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Family album Devil's Bit Sessions now available through the Pledge Music Site
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 on: April 18, 2019, 01:08:37 PM 
Started by Heathbrae - Last post by JimM.

 on: February 25, 2019, 04:28:44 PM 
Started by Ron - Last post by Ron
The Beginning…..

The roots of this show actually start way back in April of 2017, when Máiréad performed with Rocktopia. I’m a board member of the Celtic-Norse Heritage Society, a charity group that raises funds for promotion of Celtic and Norse culture in our community. We’re closely associated with the various Celtic Festivals and Highland Games that take place across Central Florida. Knowing that I had somewhat of a “rapport” with Máiréad, the Society asked if she might like to become an honorary member. I asked, she accepted. We officially “inducted” her as an honorary member after the Rocktopia show in Jacksonville. It’s a totally non-commital, non-obligatory title on her part. But in exchange for her “endorsement”, we promote her CDs and violin line at our tent at the festivals and games.

Fast forward to July of 2018. Every year, Ormond Beach holds a fund raising show for their Celtic Festival. The talent coordinator for the event, Chuck Spano, always gets prominent performers from Ireland or Scotland to perform for these events, to include Dougie MacLean (the composer of “Caledonia”). As Chuck is also a member of CNHS, he asked me if there was any possibility we could get Máiréad to play for the 2019 fundraiser. I told Chuck that it would surely have to go through her agent, but I’d be happy to drop her a line and ask if she’d be interested. I did, and she responded enthusiastically, and of course referred me to her manager (at the time). Contract negotiations began.

Unforseen Roadblock….

In December, Chuck messaged me that he hadn’t gotten any updates on the contract and was concerned. I (incorrectly) informed him that sometimes these things took time and to be patient. A few days later I was engaging with John Turbitt in small talk on Messenger. John had mentioned he was talking with Máiréad’s manager, Neil, about the possibility of her playing in Rhode Island at some point. I thought: “who’s Neil?” I went to her website, and sure enough, she had changed managers. I messaged Máiréad asking if negotiations were still taking place. She hadn’t heard anything herself and advised me to put Chuck in contact with Neil. Contract negotiations resumed under their watch. As much as I’d like to take credit for “saving” the show, I honestly can’t. That credit belongs to John Turbitt for alerting me to the management change, and Chuck and Neil for resuming negotiations. I was only the messenger.

Privileged Involvement….

Those of you who know me know that my profession is audio engineer. But to be clear, I was not involved at all with running sound for the show. My wife, Steph and I were listed on the contract rider as “merch”. Ormond Beach contracts a sound company, and Matt was the sound guy. The Front of House Engineer obviously has an extremely important gig and must be very focused. You NEVER interfere with the Front of House guy in doing his job. I met Matt when he arrived and told him if he needed anything let me know, then stayed out of his way so he could focus on his gig. But I did volunteer as opening band, Hard to Port’s, “crew”. When I do gigs, I always carry with me the “tools of the trade” regardless if I’m doing Front of House or sweeping the stage. When it came time to place set lists where Máiréad wanted them, a search for tape ensued. I had console tape (specifically designed for labeling audio consoles) with me. So I was honored with the task of taping of the set lists on the stage and also in the wings where Máiréad would be entering at her request. She also asked me if I’d make sure her wireless pack was on at the beginning of the sets. But as it turned out, the decision was made to leave the pack on and give Matt control over muting and unmuting her violin mic (for the technical geeks, a DPA 4061). This is much better as it insures there’s constant signal between the transmitter and receiver.

She did ask my opinion on the sound during the sound check, and now I know exactly what effects she likes on her violin. So if I ever have the honor of doing Front of House for her someday, I’ll have presets ready to go.

So I joined Steph behind the merch table to see to our designated task. Unfortunately, my phone was having issues downloading the Credit Card app. Becky, a lovely young lady affiliated with Ormond Beach Mainstreet, joined us behind the table as she had the app already on her phone and the “square” for card swiping. She handled the card transactions while Steph and I handled the cash. It turned out to be very efficient as we could have two lines: one for cash, one for credit. I’m happy to report that all but three of Máiréad’s CDs sold.

The Show….

