Friday, December 04, 2009

Cherish The Ladies: A Star in the East

The ideas of stars, and of homecoming, and of connection, weave through and into the tunes and songs the members of Cherish the Ladies offer on A Star in the East, from Joanie Madden’s march Dash for the Presents, flowing into Joy to The World and then into Parnell’s March to start things off, to Boo Hewerdine's song New Year’s Eve paired with the Scottish tune on which Robert Burns based his music for Old Lang Syne to bring things to a close. It’s an hour of very fine music, ranging from the lively to the quiet, from dance tune to ancient carol.

The Ladies know how to do this well -- flute player Joanie Madden has been at the helm of this groundbreaking outfit since the days, twenty five years ago, when most people were skeptical that women could play real Irish music. Cherish proved them wrong time and time and time again, over the years and over the miles, and over band changes which have seen the group be a seedbed for many of today’s top musicians. Eileen Ivers , Winifred Horan, Donna Long, Heidi Talbot, Aoife Clancy, and Cathie Ryan are among those who’ve helped shape Cherish’s history. Madden and guitarist/mandolin player/banjo player Mary Coogan have remained constant presences in the group. Currently the band also includes fiddler Roisin Dillon, accordion player Mirella Murray, pianist Kathleen Boyle, and the newest member of the group, singer Michelle Burke. Burke offers an especially nice take on the lively and funny song Home On Time for Christmas, which sees people traveling all over Ireland to reach their relatives [and maybe meeting Santa on the way], and shows she can handle quieter songs as well. Madden steps out take lead vocal on the African American spiritual Rise Up Shepherd and Follow -- which is done with a slight Irish twist thoroughly in the sprit of the song. She also does a spoken world piece, Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh’s A Christmas Childhood. These two make a nice linking of the idea of stars, too.

Coogan, Murray, Madden, Boyle, and Dillon offer outstanding playing and ensemble work on each cut, whether working on tunes or supporting the singers. Every track sparkles with the love and care they invest in the music. Coogan’s guitar shines especially brightly to begin the What Child Is This?/Greensleeves Jig/The Tongs by the Fire/The Frost is All Over set. Other tracks worth noting are the Christmas Eve/Road to Glountane set, Deck the Halls/John Clifford’s/Jingle Bells, and Kathleen Boyle’s original The Homecoming.

It’s a bit like a great session around the holiday hearth with a bunch of talented and welcoming friends, and as it’s a recording, you get to play it again as much as you’d like, and add your own holiday memories.

you may also wish to see

Music Road: holiday gift list: Irish music

Music Road: Cherish the Ladies: On Christmas Night

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've made me want to buy this!

5:12 PM  

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