Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - 2012

Hi Everyone

Well I have reached the end of 2011 and I am still standing. It was quite the year. HUGE!



I have reached heights I never thought I would, as a singer and as a producer. I never imagined I would ever produce my own TV special that would air across the whole of the US. I feel like I finally made the mark on the world that I wanted to for many years.

Oddly enough it felt completely different than I thought. I essentially changed changed my path, how people perceive me, changed who I am. I really saw everything ahead and knew what it involved but I didn't realise how I would feel as I went through it.

This year involved opening myself to the public and I realised how uncomfortable I am with that. It certainly felt strange to have people want as much information that they could get on me. I have been totally weirded out in interviews and am finding myself being more guarded with everyone. I cannot imagine what it is like for really famous people. I am learning to live with it, I guess. I love to meet my fans and have them share their stories on how my singing affects them. It is astounding to hear those stories. Not so fond of meeting people who decide they own me or feel they have a right to grope me(YES...THERE WAS GROPING recently!) This is a ridiculous problem to have and indeed to complain about it makes me realise I am being ridiculous.

I am so amazed at how blessed I am in life. I have a wonderful family, friends who will do anything and indeed, this year did everything for me, opportunities to travel, opportunities to achieve my life's ambitions and self fulfillment.

Singing was brought me great joy, opportunity and dreams come true.

As for 2012 I have several plans, I am working on a new show that will be different, working on a new album to match the show, producing more and one more secret project to be unveiled mid year. I am mixing things up this year. I am bringing new people to my life, I am looking at new opportunities, I am walking away from old habits and most of all, I am not sweating the small stuff. I made myself sick this past month from it and won't let it do that again.

My mind is dynamic, fast, self sufficient and creative however it also takes too much on board so my resolution is to try to give it a break. Ambition is being asked to take a back seat and living life is taking over.

I have a few highlights of 2011

1. Singing the Anthem at AT&T Park for the Giants - Astros game.

2. Seeing my band and dancers watch the PBS special for the first time.

3. Making my agent Adrienne Crane Ross happy.

4. Getting a publishing deal(details to follow!)

5. Going to Haiti again

6. Making my parents proud.

7. Having Frankie Gavin and De Dannan in my TV special(major heros!)

8. Having my producer Steve Skinner be in the TV special too!

9. Seeing Daniel Furlong become part of Celtic Thunder when I remember noticing his talent at home in Wexford, many years before. I love that he calls me a mentor. I look at him and see.....me! #makesmeproud

A few lowlights of 2011

1. having to sell myself constantly

2. people actively telling others not to support me (from a certain fanbase aaaand you know who you are! :) )

3. Missing my family and everyone in Wexford as I was out on promo tour all through Autumn

4. trying to be a performer/manager/producer/promoter all at the same time!


I will say I am tired after this year. I need some time off and plan on taking a few weeks in January. First though I head to Nashville. I am not goin country people although it does have a certain appeal. I am merely heading for meetings there and in NYC.

I want to thank all the lovely fans who read my blog, send messages of support, lovely gifts in the mail(though how you found my address is astounding to me!). I am not sure it is my life's calling to be just a singer but you certainly make it worthwhile for me. I love that my songs offer comfort,joy or solace. I love that it brought me to you and I love when we meet to share that experience in concerts. Being honest I am not sure i will sing for the rest of my days so I cherish these times.

May 2012 bring you all you want in life. Much love!!!!

M

Sunday, October 9, 2011

That was the week that was!

Well I am home after a random week of touring with my favorite people, my lovely band and dancers. We only did 3 dates but had a week in the South to savor good food, the odd beer and great company.

First stop was Radford University, VA. What a nice school in the middle of a beautiful area! The campus itself is just gorgeous and the performance hall was just perfect for us, with about a thousand seats. Got to speak to the President, Dean and their donors about their contributions to the arts. I, of course talked about Wexford and the Opera Festival...wow, I'm like a broken record.

It was nice to have people ask me about the presidential election at home and indeed about the recovery happening at home(at least the think it is happening!) It was also just great to talk to people about my trip to Ireland in May 2012 with Colette Vacations. I was telling them that the next webinar is on October 13. Register Here

So after a really successful concert we headed on our merry way to one of the most gorgeous towns in the South. Capital of all things polo and horses, Aiken, SC. Seriously, I want to move there. We were performing for 2 nights in their really amazing Arts Center. The theater staff and indeed, their catering was the best we have had. They wrote the book on South hospitality. I stayed at The Willcox which is just spectacular.



Got to meet the nice people who had donated to SCETV during pledge and got a nice surprise from a really nice Japanese man and his wife who had travelled a long way to hear me sing. Hiro, it was great to meet you and I am so humbled that you made the journey to meet me.




I am home but my poor band had all sorts of flight issues and are still en route back west. They always seem to get stuck. Thanks to Jackie Moran, Kathleen Keane, Mellad Abeid, David Schulz for making my week so special. To Owen, Claire and all of the other dancers, I appreciate your hard work. My new stage manager Ashley Evanson made everything so easy.

So next stop New York. I have a week in Chicago first but then I start doing radio and TV to spread the word on Beyond Celtic and The Road Not Taken.
I also have an event supporting Concern being hosted by my friend Jean Clancy(manager of Celtic Thunder) and Maeve O Malley long time advocate for Haiti and probably the most fun person I know on earth. The event will be held in Claret in Sunnyside and you can find out more here

Coming soon I head west to sing at a Hollywood event and then on to San Francisco to sing at the opening of the Union Sq Holiday Ice Rink on Nov 9. Watch for live performances on WGN, Better TV and WFUV

So it starts to get busy again.........

Monday, September 19, 2011

Damien, Wexford and more.......

So tonight, Monday September 19 at 7pm Central,we are having a webinar to chat to fans. I am hosting a tour to Ireland next May and we want to answer questions fans have about the tour. I am excited to host a group not only travelling around Ireland but also in my home town, Wexford. You have heard me at the concerts talk about how great the place is and now you can come with me to see it for yourself. To register for the webinar click on Wexford

Proud to tell you that Damien McGinty, formerly of my friends in Celtic Thunder who has gone on to great things in Hollywood, getting into the cast of Glee.....is now a supporter not only of Concern Worldwide but also a supporter of Haiti with a new program called Your Dollar, Our Future.




My link to Haiti and Concern

Your Dollar, Our Future: Michael Londra with Concern in Haiti from Concern Communications on Vimeo.




I am very happy to announce that after debuting on the PBS network nationally in August, Michael Londra's Beyond Celtic, my exciting production involving a cast of the finest Celtic musicians and dancers will begin touring North America in November. We have aired over 250 times nationally with more airings and live pledges for tickets coming in September through December. We begin touring in late fall and are currently looking at 50 dates nationally through 2012 so far. Phew, I am exhausted even saying it.

The pledges last week on the West Coast were a lot of fun with stops in Seattle and San Bernardino.....and a few days in the Hollywood Hills by a pool! Shout out to the Celtic Thunder fans who called in to the station to say hello and to the lovely lady who made me scones.

This summer has been thrilling, tiring and fun. It was just wonderful to get the reaction from people to the show. I feel like I am at journey's end and have such a sense of satisfaction but the funny thing is that it is only beginning. It will be great just to get going. I have asked some fantastic musicians to join me including the great Steve Holloway and Tony Steele from the band of Riverdance on Broadway. Also joining me along the way in various ports will be Caitlin Warbelow, Jackie Moran, Kathleen Keane, Mellad Abeid, David Schulz and a lovely orchestra. With guest artists Sephira joining us occasionally and World Champion Irish Dancer Owen Barrington plus a troupe of dancers, this all adds up to be a great night out. Amazing to me to get to work with these brilliant people on and off stage in my own show.

The album and dvd are available now for preorder on Amazon with an Oct 11 release date on the Razor and Tie label. Along with those releases is a new studio album featuring studio versions of some of the songs from the show along with some previously unreleased tracks of covers and originals including a nice new version of my tribute to my friend Eoin Colfer's great character Artemis Fowl and a cover of U2's classic Ground Beneath Her Feet. The Road Not Taken has the same release date: October 11. So all you people out in blog world can be the first to know that we have had our first meeting to talk about Beyond Celtic 2. We've decided on a date in Spring 2012 and on a general direction. Details to follow but it is certainly exciting. Onwards - Upwards!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Daniel Furlong

Soooooo


The album and dvd is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com

Listen to Road Not Taken

Now all the Thunderheads at the first Celtic Thunder date know about Daniel and word is spreading like wildfire. I have been dying to shout from the rooftops for a while now as young Daniel is indeed from my homestead Wexford and I have known him since he was knee high....not that that he is much bigger now. He has been a light on the music scene at home for a while now.

He's from an area just outside the town called Taghmon, a village I love. Full of nice people and a love for music. I guess that is what Wexford is all about. I first met him in the local radio station. I was a boy soprano too so I identified with him straight away. The only difference is that when I was a kid I had no confidence at all and was terrified. Daniel has an inner confidence without being cocky in any way. I gave him a few words of advice that day and I know he has always been grateful for it. He has that essence that singers need to make it in the business. It is not his voice but that piece of magic that is rare.

