Enya - Wild Child (Click her photo at right for web site)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ladies of Longford - Dublin Irish Festival 2012

This past weekend I had the opportunity to listen to the Ladies of Longford who is an Irish group that performs through-out Ohio. It was this time one year ago at the 2011 Dublin Irish Festival when I heard them for the first time. I was amazed with their powerful voices and their skills with various instruments.

Let me give you a very short summary of who they are. The Ladies of Longford consists of five women who play traditional Irish music in addition to a bit of everything else. But they always put their own little twist into their songs for their fans. Their grandfather is originally from Co. Longford in Ireland, hence the name Ladies of Longford. The group consists of:

Hilda Doyle (vocals, acoustic guitar)
Stephanie Doyle (vocals, bass guitar)
Heather Doyle Fraser ( vocals, percussion-including djembe, shaker, tambourine)
Elizabeth Blickenstaff (fiddle)
Molly Pauken (drums, bass guitar)

They started the weekend with an hour show on the lawn of the statehouse.  Their music always seems to pull in the young dancers whether they are doing traditional Irish dance or just dancing in general. After the show I chatted with Heather for a while but I did not want to hold her up too long because they had another show later that day at the Dublin Irish Festival. I need to say that each of these ladies also performs with various other Irish groups. This weekend will be my first time to hear these other groups so I made a point to attend all their shows for a few reasons. First, I wanted to hear the other groups as I enjoy Irish music. Second, I want to support the other groups these ladies are part of and last I wanted to get pictures for their fans.


Lone Raven with Elizabeth
Elizabeth also plays the fiddle with Lone Raven so later that day I arrived at the festival and hurried to the stage where Lone Raven would be performing. I have heard Lone Raven before and I like their music. Downside was that they only had one show this weekend. When I got to the stage they were already into their first song or two. I must say that Kara and Elizabeth perform the best version of “Black is the Colour” that I have ever heard. Kara sings the main vocals and Elizabeth plays the fiddle and also sings. The rest of the group also performs and they create this sound that I cannot describe. After their show I made sure to buy the CD that had that song on it. I also recorded it with my camera. Lone Raven is a great group and I love their music, but that song will always stand out for me.

Ladies of Longford
Later that night I made sure to get a front row seat for the Ladies of Longford. Molly is not with them on every show through-out the year and she was with them on this night (and earlier at the statehouse) I think Molly is talented and wanted to make sure to catch a few shows since I have not seen her for several months. I want to say this in a positive way but Molly reminds me of some of the great musicians of the 60’s. But whether it is all five or just four of them, they put their heart into it and give us the best show ever. I love how they interact with each other and the fans. 


Vinegar Hill with Elizabeth.
I did not care for the schedule on some shows because of the times. Vinegar Hill was my first show today but Stephanie also had a show with Clear Blue Sunday and these two overlapped about 30 minutes. When  Vinegar Hill ended, I was gone and heading to the stage with Clear Blue Sunday. I really enjoyed Vinegar Hill. I am not the best when it comes to describing music but I know what I like and what I do not like. I think Elizabeth is highly skilled on the fiddle but I wanted to make sure I listened to Vinegar Hill as a group. This would be my first time hearing Vinegar Hill so I was looking forward to hear them. I do not know their names but they have a great sound.   I would listen to them again.

Clear Blue Sunday with Stephanie
I made it to the stage just as I heard one of the guys commenting about how much better they sound because of Stephanie’s voice. Not taking anything away from them, I will agree that Stephanie does have a great voice. Each of them had certain songs where they sing lead vocals and they have good voices. They played some traditional Irish songs and even a bit of rock. This was also my first time hearing Clear Blue Sunday. The DIF always offers a variety of music and I can usually tell within a few songs whether I like a group or not. This is another group who I would hear again.

