Opening for Derek Warfield and The Young Wolfe Tones

Since Dave and I started playing together, we’ve had the chance to do a few really fun and interesting gigs. We’ve done some double-bills that have been wonderful, and each opportunity has been really memorable.

And our next one is gonna be right up among the best.

We’re proud to announce that we’ve been asked to open for a true legend of Irish music when Derek Warfield rolls into town next month with The Young Wolfe Tones. Derek, who was a founding member and long-time front man of The Wolfe Tones — a group whose music I heard a lot when growing up — has inspired many performers over the years and written countless songs that have become modern standards.

Our friend Tom Lanigan (L) with the legendary Derek Warfield (R). A couple of handsome Irish lads, eh.

We’re thrilled to get a chance to open for him and the group of stellar young Irish musicians that play with him. (Trust me, they all are superb performers in their own right.)

The show will be at Ri Ra in Portsmouth on Tuesday, March 6 at 6 p.m.

Our friends from The Tom Lanigan Band have opened for Derek and The Young Wolfe Tones a few times — and will be doing so again this year down in Rhode Island — and they’ve always spoken highly of the experience. The two bands have developed a nice rapport, and Young Wolfe Tones’ stellar banjo player, Damaris Woods, even played on Tom’s new CD Voice from the Tomb. Here’s hoping the circle of friendship continues.

Of course, we hope that you’ll all come out and see us open for this show. In the meantime, here’s a video of one of the classic songs Derek is known for: “Celtic Symphony!”
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Triple CD Release Party at the Stone Church

Thursday, January 26th will be a special evening at the Stone Church in Newmarket, NH.  An open party will celebrate the release of three great CDs.  At about 9 PM Chris Vaughan, Portsmouth’s songwriting Scot, releases his first CD “Freedom.”  This one has a special place in my heart, as I worked with Chris from his early days incubating the songs that he was inspired to write over the past few years.  With scenes and characters from the Portsmouth area, his songs reflect some of  Chris’s colorful life stories.  With a little luck I’m planning to accompany Chris on his classic “Celts” and perhaps another song.

We all know there will be plenty of energy in Chris’s performance.


Then there will be new CDs and performances from Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki and the Tom Lanigan Band.  Pete is planning to be there – so you never know what combination of any of the above might be called to the stage for some fun collaboration.  That’s a big part of the good fortune and the fun we all share in this area – so much great music with so many great people.

This night will rock  — here’s hoping you can be there!


The Makem and Spain Brothers at the Rochester Opera House

This past Saturday my wife Chris and I especially enjoyed the Makem and Spain Brothers Concert at the Rochester Opera House.  They’ve been doing a special concert there for over 10 years, back to the times that father Tommy would appear with them.  We were inspired to go this year, as I had seen the lads in the recording studio a few weeks earlier, when I  helped then capture some video connected with a new Christmas song Mick had just written (I Heard the Bells).  That helped me to see that they are sounding especially great, and to learn they’d be sprinkling in some special Christmas songs in this Saturday-after-Thanksgiving concert.

Well….we weren’t disappointed.   Nice cozy theater, great sound system, and all four voices and instruments blending and ringing out beautifully all evening.

Rory  (when he wasn’t playing guitar or bouzouki) played Tommy’s  old banjo – which brought a bit of history and nostalgia to the stage for me.  Connor does an excellent job with tasteful electric bass, and then adds a lot with concertina or whistle in some special songs or tunes.  Mick and Liam Spain bring their super-strong voices and tasty playing, and it all works as a whole with the ‘Makem’ part of the sound you just have to sit back and say, “Wow.”

They did indeed do some Christmas songs – including the new one.  That capped off the night with a holiday feel, which, now that Thanksgiving is over, we were ready to really enjoy.

If you haven’t seen them, or if it’s been awhile – I’d recommend you find a time to give a good listen.  In the mean time, their new CD, “Up the Stairs” is among their very best.



Halloween 2011 at Ri Ra

Tonight marks Halloween 2011, and the entire town will be out in costume for Portsmouth’s annual Halloween Parade. I’ve always loved how so many people get into the parade with outlandish outfits.

The boys and ghouls at Ri Ra will be no different. They’ll be getting into the spirit of things with costumes and specials all night, so Dave and I have decided (at the last minute) to perform tonight’s show in costume. Now to find something that won’t get in the way of playing or singing…

Of course, it only makes sense to celebrate Halloween in an Irish pub, since the holiday started as a Celtic pagan celebration! There is a really interesting description of the holiday at The Irish Genealogy Toolkit, which starts:

“To find the origin of Halloween, you have to look to the festival of Samhain in Ireland’s Celtic past. Samhain had three distinct elements. Firstly, it was an important fire festival, celebrated over the evening of 31 October and throughout the following day. The flames of old fires had to be extinguished and ceremonially re-lit by druids.

Happy Samhain, everyone!

It was also a festival not unlike the modern New Year’s Day in that it carried the notion of casting out the old and moving into the new. To our pagan ancestors it marked the end of the pastoral cycle – a time when all the crops would have been gathered and placed in storage for the long winter ahead and when livestock would be brought in from the fields and selected for slaughter or breeding.

But it was also, as the last day of the year, the time when the souls of the departed would return to their former homes and when potentially malevolent spirits were released from the Otherworld and were visible to mankind.”

Apparently, the holiday also marked the end of the apple harvest season, since it was believed that the puca – or evil fairies – would spit on any unharvested apples making them inedible.

Looks like I’ll be having a couple of Magners Ciders in celebration tonight. :-)

Hope you’ll swing by…and watch out for any banshees!

Andy Irvine at Elysium Folk Club

Saturday night was a great treat, as both Dave and I saw the legendary Andy Irvine at The Elysium Folk Club in Rollinsford, NH. Great show, great player and, as I’ve mentioned before, all in a great room. And, as you can see from the camera phone, my seat wasn’t too bad either.

The legendary Andy Irvine

Dave has been lucky enough to see Andy play a few times – either as a solo, with Patrick Street or the band Mozaik. This was my first time seeing him live, and he didn’t disappoint. He did a fine mix of songs from his new album — including The Spirit of Mother Jones, Emptyhanded, and Oslo — and classics from earlier in his career like Arthur McBride, My Heart’s Tonight in Ireland and Never Tired of the Road.

One song that stood out for me was O’Donoghue’s – his ode to the days when he first got started in music by hanging out at the famous Dublin pub with the boys from The Dubliners and the lads that Andy would soon join to form Sweeney’s Men. Kinda reminds me of my experience coming to The Press Room — getting to know all the other musicians, forming deep friendships and, eventually, creating this duo with Dave, and our maritime group Mudhook with our friends Alan Eaton and Mike Jeanneau (the biggest Andy Irvine fan I know). As the song says: “This is what life was all about.”

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If you made it to the show, or his performance at Blue in Portland, what did ya think? What was your favorite song?

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