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2009 Dublin Ohio Irish Festival

reviewed by Robin

First off, I apologize for the delay&.I stayed out much later Sunday evening than originally planned, and then had an 11 hour drive home on Monday. This is the first opportunity Ive been conscious enough to even begin thinking of a report!

Dublin Irish Festival was definitely a weekend to be remembered! Tons of fun, enough music for a total sensory overload, old friends (some I hadnt seen in 16 years!), new friends&.just plain WOW! Throw in lots of great food (which I realized Monday morning I never even tried), great merchandise (bought lots of new cds), and great beer (no comment), and whats not to love!?!?

The Celtic Tenors, as always, provided three uniquely enjoyable performances. (Technically more if you count their guest appearances with Dervish!) The song list(s) werent much different than usual, although trimmed considerably in keeping with the tight time allotment. (DIF is VERY strict on time&I saw stage managers walk out in the middle of a song and usher bands off stage more than once!) But over the course of the weekend I did hear a lot of my all time favorites: The Holy City, Caledonia, The Irish Rover, Irelands Call, The Town I Have Loved So Well, Remember Me, etc. There was a new twist to an old favorite when Daryl added guitar to Ill Tell Me Ma&a great addition! Matthew got a little carried away during An Poc Ar Buile, and it was apparent from Jamess surprised expression that Matthews pretend kick in the pants wasnt as pretend as he meant it to be! After the song, Matthew limped around on stage joking about how his foot hurt, to which James replied, YOUR FOOT??? A great laugh was had by all (even James and Matthew) when Daryl suggested James seek medical attention. An even bigger laugh came (sorry, fellas, but I HAVE to share this&.) when Matthew was explaining how the new album deviated from their typical repertoire because they were venturing into new genres&country, folk rock, etc&and Daryl quipped that their next attempt would be rap. Matthew&almost without thinking, I believe& pointed out that The Celtic Tenors put the C in rap! Daryl tried to goad Matthew into repeating that assessment at the next days performance, but Matthew simply laughed and stated he wasnt repeating that again!

I thought I might need to seek medical attention of my own during the song which has become (I think) my absolute favorite to watch performed live: Granada! I nearly had whiplash from trying to focus on each of the Tenors as they displayed their amusing interpretive dance abilities (James engaged in a bit of bullfighting with his jacket, Matthew gave a spirited Irish step dance, and Daryl executed a {nearly} perfect{ish} pirouette) ALL the while not taking my eyes off the immensely talented Colm Henry. Watching him play this song gets to me every time because of the unexpected (at least to me) tempo change where he gets to moving so fast at the piano I almost expect him to jump right up off the bench! Absolutely SPECTACULAR!

On Friday night, Matthew mentioned during the show that a special guest would be joining them on Saturday evening. I assumed, like many other CTs fans probably did, that he meant Cathy Jordan of Dervish. Imagine my surprise, then, when out onto the stage walks MOYA BRENNAN for an appearance Saturday evening! Ive been a fan for years, so this was definitely a special treat for me&shes quite amazing! She again joined the boys on stage, along with Dervish, on Sunday. The lot of them performing together was a rare and special moment to behold&so glad I was able to be there.

A festival atmosphere is unique and different than a typical concert, certainly, and is to be enjoyed in its own right rather than compared to great concert halls or performing arts centers. Some of the heartier moments...particularly the a cappella numbers&lose some of the breathtakingness (?) with the underlying bass beats from surrounding stages and the constant ruckus of the enormous crowd. Gone is what I like to call the vacuum effect when not a single sound is heard as a song ends and the crowd wont so much as release their held breath. In exchange, however, outdoor festivals are a lot more laid back, fun, even spontaneous at times! During the return of an old favorite (get ready for it&.) All Out of Love, Daryl hopped right off stage, walked into the audience, sat down at a table, and held a ladys hand as he sang his verse to her. (Incidentally, I dont know if he knew this lady or not, but she played along perfectly& over-exaggerating her swoon and gazing lovingly into his eyes&.HILARIOUS!) The cool breeze, which felt WONDERFUL, wasnt as kind to Colm and his music&but a roll of tape, ever-present apple, and anchoring water bottle seemed to save the day(s).

All in all, the weekend was WELL worth the nearly 1,200 miles! I caught up with a friend from high school and her family, enjoyed 15+ hours of music ranging from the CTs operatic Nessun Dorma to about the rocking-ist version of Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go that Ive EVER heard! (Cant remember the band, just happened to walk up on it in one of the smaller tents, but it wasnt half bad!), and even got to meet some other fans, including the very kind Sue from Milwaukee! Karen and crew&Im sorry I missed you, I would have loved to have met you also.

Its true that some of the cultural exhibits were (to borrow a line from a friend) a bit cheesy with the Irish dancers in their bouncing curly wigs and over-the-top sequined outfits and merch sellers hawking bags of authentic Irish dirt for over $20! But I didnt go for that stuff, I went for the friends and the music, and thoroughly enjoyed BOTH!

Ill post a couple of really relevant pictures here on the group site.

Love to all!
Robin