Sunday, November 30, 2008

This Busy Week with the Lindsays

Just when we should be out Christmas shopping, this is going to be the busiest
week of the performance year.

Monday, December 1: Sue will be performing with the Bridgewater State College Faculty World Music Trio, comprised on Sue on flute, whistle, and sax, with Department Chair Salil Sachdev and guitarist Tom Rohde. The idea of the World Music Trio is to combine the varied backgrounds of faculty to create something new... this one combines Sue's Irish and jazz background with Salil's extensive percussion repertoire, with a specialty in West African and frame drumming, along with Tom Rohde's classically trained but now markedly Brazilian guitar style. And... there will be a couple of percussion-only pieces. One is a Brazilian samba and the other a Middle Eastern piece. It's a wild concoction that is still stewing and this is the first tasting, so to speak. We'll be joined by accordionist Evan Harlan for much of the concert.

The second half of the concert features Power/Batik, the Jazz Trio consisting of Jacob Willimas on bass, David bond on saxophone, and Greg Conroy on drums. Each member of Power/Batik has had direct associations with modern jazz masters such as George Russell, Maynard Ferguson, Archie Shepp, Dewey Redman, Charlie Mariano and Anthony Braxton. As a collective, this trio's music is fueled by this strong lineage. Blending tradition and the cutting-edge in jazz improvisation, the trio performs original compositions as well as jazz compositions by well known masters.

Concert kicks off at 7:30pm in the Horace Mann Auditorium, Boyden Hall, Bridgewater.

Tuesday, December 2: Sue's Irish Traditional Ensemble class at Bridgewater will perform a couple of pieces during the concert of Khakatay, Bridgewater's African drumming ensemble. Concert at 7:30pm in the Horace Mann Auditorium, Boyden Hall, Bridgewater.

Thursday, December 4: The Traditional Irish Music Ensemble will perform a cameo during the Wind Ensemble Concert, and join them on a traditional wind ensemble piece, "The King Across the Water." Concert also at 7:30pm in the Horace Mann Auditorium, Boyden Hall, Bridgewater.

And next weekend, there's the Cranberry Area Hospice Festival of Trees and a Celtic Christmas Concert at the Plymouth Public Library. Stay tuned for more info!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yeah, but is it art?

Art, no way. Cold, yes! Master bodhran player and percussionist Mance Grady joined Sue and Steve Lindsay on Sunday, November 23 for one very cold afternoon of music at a Harvest Festival in the Village Landing Marketplace in Plymouth. Three hours of tunes, played outdoors in subfreezing weather... we've earned extra points in heaven for this one! Hell wouldn't take us anyway -- we were much too cold.

But, we were happy to support the great merchants at Village Landing and their cause: 10% of the profits from the festival were donated to the Cranberry Area Hospice in Plymouth. And consider Village Landing a great place to do a little Christmas shopping... they'll hold a Holiday Stroll on Saturday, December 6 from 1-5--including refreshments, carolers, and a tree lighting at 5 pm. Bring a canned good and your own camera for a free photo with Santa; collected nonperishables will be donated to the Christ Church Food Pantry. Then, grab a cocoa from Peaceful Meadows or a mulled wine from the Plymouth Winery, and make your way along the waterfront to check out a lighted up Brewster Gardens (first time ever!), courtesy of a team of students from Plymouth South High School’s Vocational Technical Studies program.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wellesley College Annual Ceili December 6

This from Laurel Martin

The Wellesley College Fiddleheads invite folks to join them for their annual ceili.

It will be held at Tishman Commons, the Wang Student Center at Wellesley College on Saturday evening December 6 from 7-9 PM. The ceili will be called by Jaclyn O'Riley, and all the dances will be taught so everyone is welcome regardless of your level of experience with ceili dancing. Live music will be provided by the Wellesley College Fiddleheads with Laurel Martin, (Fiddleheads Director), the fabulous Helen Kisiel on piano, and guests Sarah Thomae, Lydia Shaw, and Betsy Sullivan on fiddle. (And there is a pub right across the hall so they are hoping to drum up a little session afterwards---we'll see what happens!) Admission is free and refreshments will be served during the break. All ages are welcome.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Irish Trad Session at the Irish Cultural Center of New England

On every Friday evening (since Nov 14) John Kearney and Tim O'Connell, both of the Boston Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Music School, will host a new slow session at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton. It will be located in the pub from 7-9pm. Tim and John say, "We invite all to attend and look forward to seeing you."

For directions and info on the ICC, visit:

A full-speed session follows, led by Comhaltas, immediately following the slow session.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cape Cod Celtic Society Fundraiser

To help raise funds for the Cape Cod Celtic Music Festival held on the Cape this June, the Cape Cod Celtic Society is holding its first-ever Scottish Tea on
Sunday, December 14, 2008 at 2 pm as the Graded Schoolhouse, West Dennis, MA.

According to Lew and Kathy Taylor, this is not your ordinary ladies afternoon social--this one is for real men (and ladies), they say--they will be serving meat pies instead of quiche. There will be lots of good food, and of course, plenty of tea.

What may be worth the trip alone is that Mary Queen of Scots will be attending in full regalia... Anne and Caleb Paus will provide entertainment and there will even be dancing girls (I assume they mean Scottish dancing by this, but in this economy, whatever you can do to raise money...????)

Tickets are:
$15 for members in advance
$20 for non-members
$10 for children
$20 at the door (if there are any left) no matter who you are

Tickets are available at the Sewing Corner, and pay by cash, check, or credit card, in person or by phone. 314 Main Street, West Dennis 508-760-8113

Also get tickets by mail:
Mail: CCCS, PO Box 741, West Dennis MA 02670
Or through Pay Pal on our website:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

3rd annual A PAN-CELTIC WINTER SOJOURN at Regent Theater, Arlington

Featuring Guitar Virtuoso J.P. Cormier & Friends Coming To Arlington’s Regent Theatre, Thursday, December 4 at 7:30pm
Celebrating His New CD Release “NOEL”
With Special Guests Kimberley Fraser and Doug Lamey

Catch local fiddler Doug Lamey and Kimberley Fraser (well, she's here at Berklee) playing along with J. P. Cormier in the third edition of A Pan-Celtic Winter Sojourn. This concert is all about that tiny Celtic enclave at the northernmost tip of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton. The descendents, and the music, of all the Celtic nations have been represented here, mingling and surviving over the centuries. This evening will celebrate the season in music, the roots of the winter/holiday season as well as contemporary sensibilities, Celtic style. The songs will come from places that have earned a spot in our collective memory—Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Wales, Galicia, Eastern Canada —and the messengers will be the most highly regarded and respected members of the lively Cape Breton music scene and guests, under the leadership of J.P. Cormier.

Cormier has many labels to his credit—singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, innovator, recording artist, award winner— but underlying that is a man with an ancient soul who has traveled the world for the past 25 years bringing his unique brand of joy to audiences. Cormier will be in a trio configuration and an opening set will be provided by Kimberley Fraser and Doug Lamey.

Fraser, from Sydney Mines, Cape Breton, and currently attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, excels on both the fiddle and piano. Lamey, grandson of Boston fiddling legend Bill Lamey, is one of the Boston area's most sought after Celtic fiddlers; he has studied with some of the greats from the Cape Breton tradition (Buddy MacMaster) and Irish scene (Tommy Peoples).

The 3rd annual A PAN-CELTIC WINTER SOJOURN will be presented at the historic Regent Theatre on Thursday, December 4 at 7:30pm. Reserved seats are $15 to $25. Located at 7 Medford Street (off Mass. Ave.) in Arlington Center, the Regent Theatre is MBTA and wheelchair accessible with free parking across the street. For tickets, directions, and more information call 781-646-4849 or visit .

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Celtic Sojourn Tickets Are Selling Fast...

For the sixth year now, Irish music fans can celebrate the holiday season with Irish music, at A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan, host of WGBH's popular Celtic Sojourn radio program, which runs every Saturday from noon–3pm on WGBH 89.7.

