The 23rd Salon Concert featured Cathie Ryan and her band performing her new Christmas show, The Winter’s Heart: An Irish American Christmas.
Cathie is well known as a longtime member of Cherish the Ladies, the all-female traditional music group founded in New York by the effervescent, high-energy Joanie Madden. Cathie split with the group and has enjoyed a successful solo career, releasing 6 solo recordings of her own, her most recent effort, Through the Wind and Rain released in 2012.
Joining her were Patsy O’Brien, the highly accomplished guitarist who seems to be everywhere when it comes to recordings and tours, Patrick Mangan, a fine fiddler who first came to prominence as a Riverdance musician, and Kieran O’Hare, the gifted piper, flautist, and whistler and one time Chicago denizen now living in Portland, Maine.
Cathie’s show combined traditional carols in Irish and English along with some of her own originals and other recently composed material. Cathie interspersed the songs with stories of her childhood, Irish Christmas traditions, and Pre-Christian Irish Winter Solstice celebrations as well. Some of the songs were recastings of old carols with new lyrics, such as a version of English Wassailing Song, along with some more religious pieces such as the Wexford Carol. She told a particularly moving story about the Winter Solstice sunrise at Newgrange and how it formed part of the inspiration for an Irish Gaelic song by Altan frontwoman Mairead Ni Mhaoinaigh, which she then sang to a spellbound audience.
The band expertly accompanied her arrangements and was given ample opportunity to show their considerable skills on instrumentals, both as soloists and as an ensemble.
Our audience appeared to enjoy every minute of it, applauding enthusiastically between the numbers and lining up afterward to purchase CDs, obtain autographs, and chat with the performers. Cathie was especially gracious, taking time to talk with her many devoted fans even though the hour was late.
Thank you to our headliners and to John Halliburton, our sound engineer, for an evening of beautiful music.
Thank you to Ireland Tonight host Maryann McTeague Keifer, Windy City Irish Radio hosts Tim Taylor and Mike Shevlin, The Hegarty Irish Radio Show, Blarney on the Air host Shay Clarke, and The O’Connor Radio Show for their promotional assistance. Special thanks to Sean Ginnelly of the Good Morning Ireland Radio Show for making time to interview Cathie on air in the weeks prior to the show, we really appreciated that!
We wanted to share some photos with you from the great night we had on December 8, 2016 with Cathie Ryan’s The Winters Heart! Apologies for the blurry nature of the photos..
Frankie Gavin – Rob and Marian Heffernan
Legendary musician Frankie Gavin joined Miriam in studio to talk about his start in music at the age of four, growing up surrounded by music in his father’s pub and recording with The Rolling Stones!
And Rob and Marian Heffernan spoke about their success in athletics and what it was like to finally win that Olympic medal!
We wish to apologize for the lateness of this recap, it was in no way a reflection of the mighty music we enjoyed on November 12, 2016 in Chicago!
Frankie is well known as a founding member and front man of the legendary 70s and 80s super group De Dannan and as a virtuosic fiddler and multi-instrumentalist. Frankie has made several solo recordings over the years, including several in which he played all instruments in the recording – fiddle, flute, viola, accordion, and piano. He has a well-earned reputation for incandescent solo fiddling with blazing tempos and colorful, inventive use of variations.
He did not disappoint us at all, interspersing his solo set of traditional dance tunes with a baroque piece or two and great stage patter. Frankie’s comedic sense is at least as quick-witted as his playing, so the rapid fire stories and one-liners had the audience on chuckling frequently.
Tommy McCarthy (fiddle), who grew up in London, and Louise Costello (banjo), originally from Galway, are a couple who live in the Boston, Massachusetts, area and are the proprietors of the Burren, the famous trad music pub in Boston. The Burren is the home of the Burren Backroom Series, a concert series dedicated to presenting traditional music in a concert setting much like the Salon Concerts and one of our sources of inspiration.
Tommy and Louise played a lovely set of tunes on fiddle and banjo that was about the music itself – sweet, rhythmic, deceptively quick, expressive, and evocative of Clare and East Galway as well as the smoky London pubs Tommy’s father played in with the likes of Bobby Casey.
Thank you to Windy City Irish Radio hosts Tim Taylor and Mike Shevlin, Ireland Tonight host Maryann McTeague Keifer, Blarney on the Air host Shay Clarke, The Hegarty Irish Radio Show, The O’Connor Irish Radio Show, and The Good Morning Ireland Radio Show for their promotional assistance, we appreciate it greatly.
Tonight at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, 8pm!
Cathie Ryan: The Winter’s Heart Tour
Dark comes early in winter in Ireland, and sunrise comes late. It’s a time for turning inward, for reflection, for seeking grace, for seeking home. It’s a time as well for celebration of home and hearth, of winter’s beauty in the landscape, in the gifts of friendship and family, and music.
Musician Cathie Ryan knows these things well. First generation Irish American, she has lived out these traditions growing up in the United States and as an adult, living in both the US and Ireland.
Candles in the window to light loved ones home, hunting the wren on Saint Stephen’s Day, telling and retelling of well loved stories and singing of well loved songs, and honoring the winter solstice and the turning of the seasons as well as the time of Advent and Christmas: these are a few of the traditions of Ireland Ryan has received from and shared in her own family. This season, she’s decided to create a series of concerts to bring these things to her audiences. On 30 November Ryan will begin a run of concerts in the US to be called The Winter’s Heart: An Irish American Christmas.
Though she has at times appeared as a guest on holiday concerts with other Irish artists, this will be the first time Ryan is creating a winter themed run of performances of her own. Known for her compelling voice, inspired songwriting, and thoughtful selection of songs from the tradition and from contemporary writers, Ryan is also loved by her audiences for her lively storytelling and fine wit. All of these will be in play for The Winter’s Heart.
Joining Ryan for the tour will be award winning guitarist Patsy O’Brien. He has brought his soulful playing to work with Eileen Ivers and Paddy Keenan, among others. Patrick Mangan will handle fiddle playing for the tour, as he’s well qualified to do, having twice won All-Ireland fiddle championships and recently toured as a featured soloist with Riverdance. Keiran O’Hare will bring his pipes, flute, and tin whistle into the mix. He’s an internationally renown performer who has appeared with Mick Moloney, Liz Carroll, Josh Groban and Don Henley.
It is Ryan’s voice and vision which will center each evening’s performance, however. She has been at the forefront of Irish and Irish American music for more than two decades, bringing clarity of voice and the creativity of imagination to creating music which draws on legend and history as well as present day, which intertwines worlds of nature and myth, and which holds elements of both sides of her heritage. All this, Christmas, and flashes of humor as well — these are bound to be evenings to remember.
Tour schedule and information for The Winter’s Heart http://www.cathieryan.com/christmas/
Photograph of Cathie Ryan in Santa hat by Kerry Dexter. Thank you for respecting copyright.