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5th Annual Celtic Festival Recap

Paddy KeenanCeltic folk legend piper Paddy Keenan with John Walsh and Jimmy Noonan

The 2007 Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival was pleased to feature world renowned Irish piper Paddy Keenan.

Paddy started playing the uilleann or Irish bagpipes at the age of ten and performed at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin when he was only fourteen. After playing with other members of his family in a band called the Pavees, Keenan set off for a career in blues and rock and became a founding member of the infamous 1970s Bothy Band that included the great fiddler, Tommy Peoples, among others.

John Walsh
John Walsh

Paddy's improvisational abilities along with his deep appreciation for the blues allowed him to pursue a solo career after the band broke up. Today he and his pipes tour the world performing with major artists including fiddler James Kelly, flute player Larry Nugent, Steve Morris of Deep Purple and the Dixie Dregs, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bela Fleck and Tim O'Brien.

Paddy recorded six albums with the Bothy Band and he has over twenty other recordings as a soloist and with friends including Na Keen Affair and the Long Grazing Acre with Tommy O'Sullivan on Hot Conya Records. His last CD complements his Long Grazing Acre Foundation established to help the Traveller musician community in Ireland.

He was joined by friends John Walsh and Jimmy Noonan.

For more information, visit www.paddykeenan.com/about.htm.

Seamus Connolly & Friends

Seamus ConnellyEveryone experienced a special treat with Seamus Connolly on the stage.

He is the only musician to have won the Irish National Fiddle Championship ten times! A native of Killaloe, County Clare, he now lives and works here in Massachusetts and has been an artist in residence at Boston College.

His two solo CDs were released on Green Linnet Records: Notes from My Mind and Here and There. Also released on Green Linnet Records is Banks of the Shannon, (a recording with the legendary accordionist Paddy O'Brien and pianist/composer Charlie Lennon) and Warming Up (a recording with accordionist/composer Martin Mulhaire, flutist Jack Coen and pianist Felix Dolan).

Seamus Connolly, Joe Derrane, John McGann
Seamus Connolly (l) with Joe Derrane and John McGann (r)

Seamus was joined on stage by John McGann and Joe Derrane. John is a very talented multi-instrumentalist specializing in mandolin family instruments, electric and acoustic guitar, steel guitar, and dobro. He is also a professional composer, arranger, performer, recording artist, producer, and educator who works with a variety of idioms including Jazz, Bluegrass, American traditional music, and Traditional Irish dance music.

Joe started studying the 10 key melodeon with the great Jerry O'Brien when he was just ten years old. By the time he was 17, he had purchased a 2-row instrument (D/C#) and had become a fixture in the legendary ballroom scene in the Dudley Street section of Roxbury. The burgeoning interest in his talents blossomed and he was asked to make the first of what would turn out to be a series of eight (16 sides) 78rpm recordings over the next several years. Those recordings, marked by his unique styling, vigor, and flawless execution, stunned everyone in the Irish music world. Joe has gone on to record on the Mapleshade label and travels the United States sharing his unique and special talents.

For more information, visit www.seamusconnolly.com.

Robbie O'ConnellThe Robbie O'Connell Band

This New England-based band is lead by crowd pleaser Robbie O'Connell who joined us for his 5th consecutive Festival. It's always a thrill to welcome him to our stage! Robbbie O'Connell was born in Waterford, Ireland and grew up in Carrick-o-Suir, Co. Tipperary. In 1977, he joined the Clancy Brothers and they recorded three albums together. In 1982, Robbie released Close to the Bone and emerged as an artist of major stature. He soon began touring extensively with Mick Maloney and Jimmy Keane and with Eileen Ivers and Seamus Eagan in the Green Fields of America.

Robbie has recorded fourteen albums and has appeared on seven compilation albums. He has played around the world and at venues as varied as Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. Earning awards and international acclaim as a singer-songwriter, he continues to share his love for his homeland through his music. Today Robbie and his lovely wife Roxanne also lead Heart of Ireland tours through their company Celtica Music & Tours. Joining Robbie on the Main Stage were George Keith on the fiddle and Dan Isaacson on the bozouki and uilleann pipes.

For more information, visit www.robbieoconnell.com.

Celtic Spring from NBC's America's Got Talent

Celtic SpringThis family has talent! Celtic Spring are championship step dancers and musiciansmusicians and they were the undisputed favorite of the festival! The Wood family - six siblings with mom on piano and dad on the bodran (Irish drum) - danced and played their way into everyone's hearts that day. If you didn't see them when they were voted finalists on America's Got Talent, you should not miss these southern Californians performing traditional jigs and reels as well as original compositions. This was one of a very few New England appearances this year and they were about to release their latest CD: Cornerstone.

For more information, visit www.celticspringband.com.

Charlie Zahm

Charlie ZahmCharlie Zahm is a Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival favorite. Since 1992, Charlie has recorded twenty CDs of Celtic Maritime and American Music. As comfortable on stage as before an outdoor crowd, Charlie is a consummate Celtic entertainer with hundreds of songs in his repertoire.

His newly released CD is a live recording with his band entitled Charlie Zahm - An Evening of Classical Melodies that was produced with Franklin Springs Family Media of Nashville.

