Celebrate with Celtic Crossroads
Friday, March 8, 2013
By GEORGE PELLETIER
The mantra shall be “Erin Go Bragh” as Celtic Crossroads plays the Dana Center at Saint Anselm College at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 14.
A New Hampshire tradition, Ireland’s Celtic Crossroads weaves traditional Irish music with splashes of bluegrass, gypsy, American folk and world classical and jazz.
“It’s high energy with lots of variation,” said member Lisa Canny. “There’s something for everyone, from the heart-wrenching ballads to the stomp-your-feet kind of sing-alongs. The dancers are great as well. They do the full spectrum of what you’d expect from an Irish dancer. So it’s very colorful.”
Canny, who hails from County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland, is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer. She joined Celtic Crossroads while studying at the University of Limerick.
“The group was already together and they were doing their first American tour,” she said. “And they were looking for a new singer. So what they did was put the word out to universities and I was at the time, doing an Irish music and dance degree. So we were one of the first to get word.”
Once they “rang there,” Canny’s management company was contacted and Canny joined the troupe.
“Different cast members have different stories,” she said. “Some have been there since the beginning- our percussionist Diarmaid Hurley was there since day one basically and the rest of us have come along at different stages.”
For example, guitarist James Riley is celebrating his first tour. Canny said the group needed a guitarist, “And I would have suggested him. It happens differently now; we know enough musicians to suggest.”
Presently, the tour consists of 12 members, which Canny said makes for a hidebound lot of troubadours.
“You really get to know each other,” she said with a laugh. “And you have to get on like a family very quickly.”
As for Celtic music, most members weren’t aware of its bona fide impact in the United States.
“I knew it was popular, and I knew there was a large Irish-American connection but I didn’t realize the extent of it until I came over and until I started seeing the crowds come out for our gigs,” Canny said. “And we used to do the Irish festivals - they were a little bit overwhelming; they were bigger than the ones back home. I quickly realized that it was a pretty big deal over here.”
A large part of the show, Canny said, is meeting people after the show who wish to share their experiences and that identity to Ireland.
Roots-wise, Canny is familiar with Irish music and dance’s lineage and why it’s remained so popular in the U.S.
“I studied Irish music and the history and the revival of it,” she said. “The foundation of this music came years ago with immigration. But the turning point for the touring show would definitely be ‘Riverdance’ in 1994. That opened a whole new dimension as to professionalism in traditional music and dance. The momentum from that has continued to grow rapidly since that’s first show. At the same time, on a different path, we have the likes of the Chieftains, and Planxty, and the busty bands that were really part of this ‘60s revival and they have really added another dynamic to music in the states.”
Another reason for Celtic music’s success stateside points to Public Broadcasting Stations and their stanchion for world music.
“We’ve done two PBS television specials and one started showing in December and is doing very well nationwide,” she said. “To have that kind of support and that vehicle to use is great. We don’t have something like that at home. So it’s a great opportunity and we’re definitely glad to have that relationship.”
The Dana Center at Saint Anselm College, at 100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester. Tickets are $32.50 and may be purchased by calling the Dana Center box office at 641-7700.