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 on: April 24, 2017, 08:37:07 AM 
Started by Moscapoet - Last post by Moscapoet
Excellent, Ron. Glad Kim is on board. And you're welcome, John.

 on: April 24, 2017, 08:35:56 AM 
Started by Ron - Last post by Moscapoet
Thanks, Ron! Nicely done as always.

 on: April 24, 2017, 07:32:46 AM 
Started by Moscapoet - Last post by jturbitt
Another great review . Mairead & Rocktopia are a Great Fit !  If you have the Chance, go and see this show folks. You Will Be Satisfied!!  Thanks Scott !

 on: April 24, 2017, 07:22:24 AM 
Started by Ron - Last post by jturbitt
You are right , Mairead looks right at home with this show and it is Well worth it for her Fans to take in her new music.  I was fortunate to be able to see this show on opening night in Maine, and I had a Great Time, and everyone who has seen it since, have nothing but Praise for Mairead and her New Rocker Chick Role.     Go See & Hear Her with Rocktopia !  You will enjoy every minute of it !     Nice Job Ron. Thanks for the review. 

 on: April 23, 2017, 10:29:19 PM 
Started by Moscapoet - Last post by Ron
Excellent review and it was great hanging with you this weekend. We definitely need to do this more often. Kim just contacted me. She said she want us to get "crackalakin". This bodes well for the future!

 on: April 23, 2017, 10:22:06 PM 
Started by dbbii - Last post by Ron
You're so welcome, Tom. Based on my experience, you just HAD to meet her. I just posted my review. Check it out! Anyway, it was great meeting you. You know, we never had that beer! We'll have to rectify that next time!

 on: April 23, 2017, 09:45:21 PM 
Started by Heathbrae - Last post by CWazyTom
I Tweeted this to Mairead back on April 18th:

Happy Birthday @MaireadNesbitt! I hope that every day of the year to come is as special for you as your music is to me.


 on: April 23, 2017, 09:41:04 PM 
Started by dbbii - Last post by CWazyTom
Several of us went to the Atlanta show. Well worth the ticket as she is on stage a great deal of the show.

It was so nice, I saw it twice (once at Shea's in Buffalo, and then again in Atlanta).

I went to see it the first time because:
Small-violin Mairead
2) The signing / M+G after the show (involving Mairead)
3) The much appreciated encouragement from those here on the forum
4) I saw the PBS special and it was pretty good

But I went to see it a second time because all the performers (Mairead of course, but all the others too) have talent off the charts! The arrangements are really good. It couldn't have been particularly easy to blend such radically different styles as classical and rock. What REALLY got me back for a second show (besides Mairead) were the lead female vocalists. Chloe Lowery sings with an enormous amount of passion and she has tremendous power in her voice. Likewise for Kimberly Nichole. Ximena Borges has a ridiculous range and astonishing vocal command.

Chloe Lowery was super sweet to me after both shows. She's so adorable.

Ron, thanks for encouraging me to go see this. I thoroughly enjoyed the show both times.

 on: April 23, 2017, 09:23:57 PM 
Started by Ron - Last post by Ron
Preface (with a little self indulgence):

It is fairly common knowledge among the violin world that as young students progress through their training, they are told they must focus on one discipline; typically traditional or classical, if they hope to master their trade. Some will ask “why” and attempt to master more than one, but only a few will succeed. Máiréad, as we all know, is one of these few. Now she has mastered a third genre: rock! I recorded a tribute to her diversity back in Christmas of ’14. This may be self indulgence on my part, but it was totally inspired by Máiréad’s rendition of Carol of the Bells; one of the many tunes where she seamlessly combines classical and traditional (it also has relevance later in the review). It inspired me to attempt the same combining classical and rock. Moscapoet tweeted her the link to the Youtube posting and she said she liked it. Little did I know that she would be taking her own journey into the genre two and a half years later.  Did I serve in inspiring her to experiment with rock? I very seriously doubt it. But it’s fun to wonder if. For those who haven’t heard my tune and interested in doing so, do a Youtube search of “Rockin’ the Bells”.


Self indulgence aside, enter Rocktopia!, Máiréad’s venture into the world of rock! It’s a show combining classical pieces with classic rock from the late sixties to the eighties. It’s the Brainchild of Rob Evan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra fame and features, along with Rob, vocalists Tony Vincent, Chloe Lowery, Kimberly Nicole, and Ximena Borges. Rounding out the band is guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey, bassist Mat Fieldes, and drummer Alex Alexander with Máiréad replacing original violinist, David Carpenter.

