Celtic Corner
By Decimus Rock

How to Listen to the Chieftains

I always thought that in-flight magazines were pretty worthless . . . full of glossy fluff and hype to take one's mind off of things like wind shear, metal fatigue, maintenance contracts to the lowest bidder, etc. The March 1996 Delta Airlines' Sky has an article with the above title and it is well worth reading. You get the executive summary.

But first, let us remember that JULY 20 is the "green letter" day, when the Chieftains will take the stage at Louisville Gardens. If you do not have your tickets already, you are eligible to be horse-whipped. This will be a wonderful concert. And now, the poop: Paddy Maloney, the short, skinny guy with the bad haircut plays the uillean pipes (pronounced "ILL-un," from the Irish word of elbow). Compressed by one elbow, the bellows funnel air into a bag under the other elbow, which in turn squeezes the air through the chanter, drones and regulators. The chanter is fingered something like a tin whistle to produce the melody. The drones and regulators produce a bass and simple chordal accompaniment. Paddy also plays (since age six) the tin whistle, which is easy to learn but difficult to master. Matt Malloy plays the traditional flute, made of hardwood with six open finger holes, a blow hole and eight keys designed for simple fingering which aids authentic expression.

Kevin Conneff plays the bodhran (pronounced "BOW-rawn"), a shallow frame drum with a goatskin head. The hand holding the drum dampens the head and varies the pitch while the other hand holds the "tipper" or beater like a pen and, shaking it like a thermometer, strikes the drum. Generally the entry level instrument for Celtic music, some would suggest that it is best played with a pen knife. Derek Bell is the chubby fellow always in a coat and tie playing the harp and keyboards. Recruited from the Belfast Light Orchestra, Derek is the "serious" musician and musicologist of the group. Seane Keane and Martin Fay both play the fiddle, which is the mainstay of Irish music. The Chieftains are a drop of the pure stuff and all Celtic musicians will be there to have their ears anointed.

The Gathering

After reeling from the Chieftains, Celtoids will gravitate to the Celtic Center, (149 Chenoweth Lane) on July 21, from noon to 6 p.m., for a Celtic jam session (bring your axe) and special sale. Your Chieftains ticket stub is good for a free drawing for a custom-framed coat of arms. For more info, call 897-9050.

Rock's Recommendations:
Top Ten Albums

The following are albums we cannot live without:

1. Andy Irvine and Paul Brady, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady

2. Steeleye Span, Tonight's the Night

3. Plantxy, The Plantxy Collection

4. Silly Wizard, The Best of Silly Wizard

5. Dave Burland, His Master's Choice – Songs of Richard Thompson

6. Christy Moore, The Christy Moore Collection

7. Tanahill Weavers, Capernaum

8. 78 Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band, Live in Ireland

9.Altan, The First Ten Years

10. The Fureys, The Best of the Furey Brothers and Davy Arthur

As far as new groups are concerned, Celtoids will definitely want to check out Anuna, Solas and Nomos. They are all brilliant.

After a long hiatus, Steeleye Span has released a new album entitled Time, which is not their best but very worthy. indeed.

Columbus Highland Games

Scots and Celts will want to drive 45 minutes north to Columbus, Ind., to their Scottish Festival at Mill Race Park on Saturday, July 20. The Louisville Pipe Band will be there in force along with familiar faces in the Scottish Society of Louisville. You can take it all in and be back in time for the Chieftains. What a day! For more info call 1-800-468-6564.

Calling all musicians

If you're a player or just interested and want to give it a go, do not forget the regular monthly jam sessions at the Rudyard Kipling on the first Friday of every month. No cover, no hassle, all laid back fun.

A Celtic Miscellany

The Irish Family Fest (September 20 – 22) expands every year and one of the best developments has been the Friday "kick-off" concert. This year it features Dublin balladeer extraordinaire, Danny Doyle. This man's voice is like butter. Galloglas returns to the Rudyard Kipling on Saturday, August 3 and will have their usual guests TBA. Reservations are recommended. The Bluegrass Irish Dancers are holding a fundraising benefit ceili on Sunday, August 4, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the St. Pius X Community Center, 3521 Goldsmith Lane. Call Leo or Betsy at 451-5628 for more information. Mark your calendars. Slan!