Sunday, January 25, 2015

Facebook and Al-Qaeda

Hello everyone,

      I had not expected to make a post on the blog for awhile yet. But events of this day require it. I created two pages on FB for my interests a few weeks ago. One is a history and geography page and the other was a political one. Today the latter was summarily attacked and shut down by the people at Facebook. Seems there is no difference between those who attacked Charlie Hebdo and those who run Facebook except in the manner of attack.

    I had gone to the page to make a post about the events in Yemen and the seeming either incompetence or complicity of our government in the rapid spread of radical Islam. Yemen will now devolve into another chaotic state run by extremists. Our "friends" in Saudi Arabia are now bracketed by this right at a time when they too are having leadership change with the death of their head of state. But it was not to be. I cannot post on the page and neither can anyone else. Some vile weasel whom I likely do not know obviously complained about my political incorrectness and the Al-Qaeda wannabees at the site shut the page off. For how long I do not know. Once it is up and running again I will remove it and dare FB to shut me off personally.

    Take a look at who owns the majority shares in places like Facebook and Twitter. You'll see globalist leftists and Islamists all over it. Both pages have no issue allowing Radical Islam to post recruitment sites and violent, hateful rhetoric against those who do not believe as they do. Those pages stay. Say anything against people like that or any politically protected group and you are not allowed the same free speech rights. It is nothing less than allowing the terrorists to win. It shows the complicity of media with violent extreme groups. It was no less an attack on me than what happened in France. The difference was in France it was a violent attack where people died. In mine it was a cyber attack but no less directed at free speech. I'm a virtual nobody in politics. My page had 20 likes and almost no comments. What are they afraid of? They fear the retribution of violent people who insist they not be exposed.

     That, my friends is the fear that has gripped the western world. People are afraid to speak out against any group that threatens violence. So instead the targets become those who speak out but are non-violent. Christians, for one. We do not organize in violent extremist groups to kill, mame, or blow up those we disagree with. Jesus taught us to be above that. Mohammad did not, nor do his most radical followers, nor do his writings. So what has happened is that western nations have become like the abused spouse or the kid in school picked on by the bully. It caves out of fear. Christians and like minded people of peace speak out with powerful words of Scripture about love and tolerance. Yet we are tolerating evil to the death of countless innocents. Would Jesus have done that? Would he have simply looked on or walked away as a woman is killed for daring to be raped? He didn't did he? Yet there are times when words can no longer stem the tide of darkness. There are times we must be a shield or even a sword for the innocent.

   We live in a world of gathering darkness. Evil in many forms takes its toll. All manner of violent behavior gets excused now unless it is by white Christian males. Our governments and societies in western nations bend over backwards to accommodate others. But there was a time when folks adopted their new countries rather than trying to undermine them and fully change their cultures. But there too is a history of the west doing this in colonization. That was not a good thing. Yet it cannot justify the behaviors of today any more than what happened then could be justified. Two wrongs don't make a right. There is a huge difference between learning from history and living in it. Too many today are still angry about the past. Too many blame what happened a century or more ago to their current plight. It is not so. YOU make your life what it is. Do some have terrible circumstances in their upbringing and subsequent lives? Yes. Yet there are countless stories of those who transcended their darkness and rose to success and happiness. That lies within YOU.

    This year we have seen the race agitation in the USA from certain unfortunate events. It has been amplified by government and media race-baiting hucksters who play on the victimhood of those they supposedly lead. It results in even more division. Has the black community in some cases been targeted? Sadly, yes. Yet it is the behavior of primarily the youth in those communities that makes matters worse. Are there out of control police? Yes. Are they the majority? No. Should the bad ones be weeded out? Yes, no question. Yet all the "kill whitey" talk does zero to end the gulf between races that has widened under our first black President. He fuels it.

    At the same time, relations between nations have gotten worse as well. CIA-funded groups are all over the planet destabilizing on behalf of their globalist masters. They attack and alienate existing leadership and demonize them to fan flames of war. I saw the warmongering, goofy McCain do that this morning on a news program. He wants so desperately to attack Syria and take down Assad. Why? Simply insane. Everywhere we went in to take out a "bad dictator" worse came in. Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and others have all fallen into radicalism in the vacuum. Yet he and others want to do that again in Syria? Christians were tolerated under Assad. Not so under ISIS/ISIL or Al-Qaeda, or the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Taliban. See a common theme here? Could it be Islam? Oh but don't stop there! What about Ukraine? Yes, the equally intolerant globalist elite left were incensed when that nation opted to not join their precious mess in the EU. So, they were destabilized and Russia made the scapegoat. Putin is the enemy they say. No he isn't! Putin has instability right on his border and a dagger pointed right at Russia. What would a sensible USA do if the very same scenario was happening in Canada or Mexico? Would we stand by and let an outside force destabilize our neighbors and threaten us? No. But our dictator in chief was embarrassed by Putin time and again including over Syria. So, like a good little narcissist, he had a tantrum and we got Ukraine along with the false flag shooting down of an airliner which should have never been there to start with.

    So, what are we the average citizen to do? Stand up! Speak out! Unite as one people. DC and its media helpers hate unity. They're all about division. So too we see in western Europe with insane policies of "diversity" and "tolerance" for groups who don't believe in either of those words! How nuts is that?! So, while my political page on FB may have been shut down, I will not and will never be silent about injustice. I'm a Libra, I believe in balance, justice, and peace. But I will not be a doormat and I will not give the school bully my lunch money. That goes for our own government, media, and places like Facebook and Twitter. If you think free speech is for some but not others then you do not know our constitution. No thought police are permitted and none should be brokered. If we roll over and let evil have its way then we are complicit in it. We must be people of the light and not the darkness. Facebook, you are on notice for conspiring with evil. Shame on you!

                                        In peace,      Scott/moscapoet

PS. a couple hours after I posted this Facebook relented without a word and the posts and my page were restored. See, David was right. Goliath CAN come down. Never give up!

Monday, December 29, 2014

A very Celtic 2014

Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas!

       Yes, it is still Christmas a few more days. Remember those twelve days of Christmas? Yet soon another event will intrude, New Year. So it is time to reflect back on this current year as it slowly fades away.

     It has been a VERY Celtic year for me. It began with a tour of Celtic Nights, a product of Michael Durkan and GFD Productions in Ireland. I went in with certain expectations. Some of those did not bear fruit, such as actually being part of the operation in some small way. I and others did, however, do a great deal of promoting early on with an eye to helping the operation find investors. By the end of the tour things were not as either they or we had hoped off stage. No matter. What was ON stage was exceptional. It was a fine troupe that blended well together in song, dance, and instrument. I was very impressed with the show from the opener in Nampa to the wrap up in South Carolina. Not only was the show on stage top rate but it was an incredible value. Tickets were far less than what I had been spending to see Celtic Woman and the full cast meeting after the show was free. No dog and pony show, no quickie photo op, and best seats first come, first served. All of the vocalists were excellent. But the one that struck me most was the beautiful and soulful alto, Eabha McMahon. I snapped up her four song EP right away just to keep that voice with me. The dancing team was professional and got the audiences plenty juiced. The instrumental was simple with one piper/guitar player and one superb fiddler in Ben Gunnery. I'm all about the fiddle. I did ten shows in my first tour with them and each was a gem on stage and the meetings after were quite nice. Yes, there were some events over the course of the tour that did not sit well on either side but it is best to leave those alone and move on. I do not regret one dime spent to see and hear this fine ensemble.

