Albuquerque, September 8, 2010


Ticket_20100908_AlbuquerqueTink and I were both heading from Tucson to Albuquerque and had separate rental cars we decided to caravan.  “We got ourselves a convoy!”  Well, a very small one anyway.  Traffic was very light, the scenery was the same as last year and we arrived around 3:30.  We lost an hour even though we were in the same time zone because Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings time and are thus the same as Pacific time in the summer.  Go figure.

After getting organized and changing I met the rest of the group at Applebee's around 5:00.  There were quite a few of us there: Scott, Robert, Chris and Kelly, Dalton and Rockie, Dwight, Tink and myself, Jeff, Amy, and Gary and sons.  I apologize if that's not accurate but there were a few people I had not met before.  Robert gave me a bag of New Mexico propaganda trying to convince me that there really is scenery here; I may need a little more convincing.  Dalton had bright yellow Fiddler Crossing t-shirts for everyone.  Now we can all look like “neon Scott.”  Dinner was excellent, despite Chris's sizzling plate which got everyone's attention!

After dinner, though, is when the main event began.  As most of you know, Scott has been with the forum virtually since its inception.  It is Scott that has made this place what it is, a place of respect and honor for the one who's name it bears.  It is Scott who, despite dumping all of the hard work on me, continues to keep it a place that Máiréad can be and, most importantly, is proud of.  He has done so many things for the forum and its members, myself included, that I felt it was time to return the favor.  Tonight would be his 50th show, an event worth noting, and it seemed to be a good time to repay that debt.  Over the last several months I had been working on several things, which some of you knew about and helped with, but the celebration was kept secret from Scott.

Since Robert was relatively local I had him get a photo cake made with a picture of Máiréad on it.  Before dinner we delivered it to restaurant personnel to be brought to the table after dinner.  This was the first time that I had a chance to see it and it was stunning; almost too good to eat!  After photos were taken I gave Scott the knife and asked him to make the first “incision.”  He refused to cut the picture but there was enough around the perimeter that everyone got a piece and Scott gets to keep the picture in his freezer.  Máiréad on ice!

n addition to the cake, and since we love buttons, I had commemorative buttons made for the occasion.  I delivered buttons to the girls, including Rachel, in Tucson and everyone at dinner got one.  Fortunately for the button manufacturer, and the general public, Scott's picture is not on the button.  There is a much nicer picture on it.

The final item presented at dinner was a picture frame that I found at an Irish gift shop in, of all places, Gettysburg, PA, only a few miles from home.  I had been looking at all sort of things online for weeks but could not find anything that really jumped out at me.  I stumbled across this place by sheer happenstance.  The frame is handmade Irish porcelain with a hand-painted shamrock design on it.  I also spent quite a long time trying to find the perfect picture to put in it.  Eventually I stumbled upon two pictures of Máiréad in the white Isle of Hope gown that she debuted at Máiréad Fest in Wilkes-Barre.  For Scott and many of us that is our favorite of all of her gowns and there are only a very few good pictures of her wearing it.  If and when I am able to get permission from the photographer I will post them for everyone to enjoy; they are stunning.  I also included a few other pictures printed in the correct size for variety.

Finally it was time for the show.  The venue was the same as last year, Popejoy Hall on the campus of the University of New Mexico.  It's not a fancy place but it is quite nice with excellent acoustics.  Most of us were in the second pit row with a few overflowing into the third row.  The stage is quite high at this venue, like Wallingford, and second row is actually much better than the front row.  I had a short person in front of me and had a great view of the girls, with the converse also being true.  The combination of the venue acoustics and the closeness to the stage allowed the direct sound from the performers to be heard in many cases, including Máiréad's violin, and greatly enhanced the show.

