Friday, November 01, 2013

Cherish the Ladies: storytellers in music

Storytellers in music: that is what Cherish the Ladies have been since they began with what was meant to be a one off concert in New York twenty seven years ago. The story they’ve told, through traveling the world, through comings and goings of band members, through night after night of concerts and conversation, has been that of the vibrancy of Irish culture, and the variety and professionalism and creativity of women in Irish music.

Part of that creativity has been shown across the years in their recordings. Two (update, now three) of those are seasonal winter holiday albums -- fine ones to prepare for Advent, to enjoy for Christmas, or indeed to hear any time of year.

-->Update 2021: All three Cherish Christmas albums Including the newest one Christmas in Irleand) are availble as one 40 track compilation called Cherish the ladies: Ultimate Christmas Mix, from Bandcamp. You are also able to audition and purchase individual tracks there. You may also wish to know that on one Friday every month, Bandcamp waives fees to artists so all income from sales goes to creators, something to look out for...

Star in the East finds the band focusing on the celebratory side of the holiday season while adding a touch of reflection here and there. The Dash for the Presents set, opening with an original tune by bandleader Joanie Madden sets the tone. It is followed by Michelle Lee Burke handling lead singing on a fine retelling of the Christmas tale written by Robbie O’Connell called All On a Christmas Morning. There are carols and hymns, reels and tunes, Madden reading a reflective poem by Patrick Kavanagh which is well paired with the music of In the Bleak Midwinter, and Burke taking lead again on the rollicking traveling song song Home on Time for Christmas.

On Christmas Night is the band’s earlier Christmas album, one which timeless and engaging nearly ten years on from its first release. There are tune sets which include versions of traditional carols and hymns with perhaps less well known pieces of Irish music, such as Ding Dong Merrily On High / The Cordial Jig / Old Apples in Winter / Con Cassidy’s. Heidi Talbot is the lead singer on this recording, offering inspired versions of Silent Night, which she sings in English and Irish, trading lead with other members of the band on The Holly and the Ivy, and bringing a gentle, graceful take on The Castle of Dromore.

Mary Coogan, who with Madden is a founding member of Cherish the Ladies, plays guitar in this video. She also has a seasonal album out, called Christmas.

As I write this the band is preparing a holiday tour in December as well, with original band member Cathie Ryan returning for some dates as guest singer. Catch them live if you can.

Photograph of Cherish the Ladies at the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall with guest Alison Brown during the Celtic Connections Festival (to which they will be returning for their twentieth anniversary appearance in January). It was made with the permission of the artists, the festival, and the venue, and is copyrighted, Thank you for respecting this.

You may also wish to see
Galway Afternoon: Joanie Madden
The Last Star: Heidi Talbot
Cathie Ryan: teaching tradition
Cherish the Ladies web site and tour schedule

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Blogger Vera Marie said...

Kerry: Thanks to your introduction to this group, my husband is getting a Christmas gift of tickets to their spring concert in Tucson with the symphony orchestra. I'm torn between getting a Christmas album by them and a year-round album. What do you think?

11:54 AM  
Blogger Kerry Dexter said...

you'll not go wrong with either choice. of the year round ones, my two top favortes are The Back Door and Woman of the House.

11:58 AM  

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