Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Solstice Songs at St Columba's

St Columba's Choral Gathering

Baritone Owen Gilhooly 

Twilight prevailed  all day on the shortest day of the year in Ennis making the candlelit Gothic interior of St Columba's Church seem all the more cheerful decked out in all its Christmas adornments. There was a good house for a concert of seasonal repertoire by soprano, Helen Houlihan and baritone, Owen Gilhooly with the Ennis Cathedral Choir under director, Michael Hennessy accompanied by Irina Dernova. The programme was a classy affair, a blend of sacred and secular, rare gems and familiar favourites.
The opening solo  of the first half was a baritone aria from Christmas Oratorio by JS Bach, very likely a premiere in Clare of this sacred  repertoire. It seems an Avé Maria attributed to Caccini  may be ersatz  Baroque but it is glorious  nonetheless and Helen Houlihan delivered the  slow moving melody with a  beautifully sustained  tone. There was touch of Hollywood in Malotte's setting of the Lord's Prayer with which  she opened the second half. The choir answered an aria from Handel's Messiah with a jaunty rendition of the chorus For Unto Us a Child is Born.  How lovely to hear an Irish carol (Wexford Carol) in the selection, a very effective collaboration between soprano and choir. The mixed voice Cathedral Choir fitted snugly  under the Gothic arch  and sounded confident in the less familiar secular repertoire.

Seasonal Refreshments
Limerick baritone, Owen Gilhooly is currently enjoying international critical acclaim and listening to him tonight , it was easy to see why. He has  fabulous control. Shimmering pianissimos led to  gradual  crescendos with a pure tone throughout. Even with the most familiar repertoire, every nuance of emotion is articulated in heartfelt renditions that make even the most familiar carol sound fresh. You can hear Owen talking about his highlights of  a hectic 2012 and  his forthcoming projects in the audioboo below recorded just after the performance.

The reverberant acoustic was not always kind to the piano in the florid baroque lines more usually heard on strings and harpsichord and one wonders if the organ might have fared better for the this repertoire.  This is the second occasion that I have reported on this line up. In Songs for a Summer Evening I commented that the presentation would have been improved if the vocal introductions had been trimmed.Tonight I felt the opposite and  a sentence or two setting the context of the less familiar repertoire would have enhanced the presentation. The evening was a fund raiser for the Society of St Vincent de Paul and all performers had generously donated their time.
The audience lingered quite a while  for mulled wine cups and minced pies in the vestry for a convivial mull over the lovely evening.of song in Bindon St

Venue Notes: As always the beauty of the many lit candles created a magical ambiance in this beautiful venue which has served several musical evenings  in this month alone. I suggest that  lights in the nave could have come down even more to enhance the effect of candellight.

 Owen Gilhooly  ’ on Audioboo

Related posts Cool Blackwater Barber

Set List
Somewhere In My Memory Williams Choir
Grosser Herr JS Bach from Christmas Oratorio Owen
Ave Verum Mozart  Helen
But Who May Abide Handel 
Panis Angelicus Franck owen & Helen
Ave Maria Caccini helen 
O Holy Night A Adam Owen & Helen 
The Lord's Prayer Malotte Helen
Ave Maria  Scubert Owen
Wiegenlied Reger Helen
Little Rd to Bethlehem  Holst Owen
Once in Royal David's City  Andrea Sheahan and Choir
For Unto Us a Child is Born  Handel Choir 
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Choir
A|deste Fidelis Owen and Choir
Wexford CarolHelen and Choir
Hark the Herald Angels Sing Choir
Silent NightChoir
The Holy City Owen Helen and Choir

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Blues at the Mill Bar with Ottley and Friends

There was  kind of hush as we stepped into The Mill Bar in Sixmilebridge, as if the audience didn't want to miss one note of the opening Gillian Welch song  from a quartet featuring  the 2012 Tennessee fiddle champion. Ivor Ottley was joined by Galway based musicians Tom Portman on dobro guitar, Paddy Jordan on double bass and Pete Lamb guitar and vocals. This was not a fast paced hard, driving traditional bluegrass set  but rather a mellow mélange of styles with elements of country, swing , jazz  and trad. There was plenty of  toe tapping stuff with Fisher's Hornpipe a highlight near the close. But it was the  languid waltzes that were most winning with Lamb's simply delivered vocals allowing dobro and fiddle to weave some melodic magic in the spaces.