    After that it was time to do my usual Celtic Woman touring. Not as many shows this year as my personal economy was no longer able to handle that. Yet I would have several packed closely as they hit my region very hard. A couple of over-priced meetings were included in that and seats were mixed between great and poor. The new show, Emerald, was a high energy ceili. There were very little slow tunes involved, which for me was sad. But you could not help but smile and it left you in a very up mood. As always, every one of the on stage artists were superb. Heck, you can't swing a dead cat in Ireland without hitting an amazing artist it seems! It was not my favorite of the touring shows I've seen but still well worth seeing and hearing. It was not quite the same without the delightful and whimsical Lisa Lambe on stage. Lynn Hilary returned for the bulk of the tour. She is a fine vocalist and certainly seemed much more relaxed than her previous stint with CW. But nothing is quite like the personality that L'il Lambe has brought to the ensemble. I was there for her very first show in 2011 in Florida and she is an important reason why I still attend. Not that Susan McFadden or Mairead Carlin aren't amazing. They are. Incredible voices and presence. And, of course, for me, it will always be about their premier violinist, Mairead Nesbitt. Part of my heart will always rest in her fiddle case, though hers is fully given to a fine lighting director on tour.

    Then there was a brief hiatus until my first Irish/Celtic festival. It was the Colorado Irish Festival in Littleton, the Denver area. I shared the days with a fan gal pal and two of her friends. We were there for the Saturday and Sunday shows and there were some great acts involved. Angus Mohr is a local group and a fun mix of heavy metal and Celtic. Gaelic Storm is one of the premier Celtic groups in the USA with a huge following. Rightfully so. The Elders are another excellent group and they too got the crowd on their feet. Actually for those two groups no one ever sat down! It poured rain Saturday so it mattered not anyway. Sunday was my main reason for going as we had The High Kings. I had not seen these fine lads in person since Killarney in 2009 after the CW Powerscourt recording. I was thrilled they were in my neighborhood. They are very gifted and very nice people. It was a great event from start to finish and one I hope to revisit in 2015.


    It was then time for a long hiatus until December. Oh wait, you say I forgot something? Well I figured I'd combine the two events here. Late last year Lisa Kelly announced she was going to do a performance in her new home community of Peachtree City Georgia. It would be at a local outdoor venue the locals call The Fred, and would have special guests. As time moved forward a huge gathering began to take shape especially in light of Chloe Agnew and Paul Byrom being her guests. Chloe worked with Lisa at Celtic Woman and Paul is a former Celtic Thunder stud. The fan gathering was the largest since the Celtic Woman Believe recording in Atlanta in 2011. Nothing will likely approach that event but we still had 80 or so familiar faces for Lisa's initial event. Her husband was in the show as well dancing as he had done with Riverdance where he and his lass met. He was joined by another ex-pat from Riverdance, Aaron Tolson. Scott would later announce a dance academy to open this fall to go along with Lisa's voice academy. It was a brilliant show in every way from beginning to end. Fans had long told every Celtic woman artist we'd be there for them after they left and did their own thing. We meant it. So, they hinted at another show to come later. Most of us figured on a Christmas show to highlight the students again and we were right. Same guest stars were present and it was yet another healthy fan gathering and brilliant show. Most of us are already set for the next event in May! Build it and they will come has never been more true for the Lisa Kelly voice Academy or for the shows Kelly-Porter Productions has been putting on. Oh, and the backup folks wer excellent as well. James Casto opened both shows and also served in the main show. Dermot Kiernan had a cameo role in the December show and he is excellent! The backing choir had a bigger role in December and I was especially impressed by Juli Gilbert, a local soprano. Yep, I'll be back, God willing.

   And then we wrapped up the year with the annual Celtic Woman Christmas symphony tour. That is always such a treat. Best of all Lisa Lambe was back! My buddy up in Alaska invited me up to the three shows, later four, in Anchorage. He had tons of miles and used them to get me up there and both of us to Peachtree for Lisa and company. It was Celtic Woman's first ever visit to that state and mine as well. The shows were beautiful as always. David is there and that too is always a treat. We had great seats and I was able to give Lisa the check from the charity drive on her behalf for her charity of choice, Alone Ireland. Sett graciously had us meet on stage after the show for the handing over of her copy and a photo op. It was most appreciated by Lisa and myself as well. That took me to 97 CW shows so far. I've planned four for the spring tour. I spent a few days in Valdez with my buddy and his employer graciously put me up at the camp in a room and that included some great meals. We visited his property in Chitina as well. We had meals while in Anchorage at two iconic local places, Gwennies, and Sourdough Mining Company. Yummy! My first reindeer sausage (no flying ones make the plate), and king crab. I've serious pounds to lose now! Alaska is an amazing place. And yes, there is Anchorage and then there is Alaska!


 Other things happened this year in normal life. I lost my contracting position at the solar site and so had to file for bankruptcy. I will operate from here on without a credit card and that's fine. Health is still questionable at times. Vehicle is very long in the tooth at 311,000 miles. But in general there were no serious negatives. The except to that was the loss of long time friend Mike Kimmons, taken by cancer back in Nebraska. A few months later the same thing took a wonderful fan and friend in California, Glenn Skinner aka Rott'n Rebel. I had known Mike since 1976 when we bowled together back in the days when I lived on the lanes. Did that for a couple decades. He and his wife Nancy actually remarried in the home I built outside Lincoln that they rented for awhile. Glenn was a marvelous artist with pencil and had created some beautiful work over the years. Both will be very much missed by those who knew them. And so thus ends a very Celtic year. It was typical of a year in a human life with a mix of positives and challenges just as 2015 will be. Until next year, cherish your special moments, friends, and family. All of it can end in a hurry. Peace


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why I'm voting for Independent Tisha Casida