I remember when he played Oliver in a local production. I was asked along to launch the production and I talked about making a future as a singer to all the kids in the show. I looked over at Daniel and said I knew he would be a big star one day. He had that spark then and now it is only beginning to shine. Here is a pic from that night


I know you will love his singing and in the future I will be asking for his autograph. Wexford is very proud of him. I am very proud of him. The question is will we ever get to record together now as we've always had a plan. I want to sing with him before that voice breaks. A boy soprano is just the most perfect sound.

Anyway, his family and the whole town of Wexford is beaming tonight.

Join me on FACEBOOK

The next news is more pledges for my show Beyond Celtic coming up in

Seattle KCTS 9 7pm 9/12/11
Spokane KSPS 7pm 9/12/11
San Bernardino /LA KVCR 7pm 9/12/11

I am live in Seattle and San Bernardino. I wish I could be live in Spokane is it is one of favourite towns but we are pledging tickets for a show in all pledges. Watch the show for details.



The other piece of news is that we had our first meeting on Monday to discuss the 2nd PBS show to be filmed in spring 2012. Now that......is exciting! Details to follow.

Here is an outtake from the first Beyond Celtic in case you missed it.



Don't forget to check out my new website

Michael Londra's Beyond Celtic


Lastly as you know I am hosting a trip to Ireland beginning on May 1, 2012 with Judy's Leisure Tours centered on a trip to my home town for a one off special concert and then heading around my favorite spots in Ireland. There is a webinar to be held on Sept 19. To register click here. The tour is proving to be popular so come along to find out about the tour before it is too late.

So much has been going on lately that I am forgetting to smell the coffee. The only time I get to do that is when someone writes a note or email or sends a card. I want to thank you all for each and every thought you put to paper or on an email. It is certainly inspirational.

Big Love

M

Monday, August 29, 2011

San Francisco

Hey....I am flying...for a change


Well San Francisco was everything I wanted it to be....and some more.


Arriving there puts in me a good mood. The town has the feel of Europe....with an American accent. I love the predictable fog and the hills. I love the houses sloped against the right angle roads. I love that 30 minutes walking replaces cardio in the gym.. I love that I can taste every nations food in a 5 minute walk. I like hearing the gulls remind me of home. Now I have a new love....well, an old love.

AT&T Park, despite the corporate name is a wonder. An arena full of the American dream. I guess I had no idea how many people would be there. Sold out the sign read as I arrived to sing the National Anthem for the Giants / Astros games. I then read that all 64 games this season sold out. With the average ticket at $100 and 42,000 seats sold, someone is making a lot of money.

The publicist for my shows in San Francisco and his partner met me at the corporate entrance and we were escorted into the bowels of the building only to surface right behind home plate. I was awestruck and immediately fell in love. The atmosphere was buzzing. The Giants had won the night before and you could feel it. Optimism everywhere. So I waited to walk onto the diamond. I was in no way nervous. It felt like I was about to get on a fairground ride. I was escorted to the microphone and after a short introduction began singing. I started in a key lower than I was used to and as soon as I finished the first sentence and began the second, I heard the first sentence coming back at me in a strange auditory backslap. It was hugely disconcerting but I sang through it and indeed reached the end without messing up the words(nod to Christina Aguilera) or hitting a bum note(hat tip to Rosanne Barr). The song is difficult but if you approach it's simplicity and offer no theatrics , it all becomes easier. I don't think the song should be performed....just honored.

As the roar went up toward the last sentence I felt that instant in slow motion. All at once I was on that plane 20 years ago when I first arrived in the US. I had no idea then that I would make a small mark, my mark. There, on Saturday at a ball game, I realised that I have achieved what I set out to do all those years ago. I am fulfilled and happy. I have made myself a part of the US. At the same time, I am making people wonder where I come from, who my parents are and wonder whether they will ever get to Ireland.I indeed am part of two worlds.

The Giants people asked me with little notice to sing the 7th inning stretch. I said I would be happy to but then quietly asked "what is the 7th inning stretch". I was then sent a clip of Take Me out to the Ballgame". I was led up to where the videotron is at the park and there, with the backing of a 40,000 piece choir, I sang the song....well it isn't a song you sing, as roar in a bawdy singsong kind of way. I finished and the walk to the exit was filled with fathers and son's, kids, frat guys and grandmothers giving me backslaps, high fives,hugs and photo ops. I felt the love and the respect. People were grateful I came along. "hey Irish, you sang good"!

I got a car home to my hotel and decided I should celebrate by heading to the rooftop bar overlooking the city. I ordered a lovely red zin from Lodi, not far from the city. Savoring the vino and the moment I looked across the city. The fog had settled in and it still looked stunning.

My calm was ruined by a group of young professionals. I realised they had been at the Ann Coulter appearance in the theater nearby. They began talking about her and I heard that they idolised her. They had drank the coolaid that even Ann Coulter doesn't drink, even though she makes it. I have never heard such hatred disguised as humor and the fact that it came from seemingly educated go getters made it all the more horrific. There was jokes and put downs about people with AIDS, about muslims, about President Obama....it was endless. I couldn't take anymore. I left the bar and as I was going , one of the loud women of the group said to me "Hey handsome, did we make you move...sorry about the noise!" She laughed and I replied "it wasn't the noise or your politics, it was the vitriol". I left.

On Sunday I boarded the on/off bus. I saw The Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Nob Hill, The Castro, Haight Ashbury, Alcatraz, The Bay. It was a day off to savor. I loved it from start to finish. I have said it before - If only San Francisco wasn't so far West. I want to live there.

I will be back to perform Dec 12 - Jan 2. Tickets are available NOW

Home for 10 days and then back to the West Coast for Live Pledges in Seattle KCTS 9 Sept 12 and San Bernardino KVCR Sept 13

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hey Y'all

How great is inflight internet!! I am en route from South Carolina to San Francisco. I just had 48 hours in the lovely city of Columbia, SC.

The South has always intrigued me. I guess I've haven't spent that much time in the southern states and had preconceived notions that indeed, proved to be correct....in a good way.

I arrived in Columbia airport and was met by Debbie from the staff of SCETV.She made me feel like a million dollars with her warm welcome. What is it about Southerners and their hospitality? She left me at my hotel with time to get to know Columbia. I stayed in the nicest Hilton I've ever been in. The staff were so welcoming and when they accidentally sent me to a smoking room they were mortified and insisted on buying me breakfast....the way to my heart! Seriously, at this point I thought can everyone in the town be this lovely? The answer is YES!

First....and most importantly THE FOOD. The night before the pledge I went to a gorgeous restaurant called Hampton Street Vineyard. It was hot....really hot and that alone is my excuse for having a gorgeous glass of cool Rose. Now I lived in France so I know something about Rose. This type of wine is not so popular here and usually if I ask for it I get presented white zin which is not even close so I was very surprised to find a restaurant that had a choice. I ate at the bar and chatted with the very friendly locals while having the best Butternut Squash soup. It was totally random and fun.

Sometimes I try to hide my accent somewhat as invariably no matter where I go, people ask me the same questions about Ireland which can get repetitive if you just want to have some quiet time. Here, it didn't seem to matter. I talked, people chatted, we had a great time. A man at the bar recognised me from PBS so tried to buy me a round. I decided it was the best thing to make my excuses and get out of the place before things got out of hand. I have to have some sort of discipline when I am out on the road. I was singing live in the studio the next evening so I had to get some rest and stay away from the vino. What a lovely place though. The menu is remarkable and unexpected. Sophisticated, friendly and fun. a difficult thing to perfect.

I went for a run the next morning and swam in the gorgeous sea water pool at the Hilton. Badly needed in the Southern heat. I was ready to roll at 5pm for SCETV.

I have done a few pledges now so I am starting to be familiar with the process. SCETV was special. First the staff treated me like they knew me for years. Everyone from soundman to on screen talent were just lovely. The pledge was a success which was so great to know and I left with such a wonderful impression of the station. We chatted a lot off screen about ....well.....food. They had heard a rumor that I am a pie lover. It is the best thing about the south in my opinion. We talked about important things like my favorite pies...I have many.....coconut cream being the top.

If anyone has any new suggestions for pies , by the way, I want to hear them. eg. I had a raisin cream pie recently which was superb. I am not a lover of the fruit pie. I like a cream filling or pecans...or both! Any kind of custard is good too. OK I must stop talking about pies!

So I left this morning with a 4.30 am wake up. Oy! I didn't sleep well at all thru the night knowing i had this travel day ahead of me. I am fine with travel really but if I haven't slept at all it just kills me. The best thing however is inflight internet. I can actually get work done en route. Where am I off to? San Francisco to sing for the Giants game. I've to learn Take me out to the Ballgame as well as singing the Anthem. I was asked how it felt to be singing a foreign anthem this week. I was shocked. The US Anthem is not at all foreign to me. It is a thrill and an honor every time I sing it. I haven't done a Christina Aguilera on it yet !!!

I dont feel like a foreigner here. I have a green card and feel American. I don't know what I will do when I am eligible for citizenship. I want to vote but part of me wants to remain Irish. I think I can have dual citizenship so maybe I will do that.

So this week has been all about the launch of the the album and indeed I can tell you now that as of Sept Razor and Tie will release not only my dvd and cd of Beyond Celtic but a collection of other recordings called The Road Not Taken. On this album you will find studio versions of some of the songs of the live show. You will also however find several unreleased tracks. I will put up a teaser or two for you next week. I think you will be pleased. My producer Steve Skinner has done a great job as usual and he just makes me sound good. There are a few surprises on this. I listened to some of the tracks last night and I really am proud of them.