Unfortunately, unlike my previous reviews, I can’t give a lot of detail as I was in and out between the theater, backstage, and the lobby. I’m sure Mike Brown will add his review here, and he’s very good with detail.

I can say that what I saw of the show was spectacular! As mentioned earlier, Hard to Port opened. I saw very little of their performance. But Chuck is also the percussionist for Hard to Port. I’ve seen them perform many times at other events, and they’re very good.

Early on, it was planned that the Daytona Beach Pipe and Drums Corps and Worley-Hendricks Academy of Irish Dance would perform intermittently during the show, giving Máiréad breaks during the set. But she wouldn’t hear of it! She insisted they perform with her onstage. They did a fabulous job!

…….and Máiréad? Need I say her performance was absolutely flawless? It certainly was! She looked absolutely beautiful in her stage regalia. Her grace on stage was unparalleled as we’ve come to expect. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen her perform multiple times. But it was an added thrill to see her for the first time as the focus in a show of her very own!

The After Show….

Ormond Mainstreet did an amazing job booking the 31 Supper Club to hold an after party for the VIPs. Honestly, I didn’t intend to attend the reception. I was “comped” as a worker behind the scenes. I felt I didn’t want to take Máiréad’s time away from her paying fans. But Máiréad insisted that Steph and I both attend. I’m so glad I did. I got to hang out with friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in quite awhile. Máiréad, as well, had a cousin of hers, Kathleen, in attendance she hadn’t seen in years. After she had finished making her rounds among the tables of fans, she settled at one of the couches with Kathleen to catch up. As the crowd dwindled, Máiréad invited Mike,  Steph, and myself to join her and Kathleen. I was hoping I didn’t come across as anti-social in conversation as I didn’t want to interfere too much with Máiréad’s reunion with Kathleen. In retrospect, I’m sure that’s not the case. In past conversations I’ve had with her, we never run out of things to talk about. Of all the shows I’ve seen her as a “fan”, this was truly the best of all. I consider this a privilege and an honor.

Máiréad, if you happen to read this, thank you again for such a wonderful evening.

Normally, I post pics. But I didn’t get a chance to get any of my own. Mike Brown got some great ones he let me share on Facebook. But I won’t steal his thunder here. Just keep your eyes pealed!

 on: February 03, 2019, 04:40:12 PM 
Started by MrPeabody - Last post by Moscapoet
Thanks so much, Mike. Reviews here are rare treats now and yours are always appreciated. Very glad you were there not only as face of the forum, but to guide a new fan in meeting our favorite fiddler. Sounds like the Christmas pixie dust was flying throughout. 

 on: February 03, 2019, 04:34:46 PM 
Started by Ron - Last post by Moscapoet
Wonderful, Ron! Thank you for your efforts in helping with this gig, and congrats on your role in it on that date. Of course, we'll anxiously await your review from that day.

 on: January 07, 2019, 10:44:49 AM 
Started by MrPeabody - Last post by Ron
Excellent review as always, Mike. Looking forward to seeing you in Ormond Beach!

 on: January 07, 2019, 10:38:34 AM 
Started by Ron - Last post by Ron
Back in July, Chuck Spano, the talent coordinator for the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center approached me. Every year, they host a celtic music fund raiser to raise funds for the Ormond Beach Celtic Festival. In past years, Chuck had gotten Dougie McLean (the composer of "Caledonia") to perform as Chuck knows him. But this year they wanted a change. As Chuck and I are both board members of the Celtic-Norse Heritage Society (a charity organization that raises funds for aspiring Celtic musicians and is also one of the sponsors of the Ormond Beach Celtic Festival), Chuck knew Máiréad and I did have a level of rapport and asked me if it would be possible to get her to play. It's been a harrowing journey with the project falling through the cracks due to Máiréad's management change. But now, at long last, the show has finally come to together! I've been working behind the scenes with Chuck as an audio consultant to help meet her sound system requirements. As for the show itself, I'll be working the merch table as a representative of CNHS. It's my honor to be Máiréad's "Merch Dude" for this show! But I digress.

