Cherish the Ladies
Glasgow t‘if ya! I nun-I: 'ilall, lilgiin Auditorium, Mon l9 Jan.
One of only three or four acts to be booked for Celtic Connections five years on the trot, the six-strong Irish- American sorority known as Cherish the Ladies have come to view Glasgow in January as a second spiritual home, after making their UK debut at the inaugural festival in 1994.
‘It had been tough for us at the beginning to gain acceptance in Ireland and abroad, because we were American,’ explains flute player Joannie Madden, who co-founded the band — initially for a one-off tour — in 1987. ’Celtic Connections was the first international festival to ask us over, and everybody told us that Glasgow was the hardest audience in the world - everybody said it! — so we were just scared to death, but then it was like the people there just opened their arms to us.’
Opened their arms, leapt to their feet, raised the roof: the reception for the Ladies' bravura display of traditional-style fire and finesse, coupled as always with the electrifying footwork of four champion Irish step- dancers, was deservedly tumultuous, as it's been each year since.
Deaf Shepherd recorded one of last year's best albums
The l'riritriiar‘ket, ihu IS ,an; Strathcly-fie Sue, Lilasgew Royal Concert h’all Sat l7 Jail.
Certainty tine of the year's liest Sr otlish alhur'm, t?” if Shepherds Synergy isee Retort: 'e\.'ie\‘.rst \'.'as released [it a r'eteizt t"! :i’r;ii'gh iontert that torrid have sold iit i\,'.’ltt' «yer Even so, Clare i‘v.’.iLrit.':l;l'n, iv'lt' of two Women fiddler» in I
:e harzd, explains that the group still his no l'li(‘-f‘ll()ll of going full-time 'l.«lal<olrn lStitt, hou/ouki,
guitar, pipes) is now touring With the Boys of the Lough, so we fit in with his Rory (Campbeli, pipes, \‘v’illSlft‘sl has occasit‘inal gigs with Caledon or does studio sessions and other projects, while Ivlarianne Curran ifiddler and surgery (singer and guitarist» and myself all work We have regular johs,' lir‘ltlaughlrn. ’Marianne's l". t()llljllll(‘l‘., John looks after the er*.vrronrnent and I'm a business studies teacher my students wooldn't recognise me at gigs' We’re happy to keep it that way
preview Celtic Connections
Cherish The Ladies: cherishing the tunes
Having celebrated a decade together last May, Cherish the Ladies (named after an old Irish jig, incidentally) received the ideal anniversary present towards the end of 97, in the shape of a five-album deal with RCA, following their three successful releases on top folk label Green Linnet.
’Yeah, we thought we'd give the majors a shot, see what they can do for us,’ says Madden mock- nonchalantly. 'It’s really looking great for us, because RCA have a long proven track record with the Irish scene, here in America especially, through the Chieftains and others — and the fact that they came to us meant a lot. It's interesting though; there isn't a major label out there now that isn't setting up a Celtic division or tracking down Celtic artists — they're all wanting in on it.’
Not that she foresees any threat from commercial pressures to the music's authenticity of soul, at least in her own case. ’Most of us in the band are first- generation Irish-American,’ she points out. ’We learned the music from our parents, who brought it over from Ireland, so we still feel very close to those roots. My father and our accordion player's father came from the same part of East Clare, they used to play together - and they’re who we have to answer to.’ (Sue Wilson)
We al! love the hand so much, we all get in well we’re pals, and actually sot-alise a lot With each other when we’re not playing it would be awful to riiake rt the primary lioh Anyway, tare tan work things round holidays and weekends, last year we were aliroad a few times, this year we’re off to ltaiv and ortugal as well as ’i’nﬂlt to Wales and the south of Eriglar‘d'
f.lilji(liiif,‘ll( eriseriihle playing, movmg triditionii! stings, and a palpable group energy ail flow from the band’s live perfai'manres, and Clare, though revealing that the cori5istently interesting lllllSltdl arrangements are formed by group discussion — 'everyhody listeiis’ espeCially retognise‘, l‘iiarzanne's inputi 'she’s Ror'v‘s anter‘, and though she only ioinezl it, rut a year ago, she’s added so iiiuzl. to the oand, not just great fiddle She's got lots of ideas '
Clare's also on a steep learning curve ‘I was hioiight up in the Glasgow Irish cultural scene With music competitions, Irish step danCing and the annual fleadh It wasn't, till I was in the band that I started really getting into Scottish music I love it ’ (Norman Chalmers)
Eleanor Shanley Strathclyde Suite, Wed 21 Jan.
When Eleanor Shanley first appeared in Scotland as the latest in a celebrated line of women singers With Irish traditional music giants De Danaan, it was hard to credit that the big, strong, expresswe voice we heard was coming from this slip of a girl.
Shanley packed a lot of power into a small package, a worthy successor to a lineage that included Maura O’Connell, Dolores Keane and Mary Black. She joined De Danaan in 1988 and spent five years With the band, but they provrded her introduction to professional music in unexpected circumstances
'I was working in an office in Dublin when a friend of Frankie Gavrn heard me singing in a session in a pub. Frankie asked me to win the band, and in the space of two weeks I went from my office job to touring Wales, then Finland and Sweden,’ says Shanley flapplfy, ’They were five good years I spent With the hand, and I learned an awful lot.’
Shanley is from County Leitrim, where her mother's family were all traditional 'fireside’ singers, and she grew up wrth a love of that music She expanded her range through a taste for artists from Elvrs and Roy Orbison to Dolly Parton and Joan Baez, many of whose songs have featured iii her set over the years.
'00 Danaan was really an instrumental group, and eventually I wasn’t getting the buzz from the gigs anymore,’ explains Shanley, ’It came time to make another album, and I decided it wasn't really fair to them or me, so I quit I’d only done a few solo dates up to then, and I didn’t have any very firm plans in fact, I didn't have a clue what I was going to do.’
What she did was make a strong debut album, Eleanor Shanley, which achieved a more contemporary feel while sticking to her roots. The crossover route can lead to MOR hlandness (Witness Mary Black), but Shanley has shown no signs of surcumbing, (Kenny Mathieson)
Eleanor Shanley: contemporary feel “I rﬂf’ﬂiv I: '
9—22 Jan 1998 THE US? 35 t