O'Donovan has described the Christmas Sojourn as the "Christmas Unspectacular" -- a down to earth, homey celebration of what the season should really be about, with music, dance, poetry, holiday readings, and just good wholesome Irish-themed entertainment... with no shamrocks wearing Santa hats, no pretty girls in taffeta ball gowns and Dolce Gabana shoes, and really, no schlock. Thank goodness.

You'll be sitting in the Cutler Majestic, but the goal is really to make you feel like you're in O'Donovan's (very large) sitting room. Though the presentation is informal and unglitzy, you can count on refinement and polish. O'Donovan always brings in the best of the best to entertain, and this year Seamus Egan of Solas is onboard for musical direction, and Paula Plum again takes up the artistic direction mantle. Other musical features include Irish trad group Solas, vocal harmony group Navan, singers Cara Dillon and Galway-based Sean Keane (woohoo!) along with my personal rockstar, Irish dancer Kieran Jordan, and her colleague and close friend the amazing Rhode Island-based dancer Kevin Doyle. (as well as the Harney Academy of Dance) ... and, they tell us, much more.

The show plays in Boston Dec. 12-14 and 19-21. For the first time this year, the show will also play in Worcester, MA (Dec. 11 at the Hanover Theatre) and Providence, RI (Dec. 18 at the Providence Performing Arts Center.)

Go here for tickets:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Susan G. Lindsay Wins Arts Writing Award

Well, this was an exciting piece of news for me today...

I was awarded as one of the region's top journalists, taking home an award as finalist for top arts writer in the first annual NEENAs, New England Ethnic News Awards, last night. NEENA is a program of the New England Ethnic Newswire ( at The Center on Media and Society at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB).

More than 125 submissions were received for the NEENAs for six categories, representing publications printed in seven languages: Chinese, English, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

The NEENAs is a regional competition for New England that is sponsored by New America Media (, based in California. The NEENAS and two other NAM-sponsored regional competitions are tied to NAM's 2009 nationwide ethnic-media contest, for which the national awards ceremony will be in June 2009 in Atlanta.

Contact New England Ethnic Newswire for more information at EthnicNews (at) yahoo (dot) com or Frank.Herron (at) umb(dot) edu or call 617-287-5562.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Concert: Matt and Shannon Heaton Celebrate "A Fine Winter's NIght"

Trad power-duo Matt and Shannon Heaton (guitar and flute) will be performing Christmas shows in several locations in the Northeast in coming weeks, including a special local appearance at Club Passim in Cambridge on Wednesday December 17th. The concert includes music from their 2007 holiday CD "A Fine Winter’s Night.” The recording features traditional, updated, and original Irish music to evoke Christmas and the winter season. Full list of shows at bottom.

Boston-based Matt & Shannon Heaton’s holiday songbook is not your run-of-the-mill collection of Christmas music. On their Dec 2007 CD release, “Fine Winter’s Night,” they feature music dating from the 12th to the 21st century. With a blend of voices, guitar, bouzouki, Irish flute and whistle, "Fine Winter's Night" is simultaneously homegrown, refined and timeless.

Audience members will hear a few reassuring favorites (a lullaby version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and the anti-war hymn “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”) alongside unexpected new holiday songs (“First Snowfall of December” and “Julius the Christmas Cat”). With “Fine Winter’s Night,” the Heatons offer both secular and spiritual music to brighten chilly winter days and warm long winter nights.

Here's an excerpt from my review of their CD from last December, as published in the BOston Irish Reporter 12/07.

Matt and Shannon Heaton • A Fine Winter’s Night

“Because of our new Christmas recording, we’re really observing the holiday season this year… Even though I’ve been a “no Christmas before Thanksgiving” kind of a guy, we’ve been rehearsing and thinking about the holiday season, and it’s been really nice. It really marks the season and I’m really looking forward this to being a really special year, and hopefully subsequently it will become a tradition for us.” —Matt Heaton

Boston-based guitar/flute duo Matt and Shannon Heaton, in “A Fine Winter’s Night,” have assembled an earnest tribute to the holiness of the season, an optimistic and original take that combines both Irish traditional and American folk influences into a personality-filled sound that respects its roots but is honest to its present.

