Caherlistrane singer Seán Keane is celebrating the launch of a new three-box CD set, featuring 45 of his favourite songs with a national tour which sees him play the city’s Town Hall Theatre this Friday and Saturday night, and Clifden’s Station House Theatre on Sunday, December 15.
Along with many familiar songs, the release contains six new tracks including the title track, Never Alone, which he first heard Colm Kirwan play in Nashville for a couple who were celebrating their wedding anniversary.
The album marks Seán’s lengthy career which began at the age of seven when he won his first All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil title and as such, it features songs like May Morning Dew and O’Reilly, which he learned as a child at home. These are mixed in with songs which he has gathered over the years and some which are new to him, most notably beautiful versions of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love and Beyonce’s Ave Maria.
“I love them. And from now on, any song I come across that I love, I am going to sing it and record it and do it my way,” he laughs.
“The way I see it the songs find me,” he says, adding that’s what happened with Never Alone – he just happened to hear it in Nashville and knew right away he wanted to record it.
Kentucky writer Arthur Leroy Phipps’ song, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem is among the new songs as is Bury Me Beneath the Willows, which both reflect Seán’s ongoing relationship with Irish music in America.
Seán is giving 22 concerts countrywide between now and the middle of January to coincide with this new release. He’s being joined on stage by band regulars Pat Coyne and Fergus Feely on guitar, mandcello and vocals, as well as Stephen Doherty from Foxford on accordion, flute and keyboard and Úna McLoughlin from Moycullen on fiddle, cello and violin.
Fourth, fifth and sixth class children from various schools locally are also taking part in all the concerts – fourth, fifth and sixth classes from Bullaun near Loughrea on Friday night and from Castlehackett Saturday night. In Clifden, the choir will be from Tullycross School.
The idea of getting children involved in his shows first struck Seán during the Gathering when he went to local schools, Belclare and Castlehackett and saw the amount of talent and enthusiasm among young people.
“It’s great to get them involved, to get them hearing the music and becoming familiar with it,” says Seán, explaining that he has been visiting the various schools and rehearsing with the children for the concerts. “I get a lovely buzz out of their energy and enthusiasm,” he adds.
The youngsters will be seated in the audience for the part of the show they aren’t involved with, so that they can listen to the performance. It’s all part of allowing them to enjoy the concert experience.
Seán’s New Year’s Eve concert promises to be a special one, as he and the band will perform on the Jeannie Johnston replica famine ship, which has a capacity of just 65 people. Then it’s off on a boat of a different kind early in the New Year, on a cruise out of Florida, specialising in Irish musical acts, with Ronan Tynan also included in the line-up.
• Tickets for Seán’s Town Hall show are €20 from tht.ie, 091-569777 and from the box office. For the Station House concert contact 095-30303.
Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be
Folk duo Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce are launching their new album What Will We Be, a blend of folk, Americana and acoustic music, this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc.
The success of their well-received 2020 release Taobh le Taobh, as well as recent successes at the Pan Celtic and Oireachtas Song Contests, spurred the duo on to record this new album which represents many years of collaboration and musical development.
It features Niall and Pádraic on vocals, harmonies, and acoustic guitars, Maidhc Ó hÉanaigh on double bass and Neil Fitzgibbon on fiddle. The catchy title track, What Will We Be, features contributions from percussionist Jim Higgins (The Stunning, Christy Moore, Paul Brady) and haunting, driving melodies on vocals, guitar, and fiddle.
Themes of love and hope are woven through Come Away with Me which features interplay between piano and fiddle as well as rich vocal harmonies.
People, places, and broken dreams are celebrated and lamented on Martin and Tom, Guitar Gold, Memories of You and Achill Island. The influence of David Henry Thoreau’s novel Walden features on the tracks Simple and Wise and Walden, with the beauty of nature, escape and simple pleasures at their core.
The album moves from minimalistic folk ballads such as Galway Ghost to swirling, string-laden arrangements on the song Neptune, both of which are influenced by maritime tales from Galway. Much of the work on this album was supported by the Arts Council, including work with musical arranger Eoin Corcoran and the string ensemble Treo.
The album will be launched this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in an Taibhdhearc. Tickets €22, plus booking fee at Eventbrite.ie.
All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh
Dunmore is the place to be this weekend for lovers of traditional music, as the Galway County Fleadh will take place there from this Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 23.
It is 10 years since Dunmore last hosted a fleadh and the local Comhaltas branch, which has re-formed since Covid, is looking forward to facilitating this gathering of music, song, dance and craic.
The official Opening Concert will take place in Dunmore Town Hall this Friday at 8pm with the acclaimed Mulcahy family from Limerick. Mick, Louise and Michelle are well known throughout the country, thanks to their live performances, television appearances and numerous CDs. They were the winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Grúpa Ceoil Award for 2023. Tickets for their concert can be purchased on the door and a great night of music is promised.
Two days of competitions will kick off this Saturday at the town’s Community School, with more than 1,500 competitors taking part. Participants will be hoping to qualify for the Connacht Fleadh 2023, which will be held in Ballina, County Mayo, from June 23 to July 2.
Competitions for those aged Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15 will be held in a large variety of instruments on Saturday, as well as in singing and Comhrá Gaeilge. Sunday’s competitions will be for the Under 18 and Over 18 ages groups, as well as in dancing.
On both days a large entry is expected for Grúpaí Cheoil and Céilí Band competitions across all age groups.
Seventeen Comhaltas branches from across Galway will have participants in this weekend’s competitions, which will result in a large number of visitors to the Dunmore area.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the competitions, which offer a great opportunity to hear and see the talent on display. There will be sessions in local pubs over the weekend as well and everybody is welcome to attend these.
For more information on the County Fleadh, go to www.galwaycomhaltas.ie.
Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday
Music for Galway’s concert with renowned Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia which had been due to take place on April 27 but which had to be deferred, will now take place next Tuesday, May 23, at 8pm, in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the University of Galway.
This concert of German classics with Bach at its core, will brings the Bach element of Music for Galway’s 41st season to an end.
This world-class pianist who won the famous Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition, has a repertoire that spans many eras from baroque to contemporary and he is widely known for his elaborate programmes. Cédric Pescia describes music as ‘language and movement at the same time’.
Audiences will have a chance to experience his soft, clear touch as he performs a programme for solo piano that will include classics such as Schumann’s popular Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), a suite of nine short pieces, and the penultimate of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, No. 31. These pieces will be interspersed with French Suites by Bach.
■ Ticket for Cédric Pescia’s concert are available at www.musicforgalway.ie, or by phone 091 705962 and on the door on the night. They cost €20/€18. The price for fulltime students of all ages is €6 while MfG Friends can avail of the friends’ rate of €16.