Thursday, May 14, 2015

MidAtlantic Fleadh 2015 in Pictures...

This past weekend was the 2015 MidAtlantic Fleadh, one of Haley's favorite weekends of the year. The following picture essay will show you why she has so much fun there! This weekend we arrived Thursday night. Haley took a singing workshop on Friday while I volunteered.

She hung out with her good friends, Emily and Livia, laughing at some videos after dinner….

She recorded for Willie Fogarty of Willie has been recording Haley every time we see him since he first heard her play at a MidAtlantic Fleadh when she was seven years old. This year she recorded a couple sets with her friend Jayne, who placed 1st in Under 18 solo fiddle this year, recorded a set by herself, and recorded a couple sets with her duet (and Méara Meara bandmate) Keegan, who took 1st in under 18 uilleann pipes, uilleann pipe slow airs, and tin whistle slow airs…yes, he's an amazing musician!

Friday night there were sessions late into the night….

Sessions with Keegan and Haley's CD producer John Whelan.
Sessions with uilleann pipers, Joey and Patrick (also the kids trio/duet coach) 
Sessions with Jeanne, Patrick, and Aaron.
 Saturday was solo competition day! There were 34 fiddlers in Haley's age group for solo fiddle. The competition took 3.5 hours. Haley placed 1st in under 15 solo fiddle (yes, she has finally aged out of under 12…we figured out she has owned the under 12 solo fiddle trophy for half her life so far). She also took 2nd in fiddle slow airs…her friend, Joanna took 1st playing a couple lovely slow airs!

Haley with teacher, Brian Conway!

She watched some of her friends' competitions and went swimming with her friends then in the evening we ordered Chinese takeout and the kids rehearsed for their trio and duet competitions. Haley helped her duet/trio coach, Patrick, figure out how to use his new iPhone….

In return, he gave her an uilleann pipes lesson…Haley's reaction when she first got sound out of those pipes…priceless!!

After rehearsals it was off to Saturday night sessions until the wee morning hours. Saturday night the session consisted of all young teens with the occasional adult sitting in…so much fun watching them interact and make music together!

Sunday morning was duet and trio competition day. Haley and Keegan took 2nd in under 18 duets.

The Converse Trio took 1st in under 18 Trios…there was some great competition in both events (I have no idea how judges even decide).

After the competitions and a bit of socializing, Haley and I drove to White Plains for a Pride of New York Mother's Day concert…we never get tired of hearing them!

Haley shared her trophy with the composer of her Fleadh jig, Billy…

Here's a little video of Haley practicing her jig for the Fleadh a couple months ago. She changed the key from the original key…she was playing it in 5 different keys at one point trying to decide which she liked best. She had added in quite a few more variations by competition time but this will give you an idea of what it sounded like. It's great little jig…

We spent the night in White Plains Sunday night then drove home Monday morning. On the ride home, a friend contacted us to let us know Haley and Dylan's track on earned the #1 spot on their Top 20 Traditional Tracks for April 2015. We were home for 30 minutes before driving to Philly for a violin lesson then to the Monday night session with Dylan…because four days of Irish music is just not enough.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Nice Review!

Almost exactly four years ago, a man in Chicago named Bill Margeson wrote a blog ( that included a bit about Haley. I stumbled upon that post a year or so later by accident while searching for a different article.

When the kids released their CD, I thought Mr. Margeson might like to have a listen so I contacted him for an address and sent one off. He and his partner, Imelda, began playing tunes from the album on their Sunday afternoon radio program broadcast worldwide on at 1pm EST. Haley, Dylan, and I have listened in for the past two weeks.

Today he posted a nice review of the album on his blog Margeson on the Music. Here it is…

Haley spent the weekend with sort of a split personality.

Friday night, she and Dylan were fiddling tunes at a multicultural festival in the town next to us then yesterday, her fiddle became a violin as she performed the first movement of the Mozart Concerto in D Major and a couple short duets with her classical violin teacher.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Boston with Méara Meara

Silly kids!
Making music with friends is a lot of fun!

Haley and Dylan have been enjoying Monday afternoon music making sessions with uilleann piper, Keegan, for the past few months. Keegan has been cyber-schooling since January which leaves him more time for his music and Monday evenings they all enjoy a session from 7-9pm. Haley has a violin lessons in Philly in the afternoons so in the between time, they all get together to share tunes, arrange sets, and laugh together.

