After subbing at intervals for the mighty Ben Power since the show opened on Broadway, I am thrilled to be joining the touring company of the hit new musical theater piece, Come From Away, as the full-time winds player. We’ll be traveling all over the United States and Canada with this heartfelt production, based on the true story of a small town in Newfoundland whose residents took in and cared for 7,000 airline passengers stranded there in the wake of 9/11. I am truly honored to be a part of this production.
Happy Saturday, friends! I hope everyone is feeling good today. If you are a fan of Irish traditional music, and want to do something good for the people affected by the recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico and Mexico, I've got an announcement for you! Myself and Dylan Foley recorded an album over the summer, which we are releasing online today, and donating all of the proceeds to disaster relief in those areas.
While playing some gigs at John D. McGurk's in St. Louis, we set up a little recording rig in The Palace, which is the apartment in which the house bands stay while playing there. We wanted to give a nod to the traditional Irish music community by putting out an album of unaccompanied flute and fiddle tunes. Today we are releasing 'The Palace Sessions' on Bandcamp. There are 13 tracks, all totally unaccompanied, unedited, and presented mainly in the order in which they were recorded. You can name your own price, and know that all of our share for the time being will go to Fondo Unido México / United Way Mexico, and Unidos por Puerto Rico / United for Puerto Rico. Bandcamp has graciously volunteered to lower their take to 10%, and the rest will all go to those charities, until the pressing need for aid in those two areas has passed. We will publish our donation receipts online so that our listeners can be assured that their money is going to charity.
There are a lot of alarming things happening in the world right now, and many recent events that have left me with a feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness. There are so many causes worthy of our concern right now, it is difficult to imagine attempting to address all of them, but with baby steps and choosing one thing at a time, perhaps we can affect some positive change. This is a small way in which we felt we could engage our Irish music community, raise some money for a good cause, and maybe put a smile on a few faces with some tunes. Hope you enjoy!
I have recently had the great honor of being named as an official designated substitute musician in the new Broadway musical, Come From Away. I have been subbing at intervals for the show's full-time winds player, the mighty Ben Power, and have been absolutely delighted to work with such a talented, professional, and straight-up nice group of people, including my long-time friend and musical partner, violinist/fiddle player extraordinaire Caitlin Warbelow. The show is an absolute grand slam. Here's to hoping it has a long life on Broadway!
Back in January I got together with my good friends Dylan Foley and Jake Charron, to play some tunes in front of the camera at my favorite pub in NYC, The Four Faced Liar. A snowstorm was raging outside, so we were happy to be enjoying the warmth of tunes, pints, and camaraderie inside. Hope you enjoy it, we sure had fun making it! Iain Toft was on hand to provide some still images as well, thanks Iain!
I had a great experience teaching and playing at this year's Portal Irish Music Week. What a great group of people, great classes and vibes, and in such a beautiful location! Other instructors included Brian Conway, Matt Heaton, Marla Fibish, Colin Lindsay, Brian Lanni, and co-organizer Pete Strickler, whom I must thank along with Susan Zazzali Mittelstadt for the great opportunity. Also, Burt Mittelstadt who brought us out on some amazing hikes around the area, an uncommonly lush desert environment which is absolutely teeming with wildlife in the very southeast corner of Arizona.
Before the festival, I had the pleasure of heading to Denver to play a lovely little house concert at Pete Strickler's beautiful home, after which we drove all the way to Portal, taking in some amazing views along the way. As a huge fan of all manner of spicy food, I was delighted to stop in Hatch, New Mexico, the green chile pepper capital of North America! Here are a few photos of the drive, and hiking around the Portal area, which will hopefully inspire viewers to attend this great annual teaching festival sometime!
This year I was honored to join the faculty at one of my favorite weeklong festivals of music anywhere in the world, Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, NY. I have been at the festival many times as a performer, session leader, and carouser, but this was my first year teaching. I had a fabulous group of students for both my advanced and intermediate flute classes, and as always, found time to play loads of tunes and catch up with many of my best friends whom I rarely get to see outside of this one magical week every year. One of the highlights was playing double saxophones in a céilí band with Aaron Olwell, alongside Billy McComiskey, Laurence Nugent, Joanie Madden, Pauline Conneely, Brendan Dolan, and a host of other awesome players. Here are some photos, from which I'm sure you can imagine the fun that was had!
Yesterday, along with my fellow bandmates of The Yanks, I had the privilege of performing at one of NYC's many official events commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916, at a beautiful outdoor stage just off Pier A on the Hudson River. Among the other acts on the bill were some of our favorite legends including Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, Cherish the Ladies, Mick Moloney, and our friends from Hammerstep. Siobhán Butler was kind enough to dance a few steps for us, making for a very lively set.
It had been a few years since I had spent St. Patrick's Day playing gigs around Manhattan, but this year I was honored to be able to play two very nice concerts, the first being the Mayor's St. Patrick's Day Breakfast Reception at Gracie Mansion with my friends Caitlin Warbelow and Shane O'Sullivan, and the second being a packed-to-capacity evening concert at Lincoln Center's David Rubenstein Atrium with my boys, The Yanks. It was quite a different experience from the bar scene to which I had been accustomed to playing in many years ago! I must admit, the change was not unwelcome. Our audience at Lincoln Center was absolutely fantastic, and the house crew and management were superb. I couldn't have asked for a better St. Patrick's Day!
The Yanks are honored and excited beyond belief to perform a free concert at Lincoln Center this year on St. Patrick's Day! On Thursday, March 17, 2016, join us at the David Rubenstein Atrium at 7:30pm for some great traditional Irish tunes. We will be delighted to be playing in a prestigious concert venue, and avoiding the green beer crowd... until we join them after the concert, of course! ;)
My three-month tour in China with Riverdance was a real eye-opener. It was full of challenges, laughs, learning experiences, new foods, and a deep yearning for my friends, family, and my own country. In years to come I’m sure I will remember it as a period of growth and learning. While I could write pages and pages about my time there and the highs and lows that accompanied me on the journey, for now I will simply post a collection of some of my photos I took while traveling there. I hope you enjoy the gander.
Greetings to all from the other side of the planet! A few months ago I was invited to join the Riverdance company as their piper for a three month tour in China, and it began just a few days ago. After spending a few days in Chicago with my parents, I had a 16-hour direct flight from Chicago to Hong Kong, where I met up with the rest of the company, and we drove by bus a few hours into mainland China to Huizhou, where we had our first two shows of the tour. We are now in Shenzhen, the second stop, a larger city on the Hong Kong border. The tour will last through February 1st and bring us to no less than 20 cities all up and down the eastern half of the country. This will be my longest non-US tour to date, and it’s my first time in Asia. It’s great to be asked to join such a well-known company and share the stage with such a diverse and wonderful cast. Ganbei!
After a whirlwind weekend in Texas and a quick stop in Chicago to visit my folks, I’m off to Halifax to play at the Re-Jigged festival with Seph Peters. This will be my first visit to Nova Scotia. I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic!