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Paddy Keenan concert

Last Thursday I had the great pleasure of opening for Paddy Keenan and Tommy O’Sullivan who were celebrating the release of their new CD, The Long Grazing Acre. The show was at the beautiful Victoria Hall Theatre, packed to the rafters with a sell-out crowd of Celtic music fans.

Paddy is legendary for his unique style on the uillean pipes - an instrument that is quite unique to begin with and one that is difficult to play. He makes it look easy though, a zillion notes flowing and trilling forth to become happy dance tunes or melancholy airs. He plays the low whistle too, which brings haunting mystery to any melody. Paddy’s musical sidekick Tommy O’Sullivan plays driving rhythm accompaniment on guitar as well as sensitive finger-style for his own soulful vocals.

The band I played with for the first set is a new group, all made up of Santa Barbara area musicians who’ve been playing together just a few weeks. Gilles Apap, fabulous fiddler, pulled us all together for this event. Here we are from left to right (band photos by J. Downs): Gary Jensen, bodhran; me; Gilles Apap, fiddle and Eliot Jacobsen, guitar and flute.

Laurie and the Dirty Nellie band

And here’s Treasa McGettigan, our lovely Irish songbird.

Treasa sings wih Gilles and Eliot

At the end of the show Paddy and Tommy invited us, along with a couple of extra fiddlers, to join in on a set of reels.

Paddy Keenan and Dirty Nellie band

While we waited backstage to go on Gilles demonstrated one of his many talents - he can balance his violin bow on the tip of his nose while doing sit-ups. The rest of us are still learning how to do that and when we figure it out we'll all join the circus.

Gilles does sit-ups