Sharon Browne from Celtic Thunder gave me a shout out on the forum this week which resulted in many loyal Thunderheads signing up to show me some support. I was just thrilled. I haven't a big machine to help me with this so to have someone as great as Sharon spread the word, it is HUGE for me. I've come to know the boys in CT so well and they've become friends. They have done nothing but be encouraging and I am delighted with their encouragement and recommendation to the fans. They head over to the US soon and boy have Thunderheads a treat in store for them.

More tour dates have come in this week, in the North West and North East. I will post them over the next few days.

Anyways, as I fly to San Francisco, I can't help thinking how lucky I am to be doing this. 10 years ago today I did my last show with Riverdance. It took me a few years to climb out from under it's protection indeed, it's harness. I am so grateful to the show for giving me my big break but also teaching my life lessons on being a performer on and off stage. I am very proud to have been part of it.

I played San Francisco in my first tour with Riverdance. Now I am coming back to the theater district in S.F. with my own show. A full circle moment. I am excited about it. but first.....

I have a few things to do this weekend while there, to plan for my holiday concerts but mostly i plan on enjoying the ballgame(once i figure out how it is played!) and the San Francisco atmosphere. Anyone got any recommendations for restaurants?

Gawd, now I am back to thinking about pie.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life on the road

Its Wednesday

I am just back from Pittsburgh pledge. The people at the WQED were so great. The whole experience of pledges is scary for a newbie especially as i am doing them on my own. The team in Pittsburgh made me feel so welcome. Being on camera was grand and I love meeting all the public television volunteers who man the phones.

Home for a few days to live a normal life; to cook, to lie on my couch, to watch my tv, to go to my gym to chat with my friends and to just......be.

The past few weeks at the start of this mammoth campaign to spread the word on Beyond Celtic has been exciting and indeed thrilling at times with a few undoubted highlights like when my friend P. who is a backing singer in the show watched the show with me for the first time. She forced me to watch as I had never watched it through. Anyways, armed with a bottle of Prosecco we sat down together. I, of course cringed at the whole experience and found fault in everything I did. Phyllis on the other hand screamed “ look at me, look at me, I’m on TV every time she caught a glimpse of herself. She texted with another friend who took part. They discussed how good they looked in “their“ special. Anyways, it made it all the more special for me to watch their reactions and indeed it was for this very reason that I asked them to be part of it.

I wanted to have my friends around me to represent who I am as an artist and as a person so the show is a fairly accurate painting of me. It was really more important to me than anything else that they share this experience with me. I have found as I get older that this is what makes me tick. Shared experiences.

Anyways, once we finished watching on WNET Channel 13 off we went down to Jean Clancy’s gorgeous wine bar in Sunnyside , NY. Jean is the girl who makes the magic happen for the boys in Celtic Thunder. She and Sharon are the brilliant masterminds behind the mammoth operation that is CT. I am proud to have Jean is a friend and supporter. She also happens to own a wine bar which is phenomenal. Anyways in I walked and ordered my favorite Spanish wine Juan Gil. I celebrated that night, not only that I had witnessed the launch of my special but also my life and the people in it. We laughed a lot and talked about the days when I first arrived in New York s a penniless young fella. I haven’t made my million yet but I’ve made my mark . I couldn’t be prouder.

My first live pledge visit was in San Francisco. I invited along Owen Barrington the world champion Irish dancer featured in the show. He flew up from Long Beach to join me for the pledge. I figured it is always good to add someone young, handsome and talented to the line up on tv......wait a minute , he makes me look bad! Owen is creative, talented and outgoing and it showed during the pledge. He was a big hit and you will see him again soon on other live pledges. We managed to escape for a few pints in Foleys which is really a great Irish pub in San Francisco. I imagine I will be back a few times in December.

So Sharon Browne mentioned me and the show in her blog on Celticthunder.ie last night and the result was my website exploding with visits by Thunderheads. It was astounding. I have been a friend of Sharon since her Celtic Woman days.She really is inspirational. I watched her build that into a huge show and indeed she has done the same with Celtic Thunder. I know the boys in the show and they are all a great bunch. Lots of changes are happening at the moment but I know one thing...the future is looking very bright for the Thunder show. She knows the business better than anyone and she knows what makes you Thunderheads happy.

So Celtic Thunder has their Thunderheads, someone asked me last night what we should call my fans. Now I know my friends at home will have some smart answers to that but if anyone has any thoughts.....?

So it is Chicago for the weekend before I head to South Carolina SCETV for a pledge and then on to sing the National Anthem for the Giants in San Francisco. I really don’t quite understand baseball….no really…haven’t a clue how it all works but I plan on enjoying the evening. It will involved hot dogs and beer. What’s not to love?

We are adding dates all the time so the spring certainly looks busy. We have more dates to add this week. With any luck I might get to take some time off after that . I fancy a month or two in Spain and am keeping that as a positive reinforcement to get me through the next few months.

I guess though that busy…… is good.


Livin the dream, yes, Livin the dream!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tour Dates

and nowwwww for some tour dates. details to follow. Subject to change and more dates added soon.

10/4/11 Radford, VA Preston Auditorium

10/6/11 Aiken, SC Aiken Performing Arts Center

10/7/11 Aiken, SC Aiken Performing Arts Center

12/9/11 Salem, OR Elsinore Theatre

12/10/11 Seattle, WA Paramount Theatre

12/13/22 San Francisco Marines Memorial Theatre 22 Performances

2/7/12 Billings , MT, Alberta Bair Theater

2/10/12 Aurora, IL Paramount Theatre

2/12/12 Ogdensburg, NY George Hall Auditorium

2/13/12 Ogdensburg, NY George Hall Auditorium

2/17/12 Springfield, MA Symphony Hall

3/9/12 Baltimore, MD Myerhoff Symphony Hall

3/10/12 Lakewood, NJ, Strand Theater

3/11/12 Englewood, NJ, Bergen PAC

3/14/12 Wenatchee, WA Town Toyota Center

3/tbc/12 San Bernardino,CA California Theatre

3/17/12 Bremerton, WA Admiral Theatre

3/19/12 Pembroke Pines,FL Century Village Theater

3/20/12 Boca Raton, FL Century Village Theater

3/22/12 West Palm Beach,FL Century Village Theater

3/23/12 Belle Glade, FL Dolly Hand Cultural Center

4/19/12 Prescott, AZ Yavapai Performance Hall

4/20/12 Anaheim,CA The Grove

4/22/12 Yountville,CA

Monday, July 25, 2011

Its finally here!

Hey Everyone

Well it is all getting a little frenetic in Camp Beyond Celtic this week as we start to promo for Michael Londra Beyond Celtic on PBS. Pledges start next week nationwide and with that begins the journey to many of those local stations. My first stop is NYC to view the show with friends on WNET New York / New Jersey on Sunday August 7 at 4.30pm Planning a mini viewing party in a wine bar. I am not planning on watching it but will be meeting everyone there once they've watched it. I can't look at my own shows. Anyways, it will be fun to see my friends and watch their reactions to it.

I then fly to San Francisco to do my first pledges on August 11 and on to Baltimore on Aug 13 . There will be lots of exciting news that week including details of a contest for choirs to perform with me and the first tickets available for our December tour and the Beyond Celtic tour beginning in Feb 2012.

So this weekend we had the best time in Ohio. I was invited by the Lancaster Festival to come perform with the Symphony. Naturally I brought a great band including Bodhran player Jackie Moran, the brilliant Kathleen Keane on fiddle and whistle plus the boys of An Dochas and a group of dancers lead by Riverdance lead, Joe Moriarty. The symphony was stunning and I felt like I was cradled in the arms of angels while performing with such a huge orchestra, not forgetting my 4000 or so backing singers in the audience. Althoguh I am completely wrecked after an exhausting weekend's work I have to say that it a magical night. Livin the dream! Photos from the Performance

So I have recently partnered with the Visit Wexford campaign to be rolled out over the coming year. Historically Wexford, an amazing part of Ireland seen as THE vacation destination for the Irish has been overlooked by international tourists. There is so much to offer visitors to Wexford from its beaches to it's viking origins, from it's Opera Festival to Dunbrody Famine Ship, from the Irish National Heritage Park to Johnstown Castle. It's a happening part of Ireland with a huge focus on the arts. In every blog from now on I will highlight a wonderful event,locale or festival from my area that I know will intrigue people worldwide.

Sorry we havent given you details of the 2012 Beyond Celtic tour yet but are we adding dates so fast. Soon...I promise. I can say we added The Grove in Anaheim and Symphony Hall in Baltimore.

Right...here are some airings nationally for you. It is nowhere near the final list so don't complain if your city isn't on there.As I get more details I will add airings accordingly. Please spread the word for me.

