Merida or Meridith.

The crowd the first night was pretty good. The audience was engaged in the show and clapping along enthusiastically when appropriate. The crowd for the second show was quite a bit more reserved, preferring to sit and enjoy the production, rather than participate in the energy.

The show has a story to it, but I'm not sure how easy it would have been someone to follow who didn't know the story or song titles in advance, even with the video screen. For instance, Star Crossed Lovers was performed with a starscape on the screen. It was pretty, but unless you knew the tune was called Star Crossed Lovers, it wouldn't have meant much beyond looking and sounding nice. It was pretty clear early in the show that the two dancers were lovers getting married and Máiréad did a pre-recorded voiceover explaining that they were from different backgrounds and that their union was forbidden (to elaborate, the story took place in the early 1900s, starring a protestant from the north and a catholic from the south, and their families disapproved of their union, so they married in secret and left for America). I'm a bit worried that the average audience member would just think they were listening to separate stories, or just random songs and tunes, albeit very good ones.

Overall, the show was highly enjoyable and worth the lengthy flights.

Speaking of flights, I'm not sure how much it was on the news outside of California, but the traffic at LAX the day I returned home was horrendous. I made unexpectedly good time from Glendora to LA. It only took about an hour to get to the rental car return lot. Things went downhill from there. The trip from the lot to the airport was only a few miles, but traffic was crawling the entire way due to poorly planned lane closures. They closed 4 out of 5 lanes in multiple places. It took over 90 minutes just to get off near the start of the terminal, over 2 hours in total on the bus. On the way, I started seeing people with their suitcases walking towards the airport at the side of the road (some between cars). There were people on an overpass that got out of their cars to take photos because traffic was dead stopped on the highway too. Closer to the terminal, there were streams of people hurrying frantically on foot with their luggage. I've never seen anything like it.

There are about 6 or 7 terminals arranged in a huge multi-mile horseshoe. Mine was #6. I ended up getting off the bus around terminal 2 and booked it on foot, because if I had stayed on the bus in that nightmare, there was 0% chance I was making my scheduled departure time. Thankfully security was quick (probably because nobody could actually get to the airport). I got to the gate mid-way through boarding around 10-15 minutes before they were going to close the gate. They completely boarded the flight, then we sat around on board, eventually being notified that the flight crew was also stuck in traffic and hadn't arrived yet. We took off around an hour and a half late. It was a very long beerless St. Patrick's Day, but certainly worth the trip.

Other Musicians / The Celtic Tenors tour
« on: March 18, 2024, 08:34:29 PM »
I got to see one of The Celtic Tenors shows last week.

For those who may not be aware, The Celtic Tenors used to open for Celtic Woman on tour and Matt is Deirdre Shannon's brother. Brian McGrane, their musical director and multi-instrumentalist, toured with Celtic Woman and currently forms the duo The Brave Collide with Chloë Agnew.

The Celtic Tenors have toured together for 25 years, I believe with the same 3 members. It was apparently their first time in 9 years visiting this area.

One of the lads played tin whistle / low whistle at times during the show, as well as guitar.

In the first act, the lads came out dressed casually in jeans. In the second act, the wore the suits.

Most of the song were group songs with great harmony. The solos were excellent too though! Some of my favourites were:
- Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears
- Song for Ireland
- Remember Me
- Nella Fantasia
- The Prayer
- Perfect
- Galileo

The harmonies on Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears, Song for Ireland, and Nella Fantasia (among others) were gorgeous!

Matthew's solo (Galileo) was really good, possibly my favourite version of the song!

Brian's keyboard solo 21-15 (available from his forthcoming album "Engraned" which was available to purchase at the show prior to its official release) sounded really pretty.

There were plenty of fun songs and the crowd got into it and clapped / sang along.

The lads were pretty funny.

There was a Derry Girls shoutout during the show.

There were a lot of superfans in the audience and the tenors called out quite a few of them from the stage throughout the show. One of the people sitting next to me had seen them 60 times. There were fans that flew in from out of town to see the show.

Sadly (thought not unsurprisingly), Deirdre didn't make an appearance. In spite of that, I really enjoyed the show and plan to see them the next time they come to the area.

I got to meet the 3 tenors as well as their musical directory / pianist / guitarist / singer Brian McGrane after the show.

Full Set List

I'll Tell Me Ma
Isle of Hope
Red Is the Rose
Nella Fantasia / Funiculi
The Dutchman
Perfect (Ed Sheeran) (James solo, along with Brian McGrane)
Rocky Road to Dublin
The Prayer

21-15 (Brian McGrane keyboard solo)
Feels Like Home
The Boxer
Gallileo (Matthew solo)
From Here to Moon and Back
Brown-eyed girl (Daryl solo)
Can't Help Falling In Love (With You)
Whiskey In the Jar
Remember Me

The Parting Glass (encore)

Tara McNeill / Tara on the Cello Sherpa Podcast
« on: March 09, 2024, 01:38:52 PM »
Tara did a great interview on the Cello Sherpa podcast. It's available on various platforms, including Spotify, Apple podcasts, etc.