With a sea of familiar faces up front the girls were noticeable happy and put on a great show.  Máiréad spotted all of us right away and mouthed a “Hi!” to Scott.  Chloe has now begun doing a little extra audience encouragement during her introduction to Galway Bay, trying to get everyone all charged up.  I had my new signs with me and got a laugh out of Máiréad when she saw my “Spin Limit 12” sign.  She obeyed but did 11 spins for the first time in a while.  After my six shows in July I had gotten accustomed to the new harmonies in Orinoco Flow but both last night and tonight they took me by surprise.  Lynn's voice seemed to be back to normal tonight and My Lagan Love was amazing.  Danny Boy was equally spectacular, especially since it was a largely acoustic performance up front.  I had my “No Bow Shredding” sign displayed for Granuaile's Dance but she shredded many a bow hair anyway.

Like Tucson, there were no steps up to the stage so Anthony walked from the back and stopped along the side for his opening to Amazing Grace and then sneaked backstage when nobody was looking.  Lynn keeps adding more and more to her introduction to Dulaman.  Tonight, after receiving the usual silence when she asked if anyone spoke Irish, she said “I'll teach you one word.”  After explaining that dulaman means seaweed she then joked, “And now you know more Irish than most Irish people!”  The intro will soon be longer than the song if she keeps this up.  Last Rose Fantasia was beautiful as always and I displayed my “No Head Butting” sign for The Mason's Apron.  Unfortunately, she doesn't do that anymore so I'll to think of something else now.

The highlight of the night came at the end of the Finale.  I had one other trick up my sleeve for Scott and I wasn't sure it was going to happen.  I had told Máiréad at the Meet & Greet in Tucson that this was his 50th show and that there was something special I would like her to do for him.  I've known that she keeps the green birthday bow with her and I asked her if she would honor him by using it on stage tonight.  She explained that it is quite different from her normal bow and it's difficult for her to switch back and forth, but she didn't say “No” so I had hope.  That hope became reality when she appeared with it.  She brought it out at the very end of the Finale so she didn't have to use it too much.  She switched back to her regular bow for Spanish Lady.  It was a very lovely thing for her to do and much appreciated by all of us.  I said “Thank you” to her as they were taking their bows and got a lovely smile in return.

No Meet & Greet tonight, so after watching Anthony for a bit in the lobby we walked across the street for an after-show chat and do our best to close up the place.  What do you say we do it all again tomorrow?  OK by me!

The original review is here.


Albuquerque, September 9, 2010


Ticket_20100909_AlbuquerqueTonight's show was another special one in what has become a string of special shows.  It started with a wonderful dinner at Yanni's, a Greek restaurant presumably named after the Greek artist.  We had the same group as last night with the addition of Dave who flew in from Utah.  Before the leftover cake from Wednesday night was cut, Dave got to see his handiwork in frosting and he was impressed.  Scott made the agonizing cuts and Máiréad was quickly sliced and diced into 15 pieces.  She was amputated and then decapitated.  Oh the horror!

After dinner we adjourned to the venue and hung around the lobby until the doors opened.  While waiting, a young girl came up to Kelly and asked her where she got her Celtic Woman shirt.  We directed her to the merchandise table.  Shortly she came back over to us wearing a t-shirt that was almost as big as her dress and asked about our buttons.  Well, she didn't need to ask twice and she was quickly outfitted with 7 different buttons, including Scott's 50th show button because it has Máiréad's picture on it.  Of course, she also got a Fiddler Crossing sign.  By this time her mother joined us and we discovered that Jennifer's father, Charlotte's grandfather, had treated them to the show as a mutual birthday present since their birthdays were only a few days apart.  Charlotte came over to me and asked for a Fiddler Crossing sign “for my mommy.”  No problem.  They had  front row pit seats but no Meet & Greet.  That was quickly remedied since Scott had 2 extra ones available.  No M&G should ever go to waste and Jennifer was in tears at the prospect of meeting the girls.

We headed for our seats and once again most of us were in the second row of the pit with a few in the orchestra front row.  I was right of center tonight instead of left which put me on Máiréad's side for You Raise Me Up.  I ended up right behind Charlotte too and I'm glad because she was so much fun to watch.  Wednesday night the theater was not full and tonight was even emptier but the crowd more than made up for it.