New York/New Jersey
WNET 8/7/11 4:30 PM

New York / Long Island
WLIW 8/27/11 4:30 PM

San Francisco
KQED 8/11/11 7:30 PM LIVE
KQED
8/11/11 7:30 PM
8/12/11 1:30 AM
8/14/11 5:30 PM
8/15/11 10:30 PM
8/16/11 4:30 AM
8/16/11 1:00 PM
8/18/11 10:30 PM
8/19/11 4:30 AM
8/8/11 7:00 PM
8/11/11 7:30 PM
8/12/11 1:30 AM
8/14/11 5:30 PM
8/15/11 10:30 PM
8/16/11 4:30 AM
8/18/11 10:30 PM
8/19/11 4:30 AM
8/11/11 7:30 PM
8/12/11 1:30 AM
8/14/11 5:30 PM
8/15/11 10:30 PM
8/16/11 4:30 AM
8/16/11 1:00 PM
8/18/11 10:30 PM
8/19/11 4:30 AM
8/11/11 7:30 PM
8/12/11 1:30 AM
8/14/11 5:30 PM
8/15/11 10:30 PM
8/16/11 4:30 AM
8/18/11 10:30 PM
8/19/11 4:30 AM

Maryland
MPT 8/13/11 LIVE

South Carolina
SCETV 8/24/11 Live

Gainsville North Central Florida
WUFT 8/19/11 8:00 PM

Detroit
WTVSDT 6/16/11 9:30 PM

Washington State and British Columbia
KCTS 9/12/11 TBD

Spokane

KSPS 9/13, 7 PM
WSPS 9/15/11 8:30 PM

Pittsburgh
WQED 8/11/11 7:30 PM
WQED 8/12/11 1:30 AM
WQED 8/14/11 5:30 PM
WQED 8/15/11 10:30 PM
WQED 8/16/11 4:30 AM
WQED 8/16/11 1:00 PM
WCETDT 8/7/11 10:00 PM

Cincinnatti
WPTODT5 8/6/11 6:30 PM
WPTODT 8/6/11 6:30 PM

Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota

WUSF
8/17/11 3:00 PM
8/7/11 3:00 PM
8/9/11 2:00 AM
8/10/11 2:00 AM
8/6/11 11:30 AM
8/18/11 10:30 AM

Philadelphia

WHYY 8/7/11 10.30pm

Mississippi / Alabama

WMABDT 8/20/11 11:00 PM

Washington DC
WFPT 8/13/11 6:00 PM
WFPT 8/14/11 1:00 PM

Boston

WGBH
8/14/11 1:30 AM
8/19/11 1:00 AM

Chicago
Lakeshore 8/27/11 12:30 AM

AUGUSTA
WEBA 8/25/11 8:00 PM

Arizona
EIGHT ARIZONA PBS
8/8/11 8.30pm
8/8/11 11.30pm

Nashville

WNPT
8/7/11 5:30 PM
8/9/11 10:00 PM
8/14/11 1:30 PM

Myrtle Beach

WHMC 8/25/11 8:00 PM

Charlotte
WITVDT 8/25/11 8:00 PM
WITVDT 8/28/11 1:00 PM
WITVDT2 8/27/11 10:00 AM
WITVDT2 8/28/11 10:00 AM


New Orleans
WYESDT 8/14/11 2:00 PM
WYESDT 8/14/11 11:00 PM


Gainsville
WUFTDT 8/15/11 10:00 PM
8/19/11 8:00 PM

West Palm Beach
WXEL 8/13/11 7pm

Jacksonville
WJCT 8/14/11 2pm

Fort Myers

WGCU 8/14/11 5pm

Fresno
Valley Public TV 8/20/11 6pm

Chattanooga
WTCI 8/14/11 4.30pm

Quad Cities

WQPT
8/7/11 9.30pm
8/8/11 4.30pm

Monterey / Salinas / Santa Cruz

KQET
8/11/11 7:30 PM
8/12/11 1:30 AM
8/14/11 5:30 PM

Amarillo
KENW 8/10/11 7pm

Rhode Island

WSBE TBD

WETPDT
8/6/11 10:00 PM
8/12/11 8:30 PM


Knoxville

WKOPDT 8/6/11 10:00PM

New Mexico
KNME 8/14/11 7:00PM


Tennessee Valley

WTCIDT 8/14/11 4:30 PM


South Bend/ Michigan/Indiana

WNIT 8/7/11 4:00 PM

Richmond
WCVE 8/11/11 8pm

Salisbury
WDPB 8/7/11 10.30pm

Duluth/Superior
WDSEDT 8/14/11 8:30 PM
WRPTDT 8/14/11 8:30 PM

Columbia, MO
KMOSDT 8/11/11 12:00 AM


West Texas / New Mexico

KRWGDT 8/14/11 3:00 PM
KRWGDT2 8/14/11 3:00 PM

Dakotas
KFMEDT 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KFMEDT 8/13/11 3:00 AM

Cleveland/Akron/Canton, Ohio

Western Reserve Public Media 8/15/11 9.30pm

Dakotas
KJREDT 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KJREDT 8/13/11 3:00 AM

Dakotas
KCGEDT 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KCGEDT 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KCGEDT2 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KCGEDT2 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KFMEDT2 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KFMEDT2 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KJREDT2 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KJREDT2 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KMDEDT 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KMDEDT 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KMDEDT2 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KMDEDT2 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KMOSDT 8/11/11 12:00 AM
KBMEDT 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KBMEDT 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KDSEDT 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KDSEDT 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KSREDT 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KSREDT 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KWSEDT 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KWSEDT 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KBMEDT2 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KBMEDT2 8/13/11 3:00 AM


Kansas State

KDSEDT2 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KDSEDT2 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KSREDT2 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KSREDT2 8/13/11 3:00 AM
KWSEDT2 8/11/11 9:00 PM
KWSEDT2 8/13/11 3:00 AM


West Tenessee

WLJTDT3 8/9/11 7:00 PM

Jackson
WLJTDT3 8/9/11 7:00 PM
WLJTDT3 8/14/11 5:00 PM

Sunday, June 19, 2011

not your average week

Hi Everyone


Today is a good day. It's lunchtime on Sunday June 19.

I was out last night on the Southside of Chicago at the Beverly Arts Center. My friends were performing down there so I went along and had the best time. Hung out with Jimmy Keane(best accordian on the planet) Sean Cleland, Jackie Moran(who will join me in Lancaster to play bodhran at performance on July 23. Met Brian Cunningham who presented his new show Atlantic Steps. He is a sean nos dancer with enthusiasm out the wazoo. I had a great time indeed ending with a few pints. Lovely.

So I went Detroit on Thursday to film the pledge breaks to air nationally thru August. It was overwhelming, fun and scary. I arrived after a short flight to find my super agent Adrienne Crane Ross, Maya Fiallos from International Media and the team from my new record company Razor and Tie

Everyone worked on making the taping go well. The lovely team at Detroit Public TV made me feel very welcome and the taping went well....i think.

ON the subject of Razor and Tie, I couldn't be happier to be working with this company. I've admired their business model for many years and always wanted to work with them'It is amazing to be on a roster with people like Joan Baez, Vanessa Carlton, Dave Stewart aaaaand wait for it...Kidzbop! They have exciting plans for the album and dvd. REtail release is not announced yet and the Beyond Celtic cd and dvd will be available exclusively on PBS for the next few months.

We are planning the national pbs station visits for August. I will see a lot of the US in August. So far we have San Bernardino, Seattle, San Fran, Maryland, Atlanta, and South Carolina, as well as most likely Lehigh Valley and Pittsburg. We have many more and will get details out to you asap.

It's early days so far but as for airings, here are a few stations locked in.

Seattle www.kcts9.org
Maryland www.mpt.org/
South Dakota: www.sdpb.org
Milwaukee www.mptv.org
San Francisco www.kqed.org
Atlanta www.pba.org
Baltimore www.mpt.org
San Bernardino www.kvcr.org

Plenty more to follow.............

Most exciting news of the year so far is I am heading to Ireland tomorrow. Lots going on but the best thing is that it is my mom's 70th birthday on Tuesday. I arrive at home on Tuesday morning so it will be a fun day.

On Thursday I head to a posh event in Dublin to celebrate the launch of the Wexford Ambassadors strategy to develop interest in all things Wexford. Hosted by my long time friend Brendan Howlin, the Minister of Public Expenditure, the event will celebrate all things Wexford and honor the first of Wexford's ambassadors Colm Toibin, Kevin Doyle, Gordon Darcy and my friend Eoin Colfer. I am looking forward to spending time with old friends and a posh night out in Dublin.

On Friday I have 2 events:

1. I am a guest for Gossip Girls I am a bit afraid to be surrounded by women armed with questions about my opinions on everything and lots of cocktails. A few of those women know my darkest secrets so I am afraid....very afraid.

2. Once the talk show is done we head across town to attend the event of the year...my mother's 70th Birthday party. I cannot wait to see all the family together and lots of moms friends from over the years.

We are building the tour for late 2011 and on into 2012. We have about 50 dates so far which is astounding. Details on the tour dates, lots of which will be available for sale on PBS over the coming months. We will post those dates asap.

Big love to everyone

M

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Study Guide

Study Guide to accompany Michael Londra / Celtic Fire


Ireland


Overview
Population
Geography
European Community


Irish Music
Instruments
Styles
History


Irish Dance
Styles
History
Riverdance






IRELAND

Geography

Area: 70,282 sq. km. (27,136 sq. mi.); slightly larger than West Virginia.
Terrain: Arable 10%, meadows and pastures 77%, rough grazing in use 11%, inland water 2%.
Climate: Temperate maritime.