Ottley is extraordinary -a very clean and elegant  fiddle style with a varied arsenal of left hand and bowing techniques that adds a depth and colour to his playing . While quite the virtuoso and  adept at improvising,  his variations are never indulgent and thankfully never stray too far from the original melody. His version of  Ashokan Farewell was rather more interesting than Ungar's relatively straight version.  His versatility was perhaps best demonstrated by his  rendition of a solo air delivered in a simple style, with vibrato reigned in for more haunting effect

An  ambiance  of collegiality radiated from the stage and the audience responded less with whoops and hollers but  more with concentrated listening ears .  The venue, a  large square timbered room with nice high ceiling and a huge stove with a welcoming real fire was very comfortable.

I spoke to Ottley following the gig and he told me something of his fascinating journey and his admiration for the playing of Grapelli,  Oistrakh and Milstein and the tale of serendipity that led an Englishman to be the Tennessee Champion.  The story is covered in this post from the  Bluegrass  Ireland  blog (link  here)  I was surprised to learn that he was a frequent visitor to Feakle sessions and was in fact resident in Ireland for many years. (Fiddle players should check out his website for some great tips).  Ottley is now happily ensconced in the Swedish jazz scene and opportunities to hear him on these shores are rare .

 **The trio Gone to Grass with members Paddy Jordan, Tom Portman and Pete Lamb will play at Green's Pub, Kinvara as part of the Turkey Fleadh on December 30th  4.30pm

** Please note this is a correction on the information originally posted .

Set List
Tear My Stillhouse Down  Gillian Welch
Bill Munroe/Kenny Baker tune 
Swing number Six Pack to Go
Steve Miller Dance Dance Dance / Arkansas Traveller
Ashokan Farewell Ungar
Good Ole Mountain Dew
Old Time Waltz
Til The Day I Die Steve Earle

It Wasn't God Who Made Honkytonk Angels
Tennessee Waltz
Come On Girl Pete Lamb
Mama Don't want 
Red Clay Halo Gillian Welch
Rolling in my Sweet Babies Arms
Rising Tide Tom Portman
Jump the Happy Train Blues 
Fishers Hornpipe
Solo Air Fiddle 
What in the World John Prine 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Concerts at CCSM Glanmire

 from CCSM Concert Series 
Rachel and Ciara O Donovan                            Hot Cross Foxtrot  trad /Martin 
Hannah Wall and Ciara                                     Medley, Twinkle,/ OldMac /French Folk Song 
Jacinta Donovan    Vln duet                              Lullaby of Birdland /An Paistin Fionn arr Deloughrey 
Rose and Johanna Murray   trio                        Sleigh Ride from Christmas Fiddler
Eimear Sugrue      Vln duet                               Christmas lullabies   arr Cecelia Weston 
Juliette &Louise Hennessy  Duet                      Mamma Mia  arr Couthard
Rose , Johanna and Catherine Cronin Trios      Coventry Carol and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Glanmire Octet                                                   Zither Carol/Lo Like a Rose / O Christmas Tree   
Centre concert  Nora Murphy                             The Christmas Song  ,
Glanmire Octet members include  Amy Dolan, Eimear Broderick, Sarah McCarthy, Eabha Landers, Amy Lynch, Aisling Connery.                                                                                                  
   Tuttti Play along Jingle Bells 

Rhythm and Reeds Ensemble  with director Louise McCarthy
Term ended with a series of concerts at the CCSM (Co Cork School of Music) centres .  I was proud to present the students named above at concerts in Glanmire Community College. We worked hard in recent weeks  at preparing seasonal duets. With a lot to cover, this aspect of musicianship can be neglected  during term time and I enjoyed the opportunity of  playing with my students.  I particularly enjoyed the ensembles. The octet played  their Christmas selection with gusto. The Rhythm and Reeds Ensemble under Louise McCarthy made a joyful sound in their festive selection and it was heartening to see a good gender balance in the  Ballincollig Youth Orchestra with a contemporary programme of David Guetta and the Fr Ted theme in arrangements by  conductor, Michael Cummins.

