Had a terrific evening last night at the Irish American Heritage Center with the mighty Paddy Keenan. This was the 19th edition of our Salon Concerts Chicago series, and one of our most successful. We had a strong and enthusiastic crowd, some of whom had driven from as far away as western Michigan, 140+ miles, to see the Bothy Band alum and legendary uilleann piper work his magic.
Karen Cook and I opened for Paddy with our friend Steve Ponisciak on piano, playing some of our favorites learned from local old timers like Kevin Henry Sr., Joe O' Shea (RIP), and others. We're really grateful to Steve for all the hard work he put in for this concert and for the support shown in being there, ready and steady despite the nerves, and despite our running around trying to help the rest of the team run the concert. Go raibh mile maith agat, Steve!
We also had the junior group from the Academy of Irish Music give a fine performance of their arrangements, and then later we all joined Paddy at the end of the evening for a big rave-up. Paddy was in fine form, beguiling us with stories, slow tunes on the low whistle, and his usual fiery, inventive piping. Paddy was joined by local guitarist and bouzouki player Donald Terao, who did a great job of providing solid rhythmic and harmonic context for Paddy's flights of fancy (not an easy thing to do!). We are all very proud of him!
Paddy also had some other guests, notably soundman Ian Halliburton on bodhran and a lovely singer, Bridgid Malone.
We also saw some friendly and familiar faces, too, notably Jim Tyson and Jack Baker, big piping fans, and their families.
We were ably assisted by Leah Joyce Steele and her husband, Richard, Nancy Moore and her mother, Mary, and Maeve (sorry, last name escaped me), who ensured all the details of box office, CD sales, and liquid refreshment sales went well, so many, many thanks to our crew with whom we could not have pulled this off.
A special thank you to Terry Bermes, our MC, and Noel Rice for all the advice, guidance, insights, and leadership when it was needed most. Also, to Kathy O'Neill for the assistance with marketing and promotion and to Meg Buchanan for the logistical support throughout the planning of this concert. Stay tuned, folks, there is more to come!