The High Kings played a pair of late night sets at the McKittrick Hotel, home to the macabre play Sleep No More. The dark corridors and gothic flair made the place more suited for a filming of a True Blood episode than an Irish hooley, but all of that melted away when the white-jacketed waiters began bringing the creamy pints of stout on silver trays.  

Much has been made of the storied musical pedigree of Ireland’s folk band of the year. As the surnames suggest, Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey and Darren Holden come from legendary Irish music bloodlines from the folk and show band eras. Each man is an accomplished musician who could headline a band in their own right; together, their harmonies and charisma as a unit are truly jaw dropping. They have become headliners on the summer Irish festival circuit where their spirited tunes can fill a large field. Witnessing a High Kings show in these tight quarters is akin to spending the night in a bathroom with a jet engine. Being in close proximity to this firepower as the group peeled off “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” “Marie's Wedding,”  “Peggy Gordon,” and “Whiskey in the Jar” was a roller coaster thrill indeed!
The band slowed it down at times, gathering around an old time microphone for a tender read of “Peggy Gordon” and Phil Coulter’s “Town I Loved So Well.”
Make no mistake: the High Kings is much more than an Irish party song band. They have a fantastic new album, Friends for Life, which features some of their original tunes. The title track is an autobiographical masterpiece, describing the band’s tight chemistry for those unfortunate enough to have never seen the band live. 

Their publicist tells me the band will be returning this summer for a full tour of the festivals. Keep your eyes peeled to for schedules to their updates! 

George Donaldson, RIP 

The Irish Voice offers deep condolences to the fans, friends and family of the Celtic Thunder crew as they deal with the tragic loss of principal singer George Donaldson. He passed away at his home in Glasgow, Scotland of an apparent massive heart attack. The 46 years old leaves behind his wife Carolyn, and his daughter, Sarah, 13, who he described as the “light of my life.”  

Each lad in the Celtic Thunder show plays a character and George’s was the elder, steady statesman. From the moment his beautiful and clear voice added new dimensions to Christy Moore’s “The Voyage” on the first show, Donaldson was truly the most authentic voice amidst the glitz and pageantry in the Celtic Thunder Production. His version of Phil Coulter’s “The Old Man” never fails to bring audiences, including this fan, to tears. 

"When starting Celtic Thunder, I wanted to cast a mature, dependable man as one of the characters,” Browne said in a statement. Over the 7 years since, I learned that George Donaldson was the embodiment of such a man. A pleasure to work with. I am devastated at his sudden and untimely death.” May he rest in peace.