When I voted for the first time in 1976 I registered as a Republican. Seemed the right way to go at the time. As a youngster I was impressed with JFK but then came LBJ and that soured me on the Democrats. But then Nixon did no good service for the Republicans. I voted for ford because he seemed like a nice guy and he ended our involvement in a war that should have never been, Vietnam. Yes, he pardoned Nixon, for what I consider a minor offense, bugging for campaign secrets. Nixon did far worse to us with the alignment to the Saudis and the petro-dollar that ended our last traces of the gold standard. Inflation took off. He also cozied up to China and in the end that has hurt more than helped us. Ford did nothing of consequence and the Watergate backlash gave us four years of misery with a well-meaning but inept Carter. The economy languished and we were seen as weak thus the Iran hostage crisis and the move by Russia into Afghanistan. Next up was Reagan, whom I voted for both times. He was a patriot and a decent human being. But like JFK he was forced to surround himself with people who would undermine him and the nation. The economy improved by a lot yet it was not without sacrifice mainly to the Federal Reserve and the beginning of an ever growing debt spiral thanks to Congress. I was still a Republican. That would change with George HW Bush, the former CIA guy and Mr. read my lips no new taxes. He was globalist back when most of us were no sure how bad that really was. He wanted NAFTA and GATT but I saw nothing good about that. I never liked unions but I agreed with their opposition to what would take so many jobs away from us.
And so in 1992 I began my trek toward being an independent voter. In the coming years I would vote for the person and not the party. Both parties got my votes at various times at various levels. But I was a Perot guy in 1992. We were later demonized for giving us 8 years of Clinton. He was not the worst President but he was far from being the best. He was just a good old boy looking for his thrills and detached from what has become obvious as a really nasty wife. He was immoral in a nation rapidly becoming that way and excusing it. He and his wife were products of the 60’s and their agenda and lives showed that. Perot received 21% of the popular vote even though he was threatened by both parties and removed himself from the race. People were fed up with the two parties and they were both scared to death. Mrs. Clinton’s leftist leanings were far worse than Bill’s. She tried to get socialized medicine back then and the country hounded her into retracting it. We were not ready. Twenty years later we still weren’t but one party rule forced it upon us whether we wanted it or not. The only thing I give President Clinton credit for is the Good Friday accords in Northern Ireland which effectively ended that sectarian struggle between Christian sects. But he, like Bush before him got us involved in foreign wars best left alone. Kosovo was none of our business and it became the first war in which we sided with Islam against supposedly oppressive Christians. Milosovic was a tyrant in many ways but it was still Europe’s business and not ours just as Ukraine is today. Tito had held Yugoslavia together and kept the cultural differences from blowing up. With his death the region fell apart. This is very much like what we see today in North Africa and west and central Asia where dictators get knocked off by us and replaced with far worse. Yet we survived the Clinton years and a Republican Congress kept spending in check to a degree. Then came GW Bush and the events of 9/11. We had enflamed the Islamic world for years both overtly and covertly. Yet another war that would end whenever and accomplish little except gets lots of our military and lots of civilians killed. Bush gave us the infernal Patriot Act which was a huge step in taking away civil liberties. The one who followed him took that to even worse levels. I confess that I voted for GW the first time but not in the primaries. After that I went full on independent. I had begun to see what the insider elite of both parties was all about and it cared zero for we the people. Their agenda was global and not national. I believe in taking care of your own first. By the end of his second term we had the universally despised banker bailouts. It was obvious who DC cared about and it wasn’t us. Then came the cult of Obama. He weaved his spell with his propagandists and came from nowhere to win an office for which he was nowhere near qualified. It was all about color and nothing else. He had no record of accomplishment and in fact virtually everything about him was and still is obscured. His wife was and is an angry woman who hates the country and was clear about that in her master’s thesis. Like the Clintons they were products of the 60’s radical left. Bill moderated over the years and his wife did not. The Obamas were hard left as well.
It was clear in the past elections after Reagan that who the nominees in both parties were for the highest office were coronated and selected by the inside elite like Carl Rove. We got sacrificial lamb Dole, hard line globalist hawk McCain, and left of center socialist lite Romney. The base of the GOP had turned away when folks like Ron Paul were shown a complete lack of respect. The center had moved left and many of us were left with no choice. This happened in Congress as well and it is clear we can either have radical left or moderate left with no spine. We have been getting nothing but lesser of two evil choices when most of us want no evil at all.
This is a mid-term election. Historically these are usually low turnout. In fact all our elections only produce a fraction of eligible voters. So we wind up allowing 10-17% of the country to determine our fate because of apathy. We see the results. I have been told by many that voting for someone who is not a D or an R is a wasted vote. I contend the wasted vote is one that votes for someone simply because you think they are the only ones who stand a chance of winning rather than because you agree with them. The D and R paradigm is false. Both parties are essentially the same behind the scenes in spite of public posturing for the cameras. There are some exceptions to that like Gowdy, Cruz, Gohmert, and others. Yet they are too few to make a difference. 
In the third Congressional district race for The house this year we have incumbent Tipton(R), and challenges Abel Tapia(D) and Tisha Casida (I). I went to a debate between the latter two in Alamosa that the incumbent did not attend. Both Tapia and Casida were asked great questions and both answered well, They were courteous to each other with few barbs or personal attacks of note. They agreed more than they didn’t. Were Ms. Casida not in the race I might be inclined to go with Tapia as I am strongly anti-incumbent. But I cannot because I know in spite of his sincerity and good intentions, I know in time he will be towing the party line of radicals like Pelosi and Reid. I voted for Tisha back in 2012 and will do so again this year. It isn’t because I have an issue with Tipton in general but he is part of the machine and his votes reflect it. We as Americans simply must eschew the false d and R paradigm. It is a game and both parties are laughing at our willingness to keep doing the same things with our votes and getting the same miserable results regardless of party. Spending is insane. There is zero will to control our borders. We are involved and funding foreign groups we have no business being involved with. We have allowed disease in that should never have been allowed in. Political correctness has run amok in every sphere. We are on the wrong side in almost everything and heading down a track to a cliff. When I was a youngster my grandfather told me that one day the USA would become more like the USSR and the USSR more like the USA. We’re here and it’s lousy. DC cares more about foreign nations, illegal immigrants, and politically correct groups than it does about the general citizenry. They undermine everything in our constitution with impunity. They look at us and know we object and simply say “what are you gonna do about It?” They seem bent on civil war by assaulting us from multiple directions. And so if we are going down then I for one will go down fighting and with a clear conscience that I voted for people I believed in like Tisha Caasida and not for the lesser of two evils because I’m a party hack or simply want to vote for the one I think has the best chance. We the people are being divided by race, gender, economics, and a whole host of issues by both parties and their media helpers. They do this by intent. When has either part ever actually solved one of the major issues? Everything they do makes matters worse. Every time we declare a “war on….” It’s phony. War on poverty? We still have poverty and it’s getting worse with the rapid demise of the middle class. War on drugs? Prohibition never works and our own government arms the drug cartels such as in Fast and Furious. War on crime?  It’s getting worse with the weakness of the judicial system and the overloading of private prisons with non-violent offenders. And some groups get a pass on violence. War on terrorism? Fight them over there but leave the border wide open over here? What sense does that make? Allow radical Imams to preach hate and violence in our mosques and do nothing? Fund Syrian “rebels” with our tax dollars and arm the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt only to have arms wind up in the hands of Al-Qaeda or similar groups. You can bet if we declare a “war on…” it will be a glorious waste of your tax dollars. People like Ron Paul and Tisha Casida are opposed to this nonsense as well as the continued bloating of our bureaucracy that cannot be sustained.  TSA searches infants and old ladies at airports then lets undocumented people from anywhere get on airplanes. Really? What sort of “homeland security” is that? It is the one that the Rove and Wasserman-Schultz types want. None and in name only. We turn a blind eye to the fate of Christians being slaughtered all over the world and suck up to radical Islam as the “religion of peace” when nothing in its scripture is peaceful unlike Christian scripture.