Throughout, Shannon’s voice is fresh and subtle, while Matt’s light and sure guitar accompaniment sets the pace for a reeling sleighride. On flute and whistle, Shannon’s playing is precise, confident, and full bodied. With mostly originals that they composed, Shannon and Matt lead us beyond the familiar old songs but they don’t forsake them, either.

Shannon sings a reverent lullaby version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” but that follows an original “Julius the Christmas Cat,” a song about the unsung hero whose paws silently fluffed the straw for the Anticipated One’s arrival. Shannon takes us from here into a gorgeous rendition of the slow air, “Day Dawn,” a tune Matt learned while subbing on guitar with the Boys of the Lough. The track ends with Matt’s deft guitar playing on “Paddy Fahy’s” then a nearly-unison flute/guitar duet on “Gerry Terry McMahon’s.” Matt’s original song on the recording, “The First Snowfall of December” is a love story set in a Victorian mansion in Medford. This story has a happy ending: no grim father disapproves, no fair maiden throws herself in a river, and no soldier boy must die. Wow. This album will make you happy. Get those cookies into the oven and invite your loved ones to tea; Matt and Shannon have made music that reminds us of what the holidays are for.

Matt and Shannon Heaton will be performing A Fine Winter’s Night at various local venues in December. Purchase a signed CD from them at one of those concerts, or order their CD online at

See "A Fine Winter's Night" this December 2008:

Wed Dec 3,
Lakeside Theater
Rangeley, ME 207 562 4445

Thurs, Dec 4, 7pm
Skye Theater, 2 Highland Drive
South Carthage, ME 04224 207 562 4445

Fri, Dec 5, 7:30
149 Middle Rd (Rt 109A) Tuftonboro, NH

Sat Dec 6, 8pm
PACE Performing Arts Center, 41 Union St
Easthampton, MA 01027 413-527-3700

Wed, Dec 17, 8pm
Club Passim, 47 Palmer St.
Cambridge, MA 02138 or 617-492-5300x3

Fri Dec 19, 8pm
Godfrey Daniels, 7 East Fourth Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015 or 610-867-2390

Sat, Dec 20, 8pm
Caffe Lena, 47 Philla Street
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 or 518-583-0022

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fiddler Jonathan Danforth sent in this heads up for a session recently launched at Hibernia Irish Pub in downtown New Bedford, on Sundays, 4-7. The session is headed up by Colin Everett (piper) and Mark Oien (fiddler). The NB Standard-Times just printed an article on it the session; check it out. Some great photos to see there, too."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Harpist Maeve Gilchrist Performs Sunday Night in Wellfleet

This news courtesy of fiddler and WOMR DJ Denya Levine:

Maeve Gilchrist, harpist and singer, will be presenting a concert this week on the Cape, with Nick Falk [drummer for Old School Freight Train] and Argentinian Andres Rotmistrovsky on bass. November 16 at 7:00 at the Wellfleet Library. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for 16 and under.

It's all about blending for singer, songwriter and harpist Maeve Gilchrist. The Scottish musician combines her Scottish roots with jazz and Latin American rhythms, and delivers performances of original tunes, modern arrangements of traditional Scottish material, instrumentals and jazz standards. The New York based singer graduated from Berklee College of Music and at 22 years old, she tours the world. Want more info?

Also, read an article about Maeve at Berklee College of Music, here:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fiddlers Benefit Concert This Weekend

Some days there's just a lot of news...

This Sunday on the Cape, don't miss this benefit concert with the Sonnay Fiddlers. They're calling it the "Irish Invitational Benefit Concert" and it will feature Stanley & Grimm, which is Nikki Engstrom (fiddle) and Sean Brennan (guitar and vocals), performing Irish, Scottish, Canadian and American tunes and songs.

It also will feature Sonnay... which stands for "Students-of-Nikki-Not-All-Young…" we can thank Bill Black for that creative title! Sonnay is made up of some 20 or so fiddlers, all students of Nikki’s, of all ages, and all terrific!