Or you can listen through the link below:


Eabha McMahon / Celtic World music releases
« on: March 08, 2024, 09:41:35 PM »
Éabha announced on social media that Celtic World is releasing 2 singles. In the sprit of the Celtic World Forum, the tracks will feature a collection of Irish musicians coming together.

The first track, "I Left My Heart," releases March 15.

Some clips from the first song were released on Social Media.

I love the way it sounds!

The second track, "Ireland," releases March 29th.

Vocalists include Éabha, Megan, Caitriona Sherlock and Fergus Cahillane. Tara Howley is on pipes and whistles and there are other familiar names from Celtic World Forum that played instruments on the first track.

Hannah Traynor / Hannah was in the recording studio
« on: March 06, 2024, 10:06:27 PM »
Near the end of February, Hannah posted she was recording in Windmill Lane Studios. She tagged Sorcha Fenlon, Morgan Brothers, and Lorna Breen.

Jake Morgan posted that last week (ie. end of February) they were recording "The High King's Daughter."

CW Musicians and Choir / Guiding Light (Ronan)
« on: February 29, 2024, 01:18:16 PM »
Ronan is releasing is debut solo EP Guiding Light on April 19, 2024, a collection of some of his favourite songs by other artists.

Pre-order will begin March 22.


Hayley Westenra / Heaven Is Falling (single)
« on: February 02, 2024, 05:42:04 PM »
It's been a long time since there was a music-related Hayley update.

Today, Delaney Davidson released a new track (and associated music video): "Heaven Is Falling"

Hayley co-wrote the song, although she doesn't sing in the track.

It's a "trippy" / surreal / strange video. Enjoy:


Celtic Woman / Brian Byrne Original Songs
« on: January 28, 2024, 10:10:59 PM »
Since we have one of these threads for David Downes, I've decided to start one for Brian Byrne as well.

From 20 (20th Anniversary):

Is Sinne Mná na hÉireann
Lay Your Head Down (From the Albert Nobbs soundtrack. Glenn Close wrote the lyrics.)
Sionann (Shannon)
Tread Lightly
An Cailín Dearg

Side-note: Darrah O'Toole's The Toys' Waltz was also one of his own compositions, re-purposed for the Christmas Cards from Ireland EP and corresponding Postcards from Ireland PBS special. But that didn't warrant its own thread.

Other Musicians / New Celtic Thunder Special
« on: January 17, 2024, 12:13:13 PM »
Celtic Thunder (with Ronan) were doing a photoshoot in Ireland this month and teased a new TV special was coming.

Celtic Woman / 2023 Year In Review
« on: December 30, 2023, 03:17:34 PM »
2023 Year In Review

With 2023 approaching its closing moments, it's time to reflect on the year it has been.

This year began in disappointing fashion, with no Celtic Woman spring tour, making it the third time in four years there was no full spring tour.

Hannah departed Celtic Woman after only one year. She featured on the 2022 Christmas tour but did not appear on any album or DVD (thus far the only member of Celtic Woman to not feature on either media, since Deirdre appeared briefly in the documentary on The Greatest Journey DVD).

Megan also departed Celtic Woman to pursue her solo work.

Celtic Woman returned to The Helix in Dublin, the place it all began, to record a new PBS special to celebrate their 20th anniversary in 2024. The 20th Anniversary special featured the debut of Emma Warren and the return of Mairéad Carlin. It also featured a reunion with 4 of the original Celtic Woman members, including Méav, Chloë, Máiréad Nesbitt, and most shockingly: Lisa Kelly. The special began airing on PBS in the US in November and the album and DVD are scheduled to release in January 2024.

Celtic Woman embarked on their 2023 Christmas Symphony tour with 3 shows at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, a tour which concluding with a 2-night finale in Atlanta, Georgia.

Éabha's innaugural Celtic World Forum was held at the Irish Institute of Music and Song in Balbriggan, Ireland. She assembled an astonishing collection of talent, including Mairéad Carlin, Máiréad Nesbitt, Megan Walsh, Orla Fallon, Glenn & Ronan, and long-time Riverdance instrumentalist Tara Howley.

Éabha also put on a spin-off concert entitled Celtic World at Christmas, held at 700+ year old St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church in Galway. The concert included (among others) Megan, Susan, Glenn & Ronan, and Tara Howley.

Mairéad Carlin performed in Opry le Daniel and also held a solo concert in her hometown of Derry (or Londonderry, depending on your persuasion).

Alex performed 6 solo shows at the Cherry Peak ski resort in Richmond, Utah. She also toured with Jenny Oaks Baker in celebration of Christmas.

The Brave Collide (Chloë Agnew and Brian McGrane) made their official touring debut in New York. The Brave Collide also did several virtual concerts on StageIt.

