May 5, 2017
Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely
Hello, all, we’ve been a little slow to get this recap out, it was a terribly busy spring with work related travel and other obligations eating up our time. We are very proud of our two most recent concert events and their outcomes, and that they illustrate our mission as a team very well: to build the Irish American Heritage Center‘s cultural and social capital by creating social happenings around intimate presentations of great traditional music, performed by the best traditional musicians alive.
Our May 5, 2017 concert featured the mighty Lúnasa bandmates, Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely. Both are renowned the world over for their long association with Lunasa, and individually for various projects and bands they have been involved with over their careers.
For example, Kevin was involved in the rollicking 90s band, Moving Cloud, and more recently made waves as a member of the The Teetotallers, a collaboration with Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill, and John Doyle. Kevin’s two solo recordings, The D Flute Album and In Good Company are must-haves for fans of traditional flute playing. Kevin’s reputation for high-flying, powerful, technically immaculate and soulful wooden flute and whistle playing is second to none. He is also a first-rate raconteur and keeps audiences laughing between the tunes.
Cillian’s resume is no less illustrious. Prior to Lunasa, the Armagh-born Uilleann piper and whistle player toured with the band Whirligig. He has made over 40 different studio recordings with a variety of artists, from pop stars like Natalie Merchant and Bruce Springsteen to intimate, solo and duet instrumental recordings of traditional music with friends and family, such as his duet CD with brother, Niall, called Callan Bridge, and another with Kevin, On Common Ground. He just released a solo CD, The Raven’s Rock, in 2016, which features many of his own compositions as well as old piping favorites.
Their set on this evening was a stripped down affair, devoid of the stellar accompaniment usually provided by Lunasa bandmates Trevor Hutchinson and Ed Boyd. But it lacked nothing in terms of variety, excitement, or emotional power. The two took turns soloing and backing each other, utilizing the full palettes of the instruments available to them. For instance, Cillian used his drones and regulators at various points to accompany Kevin’s playing on the flute or whistle, only bringing the chanter in at an important transition. Other times they executed intricate, harmonized duets on combinations of whistles, flutes, and pipes. In addition to his (as usual) stunningly in tune D pipes, Cillian also made use of a C chanter, notable for its buttery, softer tones, while Kevin would play a C flute, to expand the tonal range of the overall performance beyond just the keys of D and G. Clever arrangements, and lively, good-humored banter, kept our audience enthralled for 80 minutes, and wanting more, even after an encore.
Our great thanks to Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely for the wonderful music and for taking so much time to talk to our patrons after the concert, that was truly very kind and much appreciated.
Thanks to our local Irish radio programs for their support in promoting the concert: Good Morning Ireland Radio Show, Ireland Tonight, Blarney on the Air, O’Connor Irish Radio Show, The CRAIC at Irish American Heritage Center- WSBC 1240AM Sat. 8-9PM, and Windy City Irish Radio.
Also, many thanks to: Noel Rice, John Halliburton, Geno Cooney, Meg Buchanan, Kathy O’Neill, Karen Cook, Maryann McTeague Keifer, Sean Ginnelly, Mike Shevlin, Tim Taylor, Mike Houlihan, Shay Clarke, AND especially the volunteer ladies at the table, Mary, Mary Alice, Darryl, without whom the evening could not have happened.