I want something different. No, not the “hope and change” rubbish that the Soros puppet in DC gave us which produces equal misery for all but a select ruling elite. Aren’t you tired of Congress voting itself a raise well above cost of living every year when you never get one? And then they vote on things and exempt themselves. This is what the D and R paradigm has given us. Tisha Casida is beholding to no party. She is beholding to her constituents and her own soul. I encourage all of you to seek another way and stop the madness of voting for the same thing time after time. We will never fix what is wrong if we remain divided by party and the issues they use as wedges. It is long past time we vote for person, not party. Vote your heart and your mind and don’t be a simple party hack. Look up what alternate candidates stand for and if you agree then vote for them. God help us all if we continue down the track to that cliff that we must reach if we do not take another route.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Colorado Irish Festival 2014

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first Irish or Celtic festival. I have to say it was a real hoot.  It was the Colorado Irish Festival in Littleton Colorado. My main reason for going was to see The High Kings. I had not seen them in a live performance since Killarney in 2009 and they did not disappoint.
But let’s start at the beginning. I had chatted with friend Amy about this and she said she’d like to go. I picked up tickets for both of us for Saturday and Sunday in exchange for staying at her place and her transporting us to and from. I hopped the bus from the San Luis Valley and the four or so hour ride north up highway 285. A late morning arrival saw here waiting for me and we then went straight to the site of the festival at Clement Park.
We wandered a bit and checked out various tents including ones for the Irish sport of Hurling. No, not the kind of hurling you get from too many pints! It is played with a stick and ball but on a field much like soccer. We also stopped at a tent for Irish wolfhound rescue and met a laid back dog named Finbarr. We also grabbed a lunch at a Scottish place housed in a trailer that came up from Albuquerque. We watched some of the bagpipe band competition too and then headed to the open air venue to watch our first of four bands of the day. They weren’t so hot and were local. Stubby something or other. Next up was a fine Canadian group called Searson. It is named for the two sisters in the group including one who is quite the fiddler. They are from eastern Canada and a four piece band with keyboards, fiddle, Base, and drums, along with vocals and dance. Very good and we’d see them again the next day. Weather had been cloudy for the most part but with breaks of hot sun. That cooked things and set off the storms. Thankfully it was just rain. But at times for the rest of the day and night it was heavy rain and everyone was soaked. Next up was a great local group called The Elders. All of them were top drawer but I especially liked the violinist, Colin, and drummer, Kian. The lead man Ian Byrne happens to be the uncle to outstanding Celtic Woman piper Anthony Byrne. No one stayed seated for this show and it was simply excellent. Next up the headline act for the night was Gaelic Storm. I have waited to see them for years and I finally got the chance. As billed by others who had seen them it was high energy and no one sat down. I got my exercise between these two groups bouncing and dancing. First day was done and I was very impressed with it all.
Day two began with a hearty breakfast and then to pick up tow of Amy’s gal pals for the day. As with the first day we had to park away from the site and be bused over. Clement Park was the scene of sports camps and baseball games and parking was taken up by that. So, we parked at a place of high notoriety, Columbine High School. There is a nearby memorial and I could feel a few of the ghosts floating around at times. We arrived and the day was sunny and warm with some clouds at times. I opted to head right to the music venue and grab some chairs in what little shade near the stage I could for all of us at stage left. The others wandered a bit as I minded the store. First up was another local group called Angus Mohr. Like The Elders it included a father and son team. It was a four piece group that included some didjeridoo along with guitars, drums, and bagpipes. It was like traditional Irish meets Led Zeppelin and was very good. Some fine work by one and all. Amy and company got in on the last bits of it. I went for some ice cream on the break and made it back for sound check for Searson. Slightly different set list and as good as the Saturday show. Sadly, the crowd had not really developed yet so their reception was not as boisterous as the day before. Clouds were rolling in but no major rain and only scant sprinkles as we readied for the headline of the day, The High Kings. Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden, Martin Furey, and Brian Dunphy are all multi-talented on instruments and sing. I have many fond memories of them when they opened for Celtic Woman in 2008 and the Killarney show in 2009. I was able to chat with Martin before the show and he is as fine as they come. The performance was excellent and they did a couple encores. I could have easily stood a full two hour show. After the show we lined up for CDs, autographs, and photos. I chatted with a young couple who had sat in front of me, the Parlanes, from Columbus Nebraska. Nice people and this concert was a bucket list item for them. Also at the show were long time fans Norma and Charlie Brock from Texas. Great folks. I did not ask for the lads to sign anything. I just wanted to say hello and get a photo. We stay in touch on Facebook and I just had to thank them for the great show. It was then off for Amy’s, an overnight, and home the next day.

This was a great event well done and I will most certainly be back, God willing. Only flies in the ointment were vendors not taking cash, no Guinness, and the wet weather on Saturday. But what is an Irish anything without rain? I was just thankful no lightning. I would encourage them to look into the Gothard Sisters, and Screaming Orphans to add to their list. Aside from that I was very pleased and congratulate one and all involved for a marvelous weekend.   

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Are we still independent? Well, yes and no

Hello, America!

      Firstly, I hope each of you had a wonderful celebration yesterday for Independence Day. But the very title begs the question as to how independent we still are.

      There are many ways to look at that. I am an originalist when it comes to the Constitution. I believe it means what it meant when it was written. Sadly, many believe it is a "living document" that can be re-interpreted to fit the times. That's not how it works nor how it was designed to work. In a sense it IS a living document in that it can be amended. But the idea that the words themselves change with times to mean something else is wrong. That would make  the document dead and not living. If what is written can be changed on a whim by those with a political or social agenda then the words mean nothing. We have seen over the years as various sessions of Congress, Presidents and their cabinets, and the Supreme Court have all used this "living document" to undermine the original intent and grant themselves more power at the expense of the people. It has not mattered what party we are talking about.

     DC has become a breeding ground for the globalist elite who could not care less about national sovereignty or "quaint" documents like the Constitution. Regardless of party these folks are beholding to outside interests, foreign ideology, and most of all, MONEY. They believe themselves immune and the American people are proving that they are at the moment. More and more laws are passed to limit the freedoms of both business and individuals and not what needs to be limited and that is government. The Constitution was a limitation on government and not the people. The elite cannot stand that idea that the masses would have more freedom than they believe they should. Year after year Congress votes itself a pay raise and yet no one in the electorate gets raises of such magnitude and in many cases wait years for tiny ones. Name for me another profession that gives itself a pay raise without the consent of the owners. We the people are the owners.

     Are you represented in DC? No, unless you are part of a special interest group that has been deemed politically correct. All of those groups are tiny percentages of the electorate. So it has been minority rule by group and by issue in many cases.When poll after poll showed 90% + of America saying no to bailing out banks they did it anyway. When America said no to other laws passed they did it anyway. The "Affordable Care Act" aka Obamacare was foisted on the people by a Congress who said "we need to pass it so we know what's in it" and it has been a disaster for individuals and business. It was clearly a payoff to the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies and has nothing at all to do with better health care. Most people had their rates go up and many had affordable plans dropped. Many in the medical profession are looking at leaving. Many still have no insurance. It fixed nothing and made matters worse. I had a fine discount plan here in Colorado for low income people. That vanished at the end of March. If I have another major health crisis as I had last year I am simply out of luck. Mandating you purchase private insurance is nowhere in the Constitution. In fact, the entire thing is illegal since the court declared it a tax and such a thing must originate in the House and not the Senate. Since it was brought about by the latter then it is null and void. But it is not the first unconstitutional law to be forced on the people.