Rock artists covered include the Beatles, Led Zepplin (2 selections), Jimi Hendrix, Heart, Journey, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd (2 selections), U2 (which seemed to be Máiréad’s favorite, but then they’re Irish), Patti Smith, The Who, Foreigner, Styx, Elton John and Queen (2 selections).  The songs from these artists either Morph from or morph into Classical pieces from such composers as Strauss, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Copeland, Beethoven, and of course, Nesbitt!

The Experience:

When I first learned of Rocktopia and Máiréad’s involvement, I immediately went to the website to check ticket availability.  I was initially excited that they would be playing Atlanta on the Thursday before the Saturday that Lisa Kelly’s annual “Voices of Ireland” show would be held. As most know, this has become a weekend event where loyal Celtic Woman fans congregate and share a bit of fellowship for a brief period. I always take a few days of vacation for that. But alas, the good seats were already taken. However, they were also playing Jacksonville Wednesday, and there were still front row seats available.  I snagged a couple since it would be on the way. Last year, we had gotten the cheap “lawn seats” for Lisa Kelly’s show, but our Fellow Floridian Celtic Woman friends, Eric and Linda Sterling, had extra seats right in front of Lisa, which they offered to us. I decided I would buy them tickets to the Jacksonville Rocktopia show in repayment of this kindness. Later, I also decided to go ahead and spring for cheap balcony seats in Atlanta as we’d be in town anyway.

In the interim of all this, the founder of a group that Steph and I belong to, the Celtic Norse Heritage Society, which raises money for scholarships for kids to take lessons on traditional Celtic instruments as well as Celtic dance, decided she’d like to make Máiréad an honorary member as she was a fan of hers as well and felt Máiréad exemplified the roll model for those we sponsor. She had seen all the photos we had with Máiréad over the years on Facebook. She asked if we knew her and if we could make that happen. I answered: “Well….to an extent….as a  fan. I’ll see what we can do”. I got word to Máiréad about this, and she got word back to me that she would be honored, but didn’t have a lot of time. She said we could possibly meet after sound check in Jacksonville and said she’d coordinate it with Maggie Seidel, her manager. So we show up at the artist load in door at the Florida Theater. Of course there is security present, so we ask to see Maggie. They call over the head of security, and he said he’d get Maggie for us. He returns with Maggie and we explain to her in the presence of the head of security that we were here to see Máiréad and what it was about. Maggie said she hadn’t heard, but she’d get Máiréad. We were puzzled, but as it turned out, when I had gotten word back to Máiréad in response to her initial message that our founder wouldn’t be able to make it, there was confusion and she thought that the meeting was cancelled. She sent word back that she was in the middle of getting ready for the show and asked if we could do it after the signing. This is what I had initially expected as I knew she was giving extra attention to her loyal fans after the signing at previous shows. But it was an honor that she’d consider granting us a private meeting! Plus, the exchange was quite possibly instrumental in us being allowed into the show!

After this, we walk a block to an Italian restaurant and have a wonderful dinner with the Sterlings. Now, in our capacity as members of the Celtic Norse Heritage Society, we decided I would wear a kilt with Steph wearing a matching “mini-kilt” as we typically do for such occasions. Because it was Rocktopia, we decided on our “rocker” kilts; solid black and adorned with metal studs and chains.  As we qued up in line to go into the theater, we noticed security scanning everyone with handheld metal detectors. We gave each other a wary look. When it was our turn, the security guy was flabbergasted. How was he going to pass us through? He called over the head of security. He said: “Oh they’re fine. They know one of the band members.” Whew! Thanks again, Máiréad!

The next night, we, along with our son Aaron, got to share the show with a handful of treasured Celtic Woman Friends: Scott Manke, Michael Brown, Tony Picallo, Tom Fox, and all the way from Germany, Karsten Kuntz in Atlanta! In Jacksonville, the orchestra was smaller and there was no choir. In Atlanta, it was a full orchestra and a massive choir backing the band. This, of course, made the dynamics of the performance different each night. There are positives to both, though I thought Máiréad was a little bit masked at times by the larger orchestra. Seeing a show from the front row is the way to do it if you can as you can “feel” that connection with the performer. But the balcony did have it’s advantage in getting to see the full light show effect from that vantage point. Of course in Jacksonville we took time after the cast signing to do our presentation to her. The Sterlings graciously did not want to infringe as they knew what we were planning, but Máiréad insisted they take a photo with her. She does appreciate her fans. In Atlanta, we tried to hang back a bit to give Scott, Tony, and Karsten more time with her, especially since they traveled so far and it would be their only show (Mike and Tom also had previous shows), but Máiréad treated us all warmly. I think Aaron was a little star struck. I don’t blame him.

