Sunday, June 18, 2006

It's Summer! / Grada plug

Sunday morning it sure looks fine:)
Hopefully QUICK update on things so far. Grada and birds twittering.
It'll be another hot one today. It's "cool" now, 68 degrees, already with the sun feeling as if it's hot just the air is "cool." It hit 93 or so yesterday, and believe me, it's MUCH hotter in the dressing"room" tents, horrid in those (to be in the high 90's today).
Grada is my pick for thee band of the Potomac Celtic Festival. Wow. Admittedly, I only heard bits of Iona, which I have always liked, and missed others completely. Iona is a good band. Prodigals and Scythian were the NightFest bands. One leaves the festival, and returns (paying separate ticket price $15.), to hear them. It's nice that people coming for the day don't have to pay to help subsidize the night show, and vice versa. (Heck, dogs are allowed, too, but I left Daisy home due to me not be not being able to keep a good watch on her while I was performing, etc.) It also got super hot, so I'm extra glad now that I didn't take her.
I could hear some of the NightFest music, about 1/2 hours worth, while I talked in the "parking lot" (grass). They sounded fun and good. I'm not sure which of the bands it was, Prodigals or "special guest" Scythian who sounded as if they'd be the opening band.
Coyote Run was very good. It's a musical style that's not my favorite, but certainly a quality band that really got into the live, performing aspect.
Grada, to quote the PCFest program guide, "came together three years ago, producing their own mix of music encompassing Irish, breton, Eastern European, and other diverse styles. The band compliments their instrumental virtuosity with an elegant, timeless vocal style and is recognized as one of the forerunners in contemporary traditional music."
Their website is

I have not gone on there. I don't know if music samples are available or not.

(Ha, Tink is on top of the computer monitor, peeking over not much larger than the beanie-baby dog also on there. SO cute.)
The vocals Anne Marie O'Malley have are hauntingly beautiful, IMHO. Update:   Seems Ann Marie was on the CD's, but the woman at the show is a different singer, also VERY good and enjoyable.  Her name is listed below.   The is music fresh, as well as with a traditional sound, somehow. They are all very nice as well:) and young enough to appeal to those of us not old folk, too. They stayed for quite a while to sign CD's and take photos; some bands don't stay that long. This was a nice touch for personalizing their audience support. Yes, I ended up buying two cd's of theirs, and did not get bored listening to the one enroute home. That is a good sign.

Grada has a new cd coming out they hope by the end of the year. It should include a trio of songs I'm calling "The Three Marias," but that's not the real name. They were reels that a group of stepdancers came up and danced to. I forget the song that Grada ended their set with, but it was beautiful and rousing, somehow both.
Grada was to perform at PCFest last year, but only one of them had their VISA approved in time. One fan told them that it was worth the year wait.

The Irish stepdancers who came up are from the Blue Ridge Irish Music School (BRIMS). Their website is Most of the local Irish stepdancers are on schedule at the PCFest today/Father's Day, as their was the Maple Feis yesterday (Saturday). M was invited to dance today with her group, but it was when the local Company was maybe maybe/ maybe not disbanding and things were uncertain. M decided not to ask C about it, and skip it this year. It's her choice. When she wants to, I hope she will feel comfortable asking him about it (a couple times, she has). It'll be the first year for her dance school at this festival, so that is exciting:)  (In retrospect, as it's 97 F outside yikes, I'm glad M's not sweating in her costume.)

These girls Saturday would dance some steps on the grass outside of the tent, look over at the band, giggle, talk, play around, dance some more. It appeared to be just fun. Oh, and it was funny to see them spoof Scottish stepdancing. M had done the same thing after seeing the Scottish stepdancing competitions at Southern Maryland Celtic Festival. The beginning / early steps for Scottish stepdancing seem a bit simplistic for those familiar with Irish stepdancing, I do admit:) Even if I love the the look of one of the steps for the more advanced Scottish stepdancers. I digress.

