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Author Topic: 2019 Highlights  (Read 1132 times)
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« on: December 31, 2019, 10:03:08 PM »

2020 is just around the corner.

2019 was my most ambitious concert-going year so far:

- 9 Celtic Woman shows (4 Ancient Land shows, 5 Magic of Christmas shows)
- 18 total Celtic Woman related shows (featuring current or former members)
- 17 flights
- 10 different states
- 2 countries

The concert season started off with a bit of a disappointment. Sarah Gannon (former choir member) was part of the Murphy's Celtic Legacy show for a while, but left shortly before the show I saw. The next day was a long but rewarding trip to Youngstown, Ohio to see Mairead Nesbitt for the first of 5 times this year. The even longer drive back home however was pretty terrifying for a number of reasons.

Later that month was the first of 4 Celtic Woman: Ancient Land tour shows of the year for me. For the first time, there was a "no hugging" policy in place by the venue. In humiliating but increasingly familiar fashion, I forgot was I was going to say to Megan. "The new girl curse" perhaps as I had experienced that problem with Tara several times prior to that. I already loved all the songs from the Ancient Land album / DVD and also loved all the new songs they added to the tour. Ancient Land would end up being my favorite Celtic Woman tour so far. Mairead's astonishing live version of Newgrange and the new Bean Phaidin arrangement were among the many highlights of the set list.

Shortly after a second Celtic Woman: Ancient Land show in Detroit, I flew to be part of the Celtic Heart DVD recording audience, featuring Tim Janis, Lynn Hilary, and Mairead Nesbitt. I wasn't sure what to expect. In particular, I wasn't sure how much of Lynn and Mairead I would actually see. I was pleasantly surprised to experience both of them in almost every song! The music was gorgeous and for those that haven't seen it yet, I can't wait for it to be available to you on PBS and DVD in 2020!

In May came one of two gauntlet-trips, with shows on 4 consecutive days and multiple flights in the same trip. I saw Lisa Lambe twice in NY, followed by Lisa Kelly (and Chloë) in Peachtree City, followed by a Celtic Woman: Ancient Land show and Meet and Greet in Calgary (via connecting flight) the following evening. The Calgary show was kind of a bitter-sweet end to the trip. In order to make that show, I had to skip Lisa Kelly and Chloë's extremly-short-notice "couch-and-greet" at the Lisa Kelly Voice Academy that morning. So another year gone by without meeting Lisa.

The Calgary Meet and Greet was probably the best I've experienced so far. My legs were extra-shaky from anxiety and travel fatigue, but I'd come up with perhaps my best prepared statements for the girls that day and for the first time, I delivered everything I wanted to say pretty much exactly as I wanted without any awkward forgetfulness.

Later that month, I got to see Celtic Woman for the Ancient Land tour final on my birthday at Red Rocks with Meet and Greet. Pretty difficult to top the Ancient Land DVD recording at a castle in Ireland with my friends Gregg, Tracie, and David in 2018. But Red Rocks on my birthday was pretty epic. The storm in the background over Denver served as both a unique and cool aspect of the show and as a distraction. I'll have to do a better job of mentally blocking out the weather-factor next time so I can enjoy the entire show.

All this in May came in the midst of a historic playoff run by the Toronto Raptors and another humiliating 1st-round exit by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

I thought at that point my concert season was pretty much finished. I decided to add Mairead Nesbitt's show in Canton, MA to the schedule! It turned out to be a great weekend with amazing friend Tracie.

Then came the long and difficult time between Celtic Woman shows. I could feel for the whole first half of the year that the protective bubble of joy with which Celtic Woman had surrounded me over the past few years was going to burst and sure enough around August or September, it did. A sudden and devastating rush of anxiety and depression filled the void between shows. The next few months were plagued by relentless waves of emotional difficulties. It was by far the worst I've felt since 2015 (aka "the year of hell").

There were a bunch of key album releases around the same time: Celtic Woman: Ancient Land (Deluxe), Celtic Woman: The Magic of Christmas, Orla's "A Winter's Tale," Chloë's "Reimagined," Tim Janis' "Celtic Heart," CaraNua's "Celtic Dreaming" and Lindsey Stirling "Artemis" to name a few.

In spite of all those exciting album launches, I went stumbling into CWazy Christmas (the final show-gauntlet of the year) in a highly destabilized emotional state. It was very swingy from hour to hour and there was a legitimate concern I wouldn't be able to enjoy any of the shows after the stress of travel was added on top of an already fragile psychological predicament. I managed to block out the negative emotions for the first 2 Celtic Woman: Magic of Christmas shows, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I got to finally see a show at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend, Indiana, where the Emerald DVD had been recorded. In Indiana, I got to meet all 4 girls at the stage door at the same show! I wasn't so lucky in Findlay, Ohio, where I waited an hour and 25 minutes in the cold before having to drive 2 hours to my next destination. The girls apparently came out just after I left. That drive was a nightmare and I'm lucky I made it to Detroit for my flight to New Jersey the next day.