All proceeds from this event will help fund the Sonnay Fiddlers Invitational Tour of Ireland next spring. The group’s performances in Ireland will include Turlough O’Carolan’s Memorial, Co. Roscommon and the Balleydehob Traditional Music, Song and Dance Festival, Co. Cork

3:00 pm Sunday November 16, 2008

Tickets $10.00

Call 508-564-6188 to purchase or reserve your tickets
Pocasset Village Association Community Building
Barlows Landing Road, Pocasset (Across from the fire station)

For more info on Sonnay, visit

All proceeds help fund the Sonnay Fiddlers 2009 Irish Invitational Tour

Boston Musician Gene Frain Passes Away

The sad news of 29 October was that Boston lost musician Eugene F. Frain. I first met Gene when I was writing "See You at the Hall: Boston's Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance." I visited with Gene in his Watertown apartment one afternoon, much of which was spent listening to his amazing collection of recordings of Irish and Cape Breton musicians, mostly from the 1950s and 1960s. Gene later sent me several cassettes of some of these classic recordings, a major treasure in my collection.

Here's a photograph of Gene (right) with his father, Owen Frain. These photos are from the collection of Frank Storer, a contemporary of Gene's.

A little about his Dad: Owen Frain (RIP)~ (flute and piano) was born in 1896, and grew up in Roskey, Co. Mayo. At about age fourteen, he left Ireland to work in England's coal mines. He joined the U.S. Navy and in fact was stationed on a ship that sank off the coast of France. At about age twenty, he arrived in New York City, and studied flute with a flute and pipe player who recorded with James Morrison.

Later settling in Boston, Owen made many records with Dan Sullivan's Shamrock Band, including the Hanafin brothers and Neil Nolan, beginning aboutl925� the first traditional ceili band recordings. They played in the famous dance halls of Boston, usually on Dudley Street in Roxbury, where the immigrant Irish people and their American Irish children danced the sets and ceili dances played by the finest musicans.

The following information comes from Gene's obituary on the funeral home web site:

Mr. Frain, a son of the late Owen and Margaret (McSeeney) Frain, was born in Somerville, but lived most all his life in Watertown. He was a graduate of Watertown High School and served in the US Army in the 7th Division Band during World War II. He served another term of duty during the Korean Conflict also with the US Army Band.

Mr. Frain was an employee for 45 years of Haartz-Mason Company in Watertown until his retirement. He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Tomas Cardinal O’Fiaich Division 14, Watertown, and the Knights of Columbus Council #155, Watertown.

Mr. Frain was a lifelong and accomplished musician, specializing in the tin whistle, flute and piano. He was recognized by the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Northeast Region of the North American Province by being inducted into the Hall of Fame in November 2005.

The following quote is from the web site of The Comhaltas: Hanafin-Cooley Branch in Boston which promotes traditional Irish Culture, Music and Dance in the Boston Area:

“Inducted to its The Hall of Fame by
The Northeast Region of the North American Province – November 5, 2005

Owen Frain's son, Gene, was born in 1926 in Somerville, Massachusetts, and at an
early age moved to Watertown. Gene was given a whistle as soon as his fingers were big
enough to cover the holes. And later, when his fingers had grown enough to span and cover the holes on a flute, he was given a wooden flute. At age fourteen Gene began to learn the silver flute, but at first everything he did to play good Irish wooden flute was incorrect for his classical music playing. He persisted, and played well enough to perform for his country in the U.S. Army Band for three years. He made 78 recordings with Billy Caples on the piano, in the 1950s, Billy Caples having been a graduate of the Berklee College of music and a great teacher, and a performer for many years in the dance halls of Boston.

Besides his lovely playing and repertoire, always welcome, Gene Frain has been known throughout his life as a rich source of music and Irish music history in the Boston area, generous with his knowledge and helpful to all-an essential part of the survival of such an oral music tradition."

Mr. Frain played in a number of Irish bands and was interviewed by Susan Gedutis for her book, "See You at the Hall: Boston's Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance." He died at his residence on Wednesday, October 29, 2008. He had recently celebrated his 82nd birthday earlier in the month.

