End Of Summer Update
As the beauty of Autumn arrives slowly but surely it is pleasant to reflect on some of the highlights of the summer.
Firstly, Frances and I were forty years married on July 15th and spent a lovely anniversary attending the annual concert of the Dutch violinist and concert maestro Andre Rieu in his hometown of Maastricht in Holland. The music, presentation and atmosphere were truly astounding and it’s easy to see why 10,000 people attend these concerts each evening for a week! It was a special time for us and as many of our friends say, Frances deserves a medal for all those years. I agree!
After a busy May and June filled with children’s concerts I played my annual family shows on the July 4th Independence celebrations at the wonderful Ulster American Folk Park in my hometown of Omagh. It is a truly splendid museum and well worth a visit if you’re ever in these parts. I was then able to take three weeks off from doing performances and spend time in the studio working on a number of recording projects.
NEW CD OF W.B.YEATS’ POETRY
The first project, a CD of my favourite W.B Yeats poems, is now completed and will be available on I Tunes and on the website in late September. Also at my gigs, of course. I have been a tremendous admirer of Yeats most of my life and am inclined to recite many of his poems at the drop of a hat. It was a great labour of love and I hope many people will be able to share the brilliant lyricism of the poet in these Spoken Word recordings. During the sessions, we took time out to go on a boat trip around Lough Gill and many of the settings of poems including the Lake Isle Of Innisfree, Sleuth Wood and the Hazel Wood – it was a lovely sunny summer day and it was magical.
SARAH MAKEM TRIBUTE ALBUM
The second and current project which is about three-quarters done is a tribute album to my maternal grandmother, Sarah Makem. She was the inheritor and singer of hundreds of traditional ballads, many of which I learned growing up. It is difficult to select an album worth of songs from such a rich repertoire, but I have chosen fourteen of my own personal favourites. Sarah sang all her songs unaccompanied, but I have tried to add accompaniment that I hope is sensitive and unobtrusive to the beauty and narrative of the ballads. The album should be ready for release around Christmas.
It was a great pleasure in August to perform at the fantastic An Ri Ra Irish Festival in Butte, Montana and the world-renowned Milwaukee Irish Festival.
Along with my longtime musical friends Kevin Evans and Brian Doherty from Nova Scotia, we presented a tribute to my late uncle, Tommy Makem on the tenth anniversary of his passing.
Tommy was a first-rate performer and the composer of many songs that have become standards in the Irish folk repertoire. Our tribute was to Tommy as a songwriter. Our efforts were magnificently received by huge audiences which is a mark of the highest esteem in which he is held universally. It was a particular pleasure to be joined onstage by Tommy’s son, Rory, for all our Milwaukee performances.
Meeting so many old friends among the performers and the audience is always a highlight of any festival, with Butte and Milwaukee right up there in kindness, hospitality and organisation. The thousands of volunteers are simply incredible. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who made it all so unforgettable.
TOMMY MAKEM TRIBUTE ALBUM
Along with Kevin and Brian, we recorded a tribute album to the songs of Tommy Makem called ‘Sing Me The Old Songs’ and we were amazed that the CD completely sold out over the two festivals! More have been reprinted for our October concerts in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It will be available on our respective websites and on iTunes at the end of October.
The horror of the storms in the Caribbean and Florida was devastating and having visited those places many times my heart went out to all those who suffered so terribly. May God bless them in their recovery.
AUTUMN AND WINTER
I continue to write songs and hope to begin an album of all my own compositions this autumn.
From the end of October until Christmas I will be flat out with primary/elementary school performances and family shows.
I am glad that folks continue to check our website and I will keep you posted regularly as things happen and develop.
All my CDs of songs, stories and poetry are available on I Tunes and direct from the website www.tomsweeneymusic.ie
In the meantime stay well and every blessing to you and yours.