Craig and Kara
Craig and Kara are from Lone Raven but this was not a Lone Raven performance. Hilda and Elizabeth also sat in with Craig and Kara. Since it was not the complete Lone Raven group, I still had a question. So I went up to Kara and asked her if they will be performing Black is the Colour. Hey, what can I say. I love that song by them. I believe it was the closing song. Craig and Kara possess the same quality as with Lone Raven. It is still them but at a smaller scale. Kara has a beautiful voice regardless whether it is all of them or just a few. After the show I talked with Elizabeth for a few minutes and had to comment on the song and we talked about their busy schedule. 

Ladies of Longford
These poor women finally had a few hours to rest before their next show. I really felt bad for them. All we do is move from stage to stage, clap, dance or whatever. But they are up on stage in the lights moving about for over an hour in this heat. Through all this they still kept a positive attitude and gave us a perfect show. Lots of smiles, jokes and just having fun. I was talking to Hilda and I love how she put it, “we love making music and love entertaining the people.” With a passion like that, it is no wonder why fans love them! After the show I chatted with Heather and Stephanie some more and I headed off so they could get packed up and get home.


A little cooler today and they had a less strenuous schedule. They did a song with Dublin Silver Band and a closing number with Vinegar Hill. While listening to Vinegar Hill, Elizabeth is doing one of her solos and the cord to her fiddle comes unplugged. She just keeps playing along while they get her plugged back in. Very professional!

After the show I get some pictures of them and also a few with them. I thank them for a great weekend as you can see was very busy. Whether performing as a group or  with others, this was a wonderful weekend for Ladies of Longford fans.


Ladies of Longford

Lone Raven with Elizabeth (Ladies of Longford)

Vinegar Hill with Elizabeth (Ladies of Longford)

Statehouse Lawn

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dublin Irish Festival 2012

Below are my photos and videos from the 2012 Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, Ohio. Please feel free to use any you would like.

You can view all the photos (over 250 photos) from here or click the links under the artist’s name to go directly to their photos.

Clear Blue Sunday with Stephanie (Ladies of Longford)

Dublin Silver Band

Eileen Ivers

John Whelan

Ladies of Longford

Lone Raven with Elizabeth (Ladies of Longford)

Lone Raven with Hilda and Elizabeth (Ladies of Longford)

Lone Raven, Ladies of Longford, Vinegar Hill and others


T with the Maggies

Vinegar Hill with Elizabeth (Ladies of Longford)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Irish Festivals in United States

Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival (Ohio)
July 20, 21 & 22

