February 12 CC Cover

Cindy caught up with Paul McKenna at the Celtic Connections fest in Scotland for a quick chat on his bands Colorado debut February 25th at Soiled Dove in Denver.

Blog—April, 2008
We’ve been trying to book a lot of gigs this year but still hitting brick walls with some folk, but we’ll keep trying. We just signed a record contract with Greentrax and our first album should be released around the start of 2009.

Blog—December 2009
The Paul McKenna Band have won Up and Coming Artist of the Year at the MG Scots Trad Music Awards! We would like to thank everyone who has supported us and helped us out over the last few years.

Blog—October 2011
We are delighted to announce the band have received a nomination in the category of Scots Folk Band Of The Year at the 2011 Scots Trad Music Awards.

Although the Paul McKenna band lost out to The Battlefield Band (43 years along and still going) the meteoric rise of this band says something about the talent inherent in this dynamic group. Paul McKenna (guitar/vocals), David McNee (bouzouki/tenor guitar), Mike Vass (fiddle), Sean Gray (flute/whistle), Ewan Baird (bodhran) hail from Glasgow, Scotland. While their years as a band have been short, their impact has been large and to date have produced two outstanding albums. Their debut album “Between Two Worlds”, produced by Dick Gaughan was an engaging mix of songs and tunes and was recently followed up in 2011 with “Stem The Tide” on the Mad River label in the U.S., which was produced by ex-Battlefield Band member Brian McNeill. While both albums are excellent in terms of musicianship, word on the street is that you have to experience this band live to get the full effect.

I caught up with Paul McKenna as he and the band are playing at the moment at the massive Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow.

CR–You made your first appearance at Celtic Connections in 2008. How have things changed for the band since then? Was winning up and coming Scots Trad Band a turning point, or a validation?
P McK–Many things have changed since our first appearance at Celtic Connections. We were still in the early stages of the band then and have matured a lot since then. I think that’s evident in our music.

CR–Mike Vass is making his debut with the band right now at the Celtic Connections. How is it going and what brought him into the band? Is Ruairidh (MacMillian) still with the band?
P McK–We are extremely happy to have Mike Join the band, he is an outstanding musician who we have all admired for some time now and are very excited for the future. Unfortunately we had to part ways with Ruairidh Macmillan after many years playing together. It wasn’t and easy time for us, but we are delighted to have Mike now. Things have worked out for the better.

CR–You’ve gone in 4 years from working at getting gigs to being nominated for best Scots Folk Band! What do you think is making people sit up and take notice–finally?
P McK–I’m not really sure….we are extremely hard working and have known what we wanted from this from the outset. I’m glad people are starting to recognize our hard work and we will as always, strive to improve.

CR–How was playing in Milwaukee last August? Was that your first time in USA with the band? Are you looking forward to coming to Colorado??? What are your expectations/fears?
P McK–Milwaukee was simply and amazing place! Someone described it as and Irish Disneyland which I thought was comical. We would love to get back again at some point. It was our 3rd or 4th time in the USA. We certainly are looking forward to coming to Colorado and it will be our first time there so not sure what to expect but I’m sure we will love it!

CR–You seem to spend a lot of time touring Germany (as do many Irish and Scottish bands). What is that all about? Who are your best international crowds?
P McK–Germany is an amazing place to play. The people there just seem to love Scottish and Irish music and I’m not really sure why! We tour there at least twice a year and look forward to each trip back again. We have played in many countries all over the world and I would have to say Germany is one of the best places to be. Of course we love to play at home in Scotland as its our own country but its exciting getting to new places.

CR–You have some nice original tunes and songs on both albums. Do you enjoy composing? Who were major influences for songs? Tunes?
You’ve worked with both Brian McNeill and Dick Gaughan–how was it to work with two “Legends”?
P McK–We all enjoy composing to a certain extent and have many influences, its always a hard questions as each of the guys have totally different influences. We do work closely on our compositions so everyone is happy with things. Both Brian and Dick were great to work with and both people who I had admired for a long time. We will be working again with Brian McNeill on our next album, as we just love him!

