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!