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Review February 1st, 2007
Untitled Document

The Chieftains Appearance at California Center for the Arts, Escondido

by lyle e davis

Paddy MoloneySure’n Paddy Moloney looks just like ye’d think an Irishman should look like. A bit of a pug nose that looks like it might have been mashed in a couple times at a rip-roaring pub tiff - short, curly brown hair . . . all wrapped up in a short, wiry man who appears way too young and full of energy to have fronted his Irish band The Chieftains for 40 years.

It was The Chieftains that pulled together the vision and sound of an Irish pub sing and dance, of an Irish street scene with singers and dancers, of an Irish Orchestra Hall with all the trimmings . . . and they pulled all of these visions and sounds together and they came out just fine, thank you very much . . .

The Chieftains are one of Ireland’s most famous musical ambassadors and it’s nae wunner (no wonder). They’ve played for Kings and Queens, for movie stars and starlets, and they’ve played with the best of the music world, be it Paul McCartney, Sting, or Willie Nelson . . . ya takes yer pick and chances are they’ve played with the lot of ‘em. And showed ‘em a thing or two as well.

We knew we were in for a good night’s fun when Paddy Moloney came stage front and began to address the audience.

Problem was . . . the audience didn’t understand a word he was saying.

The rascal was speaking in the Gaelic! Rascal that he is!

He gave us his wee impish smile and then commenced to talk in the proper English with just a flavor of the Irish brogue filtering through.

And then he commenced to play . . . and the Chieftains were in their element. The audience went wild at the sound of their music . . . even more so when the Irish Step Dancers came out on stage and proceeded to stomp the floorboards of the stage with a proper rendition of the Irish Dance, the likes of which these tired auld eyes haven’t seen for years.

Several times within the show auld Paddy whipped out his tin whistle and began to charm the audience with music that could bring a tear to the eye and then turn right around and make a face grin from ear to ear. The tin whistle is one of the most simple Irish instruments to play, but in the hands of a master like Paddy Moloney, it is one of the sweetest!

The man is magic with his music, whether it be the tin whistle or his uilleann (which, he explained, is the Irish word for elba . . .or elbow. That’s what pumps the bellows that allows the uilleann, a type of Irish bagpipe, to give out with its music.)

Some have remarked that The Chieftains were the first ever world music band and it’s tempting to pose the question to Paddy. “That’s the first time I’ve ever had that put to me,” he replies, pondering before agreeing that it might possibly be fair comment. But for him it’s all about “great music from around the world” and not just some back-of-the-shelves record company categorization. “It’s about how music began, the roots of the whole thing and it deserves a whole lot better. It should be more fun, presented right and given a hearing.”

Paddy has done session work for The Muppets, Mick Jagger, Sting and Stevie Wonder. He is also a composer of several tunes played on The Chieftains albums, and film music for Treasure Island and other features.

We saw Bob Newhart in concert several weeks ago at the California Center for the Arts. The Chieftains were every bit as entertaining as Newhart.

The only complaint I had was about four of five members of the audience, several of them women, would screech like Banshees when the Chieftains would play, sing, and dance. The audience came to hear the Chieftains . . . not ill behaved members of the audience. To them, I say, behave thyself.





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