     Remember the Patriot Act? After the horrendous assault of 9/11 this was deemed appropriate response to "keep us safe from terrorism". Never mind the entire thing was a false flag with the cursory death toll to go with it. We then upped security at our airports including invasive body scanners. We then went to Afghanistan and later Iraq to get them over there before they came over here. That too was false. It was clear to America there was one enemy, radical Islam. Yet we could not profile Muslims in this country because it was deemed discriminatory. We also did not strengthen our borders or entry requirements from nations where such radicals come from. So, we went over there and did nothing to target the perpetrators over here or their supporters. Europe did not either. So how real is a war on terrorism when the war itself is only fought half way? Why is ALL of America suspect when it was only a narrow group who inflicts such barbarism? It is phony and yet your tax dollars fund it just as they will fund the ACA, and as they funded bailing out banks. Do you feel free when you fly? Have you ever seen a Muslim picked out for added security? Does a women in full facial covering remove that? Western nations including us are caving in to the very people who behead, and blow things up. Yet, as Mr. Snowden and others have shown now, ALL of us are suspect. We are not, and if DC says we should be then clearly they view all of us as the enemy. All of your communications can be read or listened to without your knowledge all in the name of security. How secure are we with a porous border?

      Ah yes, immigration. We are told by both parties we are a nation of immigrants and we should embrace all who come here no matter what. I think Native Americans were made to swallow that pill. That did not go well for them did it? Immigration reform is a huge issue and rightfully so. It is true that we are a nation of immigrants. But gone are such transit facilities like Ellis Island. Gone now also it seems are background and health checks. Gone now is your freedom to walk and mingle in society without fear of drug gangs and contagious disease let alone terrorists. Have those threats always been there? Yes, but they get worse the more loosely we guard our borders and entry requirements. Many wait years and spend thousands to gain entry and vie for citizenship. Yet we are told we must grant those who come here illegally amnesty. No. Go through the proper procedure, come and work, embrace your new homeland and don't try to make it into where you came from, and you are welcome. Yes, the native peoples here centuries ago were not given that option just as it seems now neither are we. That is because DC is run by globalists more beholding to the United Nations than to us. One party wants cheap labor and the other party wants cheap votes so the fix is in. The current crisis on our border and being exported all across the country comes from DC not outside. Masses of children are being used as pawns to attempt to create a crisis akin to Palestinian camps in order to gain sympathy from the American people for amnesty. Sadly yet, many immigrants that have been coming have no allegiance to this country. They have other motives whether it is to take parts of the country back for Mexico or to Islamicize it. They are not here to become Americans but to change us. There was a time when such types would not be granted entry but now our own government imports them in large numbers and plants them in places totally foreign to them in the name of humanity. Witness 50,000 Muslims sent to the Minneapolis area years ago. No, we cannot be xenophobic, and we cannot and should not isolate ourselves. But we must maintain limits and criteria for entry that build us up and not tear us down. The system should be streamlined and made less costly but it cannot ever grant amnesty without undermining the systems in place here and the economy. It may yet come to shots fired and that would not be good.

      Shots fired? Oh but we must take away the guns from everyone to keep us safe right? Doing so in other nations did not lower their crime rates including violent crime. It did not disarm criminals and nut cases. It only disarmed the general public. Law enforcement cannot be there to prevent crime. They are there to investigate crime and catch the ones who committed it after the fact. It is called law enforcement and not crime prevention for a reason. We have seen many shootings over the years and nearly all are by disturbed young men who are either under psychiatric care and/or on psychotropic drugs. Such things alter their realities and the warning labels on the drugs are clear on that. Does the media mention that? No. Why? Because the media gets millions per year from the very pharmaceutical companies that create these drugs. Gun makers do not an cannot advertise on the major networks. Follow the money. Plenty of conspiracy ideas about that which may very well be true. Regardless, DC again wants to re-interpret the Constitution and find ways to remove arms from us. Hitler did that. Stalin did that. Mao did that. All tyrants disarm the citizens as those are the ones they fear most. Our founders granted the right to bear arms for a reason and it wasn't hunting. It was in case the people needed to do what they did and take their country back from tyranny. And we are on the verge of that now.

      Mr. Obama is not who he pretended to be to the electorate. He is an empty suit, a created being who is a simple puppet of the globalist elite. Valerie Jarrett is his direct puppet master and his cabinet are his puppets. Media as well is complicit in all of this save for the non-traditional media. If he were white and in the other party the media would be red faced with rage in asking for his removal. We are fed all sorts of garbage from the globalist agenda from human caused global climate change (maybe all the chemtrails government is spraying has something to do with that!), to overpopulation, to equal outcomes (not opportunity), to group over individual. and that is what the globalists have been doing for decades. Divide people into groups by color, race, ethnicity, gender, age, economics, gender preference, and many other issues, then pit them against each other. In that way we fight each other and not the ones orchestrating it all. Have these folks ever fixed an issue? Are any of the issues or divides ever cured? No, and the elite at the top don't want them to be. It is about dependence. The globalist elite hate independence both of nation states and individual humans. DC wants America dependent upon other nations and we the people dependent upon government. They have to undermine the social fabric to do that and they use education and media to make it happen. The middle class and white Christian males are special targets. The middle class is far smaller than it was 50 years ago and globalist partner The Federal Reserve is part of that via inflation. How free are you when things get more expensive all the time and your income doesn't compensate?

      Yes, those who control the money supply are largely responsible for your own economic plight. Wages have never kept up with the cumulative inflation of the last 40 years or so. When The Fed talks about "quantitative easing" they mean print more money. Same thing goes with the European Central Bank. The more that goes into the supply the less it is worth. The net effect is that prices go up. To dovetail with that you have an insatiable appetite by DC for spending. Both parties are complicit in this. Are you free to determine where your tax dollars go? No. They go to "rebel" groups (ie terrorists) in Syria, The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, in fact all over the globe for things you would never give a dime to. They go to pork projects in all of the Congress' districts around the country for more things you'd never spend a dime on. They go to fund wars you don't believe in. They go to bail out banks and business who should be left to fail. Depositors supposedly have insurance to protect them to a certain amount. They fund systems that are bloated and inefficient like the VA which is a travesty to both veterans and active duty alike. They fund you being spied on while actual terrorists go unwatched. They go to fund an IRS that gets used as a political weapon against whoever opposes the agenda in DC. Is that freedom? No, it is slavery.

      When someone or something dictates to you what you can do and how you can act and forces you to pay for it whether you disagree or not that is slavery not freedom. The beauty of our Constitution is that it grants all the freedoms you want if it is properly interpreted. But we are told we need special laws for this group or that. We don't. Anything not specifically mentioned in the Constitution is left to the individual states. And, ALL are included in that. Yet we buy into that some are at a disadvantage. They are only because the ones who lead them wish it so. Is your business free to decide who it hires and whom it does business with? Not really when there are quotas and charges of discrimination. We have freedom of association in this country. We can hire who we wish, spend time with who we wish, and do business with who we wish. But the globalist elite in DC want to force you to the contrary. How free is that? We can have black student unions and Hispanic chambers of commerce but no separate groups for whites. Women must be allowed in to any organization but women can still have their own groups without men. My feeling on it is either all or nothing. Either we open all things up to everyone or allow any group to be separate. But separate but equal was outlawed with the Equal Rights amendment wasn't it? Amendment? Yes.

