On the heels of last week’s column on Christmas shows, the new Cherish the Ladies Christmas CD A Star in the East arrived in the mailbox. Once again, those talented women know how to light up the season.
They began recording it late in the summer in Joanie Madden’s Yonkers home just in time to arrive for their rigorous -- and thankfully -- busy Christmas tour this month with its 17 shows all over the U.S. and even a Canadian appearance.
It’s been awhile since they have put out a new studio recording, and this is the first with their new vocalist Michelle Burke who adds her own Corkonian voice to the songs.
Like their very successful first Christmas CD On Christmas Night, they tastefully weave traditional Irish tunes into familiar Christmas music. In addition there are some new original Christmas songs written by Robbie O’Connell (“All on a Christmas Morning”), Don Stiffe (“Home on Time for Christmas”), Boo Hewerdine (“On New Year’s Eve”) and CTL pianist Kathleen Boyle, whose composition “The Homecoming” was written to mark the return to Donegal by her parents after 50 years in Glasgow.
Anyone who has witnessed a CTL performance knows that Madden is not shy around the microphone and usually provides all the humorous banter around the selections chosen for their shows, not to mention an odd step or two in the finales.
This recording includes a couple of additions to their Christmas show in recent years, where Joanie tackles the recitation of Patrick Kavanagh’s “A Christmas Childhood” with its touching reference to stars dancing in the east to the music of her father’s melodeon which makes you think of her own father, the late Joe Madden, the Galway accordion master.
Madden does the lead vocal on the old African-American Spiritual “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow” taken from a Pete Seeger songbook and reworked by her and fellow CTL founding member Mary Coogan with a new melody and a couple of new verses.
Order information for the new CD as well as information about their December tour can be found at www.cherishtheladies.com.
A reminder that the girls start up the tour around New York on Sunday, December 6 at William Paterson University at 3 p.m. in Wayne, New Jersey and finish up at the Towne Crier Café on Sunday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m. (www.townecrier.com or 845-855-1300).
Also the Clancy Tradition family show will be at the Towne Crier Café on this Saturday, December 5 at 9 p.m.
Another seasonal show to alert you to this year is the annual New York Revels production of “The Christmas Revels: An Irish Celebration of the Winter Solstice” taking place at Symphony Space in Manhattan (www.symphonyspace.com or phone 212-864-5400) for four performances on Friday, December 11 at 8 p.m.; the 12th at 2 and 8 p.m.; and the 13th at 3 p.m.
This year’s review features fiddler Tony DeMarco and friends and the Niall O’Leary stepdancers in a thematic presentation set aboard an Irish immigrant ship bound for the New World.
Meanwhile, the trad group Danu will hit Pennsylvania and Northern New England with their “Christmas in Ireland: An Nollaig in Eirinn” tour featuring vocalist Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh. On Thursday, December 10 they are in Easton, Pennsylvania at the State Theater for the Arts, then the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire on the 11th, and then the University of Maine on the 13th at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono.
Finally, there is an Albany house concert on Saturday, December 5 at 8 p.m. at the home of Jimmy and Anne Kelly (518-438-8908) featuring Monsignor Charlie Coen from Greenville and Mike McHale from Catskill as the latest in the news series at the historic home for music in the Capital District.