People


Population (April 2010): 4,470,700.
Cities: Capital--Dublin (pop. 506,211). Other cities--Cork (119,418), Galway (72,414), Limerick (52,539), Waterford (45,748).
Population breakdown: 0-14 years (22%), 15-24 years (12%), 25-44 years (32%), 45-64 years (23%), 65 years and over (11%).
Population growth rate (2010 est.): 0.3%.
Ethnic groups: Irish, with English minority.
Religions: Roman Catholic 86.8%; Church of Ireland 3%; Presbyterian 0.5%; Methodist 0.25%; Muslim 1%; Jewish 0.1%; other 8.35%.
Languages: English, Irish (Gaelic).
Education: Compulsory up to age 16. Enrollment rates--first (primary) level 498,914; second (high school and vocational) level 341,312; third (university and college) level 139,134. Literacy--99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--3.71/1,000. Life expectancy at birth--male 76.8 yrs., female 81.6 yrs.
Work force: Services--74%, industry--21%, agriculture--5%.



Government

Type: Parliamentary republic.
Independence: December 6, 1921.
Constitution: December 29, 1937.
Branches: Executive--president, head of state; prime minister (taoiseach--pronounced "TEE-shuck"), head of government. Legislative--bicameral national parliament (Oireachtas--pronounced "o-ROCK-tas"): House of Representatives (Dail--pronounced "DOIL") and Senate (Seanad--pronounced "SHAN-ad"). Judicial--Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeal, High Court, Circuit Court, and District Court.
Administrative subdivisions: 26 counties, 34 local authorities.
Major political parties: Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Green Party, Sinn Fein (pronounced “FEE-na Fall,” “FEE-na Gale,” and “SHIN Fane”).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy


Nominal GDP (2010): $208.3 billion.
Real GDP growth (2010): -1.6%.
Nominal GDP per capita (2010): $46,592.
Natural resources: Zinc, lead, natural gas, barite, copper, gypsum, limestone, dolomite, peat.
Agriculture (2% of GDP): Products--cattle, meat, and dairy products; barley; hay; silage; wheat.
Industry (29% of GDP): Types--food processing, beverages, engineering, computer equipment, textiles and clothing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals.
Trade (2010, Ireland Central Statistics Office data): Exports--$119.9 billion (excluding services): machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, food, manufactured materials, beverages. Imports--$59.9 billion (excluding services): grains, petroleum products, machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, textile yarns. Major suppliers--Great Britain and Northern Ireland 30%, U.S. 18%, France 5%, Germany 7%, China 6%, Japan 2%; rest of the world (including other EU member states) 32%.

People and History

The Irish people are mainly of Celtic origin, with the country's only significant sized minority having descended from the Anglo-Normans. English is the common language, but Irish (Gaelic) is also an official language and is taught in schools.


The earliest inhabitants--people of a mid-Stone Age culture--arrived about 6000 BC. About 4,000 years later, tribes from southern Europe arrived and established a high Neolithic culture, leaving behind gold ornaments and huge stone monuments. The Bronze Age people, who arrived during the next 1,000 years, produced elaborate gold and bronze ornaments and weapons.

The Iron Age arrived abruptly in the fourth century BC with the invasion of the Celts, a tall, energetic people who had spread across Europe and Great Britain in the preceding centuries. The Celts, or Gaels, and their more numerous predecessors divided into five kingdoms in which, despite constant strife, a rich culture flourished.

The coming of Christianity from across the Irish Sea brought major changes and civilizing influences. Tradition maintains that St. Patrick arrived on the island in AD 432 and, in the years that followed, worked to convert the Irish to Christianity.

The pagan druid tradition collapsed before the spread of the new faith, and Irish scholars excelled in the study of Latin learning and Christian theology in the monasteries that flourished. Missionaries went forth from Ireland to England and the continent, spreading news of the flowering of learning, and scholars from other nations came to Irish monasteries. The excellence and isolation of these monasteries helped preserve Latin and Greek learning during the Dark Ages. The arts of manuscript illumination, metalworking, and sculpture flourished and produced such treasures as the Book of Kells, ornate jewelry, and the many carved stone crosses that dot the island.

Two hundred years of Viking invasion and settlement was later followed by a Norman conquest in the 12th century. The Norman conquest resulted in the assimilation of the Norman settlers into Irish society. The early 17th century saw the arrival of Scottish and English Protestants, sent as colonists to the north of Ireland and the Pale around Dublin.

In 1800 the Irish parliament passed the Act of Union with Great Britain, and Ireland was an official part of the United Kingdom until 1921. Religious freedom, outlawed in the 18th century, was restored in 1829, but this victory for the Irish Catholic majority was overshadowed by a severe economic depression and the great famine of 1846-48 when the potato crop failed. Millions died, and millions more emigrated, spawning the first mass wave of Irish emigration to the United States. A decade later, in 1858, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB--also known as the Fenians) was founded as a secret society dedicated to armed rebellion against the British. An above-ground political counterpart, the Home Rule Movement, was created in 1874, advocating constitutional change for independence.

Galvanized by the leadership of Charles Stewart Parnell, the party was able to force British governments after 1885 to introduce several home rule bills. The turn of the century witnessed a surge of interest in Irish nationalism, including the founding of Sinn Fein ("Ourselves Alone") as an open political movement.

Nationalism was and is a potent populist force in Irish politics. A home rule bill passed in 1914, but its implementation was suspended until war in Europe ended. Believing the mantra: "England's problem is Ireland's opportunity," and tapping into a mood of Gaelic revivalism, Padraic Pearse and James Connolly led the unsuccessful Easter Rising of 1916. Pearse and the other 1916 leaders declared an independent Irish republic, but a lack of popular support doomed the rebellion, which lasted a week and destroyed large portions of Dublin. The decision by the British military government to execute the leaders of the rebellion, coupled with the British Government's threat of conscripting the Irish to fight in the Great War, alienated public opinion and produced massive support for Sinn Fein in the 1918 general election. Under the leadership of Eamon de Valera, the elected Sinn Fein deputies constituted themselves as the first Dail. Tensions only increased: British attempts to smash Sinn Fein ignited the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921.

The end of the war brought the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921, which established the Irish Free State of 26 counties within the British Commonwealth and recognized the partition of the island into Ireland and Northern Ireland, although this was supposedly a temporary measure. The six predominantly Protestant counties of northeast Ulster--Northern Ireland--remained a part of the United Kingdom with limited self-government. A significant Irish minority repudiated the treaty settlement because of the continuance of subordinate ties to the British monarch and the partition of the island. This opposition led to further hostilities--a civil war (1922-23), which was won by the pro-treaty forces.

In 1932, Eamon de Valera, the political leader of the forces initially opposed to the treaty, became Prime Minister, and a new Irish constitution was enacted in 1937. The last British military bases were soon withdrawn, and the ports were returned to Irish control. Ireland was neutral in World War II. The government formally declared Ireland a republic in 1948; however, it does not normally use the term "Republic of Ireland," which tacitly acknowledges the partition, but refers to the country simply as "Ireland."

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS


Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state with a parliamentary system of government. The president, who serves as head of state in a largely ceremonial role, is elected for a 7-year term and can be re-elected only once. The current president is Mary McAleese, who is serving her second term after having succeeded President Mary Robinson--the first instance worldwide where one woman followed another as an elected head of state. In carrying out certain constitutional powers and functions, the president is aided by the Council of State, an advisory body. On the taoiseach's (prime minister's) advice, the president also dissolves the Oireachtas (parliament).

The prime minister (taoiseach) is elected by the Dail (lower house of parliament) as the leader of the political party, or coalition of parties, that wins the most seats in the national elections, which are held approximately every 5 years (unless called earlier). Executive power is vested in a cabinet whose ministers are nominated by the taoiseach and approved by the Dail.

The bicameral Oireachtas (parliament) consists of the Seanad Eireann (Senate) and the Dail Eireann (House of Representatives). The Seanad is composed of 60 members--11 nominated by the prime minister, six elected by the national universities, and 43 elected from panels of candidates established on a vocational basis. The Seanad has the power to delay legislative proposals and is allowed 90 days to consider and amend bills sent to it by the Dail, which wields greater power in parliament. The Dail has 166 members popularly elected to terms of 5 years under a complex system of proportional representation. A member of the Dail is known as a Teachta Dala, or TD.

Judges are appointed by the president on nomination by the government and can be removed from office only for misbehavior or incapacity and then only by resolution of both houses of parliament. The ultimate court of appeal is the Supreme Court, consisting of the chief justice and five other justices. The Supreme Court also can decide upon the constitutionality of legislative acts if the president asks for an opinion.

Local government is by elected county councils and, in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford, by county borough corporations. County councils/corporations in turn select city mayors. In practice, however, most authority remains with the central government.

Irish politics remain dominated by the two political parties that grew out of Ireland's bitter 1922-23 civil war. Fianna Fail was formed by those who opposed the 1921 treaty that partitioned the island. Although treaty opponents lost the civil war, Fianna Fail soon became Ireland's largest and pre-eminent political party, generally dominating government since the 1930s. Fine Gael, representative of the pro-treaty forces, has been Ireland’s perennial second party, holding government only intermittently. The 2011 general election saw a sharp reversal of fortune for both major parties. Labour, Sinn Fein, and the Greens are the other significant parties.