    And that brings us back to that "living document" thing. THAT is how we change the document to fit the times, the amendment process that must be ratified by the states. The ACA should have been done that way because of how massive a change that is for the nation. It was not. Why? Because the elite in DC knew it would never be ratified by the states. And that is where DC now rules us, by going around the proper process and creating laws outside the Constitution. It has also gone nuts with executive orders, or ruling by decree. Sounds a bit like King George III doesn't it? Taxation without representation anyone? and Congress sits there weak and complicit spouting a few words of indignation and doing nothing. You see it is not about party and never has been. You who are died in the wool party hacks for either party are foolish. Party is there for one purpose only and that is to keep us divided. All that while they share the same golf courses, tennis courts, and cocktail parties and laugh at you.

     So, America, how many more Independence Days will we truly celebrate independence? We are still free enough so speak out like this to a point as long as we are deemed weak and having no audience. But get noticed and the heavy hand may very well pay you a visit. Government is arming up big time all while pressuring all of us to disarm and letting our enemies in without a whimper. DC arms drug dealers, terrorists, and all manner of criminals not including themselves who are part and parcel to all three. Fast and Furious anyone? Benghazi? Etc. etc. And make no mistake I'm not just going off here on the current regime. They are just the worst of the bunch. Bush was no saint and neither was his dad (Mr. New World Order), nor were most Presidents in the past few decades. Only two tried to stand in the way, JFK, and Reagan. One was murdered and the other they tried to murder. Both men wanted the best for America and opposed the globalist elite. But both had people in their cabinets that undermined them. They did not choose well. All the others in my opinion were globalist hacks and crooks. We need to look at independence in a political way. Time to stop bowing to the two major parties and vote for those outside the system. When in doubt vote out any and all incumbents until the parties get the message about who is in charge. DC is not our friend. The only way we can remain independent and free is if we set aside groups and issues and unite as one people. Until that happens we are slaves to the political globalist elite and their media helpers. There is not one issue we the people cannot solve and by the simplest of means. We are told it isn't that simple. It is. It always has been. Use the Constitution as written and it all works out just fine. I pray for the nation, the world, and each of you that we will triumph over the ruling elite. Peace.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

And then there is Lisa Kelly

Think I was done blogging for this spring? Nah. I had one more event to attend and a major one at that! This went up immediately on the avid fan community radar as soon as it was announced. It would be the biggest Celtic Woman related fan gathering since the Atlanta Believe recording in September 2011. It is highly unlikely that Celtic Woman will ever again generate these kinds of avid fan numbers again. That is not due to the artists but due to company policies, costs, and the ever dwindling economies of most fans. But this was special. This was LISA. For so many this was and still is their girl. Why? Well, not only does she have a nice vocal gift but a great ability to connect to song AND the audience on stage. She has also been exceptional in her willingness to connect off stage or online with a broad spectrum of her fans. What is it about Irish girls named Lisa? Yes, the other CW girl who has been exceptional in this regard has been the captivating Lisa Lambe. She won fans very fast and they are very loyal to her for her kindness on stage and off. But Ms. Lambe we in Ireland doing a very funny and well received show called Breaking Dad which was playing at The Gaiety in Dublin. Instead, Lisa would have another wonderful artist of former Celtic woman fame, Chloe Agnew, joining her. Most of us knew that was likely to happen and pleased as could be when it was confirmed. Along with her came her beau, Dermot. Also, an old friend of Lisa's, Paul Byrom, formerly of Celtic Thunder, would take the stage.

     So what was this all about? Well, a couple years ago Lisa, Scott, and the kiddies made the move, after departing Celtic Woman, to Peachtree City Georgia. Lisa said she loved the area. But she would not just sit idly by and let her gift go to waste. No, she would combine two passions, her vocal and stage gift and teaching. So, The Lisa Kelly Voice Academy was born. This show was a showcase not only for her and her friends but also for her students. It was to give them experience and expose them to what entertainment is about. And showcase it they did! It was a fine venue in "The Fred", and a very well crafted and performed show. Totally professional in every respect. No big money promoter. No "management". It was a labor of love put together by a group of fine artists and a big cast of children. The love showed both ways to and from the stage last Saturday night.

    It began with a big fan gathering co-sponsored by the Lisa Kelly and Chloe Agnew forums. Oh yes, no shortage of Chloevers there either. Video from that will be compiled into another fan documentary but not on the scale of the one done back for Believe in 2011. We had people from all over the world like Germany, Netherlands, and Okinawa, as well as from all over the country. All came together to celebrate the return to the stage of Lisa and Chloe and lend their support to Lisa's business and students. The avid fan community has said from day one we would be there for the artists AFTER Celtic Woman as well as while with them. Tonight was the evidence of that. Smaller gatherings had been there for Orla and Meav as well in past years when they were touring. The message was and is clear to all the artists who are still with Celtic Woman, no need to fear leaving, we're there for you, and many of us would appreciate supporting you with less of the "business" around you which is not fan friendly. One fan saw both Susan McFadden and Lisa Lambe off tour last year at other Irish performances. Another fan went straight from LL's Breaking Dad, where he saw three shows, over to the LK event. Yes, dedication, loyalty, love, whatever you want to call it. Or call it just plain nuts! Yeah, OK, you found the Mr. Peanut suit in my closet.

    The show itself was reasonably priced and a sea of familiar faces were in the "pit" area of tables to make sure the night was off the hook for those on stage. We came complete with signs and plenty of energy to cheer every single piece done. A brief rain shower made us certain we were in the right place. Where would any CW-related outdoor show be without it? No spirits were dampened even if many of the signs were. So who did what in this show?

   After two delightful opening acts (salad and appetizer) we get to the main course. Lisa. This show was like a greatest hits album for her, and frankly she could have recorded all her songs straight from the sound board and produced a live CD if she wanted to. She did solo work of May It Be, She Moved Through The Fair, Caledonia, Summerfly, Let It Go, My Heart Will Go On, The Voice, Fields Of Gold, The Blessing, and Over The Rainbow. She did duets with Chloe of For Good, Green Grow The Rushes (with audience help) and Wake Me Up. She did a saucy duet with Paul of Moondance. Ensemble pieces included the act one finale of Isle of Hope, complete with her students, Tell Me Ma, complete with kids including two miniature Riverdance kids that included her son Cian, You Raise Me Up, and the Happy finale of.....Happy, with the entire cast having great fun and Lisa now barefoot and in tights with an academy T-shirt.

   Chloe had beautiful solos with Hero and Ave Maria. She had the above mentioned duets with Lisa and also a gorgeous duet, complete with Italian parts, of The Prayer with Paul. Paul had a solo of Danny Boy and a beautiful song called Bring Him Home. Colin Farrell was the violinist and he had one solo bit in the first act along with a duel with Scott Porter who danced up a storm (which showed up later). Scott later did a dance duel with another fine stepper in Aaron Tolson.

   So, there was something for everyone on stage and off. It is an event that could wind up being an annual thing for the venue and the academy. Fine by me and everyone else who was there. I'm betting tickets sell VERY fast next time they are announced. Along with this there was some merchandise. Signed Lisa CDs, A T-shirt, and signed posters. There was no meet and greet. We were told that ahead of time. Far too many kids to shepherd back to their parents for that. Some of us did chat with Scott Porter after the show as he helped tear down. Lighting was great for this show as it should have been considering old friend Tom Kenny was doing the work. Sound was good as well. Staging was minimal essentially some risers for the band and some curtains as back drop. Everyone involved should feel very proud of what they have accomplished. The students were treasures. It has also been stated that the dancing part is leading into dance classes beginning this fall. The academy is likely going to be a full spectrum school for various elements of performing arts. Now they only need to recruit Mairead Nesbitt to teach piano and violin! Imagine a show next year with Lisa, Chloe, Mairead, and maybe people like Alex Sharpe and Lisa Lambe? Yeah, you're gonna either need a bigger venue or multiple nights!

