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Thank you, Máiréad, for the awesome event in Massachusetts July 2019! 
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Author Topic: Ormond Beach....The show that almost wasn't.  (Read 451 times)
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« on: February 25, 2019, 04:28:44 PM »

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!
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 11:51:25 AM by Ron » Logged

We sing before we learn to talk. We dance before we learn to walk. Music is ingrained into our very souls from birth.
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2019, 11:13:00 PM »

I'm so glad all that worked out, Ron. It sounds like a wonderful event in every respect. If she chooses to do that show again next year I may find a way to attend. It is far cheaper traveling to and from Alaska when it sin't warmer up here. Mike posted a review on Facebook so I will try to encourage him to post it here as well. Thanks for your role in this and for the review from your perspective.

An fidléir's mínealaíne i sprite iomlán sin
Total Mairead Fanatic!
Posts: 1141

« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2019, 09:37:09 AM »

Thanks, Scott. This was truly an honor and a privilege for me, as I'm sure you can imagine. Her doing this show again next year is very likely. In fact, there has been some talk that they would like to try to have her as the headliner act for the Celtic Festival next year. Of course, this is merely speculation at this point if not pure wishful thinking. But she did seem to enjoy her time here and did mention she'd like to work with us more in the future. We'd love to have you visit if and when that happens. Meanwhile, I'll see you soon.

We sing before we learn to talk. We dance before we learn to walk. Music is ingrained into our very souls from birth.
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