Irish Internet Radio and TV from Dublin, Ireland.
Before we begin our annual Christmas column, respect must be paid to Paddy Homan and his army of volunteers who hosted such a well-run and enjoyable fundraiser for the iconic Irish fiddler, Maurice Lennon. Held a few weeks ago at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, a terrific amount of money was raised to help pay some of Maurice’s medical bills. If you are one of the five people in the Irish music universe who doesn’t know who Maurice is, he founded the legendary Stockton’s Wing. He has also been among the very best Irish fiddlers in the world for many years, as well as a generous teacher of the music. Massive kudos to all. If you want to know what the real spirit of Christmas is, you would have done well to be at the fundraiser.
There are five CDs on this year’s gift list for the true trad fan. The number one gift this year for that trad stocking by the fireplace (if you don’t have a fireplace, never mind—the back of the sofa will do) is the compilation CD that was put together for the Maurice Lennon fundraiser, When Hope Dawns at Sunrise. You can get it by going to the site www.mauricelennonfundraiser.com. It is only $15 plus shipping per CD. The good news is that every single penny raised from the sale of the CD goes directly to Maurice and his massive medical bills. Buy at least one, and send it to someone you love. Now, that is a wonderful Christmas. It is a fantastic album. Do it and you will like yourself a lot better, and Santa may actually forgive you for what you’ve done wrong this year.
Also, for the true and real trad fan, get the CD One Out of the Fort by Johnny Henry. Go to Claddagh or cdbaby and get it online. Johnny Henry passed in 1996, and was Kevin Henry’s brother. The great musical Henry family out of Sligo produced a bumper crop of wonderful musicians, and this CD pays tribute to the very essence of Irish fiddling. It also salutes a master of the form at the height of his powers. It is collected from many sources and lovingly re-mastered and presented by the production firm, Bogfire.
Our favorite Christmas CDs this year remain from the Chieftains, The Bells of Dublin, and from Kiltartan Road, A Kiltartan Road Christmas. The third added to these two regular favorites is A Fiddler’s Holiday by Jay Ungar and The Molly Mason Family Band. This talented group is joined in this live recording by the University of Mary Washington’s Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s just the real spirit of Christmas, and it’s great for the entire holiday season, as there’s even an up-tempo salute to Hannukah! Just Google in the names of these CDs and you’ll find them right away online. If you have these three albums, you have Christmas in your CD player. We are taken especially this year with A Fiddler’s Holiday because it is the newest and is fab, altogether. Rest assured however that the holidays won’t be complete without at least two listens to A Kiltartan Road Christmas. The group, Kiltartan Road, put this out several years ago, and it is still completely enjoyable. Wonderful stuff. Very special.
We have fallen so far behind in our reviews that we are embarrassed to continue. Here are some quick new and top recommendations for additional Christmas gift-giving—this time, to yourself.
First up is the new Goitse album, Transformed. There are about 4 or 5 really hot groups out in the last year and a half, and Goitse is one of them. First of all, we love the album cover on Transformed, and we love the music. Goitse is a wonderful group, true to the tradition, and this talented quintet should be around a long time. Transformed is terrific. Really, really terrific.
Danny O’Mahony out of Kerry is an absolutely wonderful button box player and a real treasure in the Irish tradition. There are two albums of his that you must have: One is, In Retrospect and the other is, As It Happened. As it Happened also has Danny sharing the starring role with Micheal O’Raghallaigh on concertina. Both of these are pure heaven for the true trad fan. O’Mahony is a young and vibrant master of the form, as is Micheal. Don’t listen to any silly reviews about “minimalist sound” in As It Happened. This is big, full-blown Irish traditional music and it is wonderful. Big time.
IF you are looking for a talented group of young singers and players with a new album, look no further than Realta and their brand new CD, Open the Door for Three. These three players out of Northern Ireland have crafted a wonderful introduction of real substance. There are a great variety of tunes, all of them played with passion and ability. The singing is also great. This is a contender for New Group of the Year. We love ‘em.
*We hope you are joining co-host, Maryann Keifer, producer Imelda Bhroga and me weekly on our traditional Irish program, Ireland Tonight. It is on at 8 o’clock on Mondays on WDCB 90.9fm with live streaming at wdcb.org. We have a spectacular Christmas line up. December 17 will feature our favorite band Chicago Reel in the studi--- live, with A Reel Chicago Christmas. Clever title, hey? As this is being written, we’re also lining up Jimmy Keane, our great pal and Male Musician of the Decade for our December 10 show, live. On the Christmas Eve show, all three of us are going to have the common sense to keep quiet and play lots of music as a musical background to your family get-togethers. It will be a great collection of Irish Christmas music. Enjoy!
*Imelda Bhroga and I are getting in the Christmas mood also for our Bill and Imelda Show every week on Liveireland.com. While the show is repeated several times during the week, we are on every Sunday live at noon, Chicago time. Two hours of pure tradition with Christmas on its way. Just go toliveireland.com and click on the Live Radio tab at the top. We are currently around 45,000 listeners a week, and growing! Ah, the lure of international stardom!
*Also, for great radio, tune in to the aforementioned Danny O’Mahony on his weekly show, A Trip to the Cottage. It is on from 2pm-4pm Chicago time, or 8pm-10pm GMT. This show is a blessing from the heart of County Kerry for real trad aficionados, and you are one or you would not have gotten this far in this column.
*FROM ALL OF OUR DEEP HEARTS’ CORE, MERRY CHRISTMAS, and may God truly bless your New Year!
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