Gathering green

Ireland is inviting you to The Gathering 2013 to celebrate Irish music, food, culture and more with hundreds of events throughout 2013. Are you thinking about going? We would love to hear from our readers about your plans to go to Ireland and what inspires you about the Emerald Island. Are you going to discover your roots, visit family, or just want to be a part of one great party in 2013? Reach out to us at CelticEvents@rmi.net, www.facebook.com/celtic.rockies, or 303-777-0502 and we would be delighted to print your story.

For more information on The Gathering 2013 go to
www.discoverireland.com or www.thegatheringireland.com. To organize a corporate trip, a reunion or any other group event— you can talk to a Gathering expert on 1-800-SHAMROCK or by emailing gathering.us@tourismireland.com

Judy Collins award

By Bill Nevins and Lorenzo Duran Photo credits: www.higginsphotonyc.com

Judy Collins, the Colorado-born “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” of Stephen Stills’s famous song, and the beloved song writer/performer whose many albums and concerts have filled our lives with sad and joyous song, was honored Monday evening, October 15 in a gala ceremony in Manhattan, New York City by the Irish American Writers & Artists organization. IAW&A is a four-year old self-described national “progressive artists” membership organization headed up by President T. J. English (author of Paddy Whacked, The Westies, The Savage City and many other best selling books) and Vice President Larry Kirwan (playwright, novelist and leader of the Black 47 rock band). Each year, in a gala gathering in NYC, the organization awards its Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award to a living Irish American artist chosen by the IAW & A board for extraordinary Lifetime Achievement.
These reporters attended this year’s IAW&A O’Neill Award event on Oct 15, which was held upstairs from Rosie O’Grady’s elegant Irish American restaurant on 52nd Street near 7th Ave near Times Square in the heart of Manhattan. It was a memorable evening indeed, as the gab and craic and lovely music flowed.
Tom Paxton, himself a legendary folk music performer, gave us all a lovely set of songs, including “The Last Thing on My Mind’, a song that he wrote and Judy Collins made famous and his wonderful lilting narrative song about his visit to Ireland with his wife and the ageless memories they gathered there. Paxton told this reporter, “It is a joy to be here and I am blessed to know Judy and call her my dear friend.”
Malachy McCourt, the ageless wit and memoirist of television, stage and book fame—regaled us all with praise of Judy Collins and a few choice jabs in the direction of less enlightened public figures who happen to be in the popular eye this election year. The laughs just seemed to roll on for the whole night. Asked if he remembered the days when Larry Kirwan and this reporter were patrons in Malachy’s legendary but long since closed pub The Bells of Hell in lower Manhattan, Malachy quipped, “Ah, were you there? We are giving out refunds to everyone who was!” And he laughed and laughed, as did we all.
The surprise of the evening, besides Judy Collins’s stunningly youthful appearance and warm smile to all whom she met, was the surprise guest appearance by Pete Seeger, the legendary singer and activist, who in his 90s proved and charmingly feisty and musically skilled as ever! Pete treated us to songs accompanied by his well-traveled banjo, the one that has these words inscribed upon it in memory of Pete’s friend and mentor, the late Woody Guthrie: “This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender.” Indeed, Pete brought out the love and joy in all of us there, and told this reporter, “I just keep on doing what I have been doing all my life. I see no reason to stop just because I’ve got a few more wrinkles now. And just look at Judy—isn’t she the beauty of the world?”
Judy Collins herself told this reporter, “I am just so happy to be here, and I have to say that being on stage with Pete and Tom and Malachy is one of the thrills of my life! An absolute honor, and I am very grateful to Larry and TJ and all of the Irish Writers and Artists for inviting me.”
On stage that evening, Judy Collins gave us magnificent a cappella renditions of several of her famous songs, and also shared memories of her career, the people she has met and admired and, especially, of her father, the late Chuck Collins, who was a legendary radio host in Denver and who gave to his daughter the grand gift of music and of love of life itself. “I learned more from my dad than I can ever tell, or ever repay. I just hope his spirit lives on in the music and in all the good people here and out there in the wide world,” said Judy. There was scarce a dry eye in the room as she spoke.
IAW&A President T.J. English told this reporter, “IAW&A is a non-profit organization dedicated to the celebration of Irish American writers, actors, musicians, filmmakers and artists both past and present. We are an independent and progressive collective dedicated to the principle that by promoting and appreciating creative expression, we can enhance the human condition. Our goal is to highlight the rich tradition of Irish Americans in all manner of artistic endeavor in the United States, from the 19th Century to the present day.”
Vice Pres Larry Kirwan added, “IAW&A has established itself as a focal point for artists who would like to use their work to affect matters of culture, entertainment, politics and social justice. We stage events, sponsor readings, concerts and art exhibits, and hope to call attention to books, plays, movies, music and other works that reflect the startling Diversity of the Irish American experience”
The 2013 Irish American Writers & Artists Eugene O’Neill Award Gala will be held in October 2013. IAW&A chapters are being organized nationally, and interested persons may get details athttp://www.i-am-wa.org or by contacting this reporter at bill_nevins@yahoo.com

Nov 092012
November 12 CC Cover

by Rodger Hara

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill are regarded by many in the traditional Irish music world as the best fiddle/guitar duo performing today. Martin’s bow control is such that during a high energy 30 minute set, not a single hair will be broken. There is an almost tangible psychic link in their playing that elevates their sound to an unmatched height that has to be witnessed to be fully appreciated.