While the merits of two , three and  four part harmony were apparent in the performances, I was reminded of the power and pleasure  of straight forward  unison playing by an intermediate violin ensemble at the CCSM concert at Colaiste Choilm in Ballincollig. The nine  students of Siobhan O Shea offered  an
 instrumental rendition with piano accompaniment of O Holy Night which even for those of us suffering from OHN fatigue was absolutely charming. Bravo tutti!
Teacher / student duet 

Cahercalla Serenades December 2012

Maret O Hehir assembled a varied selection of entertainments for a
 Christmas concert in Cahercalla Hospice . Singers Marie Griffin and Liam Kitt, the Lissycasey Set Dancers, the Forever Young Choir directed by Mary Curley and Maret herself  all lifted our spirits. I was accompanied by Nigel Bridge in the first of our collaborations on this day. The loudest  applause was for young harpist Lorraine Kelly who wove quite a spell with her vibrant selection of planxties. Bravo Lorraine!

The Forever Young Choir

Scenes That Are Brightest: Ennis Brass Band & Friends

Soloist Clodagh Power and  Ennis Brass Band
 Scenes that are brightest                              
 May charm awhile
 Hearts which are lightest,
 And eyes that smile;   from Maritana libretto by Bunn

Scenes That Are Brightest  WV Wallace
A Iosa Mhic Mhuire   trad arr McDonagh
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen   Vincent di Palcido 
Coro nGrata                               
The Christmas Song       
Ave Maria Caccini                               
Zither Carol  Czech Carol       
Seasonal selection from Ennis Brass Band 

  Ennis Brass Band gave a concert of seasonal music  in St Columba's on Saturday night.  I was thrilled  to be invited to perform for a second year at this gathering along with singer Vincent di Placido .  I had the privilege of  opening the programme with a number from the opera Maritana by WV Wallace in honour of  the Waterford born composer's bicentenary year.  Wallace's father was a bandmaster and  noting the dates of the memorials on the candlelit walls it seemed an appropriate choice of period for this space. Vincent has a beautiful lyric tenor voice and his delivery of my favourite  Neopolitan song Coro n Grata (aka Catari) was gorgeous .  I was joined by Fiona de Buitleir on clarinet for my final selection of an Ave Maria attributed to Caccini but thought to be a modern composition and the jaunty Zither carol.  Both Vincent and I were expertly  accompanied by Nigel Bridge, Master of Music  at St Columba's on the house boudoir grand  piano complete with candlabra. 
Members brightening the streets earlier in the day 
This is a wonderful space to play in . The accoustic is rich and warm and the many candles create a magical ambiance. The Ennis Brass Band played a selection of seasonal favourites. Clodagh Power featured as cornet soloist on 'Chestnuts Roasting' In a charming finale children in the audience came front of house to play percussion and conduct the band. The Ennis Brass Band are a treasure and Daragh McAllister  and Nigel Bridge made eloquent opening and  closing remarks on the wonderful contribution this ensemble make to musical life of the town of Ennis . 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Celebro Laudibus : Limerick Ensembles at UCH

  Celebro , laudibus, Ring the bells, Time to celebrate
Two Limerick community ensembles presented their seasonal  musical offerings at UCH this weekend .  On Saturday night the University of Limerick Orchestra welcomed  trombone player Karl Ronan who shone  in an  an attractive concerto by Rimsky Korsakov.  There was a sense of camaraderie between the soloist and conductor, both former members of the Artane Boys  Band. Conductor  Liam Daly was a  authoritative presence on the podium and drew a disciplined performance from the orchestra. There were no ragged edges as a sense of unity prevailed across all sections. Neither was there any paring down in any section with symphony proportions of wind and brass and a full complement of percussion added sparkle to the programme. After the interval, Limerick Youth Choir performed a short set of  Carol of the Bells , a Russian Hymn and a brace of Julie Feeney numbers before the concert concluded with popular Christmas repertoire.