Around March, when they had a few gigs come up together, the kids decided they needed a "band" name. They ended up deciding on Méara Meara which mean "Lively Fingers" in Irish…if you've heard them play, you'd understand how perfect this name is.  You can check out their website

Haley and Dylan had played at The Burren in Boston back in November and the month before they performed, Keegan had been there with a youth exchange program. Brian O'Donovan asked if the three of them could come back together to open for one of the bands and we eventually settled on April 15th. It ended up being a great night! The kids did a great job performing their four sets and we met the three musicians in the Mairtin O'Connor Trio and got to hear their lively set of wonderfully arranged tunes! What a great night of music!!

Backstage at The Burren with The Mairtin O'Connor Trio.
Sound Check at The Burren

A little video of their set thanks to Stephen Shepard…

The next day, we spent the day in Boston. We had a few mis-adventures…a couple sites we wanted to see were closed during the week (until the following Monday of course) and we attempted to get some good photos of the kids. We walked around a lot, saw whatever we could see, had some incredible Italian food (home-made pasta), then headed to a local session for some lovely tunes. We were pleasantly surprised to see Flynn (a guitarist for The John Whelan band who backed one of Haley's slow airs on the kids' new CD).

This photo cracks me up.
We were out late Thursday night and took awhile to get moving on Friday then drove to NYC where the kids were hosting a session for Donie Carroll.

Because they hadn't had enough Irish music the three days prior, they spent the early afternoon busking in NYC on Saturday before we drove home.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

CD Release

Tony Lawless at offered to do an online CD release for Haley and Dylan's new CD "Heart on a String." Here's a link to the article he wrote.

Being the "mom-ager" has become almost a full time job and in between it all, my computer screen broke and I sent it for a repair estimate. Ugh! (I will not be getting it fixed in the near future.)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gigs, sessions, CDs, and more gigs...

So much has happened the past couple weeks….

Haley and Donie Carroll open the event in NYC.

 Haley was lucky enough to be invited to two Sober St. Patrick's Day events this year. The Sunday before St. Patrick's Day was the event in Philadelphia and on Tuesday was the Sober St. Patrick's Day event in Manhattan. After our first St. Patrick's Day outing in a pub when Haley was five years old, I must say what a pleasure it is to have dry events for her to enjoy playing the music she loves. The Sober St. Patrick's Day events are a wonderful celebration of true Irish culture, dance, and music. Such a great idea Bill Reilly had a few years ago!

In Philadelphia, Haley played with her Méara Meara bandmates, Dylan and Keegan then the three of them joined all the other fabulous musicians for the finale. In Manhattan, Haley and Donie Carroll opened the show then she performed with her Converse Trio mates, Keegan and Alex, for a set before they joined the All Star Ceili Band on stage for most of the rest of the program.

The All Star Ceili Band in NYC
Haley and Dylan's CDs, "Heart on a String" arrived and they began selling them online on their website and for digital download on  Here they are autographing the CDs for their customers.

Last Thursday, Haley, Dylan, their friends Livia and Emily, and I drove out a night early to beat the snow storm here at home because they had a performance in Vermont as part of the Sligo Six. We had to leave after Dylan got home from work at 10pm, pick up the girls and their van, and I drove until 2am when we stopped at a hotel for the night.

We work around 8am and enjoyed out free breakfast before completing our journey. We took our time, stopped a few places for Dylan to take photos, and arrived in Vermont in time for supper with Mark, his wife, and our hostess for the weekend, Jesusa. After supper, we drove to Jesusa's where the girls swam in her family's indoor basement pool for over an hour! Fun! They went to bed at 9pm and fell asleep before their heads hit their pillows.

Saturday morning, the kids got up and ate a delicious breakfast before rehearsing for a couple hours with Patrick (the trio coach). Then we headed to a session a few towns over before sound check for the performance.

Sligo Six sound check.
The kids did a great job in the performance! Everyone did their best and it went really well! We got up really early in the morning Sunday and drove to White Plains, NY for fiddle lessons for Haley and Livia before making our way back home.

The amazing accordion player, James Keane (Haley's buddy Paraic's uncle), attended their weekly Monday night session. Wow! He played some amazing tunes and there were musicians all over the pub.