Show info:

Ormond Performing Arts Center
Ormond Beach, FL
February 22, 2019
$30 general admission - $50 VIP with Meet & Greet

Try to make it if you can. It will, of course, be an amazing show. Plus, the weather in Florida is generally very pleasant this time of the year. Grin

 on: December 20, 2018, 03:44:20 PM 
Started by MrPeabody - Last post by MrPeabody
The Scariff School of Irish Dance was founded by Stephen Scariff who was one of the lead dancers in Lord of the Dance and co-producer of the Irish Dance Revolution. Prior to opening the Academy in Utah he operated schools in several European countries. Students range in age from small children to young adults. Each December the Academy holds a Christmas recital to showcase their students. Both last year and this year Máiréad was the featured instrumentalist for the show. While most of the dancing was done to prerecorded music, Máiréad provided accompaniment (and encouragement) for about a third of the show. In addition, she had a few solos, playing songs from both her albums and Celtic Woman. The theme was, of course, Christmas but there were several dance routines that were accompanied by Irish traditional music and other non-Christmas songs.

Before the show I met new fan David Grayson who I had seen but not met in Ireland at the Ancient Land recording. We chatted at length in the lobby while waiting for the doors to open and it turns out that we are both computer programmers. The show was general admission and while I thought I had arrived early enough to insure getting a front row seat, by the time I picked up my Will Call ticket there were about 30 or 40 people ahead of me in line. However, when the doors finally opened we managed to get two lovely front row seats, just right of center. Even though there were a few other people who were there to see Máiréad, most of the audience consisted of parents of the performers and front row was not a priority for them. That was fine with us!

The show began with an empty stage, minimally decorated with a few Christmas trees across the back. As the lights dimmed, “Hallowed Fire” from Hibernia began playing but Máiréad was nowhere to be seen. Or was she? Shortly she appeared walking down the center aisle of the auditorium. She turned to face the audience as she continued to play and then walked to the opposite side of the stage from us, still at the audience level. Then she came to our side and paused briefly directly in front of me and played for a bit while giving me a big smile. After she finished, she walked up the steps to the stage. She was wearing the same pure white gown that she had worn at Carnegie Hall but without the silvery overlay. Next she played “Bells of Tipperary” while several of the Academy’s regional champion dancers joined her on stage. That was followed by several groups dancing to prerecorded music and a beautiful vocal performance of “The Man with the Bag” by Keri Hughes. During the remainder of the first act dancers of all ages performed to various songs, some with Máiréad and some without, including a very impressive Lord of the Dance number.

The second act featured more students, including a delightful group of wee ones dressed as leprechauns. Máiréad provided accompaniment on “Siege of Carrick” and “The First Sheaf” having added the silvery train to her gown. There were two dance routines that were done to Lindsey Stirling songs, including “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.” One surprise non-Christmas Máiréad song was “Skyrim,” one of my favorites of hers on the Destiny tour. That one featured her patented hair tosses and a few spins. Keri Hughes returned to the stage and serenaded us with a beautiful version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The show finished with a Máiréad solo of “Carol of the Bells” and the big finale, performed to the “Dawn” from Hibernia.

After everyone took their bows to a full house standing ovation they announced that there would be a meet & greet with Máiréad on stage in front of the Christmas trees. David and I stayed in our seats for a while watching the interactions between Máiréad and the students. Once the line dwindled we brought up the rear and had a lovely long chat with her. It was David’s first time seeing her live and meeting her.

It was a wonderful evening and well worth the travel that it took to get there. Every moment that I get to spend with her is special, whether watching from the audience or having a conversation. When she introduced me to Stephen Scariff, she, as always, proudly said that I was administrator of her forum. She does that because, even though it is my face she sees most often, she knows that I am also representing a much larger group of fans who have supported her over the years. That support, especially now that she has left the security of Celtic Woman, means the world to her and she always thanks me several times for that continuing support.

 on: October 29, 2018, 05:18:20 PM 
Started by Ron - Last post by Moscapoet
Thanks for the great report and photos, Ron!

 on: October 29, 2018, 05:15:28 PM 
Started by dbbii - Last post by Moscapoet
Agreed, Ron.

 on: October 29, 2018, 05:14:23 PM 
Started by CWazyTom - Last post by Moscapoet
Had the chance to see her up here at the Alaska State Fair. Was a great show!

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