David Howes in rehearsal with Malcolm Greene
On Sunday night, Limerick Choral Union presented a blend of Baroque and contempory in a programme of  two of their bread and butter composers. LCU provides a great platform for young rising stars and the soloist in Handel's Dettingen Te Deum was bass, David Howes, one of three  generations of Howes singing with this community choir on this occasion  Soprano,  Roisin Walshe was soloist in Jenkins seasonal cantata Stella Natalis, a very attractive work with Jenkin's trademark mix of ethnic percussion, odd metres and glorious melodies. Lee Butler's jazz infused solo trumpet was thrilling. The composer himself describes the distinctive elements in the video below. A splendid pair of trumpets  (Rick Cowen and Niall O'Sullivan) struck the key celebratory note in the Handel, Te Deum composed in a spirit of  rejoicing and jubilation in a British victory over a French Army at the Battle of Dettingen. Bravo to both LCU and ULO for a suitably festive and joyous weekend of music making  in Limerick.  I enjoyed both events, the first from a seat in the stalls and the second as a player. Plans have been announced for a joint Prom Concert  between both these community ensembles. Mark 11th May in your diary. It promises to be 'only heavenly music'

Related posts
A Handel for the President LCU review
LCU Christmas 2010
German Requiem auf Deutsche ! LCU

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Turner Pierces Gloom & Hawley at the Savoy

Pierce Turner in Cork     
Arriving at the Savoy Theatre in Cork, I thought maybe I had happened up on a Civil Defence troupe on  night manoeuvres given the marked security presence in position front of house.  Expecting a rowdy clientele,  I was somewhat disappointed to find  the audience attending the Richard Hawley gig at the recently reopened venue were quite a sedate, middle aged, predominantly male crowd.  The Sheffield entertainer  cut an inky,  sombre figure dressed all in black, in  drainpipe jeans and leather jacket .  Standing  on the stage end of a balcony ( yes  be warned those of us who are no longer young - it is standing only at this venue), I noted that  Hawley's feet  were embedded in a semi  circle of two  dozen  or so foot pedals, sockets and goodness knows what other high tech accoutrements.  The vibe was mellow, almost hypnotic. His baritone voice is rich, treacly and rather soothing. The band, a quartet of  guitars with drums were smartly dressed in dark  suits and exuded an aura of being far too cool to move to much  from  their static pose and the audience seemed almost reverential observers. Adding to the trancey ambiance, a  rather unusual  effect  highlighted in neon light the  lower half of the people standing at the glass balconies, almost like those swimming pool widows in theme park restaurants, revealing lines of blue jeaned and legging clad limbs.  Vaguely disconcerting!  Half way through the set there was a tap on my shoulder as a security guard  told me that 'Sitting on the floor is  'Verboten' at the Savoy.

Richard Hawley

On the other side a of town , the mood on Douglas Road  was anything but mellow and detached as Wexford singer and one man band extraordinaire Pierce Turner was whipping up  the crowd in the back room of Coughlan's Pub. Turner, an unorthodox figure has the rugged look of a man who would be as comfortable at the wheel of a tractor as striking a stage pose.  . Referencing all sorts of musical styles  from the sacred to the profane in his songs, always with a sense of humour and a soupcon of irony,  Turner  was exuberant, fun and the atmosphere was terrific.   Blessed with  a rather fine tenor voice and  a firm sustained legato vocal style  owing something to liturgical influences, I suspect. There was a strong choral element to the songs and the audience sang along  with gusto in the refrains, You could imagine some of the songs working very well on the terraces. A flick through his biography suggests he has had an fascinating musical journey including hooking up with Philip Glass (see below). Why have.I not heard more of him.?   He is surely a national treasure and as good as some of the other lauded music stars we hear about.Cognoscenti in the audience included Ger Wolfe and bassist Paul Frost and Mick Hannigan of Cork Film Festival and Andrew Desmond of Whazon Cork  My pick for solo gig of the year without a doubt . Shannon region promoters, take note and  bring him this  direction soon please!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Over The Bar At Flannery's Limerick

Jerry Flannery was a rugby hooker for Munster and Ireland who had a bit of a cult following. His flowing locks and aggressive ball carrying  endeared him to fans of the traditional Munster / Limerick 'ball up the jumper' style of play.