CR–What can the Colorado audience expect to see from the Paul McKenna Band this month??
P McK–Some new material and Mike’s first tour with the band so we are all excited. We always aim to put on a good show and Colorado will be no different. We can’t wait to get there!

The Paul McKenna Band will be playing February 25 at the Soiled Dove Underground.

The Magic in You

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Feb 202012
Emma crop crop

Irish Author Emma Maree was in Denver last month to promote her new children’s book “The Magic in You.” Her stay included an invitation to Barnes & Noble on Colorado Blvd. were she read and signed autographs in the children’s area.

The story of “The Magic in You” begins in Belize, located along the north eastern coast of Central America on the Caribbean Sea. As the only British colony in the region, the country’s independence was recognized in the latter part of the 20th century.
Rich in natural scenery and a tropical climate, tourists are also attracted to outdoor activities that include the Belize Barrier Reef, offshore islands, excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling, rivers for rafting and kayaking, jungle and wildlife reserves for hiking, bird watching, and helicopter touring, as well as many Mayan ruins.

The majority of people who live in Belize are on a modest income. Society is diverse with many cultures and languages, many citizens share an African heritage, like the stories central character Mike Usher.

Mike is introduced to the reader as a young boy with big dreams who had chats with the moon. He kept his big dreams alive into his adulthood and continued to believe that “liquid magic” flowed underneath the waters off his native country of Belize, even when expert oilmen drilled repeatedly with no success. A chance meeting with an enthusiastic Irish woman named Susan who believes in his dream, a conversation with the wizard Merlquin, and a trip to Ireland to team with like minded adventurers, bring Mike’s dream to fruition.

Fortuitously, the story of Mike’s dream was brought to Denver on Martin Luther King Day, who coined the memorable words. “I had a dream”. Coincidently both of their dreams continue to live on past their deaths. Both of their dreams also shared a common denominator of helping humanity. Mike’s dream continued not because he was obsessed with becoming rich, but because of his passion to help the people in his country and make a difference in the world.
In keeping his dream energized, the inclusion of a bigger picture than himself seemed to be a key in Michael’s success. How important is this component of inclusiveness to find the ‘magic’ in us and make our dreams and goals happen? Perhaps you could paraphrase another one of Dr. King’s quotes and say “All endeavors that uplift people are worthwhile?

Colorado Connection: The Magic in You is based more on fact then fiction and at the end of the book you will find a synopsis of the true story behind Belize Oil at the end of the book. The happy Irish lady who befriended Mike in real life is Susan Morrice who resides with her family in Colorado when not in Belize, Ireland, or flying on her “super transporting machine.”

Pat McCullough/Celtic Connection February 2012 (Belize Travel and Wikiperdia credit travel information)

Golden Jubilee Circle with Parade logo.cdr

Parade Map: Parade starts at 10AM from Coors Field. (Due to construction there will be no parking allowed at Coors field other than official Parade vehicles)

On March 17th the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Turns 50. Looking forward to the landmark “Golden Jubilee,” the parade committee members looked inward to find a Grand Marshall who personifies the commitment and hard work of thousands of volunteers who work diligently each year to organize, promote, and host what has become the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade West of the Mississippi.

According to the Denver St, Patrick’s Day Parade Committee President, Michael O’Neill, the entire committee was asked to give names of persons who we might honored as Grand Marshal. “The resounding theme we received was this year’s celebration is about the Committee and we need to have one of our own as the Grand Marshal. So, the Board of Directors decided to honor our longest serving committee member, Mr. Vinton Guy. Vinton has participated as a Committee member for the last forty-five years; he exemplifies volunteerism and is an inspiration to all Committee members who have followed in his steps. By bestowing this honor on Vinton today, we are also honoring and recognizing all Parade Committee Members, past and present, who have devoted countless hours volunteering time in shaping the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee into the highly regarded organization it is today.”

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