Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Liz Carroll in Kansas City

Liz Carroll , the Irish fiddler, was in Kansas City last Sunday. She is known for having released three CD’s under her name, Liz Carroll (Green Linnet, 1988), Lost in the Loop (Green Linnet, 2000), and Lake Effect (Green Linnet, 2002), and one with John Doyle, In Play (Compass, 2005). Liz Carroll is also known as a song writer and many other Celtic musicians play her tunes.

The Missouri Valley Folklife Society had been working on having Liz Carroll come to Kansas City for a couple of years. The problem, I think, was coming up with the money. MVFS concerts used to be well attended in the past; lately, however, attendance has fallen off for any number of reasons, such as the collapsing economy.

When I used to live in Kansas City during the early 1990’s, I got involved with the Missouri Valley Folklife Society and volunteered once or twice at some of the concerts they had sponsored. Altan performed in Kansas City in 1991 or 1992 before the late Frankie Kennedy was diagnosed with cancer. Their concert opened with Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh singing "An t-Oilean Ur," an unaccompanied solo in Irish from the album Horse with a Heart. They later performed some of the songs from The Red Crow, including “The Wedding Jig.” It was an exciting concert. Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, formerly of Fairport Convention, were in Kansas City for a concert around that time, too.

It wasn’t as easy hearing traditional Celtic music once I moved to Stillwater. The Tannahill Weavers gave a concert at one point in the student union at Oklahoma State, but the tickets were priced much higher than the cost of tickets in Kansas City.

Since returning to Kansas City, I’ve been fortunate enough to see both Lunasa and the Celtic Fiddle Festival, with the late Johnny Cunningham, in concert. Both concerts were excellent. My son was older when Lunasa came to Kansas City and found their stirring rhythms much more to his liking than the solo performances and group settings of the Celtic Fiddle Festival. (Kevin Burke was a member of The Bothy Band; one of the songs from his Bothy Band period elicited a lot of audience excitement during the Celtic Fiddle Festival concert. Christian Lemaitre's Breton dance tunes are particularly haunting. One little girl couldn't resist dancing in front of the stage while he played.)

Liz Carroll and John Doyle gave a great concert, performing a variety of tunes, reels mostly but also a couple of polkas. My son preferred those songs in which John Doyle sang (despite playing his saxophone in the middle school jazz band, my son prefers songs with words). Between songs, Liz Carroll and John Doyle were funny and charming as they described some of their experiences when growing up. Hearing them live makes it possible to appreciate their recordings that much more. I heartily recommend hearing them perform live if the opportunity ever arises.