Before you attack me, let me just say that the Celtic spring officially began yesterday, February 1, the feast of St Brigid. Oddly enough here in Chicago it seems to match that with unseasonably warm days all week. Now when I say warm, I mean it is above 35F which is kind of unusual for Chitown.
January was split in 2 halves for me. After the very fun time in San Francisco, I didnt get to go home but headed straight to Nashville to meet with potential new management. I think I might have found someone and there is now ongoing discussion to set it in stone. It will be nice to have someone take the wheel from me for a while as the past year has been absolutely crazy wearing the hat of producer, manager, travel agent, tour manager...oh and singer. We had 20 people in San Francisco so that was multitasking at it's limit. It all worked out fine but it will be nice to have someone letting me know when I am losing the plot.
I got to hang out in Nashville for a few days and have to say it is now up in my top 5 places to visit. Have to say, I would live there in a heartbeat. Easy going but upscale. Conservative but liberal at the same time. Got to hang out with my favorite Irish Music Magazine journalist/ novelist Helene Dunbar who gave me all the inside scoop on the town.
I then headed to NYC for APAP to make some new plans with my agent and indeed plot out the next year. In talking I admitted that this year needed to be a lot slower. I was running myself to the ground and it was starting to show. I am no spring chicken and while I will always be a wayfarer, I would rather do it at a slower pace so that is the plan.
I met the bold Joannie Madden of Cherish The Ladies in New York. It was a tonic to see her. She makes me laugh and inspires me. Her work ethic and talent is unending. Her new album Country Crossroads is just fantastic with amazing duets with Vince Gill, Maura O Connell and Nancy Griffith. Hey Joanie, when do I get to sing with you.
While I was in town, I headed to the studio and recorded quite a lot of new music. While it is not finished, there is the bones of a new album there and I can't for you to hear some of the new songs.
AMAZING SHOTS OF WEXFORD
I arrived home to my house after 2 months away. On January 25, I opened all the Christmas cards and gifts that everyone sent. I know that is just ridiculous but that is my life, people! It was such a treat to go through all of them, realising the amount of thought that went into everything. I have to admit that a lot of fans know me very well. I guess, I talk too much. Please know that I spent a long time going through everyone's kind messages and gifts and they mean the world to me. You know who you are!
Well, I was thrilled to get the news on January 28th that I had won the Best Irish Tenor Category in the Irish Music Association Awards. I never in my life expected to be nominated for such an award , let alone , win, especially looking at past winners like Tommy Fleming 2011 and Anthony Kearns 2010
For anyone who didn't know here is a summary and a list of a few winners
Feb. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As we speed toward that metamorphic holiday in March where the whole world turns green and becomes Irish, St Patrick's Day, the Irish Music Association has released a new list of the Best in Irish Music, creating new international icons in the genre. Last weekend, on Saturday, January 28, 2012, during the 4th Annual Irish Music Award Presentation ceremony, the IMA recognized outstanding Irish artists, celebrating not only that which is traditionally Irish, but also appreciating more eclectic sounds," IMA Executive Director R. T. Reeder said. "This year's nominations include some of the Irish music industry's most famous artists and performing groups."
Award Winners include:
Tommy Makem Award - Enya
Top Traditional Performance Show - Celtic Woman
Top Harpist - Orla Fallon
Best Female Vocalist - Lisa Kelly / Celtic Woman
Top Solo Performer in Concert - Ryan Kelly / Celtic Thunder
Best Group - The High Kings
Best Irish Tenor - Michael Londra
I will be sending the award home to my mother who will polish it and keep it shining on the mantle!
So next week, we start some tour dates, beginning close to home with a date in The Paramount Theater in Aurora on Feb 10th. Really i am just excited to see my lovely band and dancers. They mean the world to me and I know they love being on the road together There is always an adventure.
There is an extra few dates over the next month that I am thrilled about. I get to perform about 3 blocks from my house at Chicago Symphony Center for Siamsa Na nGael, a huge event featuring an orchestra, choir, amazing singers like Rod Dixon, Alfreda Burke, Catherine O Connell and myself. I have been given gorgeous music to perform so it should be a lot of fun although it means flying in from Bergen date the day before and on to Spokane the day after. That is what Irish performers call March Madness!
On February 26th, I join the awesome Kathleen Keane
in the American Irish Heritage Center here in Chicago for a night called The Keane Machine. Kathleen is a great friend who you will see on Michael Londra dates through the year. She plays whistle, fiddle and is a great irish dancer. Anyways, she is bringing a load of great musicians and singers together for a night to fundraise for the Heritage Center and I am looking forward to a few scoops after the show.
I am heading to the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane on March 14th. I will have lots of locals onstage including An Dochas and the Haran Dancers. I love Spokane. The town has a heart and the people up there are just great. A lot of my band and dancers over the years have been Washingtonians. We head on to Wenatchee Toyota Center on March 15th which is a different gig completely as we are playing to an Arena but either way it will be a fun night out. Tickets for both events only go on sale this week.
I was chatting to Paul Byrom the other day. We had the best chat. It is great to connect with someone who totally understands the job and what is involved. We had a lot of laughs, threw advice at each other and were glad to exchange ideas, tips, concerns etc. He is such a good guy and a wonderful singer. I admire his talent, drive and he deserves every success. Fortunately, our chat was over the phone or it would have involved many glasses of wine!!! One of these days we will have sing together.
Good luck to the Celtic Thunder boys heading off this week(not that they need it). I am dead jealous as I always wanted to do a full tour down there. I hope to make it happen someday. For now, there are too many dates to do here. I don't say this lightly but I think Emmet may be the best young singer to come out of Ireland in years. His voice is clear as a bell. I am excited to hear Keith's album. He is hugely talented writer and the nicest fella. He deserves the success. Mr. Foster is a lucky man.
The Celtic Woman tour started last night in Nashville. I saw the new Believe show on PBS and was blown away. David Downes and the girls know how to stage a show. What a spectacle! They will miss Lisa on the tour though.
I have been due a trip home for ages and I keep delaying it as my life is so complicated now. I can almost taste the Guinness so it wont be long now. I am going to do this stretch of dates and head to Wexford.