Adam Agee and Jon Sousa, a younger fiddle/guitar duo that plays traditional music may someday achieve that level of recognition and musical chemistry. At last month’s Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival, Martin and Dennis invited Adam and Jon to share the stage with them for a few sets in what was not quite a hand-off from the Old Masters of Tradition to the young upstarts.

When asked about Adam’s playing, Martin said “I’ve known him for a long time and think he’s a talented young man. He’s serious about his musical choices and has good taste.” Regarding Jon, Dennis said “I really like the way he plays. There’s no filler or tricks to his playing – he just makes good music. He has great potential for the future.” Martin and Dennis said that they invited Adam and Jon to join them on stage because they like them and their playing and knew that they would sound brilliant playing together – and they certainly did.

Adam, born in San Jose, California, has played violin since he was 10 years old and lived in Boulder since he was 12. His parents recognized his talent early on and wanted him to get an in depth education in the arts and enrolled him at Boulder’s Shining Mountain Waldorf School from which he graduated high school in 1998. He took a year off to travel around Europe and returned to attend the Rhode Island School of Design from which he graduated with a degree in Industrial Design. Shortly thereafter, Adam immersed himself with his fiddle in Ireland, basing himself in Ennis, County Clare, where he was deeply inspired by the thriving session community, the natural landscape, and the Irish language. He has also enjoyed exposure to a broad array of the world’s fiddle traditions at the Valley of the Moon fiddle camp, which he began attending in 1999. When not performing, he teaches fiddle, does web development, graphic design, illustration and letterpress printing. To learn more about Adam, hear tracks on his solo album and see some of his design work, visit www.adamagee.com.

Jon, in response to the inevitable question about a familial link to John Philip Sousa, said “Probably but I don’t know for sure. Sousa is a common Portuguese name so we’re probably distantly related but I don’t know of a specific link.” Born in Monmouth County, New Jersey, Jon moved to Boulder in 2002 to attend Naropa University. While there, he encountered David Rynhart playing an Irish flute on a bench near Boulder Creek. David was his first Irish music friend who basically “…taught him the ropes of Irish guitar accompaniment”. What really hooked him on Irish music was the gift of a AfroCelt Sound System compilation CD and wandering into Conor O’Neill’s Irish pub in Boulder. After graduation from Naropa in 2005, he spent three years traveling in Ireland and France before enrolling in the University of Limerick’s Master’s Program. There he majored in guitar in the Irish Traditional Music Performance Program from which he graduated with First Class Honors. In spite of that grounding and growth in traditional Irish music, he continues to perform with other bands including The Portal (a Shamanic Journey Rock Opera), a Guns N’Roses Tribute band and a psychedelic tribal rock band called Lunar Fire that occasionally tour regionally and internationally.

Adam and Jon met in a session at Conor O’Neill’s Pub in Boulder seven years ago and have played numerous house concerts, private parties, school workshops and a few festivals since. They lived together in Ennis, County Clare for a year while Jon was attending University and appeared at this year’s Celtic Harvest Festival Edgewater, the Spanish Peaks Festival and performed for the fundraiser for Ruth Chaikin at Eron Johnson’s warehouse.

Both love to teach Irish music, each has recorded individual CD’s and they are working on a joint CD this fall. You can hear Adam and Jon perform regularly in Boulder, every other Friday from 8:00 to 10:00 in the morning, at the North Boulder Spruce Confections, 4684 Broadway Street, (303) 449-5819. And you can also catch them this month along with special guest Spirit A’Claddach at Katie Mullen’s Irish Pub in Denver on the 8th and on the 23rd will open for Hanneke Cassel and Mike Block at Eron Johnson’s Antique Warehouse. Adam has built the basic version of their website, http://www.adamageejonsousa.com so go there to keep up with the amazing sound of these rising young stars.

November 12 CC Queen Colleen pat

It was about camaraderie not competition! The Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee held it’s Annual Queen Colleen Coronation at the Celtic Tavern in Lodo on October 21, 2012. The Queen Colleen and her Court will reign in the 51st Annual Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 16, 2013. Six young ladies, from six different organizations, participated by speaking with the audience, singing, dancing, and playing instruments. They met each other and the judges a week before over tea and were friends by the time the big day arrived.
The Queen Colleen Coronation committee coordinated a special crowd favorite award which raised over $600 for Children’s Hospital.

The 2nd Runner-up is Susannah Faulkner, sponsored by Udi’s Gluten Free Foods, who was a major sponsor of the Coronation event. Susannah is a member of the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee as well as the Irish Network of Colorado. She performed a beautiful classical ballet.

The 1st Runner-up is Kathleen Zazenski, sponsored by Michael and Ann O’Neill. Katie is a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and a volunteer for Domesti-PUPS. She sang an a cappella version of “Danny Boy” by Frederic Weatherly.

The 2013 Queen Colleen is Jessica Lesser, sponsored by Colorado Emerald Society. Over fifteen years ago, Jessica fell in love with Irish dancing. She was a multiple National & World qualifier in solo dancing, but won the Regional’s, National’s, “All Ireland’s” & World Championships with her team members at Celtic Steps School of Irish Dance.
She danced on two different teams that each won a 2011 World Championship. It was the first time that an American team had pulled off two championships at one World competition.
Jessica now dances professionally with Colorado’s only professional Irish dance troupe called “Strictly Irish” and will be going on a short tour in November with the Irish band called Feast, in a show called Celtic Fire. This group was nominated for two Emmy’s 3 years ago, for this show which was shown on PBS.
Jessica plans to bring that same kind of passion to her new position as Queen Colleen. Bringing the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee representation out into the Irish and non-Irish communities is something she hopes to accomplish.
Congratulations to Queen Colleen Jessica Lesser!

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