Grada had played earlier in the day as well, but I only caught their last song. A man I'd seen earlier in the "participants snack tent" had been there (also w/ a wristband given to performers). This time, a couple of the dancers sometimes sat near me, up and down,
It didn't take too long to figure out that he was connected with this group of girls. (Heck, he was the only "interesting" guy I'd noticed all day, even if he wore jeans and not a kilt, and no wedding band but, shrug, who knows.  We chatted, yes, but briefly, and no flirting.  He was focused on the girls, appropriately.)  We talked briefly, and he mentioned where the girls dance. They'd seen Grada perform down near them in Charlottesville, and Grada had invited them to come dance if they wanted up this way. Apparently, the girls just love these guys (the band), and likely enjoy the music and vocals of of the woman as well. Opps, the program guide lists Nicola Joyce as the vocalist/bodhran player. Perhaps she's replaced Anne Marie O'Malley, who was on the cd I listened to.

The girls themselves danced to the 3-song "Maria" set of reels, doing the typical bit of going out in a line, but with some choreography to it, then each one stepping out for a solo. A few were very good. A bit nervous, smiling. The band sounding fantastic. The mans daughter didn't go up. I parent how he does -- if she hasn't committed to it and others counting on her (a dance not doable w/out her) -- if the girls deides not to do it, don't push her/force her.

In the parking grassy area later I saw that man carrying a case that could have held a fiddle or guitar. Wondering now if he's a musician also. He seemed proud of all the girls there, as did another (female) parent there with them, so perhaps he is one of their teachers also. Whatever. It wasa win-win, and the crowds Saturday got to watch some Irish stepdancing after all, along with fantastic music.

SO was there, which was to be expected really. My group danced earlier on. He and his youngest daughter, F, were there. I think her birthday is soon, too, typically around the time of this festival. They were part of the crowd watching us. The dance stage was much closer to the "crowd" this year, too. Later, a specialized adult dance group went on, that SO is part of and others I know and respect as reall good dancers. They typically do Irish stepdancing and fancier set dances, with a lot of battering. SO's prizewinner Irish stepdancing daughter, F, did two solos (reels andslip jig). It is always nice to watch her dance:) I was too overheated so had to leave for the snack tent, but waited until I watched her. Apparently she didn't go to the feis Saturday. Her dance school also performs today, but I don't know if she'll be in it or not.  (Unfortunately, T's show broke on the stage ugh, and in another group he's also in later in the day, he fell b/c of the broken/split shoe.) 

My dance group did well enough. H did not show, until hours later in the day (she does have cognitive disabilities we're pretty certain along with some social attitude), but it was likely a good thing. So, I danced w/ someone else for the 4-hand reel. Unfortunately, I'd just danced a few in a row, and the one right previous was Lancers. It went real well:) fast and quick and slight scramble for the line up (oops) but otherwise well. Second time I've had that partner for this one in a performance, and everyone in that one dances well, so I'm pleased to be part of it. Coming off of that, the fast condensed version, into the rrreeeaaaallllyyyyy slow, comparatively, 4-hand reel, and me getting overheated, my brain went blank.  It was as if I was in a slow-motion trance, my mind both trying to say okay what do I do next while still spinning the speed of the Lancers / Matt Cunningham set speed.   My body could use the slower speed and I hope I danced on beat, lol, I do typically, but.    I didn't do the 4-hand reel nearly as well as I do know it, tho it worked fine except for one section where my partner didn't know it, either.  And, us in front oy.  Sometimes, I was nudging him as to what the next step was, so I guess I remembered it well enough most of the time.  SO later told me I did well, and I laughed, saying, "Except I blanked after Lancers." "It's a tradition!" Yeah, guess so, lol. 
I did get to tell N that he's a good dancer; he IS especially for only 1 year into it. His friends there took our group shot. We probably should take those BEFORE we get on, so we're not dripping sweat from our bangs, lol, but oh well:) (His one friend had on a utilikilt. I missed the highland games, though, concurrent w/ our dancing.) Oh, and Sweets of May. I do dislike that dance and the music to it. Yet, I've been put into it EVERY single performance I think we've ever done. Once I didn't mind so much, as we danced at the National Theatre in D.C., and M was there as well. The set was made up of mothers and daughters. That was kind-of cool. It's really supposed to be a courting dance, IIRC, but we tend to do it as all females. I will ask in advance to be taken out of it next time. Another woman likes that dance, and can fill in readily for me.
Forgot to add, the Blue Ridge Irish Music School dancers also danced the 6-hand fairy reel to the finale song that Grada played. They'd been dancing it for fun in the grass, when a guy got them to go back in front of the stage. Others came up to dance for the fun of it. This guy seemed to be a Scottish Dancer, the way he tried to get people to dance back and forth with those hops that they do. A lot of great vendors, plus living history camps. That's a really great touch to include them.
In the parking "lot," I met a guy who is a standup comic in Baltimore. I'd have been happy to have talked much briefer of a conversation, but he did make me laugh and oh well. I have his # should I ever be in Baltimore and wish to look him up.  He wasn't pushy and was nice, just it went so long.  

