Celtic Celebration at One Longfellow Square
Venue: One Longfellow Square, Portland, ME ~ July 12, 2012 ~
Jul 24, 2012
The Celtic Celebration at One Longfellow Square was a night of total immersion in the world of reels, jigs and airs. I thought I was a big fan of Celtic music, but I realized that once I was among these connoisseurs of the genre, I was in over my head. The subtleties of the many melodies known to these musicians could be compared to the sensitivity of the palettes of wine aficionados. The musicians mentioned the names of the reels or their composers and the audience knew what they were talking about!
Uilleann (pronounced ill'en, the Irish word for elbow!) piper, Tom Wilsbach, an adorable looking, white-whiskered man, was the soft-spoken MC. His gentle, understated presence and appearance caused me to envisage a thatched-roof and a peat-fire blazing at One Longfellow Square, while St Brigit hovered above, blessing the crowd.
First they played a rather serene air, peaceful and slow, and as their set progressed, the reels and jigs sped up. Finally Cindy's feet were step dancing away under her piano, adding a dimension of spunky rhythm. Let me reprint a quote from the flyer about this event, because I doubt I could say it better: "Ethnomusicologist Bau Graves, calls Roy the finest Franco fiddler in New England, whose playing, 'exactly exemplifies what Franco American fiddling is all about. It is simultaneously precisely controlled and wildly danceable.'" To find out more about their recordings and performances you can visit their website: The Don Roy Trio.
Our MC, Tom, took the stage with his penny whistle instead of his Uilleann pipes. He played an air from Donegal for us about the selkie. As he described the legend in the song, I realized that it must be where John Sayles got the idea for his film, "The Secret of Roan Inish". He played another sweet tune, which he said he learned from Sharon Pyne called, "The Coal Miner's Reel".
Oh my goodness, then came the icing on the cake for me! Seeing Tom Rota in his element, on Uilleann pipes – along with his two fine companions, Jaime Eller, on fiddle, and Michael Jeanneau, on bouzouki – who form the band, Boghat – was incredible. Tom's hands are miracles; I couldn't believe how fast and furious he played. Boghat was intense, fresh, and joyous. I've seen Tom host many events at OLS, but seeing him playing music truly warmed my heart. I could connect the dots between the man who has been responsible for booking so many fine shows, with his heart as a musician. Visit their website at Boghat.
By then the show was really ripping. The Press Gang appeared next. Alden Robinson played fiddle, and the way he was sitting with his legs bouncing up and down reminded me of a Martin Hayes performance I attended last year. Christian "Junior" Stevens played his various squeezeboxes with amazing alacrity, and the versatile Owen Marshall (the brother of above mentioned Elly), played guitar and bouzouki. At one point Owen leaned down and was squeezing a hand pedal and doing something mysterious in a box while this amazing underbelly of emotional sound welled up and surrounded the tunes like a musical fog. I was wondering what the box was when someone said something like, "Over there, by the harmonium!" and that's how I found out what it was! Those guys were amazing, just riveting. Visit their website at The Press Gang.
For music lovers visiting Portland, Maine, I highly recommend
One Longfellow Square ~ "Portland's Premier Arts Venue"
Check them out at onelongfellowsquare.com.
Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.
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