The May 2007 national elections brought the Fianna Fail party and its leader Bertie Ahern back to power in a coalition government for an unprecedented third 5-year term. Coalition members joining Fianna Fail were the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats. Ahern appointed Finance Minister Brian Cowen Deputy Prime Minister (Tanaiste, pronounced "TAW-nish-tuh").

The June 2004 local and European elections featured a referendum on citizenship. Until that time, Ireland had granted citizenship on the basis of birth on Irish soil. Concerns about security and social welfare abuse prompted the government to seek to bring citizenship laws in line with the more restrictive policies prevalent in the rest of Europe, and the 2004 referendum measure passed by a wide majority. Now, persons with non-Irish parents can acquire Irish citizenship at birth on Irish soil only if at least one parent has been resident in Ireland for 3 years preceding the birth.

The February 2011 national elections brought a considerable change to Ireland’s political landscape. Fianna Fail suffered its worst defeat in the party’s history. By contrast, Fine Gael and Labour both secured their best-ever results in a general election. Fine Gael and Labour entered into a coalition government; Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny became Taoiseach, and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore became Tanaiste and Foreign Minister.

Northern Ireland

U.S. priorities remain supporting the peace process and devolved political institutions in Northern Ireland and encouraging the implementation of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), and the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement.

The conflict in Northern Ireland stems from a history of British rule, historical animosity between Catholics and Protestants, and the various armed and political attempts to unite Northern Ireland with the rest of the island. "Nationalist" and "Republican" groups seek a united Ireland, while "Unionists" and "Loyalists" want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. After decades of violence by both Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries, most notably the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), the British and Irish Governments negotiated a PIRA ceasefire in 1994, which was followed by the landmark U.S.-brokered Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The GFA established a power-sharing executive and assembly to serve as the devolved local government of Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Assembly has 108 elected members. The power-sharing executive is led by a first minister and deputy first minister, one each from the largest unionist and nationalist parties, and an 11-minister executive. The GFA also provided for both Ireland and the U.K. to accept that Northern Ireland could become part of Ireland if a majority (north and south) so voted in the future. The GFA provided a blueprint for "normalization," to include reduction in the numbers and role of armed forces, devolution of police and justice authorities, and guarantees of human rights and equal opportunity for all individuals. The agreement was approved in a 1998 referendum by 71% of Northern Ireland voters and 95% of Irish voters.

The major political parties in Northern Ireland are the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP), and the Alliance Party. The UUP and SDLP are centrist Unionist and Nationalist parties, respectively, while Sinn Fein is strongly Republican and the DUP is strongly Unionist. The Alliance Party is the only non-sectarian party.

Since June 2008, Northern Ireland's First Minister has been DUP party leader Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister has been Martin McGuinness, who is a Sinn Fein member of the British Parliament and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein, and SDLP currently make up the power-sharing executive. The next Northern Ireland Assembly election will be held in May 2011.

In September 2009, Declan Kelly was appointed as the Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, a new position created by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aimed at expanding Northern Ireland's relatively small private sector and furthering economic ties between Northern Ireland and the United States. The Economic Envoy coordinates economic collaboration for the mutual benefit of Northern Ireland and the United States, underpinning the Northern Ireland peace process by focusing on the economic dividends of peace.

The United States also continues to provide funding ($17 million in FY 2010) for projects administered under the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), which was created in 1986 to generate cross-community engagement and economic opportunity in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan, and Sligo). Since the IFI's establishment, the U.S. Government has contributed over $486 million, roughly half of total IFI funding. The other major donor to IFI is the European Union (EU).


Principal Government Officials


President--Mary McAleese
Taoiseach (Prime Minister)--Enda Kenny
Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister)--Eamon Gilmore
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade--Eamon Gilmore
Ambassador to the United States--Michael Collins




Irish Music



Irish traditional music includes many kinds of songs, including rousing songs, ballads and laments, sung unaccompanied or with accompaniment by a variety of instruments. Traditional dance music includes reels (4/4), hornpipes and jigs (the common double jig is in 6/8 time). The polka arrived at the start of the nineteenth century, spread by itinerant dancing masters and mercenary soldiers, returning from Europe. Set dancing may have arrived in the eighteenth century. Later imported dance-signatures include the mazurka and the highlands. In the nineteenth century folk instruments would have included the flute the fiddle and the uilleann pipes.

A revival of Irish traditional music took place around the turn of the 20th century. The button accordion and the concertina were becoming common. Irish stepdance was performed at céilís, organised competitions and at some country houses where local and itinerant musicians were welcome.Irish dancing was supported by the educational system and patriotic organisations. An older style of singing called sean-nós ("in the old style"), which is a form of traditional Irish singing was still found, mainly for very poetic songs in the Irish language.

After a lull in the 1940s and 1950s, when (except for Céilidh bands) traditional music was at a low ebb, Seán Ó Riada's The Chieftains, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, The Irish Rovers, The Dubliners, Ryan's Fancy and Sweeney's Men were in large part responsible for a second wave of revitalization of Irish folk music in the 1960s. Several of these were featured in the 2010 TV movie "My Music: When Irish Eyes are Smiling".They were followed by the likes of Planxty, The Bothy Band and Clannad in the 70s. Later came such bands as Stockton's Wing, De Dannan, Altan, Arcady, Dervish and Patrick Street, along with a wealth of individual performers

Traditional music played a part in Irish popular music later in the century, with Clannad, Van Morrison, Hothouse Flowers and Sinéad O'Connor using traditional elements in popular songs. Enya achieved international success with New Age/Celtic fusions. The Pogues, led by Shane MacGowan, helped fuse Irish folk with punk rock to some success beginning in the 1980s, while the Afro-Celt Sound System achieved fame adding West African influences and drum n bass in the 1990s while bands such as Kíla fuse traditional Irish with rock and world music representing the Irish tradition at world music festivals across Europe and America. The most notable fusion band in Ireland was Horslips, who combined Irish themes and music with heavy rock.

Celtic music is a term utilised by artists, record companies, music stores and music magazines to describe a broad grouping of musical genres that evolved out of the folk musical traditions of the Celtic people of Western Europe. As such there is no real body of music which can be accurately described as Celtic, but the term has stuck and may refer to both orally-transmitted traditional music and recorded popular music.
Celtic music means two things mainly. First, it is the music of the peoples calling themselves Celts (a non-musical, primarily political definition), as opposed to, say, "French music" or "English music." Secondly, it refers to whatever qualities may be unique to the musics of the Celtic Nations (a musical definition). Some insist that different ostensibly Celtic musics actually have nothing in common-–such as Geoff Wallis and Sue Wilson in their book The Rough Guide to Irish Music-–whereas others (such as Alan Stivell), say they do.

Often, the term Celtic music is applied to the music of Ireland and Scotland because both lands have produced well-known distinctive styles which actually have genuine commonality and clear mutual influences; however, it is notable that Irish and Scottish traditional musicians themselves avoid the term "Celtic music," except when forced by the necessities of the market. The definition is further complicated by the fact that Irish independence has allowed Ireland to promote 'Celtic' music as a specifically Irish product. In reality, the terms 'Scots/Scottish' and 'Irish' are purely modern geographical references to a people who share a common Celtic ancestry and consequently, a common musical heritage.
These styles are known because of the importance of Irish and Scottish people in the English speaking world, especially in the United States, where they had a profound impact on American music, particularly bluegrass and country music. The music of Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany, Galicia, Cantabria and Asturias (Spain) and Portugal are also considered Celtic music, the tradition being particularly strong in Brittany, where Celtic festivals large and small take place throughout the year, and in Wales, where the ancient eisteddfod tradition has been revived and flourishes. Additionally, the musics of ethnically Celtic peoples abroad are vibrant, especially in Canada and the United States.

The oldest musical tradition which fits under the label of Celtic fusion originated in the rural American south in the early colonial period and incorporated Scottish, Scots-Irish, Irish, English, and African influences. Variously referred to as roots music, American folk music, or old-time music, this tradition has exerted a strong influence on all forms of American music, including country, blues, and rock and roll.In addition to its lasting effects on other genres, it marked the first modern large-scale mixing of musical traditions from multiple ethnic and religious communities within the Celtic diaspora.

In the 1960s several bands put forward modern adaptations of Celtic music pulling influences from several of the Celtic nations at once to create a modern pan-celtic sound. A few of those include bagadoù (Breton pipe bands), Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Steeleye Span and Horslips.
In the 1970s Clannad made their mark initially in the folk and traditional scene, and then subsequently went on to bridge the gap between traditional Celtic and pop music in the 1980s and 1990s, incorporating elements from New Age, smooth jazz, and folk rock. Traces of Clannad's legacy can be heard in the music of many artists, including Enya, Altan, Capercaillie, The Corrs, Loreena McKennitt, Anúna, Riverdance and U2.

Later, beginning in 1982 with The Pogues' invention of Celtic folk-punk and Stockton's Wing blend of Irish traditional and Pop, Rock and Reggie, there has been a movement to incorporate Celtic influences into other genres of music. Bands like Flogging Molly, Black 47, Dropkick Murphys, The Young Dubliners, The Tossers introduced a hybrid of Celtic rock, punk, reggae, hardcore and other elements in the 1990s that has become popular with Irish-American youth.
Today there are Celtic-influenced sub genres of virtually every type of popular music including electronica, rock, metal, punk, hip hop, reggae, new age, Latin, Andean and pop. Collectively these modern interpretations of Celtic music are sometimes referred to as Celtic fusion.