Tara McNeill and her husband completed a brief tour featuring songs from their original album, Across the Atlantic.

Lisa Lambe launched a Patreon page, toured her show Nightvisiting in Europe, and performed the National Anthem at the Notre Dame vs Navy NCAA American college football match at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Megan performed as a guest in a number of concerts in Ireland.

2023 was a light year for music release. Here are some worth noting...

- Scéalta (4 track digital-only EP)

Máiréad Nesbitt:
- Celtic Spells (album, Máiréad Nesbitt)

Tara McNeill:
- Across the Atlantic (album, Tara McNeill)

Lisa Lambe:
- Lisa Lambe Live (5 track EP)

Rebecca Winckworth (singles):
- When I See You Again
- Sister's Love
- Young, Brave and Free
- Remember You're You

Sarah Rebecca (Gannon) (singles):
- City Is Mine
- Kwik-E-Mart
- Above in the Blue
- Dance With the Devil

- Faith Of Our Fathers (with RootsTech) (single)
- Mother (with Kristina A Bishoff) (single)

- Ladies (with X Collective / Zapho)

- Featured in a few songs of the Hogwarts Legacy video game original soundtrack, most prominently in the track Haven

There's plenty to look forward to in the New Year. 2024 heralds the release of the Celtic Woman 20th Anniversary CD and DVD, as well as the highly anticipated return of the Celtic Woman spring tour. Éabha's Celtic World Forum will be back for an encore. Máiréad Nesbitt has a few more west-coast Celtic Spells shows scheduled and will perform in the Rock Me Amadeus debut in January. Mairéad Carlin and Trinity are scheduled to perform a single show in Nebraska.

Here's to all the memories that await us in 2024 as we each pursue our passion of Celtic Woman, the production we love.

Alex Sharpe / Witnesses Of Christmas (2023 edition)
« on: December 28, 2023, 09:53:13 PM »
The LDS (Mormon) church put together another virtual Witnesses of Christmas concert this year. Jenny Oaks Baker didn't perform this year, but he was the musical director for the show.

This year's show was a collection of carols from various countries in Europe, along with the stories behind them. Alex performed the familiar Wexford Carol and also sang in the finale: Silent Night. Most of the other carols I hadn't never heard before, which made for a refreshing experience.

Here's a link to the concert on YouTube:

Other Musicians / Treasure Island (starring Leah Barniville)
« on: December 28, 2023, 06:59:15 PM »
While I was in Ireland to see Éabha's Christmas concert, I saw Leah Barniville in "Treasure Island" at The Helix before flying back home for Christmas. It was my first time seeing a pantomime (panto) and I enjoyed it more than I was expecting.

The Helix lobby was heavily-decorated for Christmas.

For those unfamiliar, a panto is essentially a comedy with audience interaction. The main character, played by Leah Barnaville, made a wish to have more adventure in her life and got more than she bargained for as she was thrust into a swashbuckling fantasy. Her character had to thwart the plans of the evil pirate captain Long John Silver. The plot was secondary to the characters and the vibe of the experience. There was a healthy does of slapstick and random dance break segments. The actors frequently broke the 4th wall (broke character to interact with the audience).

The captain Silver character was a hilarious evil parody of Jack Sparrow. The fairy godmother was also really funny.

The audience got into the show. The kids were waving their glow sticks, booing the bad guys, and (unfortunately) talked with their parents throughout most of the show. It was all part of the experience though and it didn't significantly affect my enjoyment of the production.

Leah sang a little bit, although she didn't get to exercise the full capabilities of her voice. Perhaps one day the timing will work out and I'll be able to attend one of her solo concerts in person.

Overall, this exceeded my expectations and my first panto experience was positive.

After the show, I got to meet Leah at the stage door! That was my first time meeting her. She spent a few minutes chatting with me and took a photo.

The next morning, I was back in the air to fly home for Christmas.

Treasure Island was my 31st and final live performance attended in 2023. For a year that started without a Celtic Woman spring tour, I somehow managed to see more shows than ever. 🤣

Tara McNeill / Tara's 500th show
« on: December 12, 2023, 01:08:52 PM »
According to the Tour History spreadsheet, tonight in Denver is Tara's 500th show as a member of Celtic Woman!

That's including the DVD recordings (except for Destiny, since she wasn't a member yet, and Postcards filming, since that was not audience attended) and excluding one show she missed after taking a tumble and banging up her leg.

That's 500 audiences she's enchanted across the world!
Here's to 500 amazed audiences

Lisa Lambe / You'll Deliver Christmas
« on: November 29, 2023, 07:00:19 PM »
A little while ago, Lisa released a new single "You'll Deliver Christmas."

This one's a real ear-pleaser. It has a warm and soothing sound and nice lyrics. I love the melody. I love basically everything about this song!


What's you favourite moment from the 20th Anniversary special?

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