Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Playing with the Chieftains*...

Haley with Paddy
On Tuesday I got an email message for a fiddling friend in Philly, Paraic (whose father used to fiddle for the band but has since decided to spend more time in Ireland), asking if Haley would like to play with the Chieftains*. She was reading over my shoulder because we thought the message was about a gig Paraic does that he often invited Haley to sit in on. Her response was a squeal of delight!

Last night was an incredible experience for her. We didn't have too much information going there at 5pm (concert at 8pm) and ask to see Paddy  who will be expecting you. So, we walked in a door people seemed to be coming and going from and told a woman we were expected. She asked us to wait a few minutes then came back and asked, "Are you Haley?"

She took us into the house where we saw Haley's friends, Jayne and her brother Bram waiting. (Both are students of the same fiddle teacher and we've spent lots of time with them on our different trips to Ireland. They have played with the band over the years so were able to teach us the ropes.) We waited a bit then watched the sound check. I was able to get a few pictures then because I wouldn't be able to during the show. Unfortunately I couldn't get any actual pictures of Haley on stage that way. After the sound check, Haley and I followed the band backstage.

Chieftains* sound check

Sound check with band and pipers
We introduced ourselves to the tour manager, got the ticket situation taken care of for the boys, Daddy, and Poppop, then Jayne found the guitarist who came and went over what the girls would be playing for a solo and his accompaniment to it. A little later, Jon Pilatzke*, one of the fiddlers (and also an amazing dancer) came in and asked what they would be playing. Jayne went over what she was doing then Haley said, "Dr. Gilberts" and he looked a little shocked then, jokingly, said, "Oh, only that easy tune."

Learning a tune with Jon and Jeff
She played it for him and he mentioned something about being out of a job soon then asked how old she is and who her teacher is. He went over when and how the grand finale would go. Everyone would play a tune over and over but between times through the tune, different people would play their own solo...whatever they wanted. Haley didn't know the tune they would be playing together so he played it for her then told her she could just play notes around G but she picked up her fiddle and played it back to him, shocking him a bit. The kids then had some time to eat a little. There was a large spread of food. We met Paddy Moloney* and took some pictures. He was a bit excited to finally have to bend down to have his picture taken with someone.

It was close to show time so Haley and I went out to find the men and take our seats to watch the first half of the show. The band plays such a variety of music with singing and dancing. It is really a wonderful show. I was so impressed with the harpist's was absolutely amazing. The female fiddler, a bluegrass player, also played a fabulous bluegrass solo.

During intermission, we made our way backstage. Haley felt important knowing the code to get backstage. I had written it down but, of course, she remembered it and was keen to punch it in. We gathered up her fiddle and headed up the spiralling metal stairs to the stage area. From there we watched...during the second half they had guest dancers and a pipe and drum corp join them. The band dancers and the fiddling dancer did an amazing dance sitting on chairs where their feet moved so fast and in perfect time.

When it came time for the grand finale, Paddy introduced Haley then Jayne and Bram onto the stage as a special treat. Haley stood next to Paddy with Jayne next to her. Bram sat a little behind them to play his bodhran in the seat Paddy had used to play his uilleann pipes. They began playing the main tune and taking turns doing solos. As band members played solos, the other members would pretend to yawn if they went too long or do other silly things. The fiddler placed his mic on Haley for her turn. She played a great Dr.Gilberts. Most of the band hadn't heard her play before. The fiddlers both pretended to slam their fiddles on the ground and walk off stage. The crowd roared when she finished. They loved Bram's dancing as well. He's so cute!

Everyone briefly left the stage and a number of them congratulated Haley on her playing. They all went back on to play the An Droh, a tune Haley loves to play, for the snake dance...the pipe band joined them and all the dancers danced the snake dance through the crowd picking up audience members to join in. That was the end of the show.
Haley, Jayne, and Bram with Paddy
We had to go backstage afterward to get our things. We thanked Paddy and the tour manager for having her. Paddy invited her to play with them whenever she'd like.

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