Instruments


The uilleann pipes are the characteristic national bagpipe of Ireland. Their current name (they were earlier known in English as "union pipes") is a part translation of the Irish-language term píoba uilleann (literally, "pipes of the elbow"), from their method of inflation. The bag of the uilleann pipes is inflated by means of a small set of bellows strapped around the waist and the right arm. The bellows not only relieve the player from the effort needed to blow into a bag to maintain pressure, they also allow relatively dry air to power the reeds, reducing the adverse effects of moisture on tuning and longevity. Some pipers can converse or sing at the same time as playing.

The uilleann pipes are distinguished from many other forms of bagpipes by their sweet tone and wide range of notes — the chanter has a range of two full octaves, including sharps and flats — together with the unique blend of chanter, drones, and "regulators." The regulators are equipped with closed keys which can be opened by the piper's wrist action enabling the piper to play simple chords, giving a rhythmic and harmonic accompaniment as needed. There are also many ornaments based on multiple or single grace notes. The chanter can also be played staccato by resting the bottom of the chanter on the piper's thigh to close off the bottom hole and then open and close only the tone holes required. If one tone hole is closed before the next one is opened, a staccato effect can be created because the sound stops completely when no air can escape at all.

The uilleann pipes have a different harmonic structure, sounding sweeter and quieter than many other bagpipes, such as the Great Irish Warpipes, Great Highland Bagpipes or the Italian Zampognas. The uilleann pipes are often played indoors, and are almost always played sitting down.


The bodhrán (pronounced bowrawn) is an Irish frame drum ranging from 25 to 65 cm (10" to 26") in diameter, with most drums measuring 35 to 45 cm (14" to 18"). The sides of the drum are 9 to 20 cm (3½" to 8") deep. A goatskin head is tacked to one side (synthetic heads, or other animal skins are sometimes used). The other side is open ended for one hand to be placed against the inside of the drum head to control the pitch and timbre.

One or two crossbars, sometimes removable, may be inside the frame, but this is increasingly rare on modern instruments. Some professional modern bodhráns integrate mechanical tuning systems similar to those used on drums found in drum kits. It is usually with a hex key that the bodhrán skins are tightened or loosened depending on the atmospheric conditions.





Irish Dance


Irish dancing or Irish dance is a group of traditional dance forms originating in Ireland which can broadly be divided into social dance and performance dances. Irish social dances can be divided further into céilí and set dancing. Irish set dances are quadrilles, danced by 4 couples arranged in a square, while céilí dances are danced by varied formations (ceili) of couples of 2 to 16 people. In addition to their formation, there are significant stylistic differences between these two forms of social dance. Irish social dance is a living tradition, and variations in particular dances are found across the Irish dancing community; in some places, dances are deliberately modified and new dances are choreographed.

Irish dancing, popularised in 1994 by the world-famous show "Riverdance", is notable for its rapid leg movements, body and arms being kept largely stationary.

Most competitive dances are solo dances, though many stepdancers also perform and compete using céilí dances. The solo stepdance is generally characterised by a controlled but not rigid upper body, straight arms, and quick, precise movements of the feet. The solo dances can either be in "soft shoe" or hard shoe".
The dancing traditions of Ireland probably grew in close association with traditional Irish music. Although its origins are unclear, Irish dancing was later influenced by dance forms from the Continent, especially the Quadrille. Travelling dancing masters taught all over Ireland, as late as the early 1900s.

As Irish people emigrate all over the world, they take their cultural traditions with them. Many people theorise[who?] that Sean-nós dancing has influenced various other forms of traditional solo dance, especially those found in areas with strong Irish communities. Historically, it is likely that sean-nós dance influenced the development of many American and Canadian traditional percussive dance forms, such as buck dancing, flatfooting, clogging, and tap dancing. Sean-nós dancing in the United States and Canada is most commonly seen at folk festivals, although dance workshops are beginning to introduce the style more widely.

There are two types of shoes; soft shoes (also known as ghillies) and hard shoes. The hard shoe is similar to tap shoes, except that the tips and heels are made of fiberglass, instead of metal, and are significantly bulkier. The hard shoes were originally made of wood in the 19th century and early 20th century. The first hard shoes had wooden or leather taps with metal nails. Later the taps and heels were changed into resin or fiberglass to reduce the weight and to increase the footwork sounds. The soft shoes, which are called ghillies, are black lace-up shoes. Ghillies are only worn by girls, while boys wear black leather shoes called "reel shoes", which resemble black jazz shoes with a hard heel. Boy's soft-shoe dancing features audible heel clicks.
Several generations ago, the appropriate dress for a competition was simply "Sunday Best" (clothes one would wear to church). Irish Dance schools generally have school dresses, worn by lower-level competitors and in public performances. As dancers advance in competition or are given starring roles in public performances, they may get a solo dress of their own design and colors. In the 1970s and 1980s, ornately embroidered dresses became popular. Today even more ornamentation is used on girls' dresses. Solo dresses can range from 100 to 5000 dollars, and are unique to each dancer. Today most women and girls curl their hair or wear a wig or hairpiece for a competition. Most men wear a shirt, vest, and tie paired with black trousers.

Riverdance is a theatrical show consisting of traditional Irish stepdancing, notable for its rapid leg movements while body and arms are kept largely stationary. It originated as an interval performance during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, a moment that is still considered a significant watershed in Irish culture. Riverdance is, in essence, the story of the Irish culture and of the Irish immigration to America.

Success

Riverdance was first performed during the 7-minute interval of the Eurovision Song Contest at the Point Theatre, Dublin on 30 April 1994. It received a standing ovation. Later that year, the BBC commissioned a repeat performance of the act for the 1994 Royal Variety Show. At Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest it was named as one of the most popular interval act in the history of the contest.[citation needed

This first performance featured Irish Dancing Champions Jean Butler and Michael Flatley, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Celtic choral group Anuna with a score written by Bill Whelan. Whelan had also composed "Timedance" – an early version of "Riverdance" – for the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, performed by Planxty. Most of the show's choreography was done by Flatley.[citation needed]
An audio recording of "Riverdance" entered the Irish singles charts at #1 on 5 May 1994, and remained there throughout the summer (keeping Wet Wet Wet's phenomenally successful "Love Is All Around" off the top), eventually totalling a record 18 weeks at #1.[2] A video of the Eurovision interval performance was then released by the Irish broadcaster Radio Telefís Éireann under the title "Riverdance for Rwanda" with all proceeds going to the Rwanda Appeal Disasters Joint Appeal Committee.[3] Many of the dance troupe featured in this performance subsequently went on to dance principal roles in later productions of Riverdance the Show.
Riverdance is produced and directed by husband and wife team John McColgan and Moya Doherty, controlled through their production company Abhann Productions, based in Dublin.[citation needed] In November 1994 tickets were sold in Dublin for the first full-length performance of Riverdance, which opened at the Point Theatre on 9 February 1995. The show ran for five weeks and was a sell-out with ticket sales of over 120,000.
On 8 May 1995 Riverdance performed at the Royal Gala 50th Anniversary of VE Day celebrations at the special invitation of His Royal Highness Prince Charles. This attracted a television audience of 20 million.
A video release of Riverdance occured in the UK on 5 June 1995 which immediately debuted at #2 before rising to #1 the following week. For a total of seven months the Riverdance UK video remained in the charts and became the all time highest selling music video in the UK.
During the second half of 1995 Riverdance performed a four-week season at The Apollo at Hammersmith before returning to the Point Theatre Dublin for another six-week sellout season before again returning to The Apollo at Hammersmith for another six-week season which again was a sell out. Riverdance also performed at Royal College of Music, London in the presence of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother; Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; and Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret on 17 July 1995.
14 March 1996 saw the start of an eight-week sell out season at Radio City Music Hall, New York. The sales of merchanise resulted in Radio City Music Hall merchandise sale’s record is smashed during the first performance of Riverdance. Riverdance went on to more sell-out tours at King’s Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and The Green Glens Arena, Millstreet, Co. Cork, Ireland, plus a huge three and a half month return to The Apollo in Hammersmith with astounding advance ticket sales of over five million pounds. The season was extended to run from May 1996 to January 1997. The end of 1996 saw the 400th show performed with a total audience of 1.3 million people in that time. The Lee and Liffey companies were also born with the Lee commencing a US tour at Radio City Music Hall on 2 October 1996 while the Liffey company remained touring the UK.
After successful runs in other cities in Europe, Riverdance travelled to New York City to perform at the legendary Radio City Music Hall in March 1996. This was the first time the show had been performed in America. To the relief of the producers, the show was a success. Anuna left the show in September of that year.
In 2000 the show moved to Broadway for a year at the Gershwin Theatre with an all-new show which featured Michael as lead vocalist.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May News

Hi Everyone


Hello from deepest Missouri!

I am planning the next month and thought I would let you know where we are and what is happening as I have had a few emails.

So....the past 4 weeks have been quite a wild ride. We have been looking at what we filmed in San Bernardino and to be honest I am simply blown away by how good the show is. Sephira and De Dannan are simply brilliant. The choir and orchestra sound fantastic, the audience are gorgeous lookin and I am ....well....a little over-emotional as you will see once it is released. The team at Mindfox have been doing a great job editing to remove all of my stupid mistakes and making it all look pristine. Steve Skinner has been mixing it and it will be coming at you in surround sound which really makes a huge difference.