Right from the beginning I could tell that the show was going to be great.  Since the girls had a full day's rest they were both relaxed and juiced.  Lisa and Chloë both spotted Charlotte right away, as did Máiréad when she came to our side of the stage the first time.  I also got more looks than usual and I was quite happy.  Lynn was playing “Catch me if you can” and every time I caught her looking at me she would look away.  We played that game last year on tour, too.

The performances were uniformly amazing.  If this is how they do the next to last show I can't wait to see what they'll do Sunday at Red Rocks.  Since I was the same distance from the stage as last night I had the same acoustic advantage.  Hearing their voices live rather than through the sound system is so much better.  Máiréad only did 9 spins tonight; she seemed to lose her balance just a little on the 9th spin and decided to abort the launch sequence.  Chloë gave an extended introduction to Galway Bay and once again tried to spur a little excitement.  She also mentioned how nice it was to see the familiar faces in the front rows.  Gee, I wonder who that might be?  The new bits in Orinoco Flow almost surprised me again but just in time I remembered they were coming and Lynn's My Lagan Love was spellbinding.  I got a “Hi!” from Máiréad during Granuaile's Dance; Charlotte did, too.  Just before the last lines of My Heart Was Home Again Lisa looked at me for quite a while as if seeking approval.  Her and Lynn are getting better and there some bits that I really like, but... well, you all know how I feel already.  Danny Boy was also exceptional and I saw Jennifer jump clear off her chair at the beginning of Mo Ghile Mear.  She was the first jumper I've seen for a while.

The second act was even better and Charlotte got even more attention.  Chloë sang right to her just before sending that big note echoing around the room during When You Believe.  At one point, Charlotte was sitting on her grandfather's lap and Lisa looked at her with the most motherly expression.  Amazing Grace was, of course, amazing and the Songs from the Heart trilogy seemed better somehow but I'm not sure what was different.  Last Rose Fantasia was perfect, as always, and Nick only got two hip bumps instead of the usual three during The Mason's Apron.  I got one of Máiréad's lovely smiles during her quiet time in You Raise Me Up and I just melted.  After a rousing Finale, Chloë asked us if we were having fun yet, as usual, and then goaded us on by saying that she didn't believe us.  Then she pointed to Charlotte and said, “This little Celtic Woman has been singing along with every song the whole night.”  I've never seen them single out an audience member like that before; it was very cool.

All to soon it was over and it was M&G time.  It was quite a large M&G with what appeared to be almost 50 people.  The table was set up in the same room as last year and Claire announced that we would be meeting Lisa and, surprise, Máiréad again.  I was hoping to see Máiréad at Red Rocks and my chances just got reduced.  Oh, well.

But before it was my turn it was time for Jennifer and Charlotte.  I had positioned myself in line so that I would behind them and could witness it.  As soon as it was Charlotte's turn she went right around the table and got a wonderful hug from Máiréad.  She talked about how she might be taking violin lessons and got lots of encouragement.  When she got to Lisa, Lisa asked her how old she was.  She replied that she was seven and Lisa said, “I have a boy who's seven.  He would like you!”  After leaving the table, Charlotte remembered that she hadn't hugged Lisa and ran back to remedy that.  It was a lovely M&G for both of them and I'm glad I got to see it.

Most of the things I needed signed were for Chloë, with only a few Lisa items for another forum member, so I had nothing for Máiréad to sign.  I thanked her for using the green bow Wednesday night and she said that she was happy to do it.  She is such a sweetheart.  I had some things that I wanted to ask Lisa and I blanked again.  Dang, I thought I was finally getting good at this.

Afterward we walked over to the Frontier again for a late night chat and goodbyes.  Both Albuquerque shows were special but for different reasons.  One was celebrating our forum leader's generous and unselfish spirit and the second one demonstrating why.  Up next is Red Rocks and I have mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I want to see the show there so much but on the other hand it means the end of the tour for me.  Well, I have until Sunday to sort things out.  I'll be traveling to Denver tomorrow (actually today) by way of Casa Mosca and then doing train photography on the Front Range Saturday.

The original review is here.



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