Celtic Christmas, with Danny O'Flaherty |
at F.G. Bulber Auditorium,
McNeese State University,
Lake Charles, LA
(15 December 2004)
Most of us have heard about professional psychics, as well as those who practice their mysterious arts on the boardwalk at the traveling carnival. There are psychics who have call lines, make predictions and appropriate money from people who want to know if they will get their dearest wish granted. Such psychics prey on those whose body language, and answers to certain key questions, will answer their own questions, and give the pseudo-psychic all the information she/he needs to weave a tapestry of lies. Then there are those who are gifted with a sixth sense, practice their gift and do so with a pure intent. There are those who practice Celtic music and other arts, and who are pure in heart and intent. Thus, it was with a pure intent that I attended a recent concert headlined by Danny O'Flaherty.
As an inveterate rolling Flynt, I have lived in a number of places, and delved into the various ethnicities represented in our heterogeneous culture. If America is supposed to be a melting pot of cultures, why then have I not heard much of the Irish culture of peoples in Louisiana? Although I have seen a number of movies containing acknowledgment of the Irish influence on music and life in this part of America, I have yet to see a real focus placed on the troubles of the Celtic people, or their culture. Even though Danny O'Flaherty has been in Louisiana 14 years, travels all over the world with his show and gives an extensive history of the ways in which Louisiana was influenced by the many Celts who settled here during various religious and political persecutions, why then did I feel that the show was too slick, too polished? The music was well-played, the cast was professional and included Michael Cahill, a first-generation American whose family is from County Galway; Janet Shea, an actress, director and teacher based in New Orleans; Misha Kachkachishvili, the multi-talented pianist, contrabassoonist and owner of a digital recording studio in New Orleans; and three younger performers, Joseph McGinty, a student in the University of New Orleans Jazz Studies program where he studies jazz and classical music; Joni Muggivan, a stepdancer and one of the first dancers in Louisiana to be a competitor at the World Competition for Irish Dance; and Courtney Shea Cole, singer/performer with the aforementioned O'Flaherty.
The represented Celtic countries were Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany, and references were made to such places as the Isle of Man and Galicia. Again, the polish of the performance was not enough to move the audience to sing along, fully engage or wish to stay after the performers were taking their bows and then introduced by O'Flaherty. The biggest applause went to McGinty's violin solos and Muggivan's solo turns as a dancer. The setting was intimate, the lighting was good, the banners and other decorative touches were suitably Celtic. But, even though the music was played well, I was not moved to the shivers, nor was I given the opportunity to be engaged by the music, or to believe that my wishes would come true. Maybe I was put off by the references to triumphs and professional Celtics -- er -- Sell-tics, as well as the cruise with the other Celtophiles in January. I think next time I'll just play a CD of the Chieftains, and gaze into my own crystal ball to see the future.