Arizona Highland Celtic Festival (Arizona)
July 21 & 22

Dakota Irish Fair (South Dakota)
July 21

Clovers Irish Weekend (Pennsylvania)
July 23, 24 & 25

Dayton Celtic Festival (Ohio)
July 27, 28 & 29

Great American Irish Festival (New York)
July 27, 28 & 29

Greater Hartford Irish Music Festival (Connecticut)
July 27, 28 & 29

Dublin Irish Festival (Ohio)
August  3,4 & 5

Montana Gaelic Cultural Society (Montana)
August 10, 11 & 12

Irish Fair of Minnesota (Minnesota)
August 10, 11 & 12

Irish Fest La Crosse  (Wisconsin)
August 10 & 11

Irish Festival of Western Massachusetts (Massachusetts)
August 11

Ballyshaners Irish Festival (Virginia)
August 14

Milwaukee Irish Festival (Wisconsin)
August 16 – 19

Bennington Irish Music Festival (Vermont)
August 20 & 21

Buffalo Irish Festival (New York)
August 24, 25 & 26

Peoria Irish Festival (Illinois)
August 24, 25 & 26

Newport Celtic Rock Festival (Rhode Island)
August 25

Quad City (Illinois)
August 25

Kansas City Irish Festival
August 31 – September 2

Philadelphia Ceili Group (Pennsylvania)
September 6, 7 & 8

Pittsburgh Irish Festival (Pennsylvania)
September 7, 8 & 9

Rochester Irish Festival (New York)
September 7, 8 & 9

Sycamore Shoals Celtic Festival  (Tennessee)
September 7, 8 & 9

Syracuse Irish festival (New York)
September 7 & 8

Ship Bottom Irish Festival (New Jersey)
September 8 & 9

Trenton IHA Mercer Irish Festival (New Jersey)
September 8

South Buffalo Irish Feis (New York)
September 8

Indy Irish Festival (Indiana)
September 13 – 16

Michigan Irish Festival (Michigan)
September 14, 15 & 16

Gloucester Shamrock Festival (New Jersey)
September 15

Greely Irish Festival (Nebraska)
September 15

Irish 2000 Festival (New York)
September 14 & 15

Eire Irish (Pennsylvania)
September 14, 15 & 16

North Wildwood Irish Festival
September 22 – 25

GreaterDanbury Irish Festival (Connecticut)
September 23, 24 & 25

Irish Fest Louisville (Kentucky)
September 28, 29 & 30

Rocky Mountain Irish Festival (Colorado)
September 28, 29 & 30

Southern Illinois Irish Festival (Illinois)
October 5, 6 & 7

Smithville Irish Festival (New Jersey)
October 13 & 14

Weston Irish Festival (Missouri)
October 15, 15 & 16

NE Louisiana Celtic Fest (Louisiana)
October 15

Galway Bay's Irish Music Festival (Washington)
October 25 – 28

Autumn Celebration (Arizona Irish Festival)
October 29

Austin Celtic Festival (Texas)
November 3 & 4

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Celtic Woman - Little Rock Review

The following review is from a friend of mine who attended the Little Rock show

Well, it is over and what a show it was.  I left early and picked up my friend Johnny for the trip to Little Rock.  We stopped at the Chinese place in Sheridan and I ate a small meal. We arrived early and sat outside on some nice benches for the public.  It was a beautiful day.  Eventually we went in and I purchased a program and tee shirt.  We went to the front row. I visited with the lady from state PBS and a character to my left that was still engaged in the battle between England and Ireland.  "Lose it and get a life."

 As the musicians went to their stations I pointed at Ray and yelled "Ray Fean."  He said "hey there" and started to clap.  The audience followed suit.  I noticed the elaborate new set and my first though was "There is not enough space for them to do the flying sequence in Teir Abhaile Riu."  And it turned out to be the case.  I was delighted that Lisa did the spoon sequence during Dulaman.  I loved Ray's solo on the Bodhran.  At one point he pointed at me.  That was cool.  I enjoyed Tommy's flute solo.  Máiréad and new choir member/dancer Craig Ashurst were magic as a pair.  That alone was worth the price of admission.  Early in the show Lisa locked eyes with me and waved.  I smiled but as I waved back she had turned and was headed in another direction.  Later in the show Chloë was giving one of her talks.  As her gaze came towards me I blew her a kiss.  She then blew one right back at me.  How cool is that?  The most unusual and entertaining part of the show for me was Teir Abhaile Riu.  Even without the flying sequence it was fantastic.  It stared out with Máiréad high up on the set and Andy sitting beside of her.  Then these strange noises started to permeate the theatre.  Everyone was looking around wandering where they were coming from.  I kept saying "Is that Máiréad?  No, it can't be her."  Eventually Chloë and Lisa came down the aisles and one came up on each side of the stage.  They continued what I can only describe as some Gaelic chant.  One of the most unique things I have ever heard.  That was not in the filming in Atlanta and took everyone by surprise.  The energy of the show kept building and ended in a fever pitch as it always does.

I loved Susan's stage presence, her voice, her presentation, her beauty and certainly her ever present smile.  If Lisa comes back next year I hope they retain a spot for her.  She is special. 

I was pleasantly surprised that Lisa and Máiréad showed up at the Meet and Greet.  They were here last year also.  So Máiréad signed the magazine and mouse pad I received.  When I put the magazine down she said "I've been seeing some of these lately."  Then I mentioned that you had been passing them out.  Bubba just loved the mouse pad.  He said that it was really cool.  Both the girls were very nice and everyone adored them.  Johnny was taking pics when I was at the table.  After my turn I got out my little disposable camera and took several snapshots.  I was all over the place trying to get different angles of the girls.  So were several other people.  We were all jockeying for position.  It was quite amusing.  I told one lady with PBS to move over for a few seconds so I could get a shot I wanted.  I took about 15 shots and the camera holds 27. 