The show was absolutely spectacular! It was so exciting to see Máiréad in something fresh and new. The fact that I spent my youth as a metal guitarist, I’m sure, boosted my elation in this case! And Máiréad appeared every bit as ecstatic performing it. She looked like she was having a blast!

The performers:

Rob Evan – One of the originators, but also one of the male vocalists. He is equally proficient at both classic tenor and rock styles of delivery. His voice, to me at least, is very reminiscent of Meatloaf. He handled the classical pairing with Ximena, but he can also belt out a mean Roger Daltrey.

Tony Vincent – The other male vocalist. A contender on “the Voice”, Tony possesses the power to excel in the classic rock anthems. His rendition of “We Are the Champions” by Queen will give you chills. I’m no singer, but I certainly can imagine that filling the shoes of the late, great Freddie Mercury is a Daunting task!

Kimberly Nichole – A finalist on “the Voice”, Kimberly has some impressive credits under belt that can only be achieved with a voice like hers. Her renditions of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Patti Smith’s “Because the Night” are dripping with soul. On a side note, it was documented on a video clip from Rocktopia’s Facebook page that Patti Smith was walking by as they were rehearsing “Because the Night”. She stopped in to check it out and said it was the best rendition she’s heard….this from PATTI SMITH! Kimberly was overcome being paid such a compliment from one she so looks up to. Kimberly, I know how that feels. See paragraph one.

Chloe Lowery – Also one of the vocalists for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, this girl has some pipes! Her rendition of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” blew me away! We gave her a standing O for that one in Jacksonville. She looked surprised. Did no other venue audience do that? Well, she deserved it! And gentlemen, she’s not hard to look at either!

Ximena Borges – Classical soprano vocalist. She, of course, handles the classical female vocal. She has a very powerful operatic voice. I’m not much of an aficionado of that particular style. But I can say that her style was pleasantly unique on Led Zepplin’s “Kashmir”. It worked really well! Another side note, unlike his old man, my son, Aaron has a preference for brunettes. He now has a crush on Ximena.

Tony “Bruno” Rey – Rocktopia’s guitarist, Tony is of special note to us. Steph and I were fans of his “Hair Metal” band “Saraya” back when we were dating. Since those days, he’s cut off the hair and gotten involved in many impressive projects outside the realm of metal. His performance ranges from the big open riffs of the ‘70s to the tricky ornaments of the ‘80s such as the two handed tapping technique popular (and really, kind of over done) in those days. For an example of that if you’re uninitiated (and care), see the aforementioned “Rockin’ the Bells at about 1:04 (I know, I’m self indulging again). Hmmm……I wonder if you could incorporate the two hand tapping technique on violin. I might have to try that on mine. I’ll have to learn to play it first. Anyway, in my opinion, Tony is the luckiest member of the cast. He gets to trade riffs with Máiréad!

Mat Fieldes – Rocktopia bassist, his credits range from the more impressive names in rock to Broadway to orchestra. As the bassist, he doesn’t get the flashy parts like the vocalists, guitarist, or violinist for that matter. But trust me, if you don’t have a solid bassist, you don’t have a good band. Mat held the groove impeccably.

Alex Alexander – Rocktopia drummer who has also worked with the really big names of rock as well as on film scores. He’s proficient in about all the genres you can think of. Of course you need a drummer at this level of proficiency as the time keeper on a production like Rocktopia.

Máiréad Nesbitt – Well, I’m not going to waste your time with all of her accomplishments as if you’re a member here, you already know them. She excels in this new role as well. She doesn’t run around and do spins like she did in Celtic Woman. But she knows how to carry herself as a rock star on stage. With the “rock god” stance and aggressive expressions (when she’s not smiling), she embodies the role. In rock, it’s important to have improvisational skills. She has that in spades. She seamlessly blends rock with classical every bit as well as she blended Celtic with classical. She does her own “Hallowed Fire” in the production. And even though it’s a slow air in a show that’s billed as a “rock show”, it’s still a crowd favorite, as well it should be.