   Now, I can safely say no more blogs from me for awhile. Lots of my own house to put in order. But the afterglow from this event will last a long time. Once again, well done Lisa, Chloe, Paul, Scott, and everyone else involved in this truly great event. Build it and they will come. We did and will again and again. Oh, and if you are in the Atlanta area please support The Lisa Kelly Voice Academy. If you aren't in the area she does offer short master classes in the summer and winter breaks. She and her family and business are a huge asset to Peachtree City and I wish them all well. Lovely town. Now go put on your Lisa Kelly CD and start saving your pennies for next year.

                                     Peace,       Scott

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Celtic Woman and Celtic Nights comparisons

This has been an interesting year when it comes to Celtic Music, at least for me and a few others. Two ensembles are on our radar, Celtic Woman, now approaching ten years old, and Celtic Nights, which just finished their third USA tour. There are similarities and differences on stage and off.
Tech. Both shows are stage productions but they differ in scale. Celtic Woman is a high gloss, well exposed, institution in the USA and other areas. They have the budget to do a great deal. Therefore not only do they generate huge amounts for the controlling interests but they do incur a lot of costs in the process. They travel with three buses and a couple of tractor-trailers. Staging, lights, sound, and choreography are complex. Celtic Nights is a lower budget operation. It has at times a simple short riser at the back but at times not. The stage is essentially bare. Sound and lights are excellent though not on the scale that CW operates at. It is enough to accent yet not distract from the artistry of those on stage. They all travel in one bus and tow a small trailer behind them.
Merch. The sale of merchandise is a big deal with Celtic Woman and has been from the start. It is a product of both their PBS affiliation and the desire of EMI and CW LTD to generate as much as possible from their employees. It has produced numerous CD and DVD as well as T-shirts and other trinkets over the years. Prices are typical of a big name group for the items sold and each tour has current merchandise that reflects the current show. Also, some of the individual artists have their CDs available at the merch table during the tour.  Some of these may or may not generate money for the artist themselves. Most of what is sold will do little to fatten the wallet of the artist themselves who are simple employees. Celtic Nights is only now understanding the role of merchandise. Their CD is from the original show three years ago and does not contain any liner notes in the booklet. Sad for the artists that contributed but it is a good CD even if a bit out of date. None of those original artists remain with CN save for Derek Ryan who subbed in briefly again this tour. They tried T-shirts on a small scale this tour but found the demographic at the shows wrong for it. They also offered the solo CDs of three of their artists and I do believe the artists profit to a degree from those sales. A few generic Irish trinkets also graced the table and they did a drawing for a tour of Ireland that as yet they have not yet announced the winner of. Prices are similar to CW but they did offer a smart deal of 4 for $40 on the CDs.
Musicians. Celtic Woman has a long history of having numerous live musicians on stage. They can the orchestra as one might imagine. Can’t be toting them all over! Typical for CW is a bass player, Eoghan O’Neill, lead guitar in Ewan Cowley, Uilleann pipes and other pipes with Tommy Martin, Bagpiper who also does other duties, Anthony Byrne, Piano player Brian McGrane, and two drummers in Ray Fean and Andy Reilly. On this tour some of them sing as well. Most of them do multiple duties and they are as diverse in their gifts as one could imagine. They are all top drawer and a vital part of the touring show ensemble. All are very likeable people too. Celtic Nights cans most of their music. They have little choice on a limited budget. Their two musicians this tour were piper and guitarist Stevie O’Connor, and fiddler Ben Gunnery. While small in number they are big on talent. Stevie is a student of Tommy’s and it shows. Ben can shred on the fiddle every bit as wonderfully as the CW violinist although of course he does not have the look or the choreography to go with it. Speaking of which, the Celtic Woman violinist, Máiréad Nesbitt is a member of their front four (formerly front five) and is the sole remaining original girl in the show. She is incomparable. It is the sole musician CW has had in the front row. Both Ben and Máiréad are huge focal points of energy in their respective shows and get the audiences jazzed.
Dancers. Until Believe dancing, except by the marvelous fiddler, was not part of Celtic Woman. That having been said they have had some choreography in some pieces that could be viewed as dancing. But it was not until CW brought in Craig Ashurst, premier Riverdance dancer, that CW incorporated dancing into the show. This year they added a second lad, Nicholas, to make it a pair of dancers who do double duty as vocalists. This year’s show incorporates a great deal more dance into it including a solo dance/percussion bit late in the first act which is a hoot. Celtic Nights has always had as part of the show a fair amount of dancing. It is operated by GFD (Gaelforce Dance) which has long supplied shows with top notch dancers. So, a small troupe (this year 2 male and 3 female) dancers are part of the show and have several dance routines in it. Dancers this tour were Gavin, Aidan, Leanne, Heather, and Ciara. I found at both shows that the dancing really lights up an audience especially the female attendees. Dance is a part of the culture just as song and musicianship so it is appropriate it be included.
Vocalists. Here is a major difference in the shows. Celtic Woman front row has always been exclusively female. Well, it IS called Celtic WOMAN! It went from four vocalists down to three after spring 2010. In that loss they, in my opinion, lost some of their better harmonies. That does not mean the show lacks but it is an element that is obvious to a long time fan especially in the loss of a lower register voice to broaden and deepen harmonies. The current lineup is Susan McFadden, Lynn Hilary, and Máiréad Carlin. All are higher end soprano although Susan closer to mid. Susan and MC have tremendous power and MC has quite a dynamic range. Lynn is a crystal clear and delicate voice.  Throughout Celtic Woman history there have been a long line of sterling vocalists, each of whom have brought their own unique gifts. They include Deirdre Shannon, Meav, Orlagh Fallon, Hayley Westenra, Alex Sharpe, Lisa Kelly, Chloe Agnew, Lisa Lambe, and the current three. Change has been inevitable if not an annual thing since year one.  Celtic Nights is a mixed ensemble, three male and three female. This year we had Derek Moloney most of the tour along with Will Mulvey and Gregor Firth. These gents are great stage performers and nice guys. They complement each other very well.  They have a nice harmony bit in Auld Triangle and some solo bits as well as ensemble pieces. Front row girls this tour were Rebekah Robertson, Rebecca Winckworth , and Éabha (pronounced like Eva) McMahon. The latter two worked together in Anuna. It is an excellent blend of a high range soprano, mid range, and full on alto that produces the best harmonies I have heard since the four vocalist days of CW. Bekah is the spokesperson for the show and also serves as office staffer with GFD. Éabha is a voice you simply must hear. It fills a room and is the most unique and haunting voice I have heard among CW/CN female artists. She has incredible stage presence and poise for such a young lady. Closest to her in voice from CW would be the same haunting quality of Orla Fallon.
Ensemble vs. ensemble, song versus song.  They are both quality troupes in every respect. But there is a clear line in CW between front row and supporting cast. In CN there is really no front or back row. Ensemble pieces run the gamut from high energy to quieter. There are only a couple places where we can make a direct comparison this tour, Danny Boy, and The Parting Glass. Danny Boy is traditional and every show has it. In CW it is purely the front four in harmony. It has always been lovely though in my opinion never as lovely as the four vocalist version of spring 2010. They added choreography this ear they did not need to do. In CN it was done as a solo either by Derek Moloney or Rebecca Winckworth. Both were different but very lovely. Honestly you just can’t go wrong with this song. Parting Glass is very different between the two groups. In CW it is full on ensemble with every element in play. It starts somber but them morphs into a huge piece. It is very uplifting. The CN version has Éabha doing the lead and it is pure vocals by their six vocalists. It is solemn, stirring, and very emotive. It is her signature piece. Two very different interpretations and both well done. CN did some of the songs we heard from CW over the years, Caledonia (A Rebekah solo), and Isle Of Hope (lovely courtesy Ms. McMahon) to name a couple. They did them well. Bekah’s signature is Caledonia and I found I liked her connection with it better than the CW one. She is, after all, from Scotland.  Both Celtic Woman and Celtic Nights are marvelous nights of entertainment with top drawer artists.