Friday, March 30, 2012

Irish Artists I Have Met

My list of great Irish performers who I have met is continuing to grow. I have had the great opportunity to get some photos with a few of them. These come from attending shows and our annual Dublin Irish Festival that brings in many top Irish artists. 

You may check out some of my pictures here

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Celtic Woman Akron Review

My show in Akron is the last one for the tour and I think my most touching show. But as many know, our last show usually does hit us the hardest.  Just as before, I am not going over every song but will highlight certain ones. I was in the second row just a bit right of center. Not a bad seat as I had a clear view of the complete stage. That is what counts.

I had three shows this spring and each one I was more impressed with Susan. This is my opinion on Susan. I do miss Lisa Kelly and I cannot wait for her to return, but I hope CW management offers Susan a contract to remain with the group. I would not want to see Susan leave. I think she is talented and a great addition to the talent of Celtic Woman. Each time I heard her perform “Follow On,” I loved it more each time. With her voice and her stage experience, I think Susan does a fabulous job performing the song.

I always tell fans that a live performance exceeds any DVD or TV performance. I just love the interaction and the way Lisa and Chloë start “Teidhir Abhaile Riu.” They are on the floor and interact with the audience as they perform but what is so comical is how they relate to each other as they sing. Susan comes out and she adds more to the story line. I do not want to spoil it for those who have not yet seen it, but you will love it. The song is great but the story line will make you laugh.

Máiréad never ceases to amaze me with her music and talent. Even though she performs the same songs during the tour, each time it is really different. You never know what she is going to do until she does it. As I have said many times, her creativity is unlimited.That is one thing that excels her above others. I wonder how many venue employees become fans of Celtic Woman after hearing them perform while they are at work. I do know that a few years ago I was talking with one of the ushers at a local venue and he told me that workers had to bid to work the night Celtic Woman performed at the venue. So that goes to show how popular they are with venue employees. What he told me was that everyone wanted to work when they come to town. How cool is that?

I love the song “Sailing” because it has a part for everyone involved in the group. This includes the vocalists and all the instrumentalists.

But now onto my meet and greet-

As I mentioned above, this was my last show for the tour. So I was really dead set on who I hoped to see at my last M&G. I wanted so badly for Máiréad and Susan. Many of us have our favorites but that in no way takes away from the talent of the others. Each of these ladies are talented in their own personal way. But I love to talk with Máiréad and share my plans with the site I operate about her. As for Susan, she was the only one I have yet to meet.

I did my usual of getting to the back of the line but I stayed with one couple because they did not have their camera and I offered to take a photo for them and email it to them. Everything started fine but than my camera started to act up. It is new so I am still learning it. Somehow I pushed a wrong button which was messing it up. I finally reset the default and it was fine after that. So I would have had a few more pics but at least I got some.

I got to Máiréad first and I did not take any pictures when I got to the ladies because I wanted to talk, not stand there taking pictures. I had some more material for Máiréad to sign from her pre-Celtic Woman days and one program she has never seen before. Not only do I love asking her to sign them, they are great conversation pieces – and we do talk about them.

We talked about a few other things and then I moved onto Susan. I talked with her for a few minutes and as usual, forgot some things I wanted to say. She is lovely and I enjoyed talking to her.

I waited a few minutes so I could get a photo with Máiréad and Susan. I am never sure how to put my arm around them so I put it around their shoulders. Well, two ladies with long hair, I know my arm pulled on their hair a bit as I rested it on their shoulder. I quickly fixed it.

Memories of shows and M&G will always be with me as nothing can take that away, but photos are nice to have because it adds that visual with my memories. I completed my shows this tour with all four women and I was so blessed that the ladies made this possible.

Thank you Máiréad, Lisa, Susan, Chloë and everyone for bring me such wonderful memories.