Raise a glass to Erin

(Erin as in Ireland.)

At last Sunday’s Lunasa concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, there was a sign asking not to take cameras into the theater. I did take my camera into the theater, but it was kept out of sight and never used.

There was a younger traditional Irish band called Slide that served as the opening act. They were actually pretty good, although it may take some years before they’re at Lunasa’s level. Also, unlike Lunasa, some of their songs had words.

I have assembled a bunch of Youtube links to match Lunasa’s set list. But videos do not capture the impact of seeing Lunasa live.

Spoil the Dance
Leckan Mor
The Dimmers
Morning Nightcap
Ryestraw
Pontevedra to Carcarosa
Road to Barga
Punch
The Raven’s Rock
Dr. Gilbert
The Last Pint

I may have missed a song. I have all but two of Lunasa’s seven albums, and I had already heard every song in the above list.

Spoil the Dance is one of my favorite songs of all time, and even on the CD it makes the hair stand on the back of my neck. Hearing it live blew my mind so hard I started crying when the violin started playing. It was like hearing Circle of Life when watching the Broadway musical version of The Lion King – one of the most powerful and spectacular songs ever.

The rest of the set list ranged from excellent to unbelievable. My dream set list would have included Fruitmarket Reels, Cregg’s Pipes, and Inion Ni Scannlain, but I guess you can’t have it all.

Lunasa is currently:

Kevin Crawford – the flute and whistle player. He’s the band’s spokesman, and he’s the one who makes jokes, introduces the songs and the other band members, and tells stories. Some of the stories were obviously tall tales meant to be funny, but that’s okay because they were really funny.

Cillian Vallely – the piper. He plays the Uilleann Pipes, which are the Irish bagpipes. Instead of blowing into it, the bag is a bellows that is operated by squeezing with the elbow. His first name is pronounced “Killian”, which is a common alternate spelling.

Sean Smyth – the fiddler. He does not look like a 10-year-old girl, and he does need to touch his violin in order to play it. The Irish word for fiddle is, apparently, Veidhlin, which is pronounced the way you think it should be.

Ed Boyd – the guitarist. I believe he is the band’s third touring guitarist, replacing Paul Meehan, who replaced Donogh Hennesy. I was hoping they would unleash Autumn Child, Glentrasna, or Return from Fingal to show the full extent of his guitar skills, but unfortunately they did not.

Trevor Hutchinson – the bassist. Apparently his bag and passport were left unattended and mysteriously disappeared before the show, but fortunately someone turned it in to the lost and found. Kevin commented that such a thing would not have happened had they been in Ireland. Trevor plays the upright string bass both fingerpicked and with a bow.

All the musicians of Lunasa are incredibly skilled with their instruments, although if you watch the above videos it should be obvious, really.

At the end of the concert they wished us all a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. And it just happens to be St. Patrick’s Day today.

Today, we can all be Irish.

2 Responses to “Raise a glass to Erin”

  1. Kikimaru says:

    Generally, you’d use “Éire” when you mean Ireland 🙂
    Can’t say I’ve ever seen “Erin” used here.

  2. Sixten says:

    I wouldn’t know the proper usage because I’m not Irish, but if you listen to the lyrics of Paddy’s Day or the phrase Erin Go Bragh (“Ireland Forever”), people do definitely refer to Ireland as “Erin”.

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