The Flannery name is otherwise synonymous in Limerick with several pubs of that name  and it was in  one of them Jerry Flannery's bar we saw the renowned local band the Jackie Chan Allstars. A band with a name like that has to be checked out.

The band was placed on a stage above the bar in what could loosely be termed a beer garden given it was December in Ireland. The crowd was a combination of Friday night drinkers, office Christmas party revellers and an advance party of Saracens supporters who probably didn't really know what was in store for them in the white heat of a Heineken match the next day in Thomond Park.

It was a bit surreal to order your drink with a rock band over your head. The set list was an eclectic mix of covers; Abba, the Killers, Johny Cash etc etc. The band consisted of 2 guitarists, keyboards, and drummer.
The stage was high so everybody got a good view even if it did result in a bit of a crick in the neck the following morning.
They rocked the place. Look out for them they're good.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Friday night Late and Live in Limerick

Limerick has a new theatre space, The Lime Tree, located on the Mary Immaculate College campus on the outskirts of the city. I caught the second act of  the Cecilian Musical Society's   of West Side Story at the venue on Friday night.  On first impressions, the venue seems relatively narrow with quite a steep rake in two tiers. I was a teeny bit disappointed that the generous comfy upholstery was in fact  tangerine and not green  with blue wooden paneled walls enclosing the space. I loved the high seat backs.

Sitting at the back I can report that the view was good and the sound was remarkably good. The amplification was very subtle and all voices and musical timbres could be heard perfectly. The pit band under MD Noel Lennon made a nice tableau glimpsed from top of the house . 

The audience lingered a while in the  foyer to greet the performers. Like UCH I feel the venue falls down in creating a convivial apres show atmosphere.  Refreshments are not available and it is a bit of a trot to the nearest hostelry. While the venue is a very comfortable one for performers and audience alike, I wonder what the impact of the space will have on the activity in other spaces in the city and if there is quite enough 'product' to  fill theatre spaces at UCH, LIT and indeed at the Belltable Arts Centre in the city centre. 

Following the show I called in to Dolan's on Dock Road. I enjoyed the last half hour of  singer songwriter, Mark Geary's set upstairs at Dolan's on Dock Road. Geary is not a performer I have heard of  but he was very easy to listen to and had a relaxed easy rapport with  the  audience of 30 plus patrons   He was supported by singer Grainne Hunt and pianist Mark Kenny. There was a turn from Keith Kelly on harmonica.  Perfect late night fare

Julie Feeney Clocks in at The White Horse

photo Donagh Glavin via twitter

No one could ever accuse Julie Feeney of being lazy. Three years after her second highly acclaimed album Pages was  released, Julie Feeney is back on the gig circuit with a brand new album.  Clocks a collection of eleven  new  self penned songs.  Over the last few years, she has worked incredibly hard at every aspect of the music business, both the creative side and also  the business end  of  connecting with her audience and  crucially, successfully  funding her musical ventures.  I caught one of the ten gigs tour at the White Horse Inn in Ballincollig, Co Cork last Thursday. What the low ceilinged  V shaped  upstairs room lacked in comfort, it made up for in atmosphere as the venue was packed  with enthusiastic followers of the singer. 

 Feeney  has a strong clear contralto  voice  and employs a   vocal timbre  suited to Renaissance or traditional music influenced perhaps by her years as a professional chorister.  The lyrics cover a spectrum  from frothy to wistful to poignant, the catchy melodies a mix of the lyrical and jaunty.   A major part of her appeal is the  sophisticated orchestration of her own  musical arrangements. A string trio included, Louis Roden of the Irish Chamber Orchestra   and Mary Barnacutt, recently heard in Cork as part of Set the First at the  Triskel.  New Yorker Joseph Brent on mandolin, violin and guitar was pivotal.  I loved the lushness of the two violin cello blend  in the song Grace Fergal  Murray was  on piano and Eugene Ginty added subtle understated backing vocals and  occasionaly a recorder (ot two) line to the blend.