The Tim Janis show at Carnegie Hall was pretty good. At the Celtic Heart DVD recording, I had feared Mariead and Lynn would be underutilized. At Tim Janis' Christmas show, that fear was realized. Mairead was on stage for a few songs but Lynn and her gorgeous voice weren't featured nearly enough.

The next day, I flew to Atlanta to see Chloë's Christmas show with the Atlanta Pops Ensemble. I hit a huge emotional downswing that morning and it took a LOT of effort to scramble back in mental shape before the show. There was a nice fan gathering before the show and I was surprisingly sociable by that time. Chloë sounded fantastic, although she sounds even better with a full orchestra (rather than a subset) behind her. The Meet and Greet after the show went pretty well. Chloë once again was incredibly patient with me as I worked through all the stuff I had planned to say to her. I guess I must have delivered my content well, because both Chloë and I were in tears by the time I was finished.

Having held myself up for the show and the Meet and Greet, the next day (which included a flight to Denver) was accompanied by another brutal bout of anxiety and depression. The flight over was terrible from an emotional standpoint and most of the evening (thankfully no show that night) was lost trying to recover mentally. I am so thankful my friends were there to get me through that.

By the next day, I was finally feeling better and the show in Denver and that night, with my best friends at my side, I was able to fully appreciate the Celtic Woman show in Denver. As Tracie and her shoulder well-know, I enjoyed that show so much I was in tears of joy for pretty much the entire evening. We got to meet all 4 girls after the show at the stage door and take a rare group photo with all 4 of them.

Only 2 Celtic Woman shows remained at that point: Milwaukee, WI and Cedar Falls, Iowa. I finally got to meet Glen! The tour finale in Cedar Falls was my 18th Celtic Woman show and 40th Celtic Woman related show. I'll try to do a more extensive writeup for those shows over the next week or two.

Technically, the last show of CWazy Christmas, 2019, and the decade, was a non-Celtic-Woman show, but it was a pretty spectacular one: Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It's an elaborate and high-energy production. The lighting, stage, and music were all fantastic, although I think last year's Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas production was even more spectacular.

2019 was a pretty busy year! I finally got to meet Lynn Hilary (after Tim Janis' Celtic Heart DVD recording in Maine). But I still haven't seen Alex perform live or seen CaraNua. I got to see Mairead Nesbitt a lot, but didn't get to see Chloë nearly as much as I had wanted. But I saw my 2 all-time-favorite tours (Celtic Woman: Ancient Land and The Magic of Christmas) a total of 9 times! The best times of the year though were the shows I got to see in the company of my best friends. <3

The New Year, 2020, looks like it will be even more exciting. I already have tickets to 12 Celtic Woman: Celebration tour shows (including 3 in Ireland). I'm going to be going to the Fox Theater Atlanta show in 2020 one way or another as well (just waiting on a M+G that's more reasonable than $750 or else I'll get a regular ticket in the balcony somewhere). That will make it 13 Celtic Woman shows for 2020 so far. I also have tickets for at least one Chloë show a plans for a second show in the works. ;)

I wish all of you here at the forum a Happy New Year.

Here's to the year ahead and all the joy it will bring in to our lives courtesy of the group we love, Celtic Woman.
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2020, 10:26:05 AM »

Fantastic write-up of 2019 highlights Tom! You did so many amazing things throughout the year. I'm very sorry that you experience such brutal anxiety and depression, but I am glad that we could be there to help you through some of it. We had such an amazing time with you in 2019 and are so excited to see you even more in 2020. Thanks for being such a wonderful friend!
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2020, 10:39:20 AM »

I feel your pain about traveling.  Over the years, I've done some crazy things to make it to shows.  Florida to El Paso, TX (fly); drive to Albequerque.  Drive to Denver.  Fly to Florida.  Then there was the drive from Florida to Ohio (2 shows), then to West Virginia, then back to Florida.  The snowstorm in New England, going from Manchester, NH to Scranton, PA.  A flight to NYC getting canceled due to weather (at least it was the day before the show!), then making it to NYC the next day with lots of snow on the ground (OK, Central Park was really nice in the snow!).

I think I've been to 37 different venues over 12 years.  Luckily for me, there are usually 5 or 6 shows in Florida that I can drive to, depending on ticket availability.  If you have to fly somewhere, I always figure that it's a full day of travel.  If, for example, I go to Atlanta, it's a 7 hour drive.  Flying is only 90 minutes, but then you have to get to the airport early, plus renting a car on the other end, plus driving to wherever.  At some point, I'd rather drive. 
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2020, 01:57:42 AM »

It was pretty awesome to see you at 5 of those shows last year, Tom!  I'm sorry the time between the 4th and the 5th was such a terrible low time for you.  Cya more in 2020!

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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2020, 02:49:36 AM »

I wasn't able to follow up with what the girls up to in 2019 for various reasons. Great post to get me up to date. Looking forward to 2020 and hopefully seeing them in concert at least once!
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