So they’re on stage performing the last show of this tour as I write this. But the Fall tour is coming. They’ve already posted the first date, and Máiréad has said she plans to be on it.  If they come to your area, or even if they don’t and you have to travel a bit, do yourself a favor and see this show. Yeah, I know. A lot of you on here are not rock fans. Hell, a few of you have told me you outright hate it. But come on. I promise you they’re not going to accost your ears with Norwegian Death Metal. These are songs we all heard on the radio growing up. It will give you a feeling of nostalgia. This in addition to the feeling you get when you see Máiréad on stage regardless of the genre. Give it a shot! You won’t be sorry.

Chloe's rousing performance of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love is"

 on: April 23, 2017, 02:56:51 PM 
Started by Moscapoet - Last post by Moscapoet
 As sweet as a Georgia peach was this night with the Atlanta symphony at their hall with Rocktopia! For so many years the reviews here have been largely Celtic Woman ones. But Máiréad is no longer with them as of the end of the spring tour 2016. She hit the ground running, which she is good at on stage and off.  Wink Some worried she may take a hiatus and vanish for awhile. That would have been much deserved after so many long years on the road and no one could blame her for doing that. But she did not do so. She had been laying the groundwork for her departure for awhile. Some of us could see that and knew it was only a matter of time. It's why I did a CW show with M & G last year. I just knew that was her last tour. I knew it for LK, Chloe, and LL. But Máiréad was working on a new solo album and had been for awhile. She was also working on a family album. Unknown to us she was also working on her own line of violins. I know some fans had mentioned to her that idea in the past. She seemed to think the idea sound. No pun intended.  She started a Pledge Music page for merch and other things and went after it. No grass growing under those pixie feet. We also did not know she had opportunities for the stage already in hand. She did a few promo gigs at music stores to get her violin line out there. That included some music and video. Then word came she had joined up with another touring group, Rocktopia. Well, there is NO genre this lass cannot do. If it has musical notes she can make it work. and here was something just exactly fit for her, fusion. She had often said in reviews that her style of play was a blend of classical and Celtic. That would bother the puritans in both fields but not the fans. She is fully capable of doing either in pure form. But her love is to fuse them into her own unique style. And so, here she was given the perfect platform to fuse classical with something else, classic rock, and even throwing in a wee bit of the Celtic. It is not a long tour, perhaps a test to see whether it will fly as a touring show and based upon a one off DVD filmed in Budapest. Hungary? Yep. That too is interesting, because at one time between CW and LoTD she helped produce a new show with a Hungarian that they called Irish Dance Invasion. Almost nothing video exists of that except a brief trailer. Sad. But here is another connection with the past. So, how would this all come together and what would it sound like? Well, the Budapest video became a PBS special. So, one could get an idea from that or Youtube clips. I chose not to, preferring to wait and just know the basic concept.

     And so the day arrived. Tony and I had been late in coming for tickets so the best we could do was second row balcony center preferring that over distant floor seats. The venue is a fine symphony hall so we knew acoustics would be great. And, if there was a light show we would get a good view. That was something I never did with CW, was choose anything less than up front if I could get it. In this case we had no choice but wanted to be there for her. It timed out well that this show was a couple days off of our annual Lisa Kelly event in Peachtree City. What sealed the deal was the full cast free M & G after the show. So, we'd be able to say hello and show visible support. So. this past Wednesday Tony drove in from Valdez to our Palmer Alaska condo for the flight out at o dark thirty Thursday morning. It was three hours to Seattle and another four plus to Atlanta. I was very tired by the time we arrived but sleep is highly overrated so I'm told. We met up with Karsten from Germany at the airport. Then Mike and the Foster clan met up with us there to take MARTA into the city. Far cheaper and easier than driving into the city and parking there. The MARTA stop was only a couple blocks from the venue. We ate dinner at the airport because there was very little near the venue. It was warm and humid. Not weather for Tony or Karsten or myself any more. But the others love that. Regardless, it was a short climb up and into the venue. There we saw the merch table and I picked up a T-shirt that had M on it. Tony bought the Hibernia CD and the Rocktopia DVD. And off to our seats we went. Second row balcony center with the Fosters and Karsten just a couple seats to our left. Mike was in the wings. All of us were ready for it.