 Dressed in a  theatrical  black ensemble (its first airing apparently),  with her trademark  matching  themed headpiece, the performer gave  a vocally demanding performance singing with hardly  a pause for two hours mixing songs from the new album with numbers from her back catalogue..  With such a rich palette in the accompanying ensemble, I did long to hear more of the individual instrumentalists and maybe a duet or two with the male vocalist.  How unusual to hear a mandolin player and one of international standing to boot. One  sensed that although Feeney engaged in some stage banter she was most comfortable when singing  and sing her heart out she did. Following the set, a long line formed to meet and greet  and the chanteuse who gave no hint of fatigue as she warmly greeted her fans. 

Related Article   Rembrance Day Julie Feeney at Clare Poets

More photos of the gig from Donogh Glavin Julie Feeney Live at the White Horse

Venue Notes:  Great ambiance ,  lovely lighting , seats not very comfortable No reply to query sent via email two days in advance of event.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Highway For Hanway & Harper

A dual banjo outfit of might not seem to promise  the most varied palette of timbres for a musical evening.  In fact banjo playing  duo, Tom Hanway and Dave Harper's  musical offering at The Highway, Crusheen had  a surprising variety both in metre and instruments. Both swapped between guitar and banjo and Harper introduced a lively dance element with tunes on wooden flute and occasionally added a bodhran to the blend. Best of all were the songs in a bluegrass/country vein . All for a modest gig charge of €12 . More on the forthcoming  gigs from Island Music Club here. Clare Gigs Website

Sunday, November 25, 2012


By John Hartery

Amateur drama is getting a great boost at the moment with Sky Arts running a fine reality tv series covering the world of part time thespians. In Ennis the excellent local group  is  fresh from hosting the All Ireland amateur drama competition.

 The Ennis Players held their 27th Annual Supper Theatre this week in the Old Ground in Ennis, Co Clare. It was noted here last year that the supper theatre concept was a good one. This year’s offering didn’t buck the trend and was a delightful evening of fine local acting and good food.

The playbill this year was a couple of comedies. The introduction pointed out that the plays were directed by two first time directors to the group.

The first play was Mirror Mirror by Bruce Kane. This was a funny twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale directed by Eric Healy.  In this version the stepmother played by Colette McLoughlin engages with her mirror, played by an hilarious Tony Coffey, querying her beauty. A succession of princes appear to try and revive her stepdaughter the Charming Daughter. The role of the narrator was excellently and laconically played by veteran of the Ennis  Players , Arthur Forde. I felt the played lacked something in the sound stakes and probably could have benefited from placing the narrator closer to the action.

The second play, ‘ A little history on Elvis’ written by Jason Milligan and directed by Paul Carey was the stronger of the two with a more cohesive ensemble. The plot concerned Elvis hiding out in the home of an average couple somewhere in America. Mick Loughnane was very funny as an over the top Presley and another familiar face Hugh Gallagher played a fine part as the dad.

The Old Ground was right on cue when the drama concluded with a fine supper.

We wish Ennis Players well with their endeavors on the amateur circuit and await their next production.. Their website is here

Review Ennis Players Supper Theatre 2011

Wolfe at L'Atitude 51

 L'ATITUDE Wine Bar on Union Quay has  one of Cork's best small music spaces. The  venue, formerly known as The Lobby is imortalised by John Spillane in his song 'Magic Nights in the Lobby Bar' . One of the musicians name checked in that song, Cork singer songwriter Ger Wolfe,  has  built up a discerning following for his  poetic reflective lyrics  set in beguiling folk infused melodies.  His midweek set at the upstairs venue opened with the title track of the forthcoming album New October Daughter and included numbers from his back catalogue of half a dozen albums.