Last night Haley and I attended a small private house concert with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. I can tell you this is the very best way to hear Irish music…up close and personal and acoustically…nothing separating us from the musicians. Martin was on top of his game!

He was invited up for an encore and instead of playing, asked Haley if she'd use his fiddle to play a few tunes (she didn't have her own).  Haley said initially, his fiddle felt difficult to get sound out of but once she played the first tune and got used to it, she loved the way it sounded. Fiddle envy. She might have played all night if she could have.

A few years ago, while driving to the airport on our way to Ireland, we were listening to NJ101.5's Dennis and Judi who were doing a "Where Are You Now?" topic hour. Haley called and told them she was on her way to Ireland to compete in the All Ireland. They asked her to fiddle them a tune over the phone then looked her up on youtube. She called again about a year ago to talk to them about homeschooling.

Yesterday, they were doing an hour about "Titles You Hold." Haley called to tell them about her All Ireland fiddle title and they invited her and Dylan to come in today for lunch with them and to play some Irish music on air. So we did.

The kids have played on a couple other radio stations over the years but this was the largest. The hosts, Dennis and Judi were so nice to them and there was a huge spread of food brought in by Biagio's.

Here's a link to the radio station's post about the hour with video.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New CD!!!!

Haley and Dylan's CD is finished and uploaded to Diskfaktory for printing!!!

The last couple days have been pretty hectic…proofing the cover and the tune sets, lots of texts and emails to the various people involved, and lots of time on the internet. We are hoping to receive the freshly minted CDs in time for a St. Patrick's Day release but we are cutting it close!

I am so grateful to all the people in our lives who have made this CD possible. John Whelan for offering to produce and record. All his time and travel, his advice, and his patience in working with the kids (and me) was incredible. Brian Conway for being a great teacher and imparting his knowledge to Haley all these years, for his friendship and support, and for playing a set with Haley on the CD. Thomas Boyer for his expert mixing and mastering. Matt Ferrara ( for the beautiful photography, the wonderful graphic design of the CD artwork, and his patience with all our changes. Paul Keating for having a first listen and, as Haley says, his "way with words." John and Jackie Kelly for their help with picking photos and a title and my friend, Lynette, for her input and support when I needed it.

We are so lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives!!

If you'd like to order a copy of "Heart on a String" just click this link to our website store page.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Pre-St.Patrick's Weekend...

Irish musicians refer to this month as "March Madness." Due to St. Patrick's Day, gigs take up many more weekends than any other month….December runs a close 2nd though. We started last week with some great (legendary) Irish musicians playing concerts close by and Saturday night another band was in town. Haley met Mairead from Altan a couple years ago at a festival in Dublin, OH while she was performing with The John Whelan Band. We saw her again this past summer while they were touring in NY and Mairead invited Haley onstage with them while we were at the Fleadh in Sligo Ireland in August.

Haley had been looking forward to Altan being in town for months. Mairead invited her to join them again which made it even more exciting for her. We arrived in Philly, parked the car, and walked out of the parking garage at the same time as the band was crossing the street to go to supper. Mairead invited us to join them and introduced us to her daughter, Nia, who is just a year younger than Haley.

After supper, we walked back over to the Annenberg and Mairead taught Haley a number of tunes, in 20 min, she would later play with them on stage. Once the tunes were learned, Haley and Nia shared a few tunes including a lovely jig Nia had written.

Haley and I went out into the audience to watch the first half of the show. Altan's new CD, Widening Gyre, is a mixture of Irish and Bluegrass music. They always put on a great show! We backstage during intermission and watched from there until close to the end when Haley went out to join them.

This photo was posted on Facebook by Doug Wallner.
What a fun night!!

Sunday morning we were up bright and early…especially early due to the time change and our late night the night before. Haley and Keegan played some Irish tunes for an Irish Mass at St. Malachy's Church in Philly.  (They made it onto the late night news on Sunday night...!/news/local/Parishioners-Raising-Money-to-Preserve-19th-Century-Church/295581561)

We all drove straight from church to their afternoon gig, the Down Jersey Celtic Celebration at Cumberland County College, for a sound check.

Haley, Keegan, and Dylan recently named their trio Méara Meara ( They have been rehearsing once a week before the Monday night session they all attend. They sounded awesome together!