Philosophy, pricing, and fan relations. And here we get to some touchy subjects. The Celtic Woman philosophy is big city (NYC) mentality. It is all about the bottom line. Who the artists are don’t matter. Who the fans are don’t matter. It is pure, cold numbers. The artists are all replaceable employees rather like pieces in a machine and the fans are simply butts in seats. I do not believe the artists have adopted that same view, especially after first night Atlanta Believe recording 2011 at The Fox. It matters to them. We matter to them to a certain degree. An audience has a better chance of being a good one if there are more familiar faces in it. For the bean counters they could not care less what the energy level of a show is only that the place is as full as possible. Over the years there have been numerous changes in relations for the positive but they were mostly based on who was running the tour. David Downes has done well paying attention to what fans like and finding suitable replacements for vacancies. Mr. Kavangh seems to have backed off a bit in his hostility toward familiar faces and that was evident in his demeanor and comments in Dublin after the Christmas show last August.  But it has been Madstone that has been consistently hostile in its pricing and policies. Maggie has been trying to kiss up to the artists and a few select female fans and the reverse is true as well. But the majority out here aren’t buying it. The show is priced at what it is now because of the charts and consistent sales. From a venue and Ticketmaster perspective prices are in line with what one might expect. But it is the PBS connection, pricing, and seat availability that have changed the past couple years that show a certain level or hostility. Gone are the best seats in house to go with paid meetings. It’s a crap shoot. Gone too are autographs at meetings and in place of it are a simple photo op with the front four. Best thing about all of that is the barrier of a table is gone and the girls are free to hug if they so desire. But these meetings are typically overpriced and rushed to go with a mediocre seat. And, as I found out, you are not assured your photos will turn out. Some of these meet & greet packages cost in the hundreds of dollars yet meetings can be held in a hallway, stairwell, loading dock, mop closet, etc. which is very disrespectful to the artist and to those forking out the money. It is a multi-million dollar operation annually and an entire venue is rented. You cannot afford a proper room? They also disrespect the artist by holding the meetings within minutes of them having to take the stage. That is when they should be warming up and focusing on the show. It is done for a reason, to give the excuse to rush it. As for the photo itself, mine in Denver this tour did not turn out. When I mentioned that to the tour manager in Colorado Springs the response I got should say it all to you who buy the meetings. “I’m not a professional photographer. I’m doing this as a favor. Good luck.” That from the rather grumpy Sett who is only a notch short of the dismal Mitch from Madstine in cold and prickly. Once again, you are a multi-million dollar annual profit center at CW, you can jolly well afford a good photographer and a polite demeanor for the money paid. But again, Madstone does not care. If you won’t be foolish enough to fork out the money for the dog and pony show, someone else will. For me that means I will discontinue meet & greets. They are simply NOT worth it. Prices vary from $150 to $600 per person, in some cases requiring a pair be bought, for these meetings with a ticket. Denver and Springs allowed us to acquire the meetings stand alone but they were still far too expensive for what you got. Some now buy two tickets to get a good seat AND the meeting.  It is your right to do so and Madstone laughs all the way to the bank.As a further example of Madstone hostility you can look back to the two recordings last year. South Bend gave less than 72 hours notice. The Christmas recording gave a bit less than three weeks for peak travel season in Europe. Plans for recordings happen months in advance. There is no reason to delay letting people now other than pure hostility to the familiar faces. Make no mistake about it, Madstone does NOT want you there at recordings or shows. 
Contrast this with Celtic Nights. There is no PBS. There is no Madstone. Their record label and promoter is CAMI (Columbia) which is more fan friendly.They filled their venues as well as CW did and without the exposure. You go online and buy a ticket from the venue or Ticketmaster first come first served on best seats. Most were in the neighborhood of $40. Michael Durkan’s philosophy is one of bringing a high end show to smaller communities and venues. It works. Even at common venues this tour like Popejoy in Albuquerque they were as sold out as CW. Meetings are full cast and free after the show. Photos, autographs, chat, and no one walks away unhappy with the result. At Popejoy there were 1900 or so people. 200 or thereabouts took advantage and stayed after. It took about forty minutes before the lobby cleared. So, to limit to a handful , limited time, at a high price makes no sense unless you intentionally are hostile. We had marvelous meetings and it is huge bang for the buck.
Fan and artist relations. If you did not know the artist as a friend before they became well known you will never become their friend after. That is the philosophy of artist management. In some cases an artist may agree but in many cases they may not. It is an artificial line drawn by the ones who control the artists. The only other place where you see such a line between a profession and the general public is politics. The higher ups place their charges on some other plane than the rest of us. at no time have I ever gotten the impression the artists themselves feel that way. To them it is simply what they do for a living. Yes, some artists are more comfortable than others with avid fans. Some prefer that barrier while others will cross it at every opportunity. As I and others have always said, contact is up to the artists and not the fans. But at times you wonder if management wishes that isolation simply so they can enjoy the perks of hanging with these people alone and not diluting their time with the unwashed masses. I do believe that friendship between a fan and artist IS possible but it takes an extraordinary amount of trust on the part of the artist for that to happen. It is also a very fragile thing easily disrupted so one has to proceed with caution. In some cases also the artist may not like attacks on their management and take it personally when that is not the case. What you get from an artists from the stage, at formal meetings, at chance meetings, and on line is a gift from them. None of us are entitled to any sort of relationship with any of them. When they grant it then count it as a great blessing and cherish it. I am grateful for what I have received from the various artists of both groups. If anything more comes of it that is up to them. 

There are other things behind the scenes that were not quite so pleasant at CN but not enough to affect the average concert goer. Their tour manager, Alan Whelan, was very accommodating on the tour at times and reminded me of the days of Bubba Dixon with CW. There is still a bit of insider industry elitism in both managements but it is not as pronounced at CN as it is at CW and that is due largely to Mr. Durkan. I do recommend both groups as shows. I recommend CN over CW for the dollar conscious. But to a person I recommend all the artists past and present of both. In the end it is they who have touched us and brought us their gifts and hard work.  It is up to each of us to determine how much we are willing to put up with from the non-artistic elements of a show. I will always feel at least some need to be there up close to support those who have inspired me and touched the lives of so many through song, dance, and instrument. Now I am off to see Lisa Kelly with Chloe in their first real performance since leaving CW. It is what we fans do.