These are not foot stompin' , hard hitting  ballads  and Wolfe's vocal style is pure and unadorned,   best suited  to the thoughtful  lyrics on themes of ordinary everyday life in songs like, The Lark of Mayfield , Fallen Branches  She Scattered Crumbs  and Washing the Yard ( not to be confused with the Brenadan Shine number even in this venue !). The elements  are  often  lively dance rhythms-a  jig, a bit of reggae and calypso creep in here and there, driven by the other strong musicians in the line up. Shane Scanlon's lead guitar and Martin Leahy on drums ( and bass guitar and  yes- occasionally both at the same time !) added to the palette of words and music. Both will feature on the new album.

The  trio of large  period windows overlooking the Lee and City Hall  combined with  subdued lighting made this a very attractive evening venue. The house menu and extensive wine list was available. There  are not to many gigs where you can be served a nice glass of Shiraz and a cheese plate to add to your enjoyment of the musical fare. A most satisfying evening with food for body and soul!

Related Articles  Ger Wolfe at The Market Tavern  -
GerWolfe at the Market Tavern Miltown Malbay

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Family Affairs at Ennis Trad Festival 2012

 The annual temporary migration of visitors from all over the world bearing  musical instruments took place last weekend to Clare  for the annual Ennis Trad Festival.    The middle room of The Rowantree Cafe was packed for the launch of two CDs by master traditional musicians. Pat Costelloe introduced Eamonn Cotter who was launching his second CD , The Knotted Chord.  Renowned not only for his prowess as a player but also as a fine crafter  of wooden flutes, Eamonn was accompanied by his sister Geraldine . His rendition of the air Aisling Geal was a highlight. Daughters Sadhbh and Grainne joined their dad for a number before the party made way for fiddle player Eileen O Brien . Andrew McNamara introduced the Tipperary fiddler who has published a volume of her father, Paddy O'Brien's  tunes in tandem with a solo fiddle recording Aon le hAon . She was also beautifully accompanied by a family member, her daughter Jennifer Minogue on piano .  There was a feeling of a house party in the elegant period drawing room as extended family and local musicians gathered to support the musicians. Again it was the airs that I enjoyed most, particularly Easter Snow. 

Musicians formed a huge circle in Glor foyer on Monday at lunchtime for one of the final day events and many made their way upstairs to view the late Jean Regan's exhibition of paintings. Later in the evening, a disgruntled punter looked balefully on another large gathering in The Poet's Corner pub in The Old Ground Hotel .  'The trouble is' he said ruefully,  'that everyone with a few tunes thinks they can be a participant'. There were some frayed tempers elsewhere he reported  as named   session musicians couldn't get seats in their designated venues.  Nebulous as it may be, there would seem to be a session etiquette. Perhaps the organisers should issue some guidelines.

Circular Session 

Related articles from The Journal of Music

An Evening of Cello and Song: Music Theatre West in Ennis

Full Basket 
It was a most  unusual night at Glór  last night. Every seat in the  cafe had been pressed into service  and the audience of 120 or so extended the entire  length of the long lobby space. Regular patrons  will be aware that this was a very good house indeed  particularly for an evening of classical music where the ambiance tends to be more intimate at this venue. As retailers know packed  spaces  are more appealing than half full ones. Personally I would prefer to sit at the back of a packed foyer space than in a half empty large auditorium

 I arrived just in time for the second half.  Numbers included  well known cello favourites, The Swan, Mendelssohn's Song Without Words , Brahms Hungarian Dance  no 5 and part of Elgar's Cello Concerto. Lyric tenor, Peter O Donohue  mixed Neopolitan favourites, Funniculi, and Irish favourites , Macushla, Danny Boy, My Lagan Love ( acapella) with elegant arrangements by MD Noel Lennon featuring Peter Sébestyén's cantabile  cello lines.  Composer Adam Scheck  was in the audience to hear his Elegy for cello and piano  Aficionados in the audience  reported that the highlight of the first half was an arrangement of The Sally Gardens.  The young Clare tenor paused in the  encore Nessun Dorma to draw in his former teacher Archie Simpson in the chanting of the refrain. Both Peters are teaching in the locality and it was good to see a mix of generations with a contingent of their young students in the audience.