One of the few entertainers to sing live with Scotland's famed "Black Watch," Charlie is one of the most sought after Celtic entertainers on the East Coast. This year Charlie lent his wonderful baritone voice to the opening ceremonies where he gave a wonderful performance of our national anthem.

For more information, visit www.charliezahm.com.

Nan Tom TeaiminNan Tom Teaimin

Nan Tom Teaimin hails from a village near Carna and sings in the traditional Sean-Nos Irish song genre. She has won several awards for her traditional style. Known as the root of all Irish music, her unaccompanied free rhythms helps audiences understand and appreciate the extensive tradition of both beloved Irish instrumentals and song. She performed in a variety of English dialects and in Irish-Gaelic. Today she teaches young people in South Connemara the Sean-Nos keeping the traditional alive and well.

For more information, visit www.nantomteaimin.com.

George CaseyGeorge Casey

George Casey served as our MC of the day and brought his own version of Irish humor to the crowds. George immigrated to the United States from County Clare, Ireland in 1970. He began his career as an Irish folk singer and guitarist at the exclusive, Dromoland Castle. As well as his engaging voice, he maintained a well-equipped quick wit, which he fine-tuned during his years growing up in Ireland. One of six children, he honed his skills as a comic at the expense of his brothers and sisters. Instinctively, he used his unique sense of humor to develop a rapport with his audience.

George has proved over the span of his 30-year comedy career that his self-deprecating sense of humor and clean harmless barbs play well to any audience. Some of the acts George has opened for and toured with include Rosemary Clooney, The Osmond Brothers, Ray Price, Three Dog Night, Brooklyn Bridge, Donald O'Connor and Bobby Vinton. George performed with Bobby Vinton as his Special Guest Comedy Star in Vinton's Blue Velvet Theatre in Branson, Missouri until its close in 2002. He has performed at Caesar's Palace, The Sahara, and is a regular act at The Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. McDonald's, Hasbro, AT&T, Lucent Technology, and Panasonic are just some of the major corporations who have contracted George Casey for their private events.

For more information, visit www.georgecasey.com.

Dancers

O'Shea-Chaplin DancersO'Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance

The O'Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance is one of the longest established Irish dancing schools in the country. Founded by Rita O'Shea-Chaplin in Galway Ireland 50 years ago, the school has been located in the greater Boston area since the early 1960's. Rita and her instructors teach children and adults of all ages. Their students have won many local, regional and national championships and their ceili and choreography teams have captured many North American titles. The O'Shea-Chaplin dancers have performed all over the U.S.A., and have conducted tours in Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Germany, and Russia. They have performed with:

  • Michael Flatley, of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance fame
  • Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops
  • Tenor John McDermott and Ronan Tynon
  • Pop/Rock acts such as The Push Stars, Solas, and Black 47.

They have captivated the audiences at the Fleet Center at the St. Patrick's Day Boston Celtics game. The dancers have been featured on local television during their performances at First Night Boston, as well as the Discovery Channel and Country Music TV. Their combination of traditional and contemporary dances and costumes is truly exciting to watch.

For more information, visit www.bostonirishdance.com/.

McInerney School Irish Step DancersThe McInerney School of Irish Step Dancing

Mary McInerney-Zona, TCRG, is the founder and Director of The McInerney School of Irish Step Dance. She is a certified teacher and a former Irish step dancing champion who has been involved in Irish dancing since the age of 4, winning numerous regional and national awards and attending world championships in Ireland. "Mary Mac" began her study of Irish step dance in New York City and danced with the O'Sullivan School of Irish Dancing through 1977. From there, Mary moved to New England where continued her education in Irish dance with the Michael Smith Academy in Boston. Mary established the McInerney School in 1983 and has now been teaching Irish dance in Central Massachusetts for over 20 years. Her school currently has hundreds of dancers, many of whom compete throughout the country. This was her school's fifth consecutive year performing at the Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival.

For more information, visit marymacdancers.homestead.com/Home.html.

Pipers

The Tularch Árd Pipe Band

Tulach Ard Pipe BandThe Tularch Árd Pipe Band is the Boston area's premier Grade 2 pipe band led by Pipe Major Jim Lundt. The Band's membership hails from around New England and they've won awards from around the United States and Canada. This band also prides itself on appearing on behalf of the public at locations that include the USS Constitution, 4th of July parades and at numerous Highland Games. We were pleased to have them back to lead our opening ceremony.

For more information, visit www.tulachard.org/tapb2.html.



The Worcester Kiltie Band

Worcester Kiltie BandHard work paid off for the WKB this season! Fielding competition in Grades IV and V, the band still found time to be active members of the Worcester County community where it lives, works and plays. From parades and funerals to concerts and memorials, the band members take their participation seriously and strive to teach others how to reach the same level of excellence. Professional instruction in the Great Highland Bagpipe, the Scottish Drum and drumming is offered to to individuals. This year the band has placed first in Grade IV in both the Rhode Island Scottish Highland Festival and in the Southern New Hampshire Scottish Games and Celtic Music Festival! They helped make the closing ceremony a resounding success!

For more information, visit www.wkpb.com.