Celtic Thunder

By Decimus Rock

Sportswriters often praise superior teams for winning in spite of various adversities. Faced with the cancellation of Ireland's legendary DeDannan, Lonesome Pine Specials director and producer Richard Van Kleeck and company went to work, came up with Scotland's Wolfstone, and came out a winner once more. Celtic Thunder was a smash hit.

All said and done, it was the dancing that no doubt thrilled the 1,000+ in attendance at the Louisville Zoo on July 8. The Trinity Irish Dance Company from Chicago displayed an amazing array of performances from straight-up traditional step-dancing to thematic choreography and up-to-the-minute contemporary compositions. Their costuming was a feast for the eyes but never so much as to divert the eyes from the athleticism and artistry of the dancing. Two-time world champion Liam Harney drifted on and off the stage as a whirlwind dancing virtuoso. His command of so many dance idioms no doubt has done much to position Irish dancing very well within the other more familiar dance forms.

The dancers were accompanied by Chicago Celtic rockers The Drovers. Sporting double bodhrans (Irish frame drums), this writer was concerned that it would be like the session from hell with two drums drowning out everything. Not so. Having two distinct playing styles, combined with the players' "big ears," they complemented each other nicely. The band has since added a singer/uileann piper and he is a welcome addition indeed. His cover of Paul Brady's "The Creel" was well done, although the band's original composition seemed pretty maudlin.

Wolfstone was faced with high expectations but they delivered. Obviously firmly rooted in traditional playing styles, their brand of Celtic rock is not simply thrashing modal power chords. They were very tight instrumentally and their vocal harmonies were silken. Given the energy this band produces, there would have been a riot had the audience not been composed of sedate lawn chair potato types. Thanks Lonesome Pine! Keep 'em comin'.