    I won't go into song details as I am not educated on classical tunes even though I recognized most of them. ll would morph into one classic rock tune or another from my era of the 70's and 80's. The show opens with a video from their DVD showing a male fiddler who is quite good. But then the live show begins and it is Máiréad who enters first, just as she did with Celtic Woman. How perfect. And she is clad in a costume light in color and free flowing just as we have grown accustomed to. Throughout the show she is ever present. She is seldom off the stage even when not playing. She has the full Atlanta symphony, a huge choir, and the Rocktopia band and singers all around her. It is a big production. For us she is the focus but that does not detract from the immense talent in the other folks on stage.

    Among the vocalists are the classical soprano Ximena Borges from Venezuela. Thank The Lord she is not down there now, though I'm sure her heart grieves for what is going on in that country. She has performed with some of the most renown orchestras in the world and is an award winner. And she is very good. But she too will morph into rock now and then. Kimberly Nichole was a finalist on season 8 of the TV show, The voice. And she has one. Very Tina Turner-esque. Carrie Manolakos is another female vocalist and one with a background on stage. BTW, all of these folks are products of the NYC talent pool. But my favorite on the night among the female ranks, aside from a certain fiddler of course, is Chloe Lowery. She also performs with TSO (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) but they mainly do Christmas shows now. And does she have a set of pipes! Reminds me of another Chloe that Máiréad worked with. In song after song this powerhouse knocked it out of the park. Very impressive and I'm a new fan. Crikey she can rattle the rafters. Among the males on stage we have vocalists and instrumental types. Rob Evan is another TSO person and has quite a long stage history. He can belt it out in either classical or rock. Tony Vincent is a gaunt, almost Gothic, and trim vocalist who originates from New Mexico where I lived for nine years. He does a wide range of things and is very animated. He was also a contestant on The Voice and gained a lot of attention. Tony Bruno is the lead guitarist. He has been part of the creative team for Enrique Iglesias since 1999. And he has chops. Some nice two hand technique is part of the deal. Very 80's. And he rocks it out more than once with a certain fiddler. Henry Aronson is the pianist and music director. You know, the David Downes type.  Wink He's the lead brain in the creative stream. Mat Fieldes is the bass player. You know, the stoic Eoghan O'Neill guy that lays the foundation upon which the rest build. Alex Alexander is the drummer/percussionist. As one myself I can sure appreciate this guy Randall Craig Fleischer is the co-creator and the person in part behind the concept. This is his baby and he is also the maestro behind all the orchestra involvement. Their male fiddler who was on the DVD is David Aaron Carpenter.

     The show had two acts and an intermission. At intermission I went down to get a coffee as I was working hard to stay awake in spite of the awesome music. I was operating on almost 30 hours without sleep and would go several more by the time we got to our hotel in Peachtree City. But the bar did not have coffee. A guy named Jamie offered to buy me a drink out of the blue. So, I wound up with rather clear looking liquid with a lime in it that did not look at all like coffee and tasted a lot like Gin. Roll Eyes. Thanks, Jamie, whoever you are. Cool Back up and ready for act two and it goes as off the hook as act one. I am very anxious to get up front for this show. Some of the songs they do we covered back in the day. This is a concept that works. It is not the first to do this but it is the first to do this quite this way. You might not think classical and rock are a good fit much like you may think Wendy's fries dipped in a chocolate Frosty would work, but it does. Now, don't be that way!  Tongue Try it! and try Rocktopia too! It is high energy but with periods of calm. It is well worth the ticket. And you know you want to be there for her, right? Well, stay tuned for fall dates including, we are told, in the west.

    After the show we gathered and awaited the long line of people to pass through the meet and greet. It only took about 20 minutes before we could get up to the table. Máiréad was fourth in the lineup. But first was amazing Chloe and I had to let her know how much I appreciated her incredible performance and vocal gift. I made my way down to herself, the fiddler. We greeted each other with a handshake and she signed the photo of she and I from Omaha in 2013 that Michael Elder took. Then she said, stick around. Familiar faces of the artists do get a wee bit more time. So all of us fiddlerheads awaited and she generously granted us more time and hugs.  Odo's Bucket She still looks incredibly young. She is young at heart and a wee fiddling fountain of youth. She may not always feel that way but she sure gives that impression. We then had a group photo and parted company. I made sure tour manager Maggie got the birthday card to give to her. That too is a familiar face from the past having been with Madstone for CW. It is not someone I necessarily trust but will go into this with a clean slate as I do intend to go to more of these shows. Where there is M, there go her fans. Whatever she does we are there for her. So, keep up to date on their fall tour dates and anything else she is doing. Go check her Pledge Music site and get goodies for yourself or as gifts. It's what fans do. It's what friends do.   

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