To get picked up for distribution by PBS National is something we really hadn't expected and indeed it happens to VERY FEW specials filmed for public TV. The next step is to announce our launch station which will happen in the coming week. I head to the PBS conference in Orlando next month to meet all the stations from around the country with our PBS guru Gustavo Sagastume from International Media. I will then start planning those station visits around the country during summer/fall pledges.
Now everyone is asking about the tour. We will start announcing plans for a large spring 2012 tour soon. I am VERY excited about the details of that and cant wait to announce who we are working with.So, I ask your patience. Putting together a big tour involves so many moving parts and I guess the whole thing is growing faster than we realised so we are playing catch up.

Our first big PBS related tour dates however happen at Christmas. I am heading to San Francisco for a residency at the Marine's Memorial Theater for 18 dates starting Dec 13. Tickets will be available very soon. The team connected to the theater are AMAZING. The artists coming up there include Linda Eder and Glee's Darren Criss There are very exciting events happening attached to that including a spot singing at the Giants game in August. I spent a month in San Fran 10 years ago with Riverdance and it was a very special time in my life with my visiting family and friends. To get to go back to the same town with my own show in a renowned San Francisco theater is just thrilling and makes me grateful beyond belief. It will be a very big Christmas show with a BIG cast. How lucky I am!

So recording news....the cd and dvd of Beyond Celtic does not have a release date quite yet but as soon as we are allowed, I will announce our record company. I have wanted to work with this company for years. I spoke to several labels and noone excited me like these guys.

For now, I head home to Chicago to start planning...then it's Ireland for my mam's 70th birthday and some well deserved pints of Guinness.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Haiti

I am sitting in my hotel room after my first trip to Haiti in ages. I have stayed away for too long.

I arrived a few days ago at the airport to the usual chaos that is Port Au Prince, a noisy city that seems to sound like a banging drum and crashing cymbal all day, a vibrant slice of life at its rawest. What I expected to see was what I always knew of the town, arriving with an overconfident air of someone who has, as he thought, seen and done it all. I love Port Au Prince. I always have. I have always had a sense of belonging once I land. What I found this time however, was not what I expected, unfortunately.

The city was literally floored by the earthquake over a year ago. At the time, 1. 5 million lost their homes. 15 months later 680,000 are still displaced, living in temporary shelters scattered across the city with the most basic services. I was shocked by the sights , sounds and smell of those camps. I was speechless and supressed tears seeing babies with barely a ragged shirt on them, sleeping in the mud outside the door of their tiny excuse for a tent, a piece of sheet plastic covering them topped with a torn blanket. It is something that I will always hold in my mind. It will change me forever.

The buildings of the city vary from houses that were rough shod to being with, now crumbling on one side to high rise buildings completely collapsed on themselves that are now essentially tombs for thousands of nameless bodies. The empty spaces that are left are sites for mass graves. The parliament building, a ramshackle excuse for a palace but the shining symbol of leadership in the country is folded on itself and completely useless. The city's cathedral now looks no different to an ancient roman site and holds hundreds of bodies inside. A blind man in that roofless church was singing in creole. "welcome to the foreigners who come to help us".

The most vulnerable of this fragile society were left without health services, clinics, nutrition units, schools, access to food and clean water. Families were left without mothers , fathers, children.

I came to Haiti with the absolute knowledge that Concern, already a dynamic force in Haiti for 16 years now would be ready for what the earthquake brought to them. However I was not prepared for the show of force displayed by the great group of people. What I found was a very organised, system in place dealing hands on with the emergency and planning with locals to build a better future in a way that was sustainable, long term, motivated and above all full of optimism. They shine a light for the future and better still is helping Haiti build it's own future.

In the temporary shelter camps built and managed by Concern there was a huge focus to Water, Sanitation and Health. There was permanent structures built to ensure provision of clean water, showers, latrines, sterilization units, education in disease prevention, the importance of hand washing and supervised help by skilled and caring engineers leading teams of locals who were putting their own organised systems in place to ensure a disease free future. Incidence of cholera is down.

I saw a mother and baby unit run by Concern within the general hospital catering to undernourished babies. The unit had 18 babies this week. Nearly all the babies had nutritional deficiencies, complicating conditions like HIV and presented with low weight / age ratio when they arrived. It was obvious to see the new arrivals who were so thin and frail in comparison to babies who were strong , robust, content and playing. These kids had obviously spent some months in the unit and were strong and ready to get home. The joy in that tent was tangible. Mother's were delighted to have happy and healthy children again.

I went to a temporary learning center managed by Concern. The school had over 300 kids all of whom lost their place to learn when the earth quake flattened schools across the city. It was a thrill to be in classes and see the joy in those kids lives being able to learn and play together. We sang songs and danced. Really i am child at heart so it made me happiest man in Haiti. The kids not only learn the basics of French, Creole Math but are also educated in disease prevention and sanitation, skills that will help them reduce disease in the future.

I was approached by 2 teenage guys to ask if I could find them a job. Both were eloquent and respectful to a fault, presenting a strong case in their hope that I could get them work. It broke my heart. There is simply not enough work for them and the only way to get that step up in education would be through Concern's help. Concern's Cash for Work schemes built in to all their services are a way, not only to earn money but to build esteem and interest in building a brighter future.

I had heard about a new residential development on the outskirts of the city that was managed by Concern. I remembered that after the earthquake Concern had sourced a large meadow and brought in engineers to essentially build a new town for people who had lost their homes. I was astounded by the rows of really lovely new houses with gardens, indivually decorated providing not only secure shelter but dignity. Built to order depending on the size of the family and built with the input of the family involved, these shelters offered hope for the future for people who have lived in tents for the past year. The homes are built using cement with wooden framing. All the labor is local and that local labor is heavily invested in building their own new community. The men and women involved in this project are a credit to Concern.

Overall I cannot believe what Concern has achieved in the past year. The team , already there for the long haul has increased in size dramatically both in International and local staff but the spirit remains the same. Fr. Aengus Finucane would be so proud of everyone . I know I certainly was. I am proud to be part of the Concern team and will continue to urge you to learn about what is going on in the world, learn about issues of poverty, learn about Concern. The more you know and talk about it, the less of a problem poverty will be.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Poem from a fan

Got this from a lovely fan who took the time to write it. The support of the fans this week was second to none.




Michael's Poem

Close your eyes, open your heart
Feel the warmth of the song.
His melodies charm you
And you're hooked before long.
javascript:void(0)
A journey of music
Our hearts reached by a touch
Led by this voice
He gives us so much.

A voice full of patience
and caring and love.
His songs strong, yet gentle
A gift from above.

Listen and you will hear
The unexpected you will find
The voice and the music
Swirl around in your mind.

A Celt through and through
A treat to hear him sing
Travel through his music
See what joy he will bring.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Calm Before the Storm!

Hello Everyone

3 weeks to go and all seems to be in order. I feel really good about everything and surprisingly calm. I just decided a few weeks ago to let it all go and focus on being a decent singer for the show. We have been recording vocals and instrumental tracks in Steve Skinners studio. He is simply a wonder and has the temperament that is perfect for any artist. He is so focused and logical in his approach whereas I am ALL OVER THE PLACE! I guess it is a good pairing.

Our new songs have really come together nicely. In a PBS recording you need to have people recognise most of the songs but I wanted to add a few for the dvd that will make people sit up and listen and say "what is that?". One song I am particularly excited about called All My Life involves a collaboration with Sephira who play so beautifully. Yes.....I will look like an old geezer singing with them but I think it will be fine. I am also thrilled with the opener as it mixes my singing with dancers. I have 4 dancers from my Celtic Fire show. Rachael, Owen and of course my sidekicks Logan and Claire. It is so important for me to have the musicians and dancers i love involved in this. You don't find too much loyalty in our business so when you find gems, you keep them. Also in the mix is Mellad, David and Jeremy from An Dochas...of course!

So I went to get fitted for the clothes I am wearing this week. I am not used to being measured to within an inch of my life but it was less painful than I thought it would be. It will certainly make an impact but at the same time I will feel very comfortable. Now all I have to do is not pack on the pounds.....it will be fitted, to say the least!

This weekend begins March madness and I head up to Spokane and Idaho Falls
I get to hang with my band and dancers up there. I love being with them as I sap up their enthusiasm as soon as they walk into a theater. Sales have been very strong and I think the PBS connection probably helps considerably.
We have added more dates for this year including July 23 with the Lancaster Symphony and some dates in South Carolina in October which should extend my summer a bit.

Mindfox Productions have been such a help over the past few weeks getting everything in order for March 18 so a big shoutout to them. Led by Dr. Travis Fox and Brenda Markstein the team are so driven and focused. I am hitching a ride on that enthusiasm and it is making the whole experience from start to finish, very positive.

Make sure to check out De Dannan and Sephira as they have tour dates through March across North America. They of course stop by in San Bernardino to play for the special.

Thanks so much to everyone for all the notes you are sending . I really treasure them. I am amazed that people are travelling cross country to attend the recording. It is astounding. Hopefully I get to hang out with you. There is a plan for a bit of a do in LA the night after.

Big Love

M