Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to play with the Chieftains at a local venue. I have played with them twice before and always have tons of fun when I do!
The Chieftains are a group of legendary Irish musicians who have been performing together for over fifty years, preserving traditional Irish music while putting their own twist on it. They have recorded many CDs on their own and also collaborated with other artists such as The Corrs, Sting, Mick Jagger, Ricky Skaggs and The Rolling Stones. In addition, they have been awarded many Grammys.
When I was eight years old, my good friend Paraic Keane (son to a former member of The Chieftains, Sean Keane) asked me if I wanted to perform with The Chieftains. I wanted to very badly, of course. The first time I performed with them we played at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey. They invited me on stage to play in their finale and do so every time I play with them. The second time I was on stage with them was at The Kimmel Center in Pennsylvania. But, this most recent time I played with them, we performed at a school about twenty to thirty minutes away from my house.
Before the show, I spent almost half of the day at my brother’s wrestling tournament. He took second place, which means he qualified for the State tournament. After the match, my mom and I rushed out to the car to drive to the gig.
Once we arrived at the venue we met up with Paraic and tried to find the band. We first asked an elderly lady working at the concession stand if she knew where the band was. She told us they were in the library, so we walked down the hallway towards the library to check. No one was there except for a stuffed, life-sized doll sitting in a chair. Eventually, we found the man who was running the gig. He was very friendly and led us through different winding hallways until we came to a cafeteria where we found one of the special guests for the concert who helped us find the band. Once we found them, we talked for a while until showtime.
The show included, not only The Chieftains, but special guest dancers and singers. It was amazing to listen to all the wonderful music! It was so enjoyable and got our feet tapping in no time at all. My mom, Paraic, and I listened from the side of the stage, which was a little odd at times because we couldn't see all of the performers together. We moved from curtain to curtain to see who was playing.
As Paddy Moloney announced the final set, Paraic, who also plays the fiddle, and I, walked onto the stage and took our places under our microphones. The final set consisted of one tune called Drowsy Maggie. We all play together with solos in between. Everyone played either one tune two times through or two tunes one time through. I played one tune, a hornpipe called The High Level. It is a quite difficult tune in the key of B flat. One of the parts goes really fast!
It was a fun tune to play and the crowd clapped and cheered as I finished. We all walked off stage after the set was over, and since they were getting a standing ovation, the band members walked back onstage to perform their encore, the An Droh. An Droh is a line dance where a line of dancers snake through the crowd picking up new dancers from the audience then eventually make their way back up to dance around the stage. The Chieftains' dancer took my hand so I was second in the dance line.
After the show, we talked more and took some pictures. It was a very merry night!