He was the devoted brother of Katherine Frain O’Brien of So. Weymouth, John P. Frain of Watertown, Paul J. Frain of Bellingham, Maureen Frain Villemaire of Arlington, Tex., and the late Margaret Frain Martino; and was also loved by 12 nieces and nephews.

His funeral was celebrated on November 1, 2008 in the MacDonald, Rockwell & MacDonald Funeral Home at 270 Main St., Watertown. He now rests in St. Patrick Cemetery, Watertown.

Memorial contributions may be made to VNA Hospice Care, 100 Sylvan Rd., Suite G-500, Woburn, MA 01801. For further info., please refer to or call
617 924 4700

Feature Film The Busker Screens at Boston Irish Film Festival This Weekend

This weekend is the 10th annual Magners Boston Irish Film Festival (BIFF)

Of particular interest to musicians: Catch a screening of The Busker, the debut film by Lowell native Stephen Croke, on Sunday, November 16 at 7:00 at the Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, Mass.

The busker is a 13-yr-old fiddler, Seamus. After the tragic death of his father—who was a musician and Irish native raising his family in the US—Seamus falls for a free-spirited African-American girl. Their developing relationship is threatened by the racial tension that surrounds them and an opportunity presented to Seamus by an unlikely stranger. This is a story of innocent young love, and the havoc that friends and family can wreak on something that is, at its heart, colorblind and pure. Set during the snow-filled Christmas season, The Busker was filmed mainly in Lowell. Additional scenes were shot in Tyngsboro, Dracut, Bedford, Worcester and the airport at Manchester, NH.

A native of Lowell, Massachusetts, writer and director Stephen Croke grew up in a large Irish-American family. He originally conceived the story as a Protestant/Catholic epic to take place in Belfast, but after deciding to base the work in his native Lowell, he chose an issue familiar on the streets of many a New England burb.

As Croke’s first film, it is an amazing achievement. Croke shows great promise, both in his film making skills and in his courage to present such a complicated issue with honesty and depth. Racism is an age-old story, yet his use of a young Irish American boy musician and an African American girl artist tromping through snowy New England woods makes it very, very fresh. The film abounds in memory-invoking imagery—conversations between boys during a hockey game on a frozen pond, a gleeful run through a frozen-over baseball field, a secret room paneled with cheap, walnut grain veneer, and the backroom view of a nighttime pub through steel keg barrels.

Seamus’s father is played by Liam O’Maonlai, lead singer of Irish band Hothouse Flowers. Many of the film’s other actors, however, are new to the screen—but surprisingly the acting is very understated. As a cynic who typically rolls her eyes at the shallow treatment that filmmakers typically give to musicians as characters, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Croke’s understanding of that sort of artist.

The film is complemented by a moving soundtrack under the supervision of Boston-based Irish singer/songwriter Katie McD. It includes music from Hothouse Flowers, The Push Stars, Kila, Luka Bloom, The Walls, Aine Minogue, Cormac Breatnach, Katie McD, Eric Saulnier, Paddy Saul, Nicky Sanders, ms. pigeon, and Marina Bousa. Solo fiddle throughout underscores the cold of winter and quiet tension that underscores the action.

Croke received his Master’s in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications/Media from Fitchburg State College. His screenplay for The Busker was selected as a semi-finalist from over 5,000 scripts in the 2001 Academy of Motion Picture's Nicholl Fellowship Awards (, “regarded as the nation's most prestigious competition for aspiring screenwriters.”

About the Boston Irish Film Festival
BIFF Productions originated as the Boston Irish Film Festival (BIFF), which was founded in 1999 by Jim Lane and Peter Flynn. Originally conceived of as a once-off film series, the festival became an annual event with Flynn as director. In 2003 BIFF expanded its operations to include the annual BIFF Awards to celebrate the work of outstanding filmmakers. That same year, Magners Irish Cider was invited to become the festival’s title sponsor and, in its 6th year, the Boston Irish Film Festival was renamed the Magners Irish Film Festival and became the largest event of its kind in the United States.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Steve in the news: the recording really is happening!