All on board the night train !
Those ceiling  lamps look like stalacmites

Peter and Adam greeting fans

I enjoyed this evening  both for the high quality musicianship and the opportunity  to catch up with friends and former students.  While there was less of a soirée ambiance at the back of the gathering, there was  quite a buzz and the audience lingered  for a while to meet  the performers. I loved the subdued lighting which added much to the atmosphere.  The acoustics, while not perfect, were good enough to hear all the lines clearly. What could not be heard at all clearly were the vocal introductions. I suggest that two items would have improved this performance; a  riser for the cellist so he could be seen by all  and a  simple portable amp and microphone just for the spoken bits.
Bravo Music Theatre West!  More of the same soon please!

Peter and Ennis Musical Society ladies Mary, Maret and Kay

Related posts Hungarian Rhapsodies in Gort

Friday, November 16, 2012

Le Beaujolais est arrivée en Ennis

Connoisseurs of the grape gathered with Anne and David  in The Gourmet Store, Ennis last night for a soirée to welcome the arrival of this year's Beaujolais Nouveau .  Our host,  David Lasbleye spoke to the blog's roving reporter about this important event in the oenophiles' calendar.  (See the link at the end ) I can vouch that this year's Beaujolais is very quaffable. Chanteur and pianist, Jerry McLauglin serenaded the gathering wonderfully well with a mellow mix of  chansons and some Percy French of course.  Gráine Cotter,  well known in trad circles performed an impressive set of jazz standards showing what versatile musician she is .  I was persuaded to play a few tunes on my fiddle  beginning with what else, La Vie en Rosé.   Wine and song and convivial company -what better way to spend and evening .

2012 version

listen to ‘David from the Gourmet Store talks about the Beaujolais Nouveau 2012’ on

Sunday, November 11, 2012

O Emperor Upstairs at Dolans'

Deise Boys O Emperor

In an era when rock bands seem to go on never ending tours and it is no novelty to see 'forever young'  pensioners strumming their stuff at a venue near you, it was a treat to see a truly young band.   I had heard many good things about  O Emperor, a young rock group from Waterford and I was not disappointed when I heard them upstairs at Dolan's on  Friday night. There was standing room only from an appreciative student audience .  I suspect that Beatles records feature prominently in their parents' record collections.  Terrific !

Tour dates here

Oct 27th - Theatre Royal, Waterford. (With Katie Kim). 

Nov 9th - Dolans, Limerick. 

Nov 10th - McGarrigles, Sligo.

Nov 15th - Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford Town.

Nov 17th - Cleeres Theatre, Kilkenny.

Nov 22nd - Roisin Dubh, Galway.

Nov 23rd - Whelans, Dublin.

Nov 24th- Cyprus Avenue, Cork

Beatles resonances  . Watch out for them . I think they could go far 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Seti The First at the Triskel .

I enjoyed the experimental string band  at the Triskel last night. The venue, a neo Classical Georgian chrurch  is  visualy stunning and the lighting is used to good effect to create a theatrical ambiance .  The six piece band  fronted by Kevin Murphy boasted not just one but two cellos.   I did yearn at times for a visual element  as the music is quite repetitive based on minimalist riffs.  An homage to Simon Jeffes of Penguin Café  Orchestra is included in the play list.  There was a respectable house who responded enthusiastically  and there was a lively buzz in the venue bar,  Gulpd following the gig. We met Ger Wolfe who was there to support fellow band member Kevin Murphy.   His new album I notice is album of the month in Opus 11 Music Shop and he will performing at L'Attitude  Cafe Bar formerly known as The Lobby Bar on Union Quay  later this month . I include a link to Gary Meyler's blog post of the evening

The G-Man: Review: Seti The First, Triskel Christchurch, Cork...: "Hello audience, we're the band." Kevin Murphy (Seti The First) Understandably, instrumental bands tend to be labelled as soundtrack...