The Potomac had a beginning pink sheen to it when I rode the ferry (White's Ferry) back to Maryland and home, listening to Grada in the cd player. I'm hopeful that M will enjoy them. I think it's her style. I do know that she loved Teada, whom I also like a lot. The two favorite bands I've "discovered" from this festival are Teada a few years back, and now Grada.   They do not have the same sound; Teada might be a bit more traditional but with their own awesome sound to it.   Grada, well, I'm still soaking them in, in a sense.   They also "make it their own" but some bands w/out much talent don't do well at that, yanno?   A touch of Enya style perhaps?   Eh, a rough comparison, but basically, a bit more likeable for those not in love with Celtic style, while certainly having plenty of traditional sound to be appealling, too.  If that makes any sense at all.

I did call M, on her cell and at her dad's home, and left messages. M isn't given them, but, I call, anyway. Via Court Order, she and Imust be allowed telephone contact today, it's the 3rd day of her vacation time with him. We shall see. I do hope her Father's Day there goes well. It's HOT, so, hopefully some water time in there! I'll call Bob, and visit my dad. After church which I must run off to now.

BJ and I IM'd for a short bit last night. I wished him a happy Father's Day, and asked what he had planned. SLEEP. Huh? Don't you have your kids? He's an involved father, which often makes his schedule that much tighter ugh, but I like that he's involved. Yep, he does, for a week, but he'd just gotten back from Paris! Wow, Paris. No wonder his cell phone wasn't readily available. It was a last minute work trip I'm glad he got to go on.  He and I were both rather wiped out.  I told him I'd massage his back, and he could rub my feet, virtually :)

To all Father's everywhere, and to those who fill that role, male or female, have a great day:)

I did hear word that Tommy Sands (and his two grown children) were a not to have been missed show yesterday. I didn't catch him/them. Maybe next time:)
writing stuff to be sure all I've written makes it and doesn't get cut off like last time
I wore my Douglas kilt (when not performing as then I wear the "performing outfit.") The theme this year was Ireland. The PCFest choses a different area of Celtic regions to focus on each year. One year was Galilacea (sp). Those dancers were fantastic and intriguing, combining flamenco (sp) with Irish/Scottish stepdancing styles, wow wow wow. I saw them twice even.
okay, are we done yet? 1 2 3 4

I just checked the Grada website.   Nicola is the current vocalist, pretty and nice, and wow, what vocals!  :)   Also, they're just finishing up some touring in the U.S., including Maine!!!, but, not Charlottesville.  I don't know, then, when (or where) this guy and his stepdancer girls saw them; I must have misheard him.

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