The things you find when you're looking for something else. This photo of Steve ran online this summer on

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Kieran's DVD is full of tidbits you just won't find many other places unless you really know where to look--particularly in the way that it explores the close relationship of Irish dance and the evolution of American tap dance style. For example, some discussion centers around George Michael Cohan (July 3, 1878November 5, 1942) was a United States entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer, director, and producer of Irish descent. (Thank you Wikipedia). What Boston area Irish music fans will like is that this American pop legend was of Irish descent, and began his dancing career in his native Rhode Island. According to Jordan and her interviewee Kevin Doyle, Cohan learned Irish dance alongside American dance styles, and both speculate that Irish dance style would have had an enormous effect on his--and thus all of American--tap dance style. Doyle, who in his early years performed "impressions" of Cohan and other tap dance stylists, demonstrates the Cohan style in the DVD, and it is easy to see how the various modern tap styles have intersected with sean nós, or "old style" Irish step dance, an improvised and looser style of Irish dancing that predates the modern competition style and the "Riverdance" style that descended upon the world in the 1990s.

It is not an enormous stretch to see how the subject matter in the video reflects Jordan's own journey to authenticity as an Irish American dancer. Kieran began competitive step dancing at a young age, following the competition route that is the joy of many a young Irish dancer. But as a young dance enthusiast, she learned Irish alongside that holy dance trinity of tap-jazz-ballet. Jordan later also explored modern dance, spending a year doing her Master’s Degree in Contemporary Dance Performance at the University of Limerick and studying with modern dance masters Mark Taylor (Body-Mind Centering), and Mary Nunan, Yoshiko Chuma, Michael Klien, and Liz and Jenny Roche (choreography and contemporary dance technique).

While teachers will typically encourage a student to focus and refine a particular technique, a searching artist will dig for his or her roots--and often find apparent conflicts of style and approach. The well tutored student is taught to perfect authentic Irish dance steps and exemplify a purity of style, setting those other influences aside until the appropriate time. But what happens in the heat of performance when the artist takes over and the body's natural inclination is to shake that bootie just a little bit? (Kieran did grow up in the '70s, after all.) A purist will quell those butt-shaking tendencies; the stylistic renegade will look for ways to reconcile those apparent disparities and create something new. Michael Flatley did this most flamboyantly in Riverdance; as we see in this DVD, Kieran has been doing it in her own quiet and genuine way throughout her career.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lately we've been watching Irish dancer Kieran Jordan's new DVD, Secrets of the Sole: Irish Dance Steps and Stories with Kieran Jordan ( Featuring Kevin Doyle and Aidan Vaughan). The CD is for adults, but it's been high on the request list of our two-year-old... and it's even beat out Cinderella (thank goodness!!)

$20 Release date: 2008 / Region Code: all / Running time: 66 minutes

If you're one of those people who's tired of all the Riverdance hoopla and hope that surely Irish dancing is a bit more earthy, you'll love this! In this 66-min documentary DVD, Kieran interviews and performs with two of her favorite step dancers who have influenced her over the years. Kevin Doyle (from Rhode Island) is a performer of old style traditional Irish step dance, as well as early styles of American tap dance. Aidan Vaughan (from County Clare, Ireland) is known as a living master of West Clare dance styles, including set dancing and sean-nós step dancing.

This video features up-close solo and duet performances, plus a rare trio performance, highlighting the dancers’ unique steps and styles. Extensive interviews illuminate Kevin’s and Aidan’s dance backgrounds and stories, encapsulating much of Irish dance history in the process. George Keith and Sean Gannon, two of Boston’s best traditional Irish musicians, provide live music for the dancing. Filmed in front of a small live audience, this video takes a warm and personal approach that captures the joy, vitality, and multiplicity of Irish dance traditions.

The Lindsays News!

Looks like we've finally hit the big time... a Lindsays blog. Well, these are the things we do when we should be practicing, apparently.

The big news for now is that we really truly are working on a CD. We've decided to choose the "best of" from a series of concerts we've recorded over the last couple of years, and release it as is, with minimal fixing and puttering about. We're hoping to have that off the ground in time for our Beal House concert in February.... stay tuned!