|Milwaukee's Irish Fest
Irish Fest Features Another Blockbuster Music Line-Up
At Milwaukee Irish Fest, Aug. 14 to 17, 15 stages will come alive with
the latest and greatest in Irish and Irish American entertainment. The
world's largest Irish festival promises another blockbuster entertainment
experience in 2003.
"Each year we try to bring back popular talent while mixing in
the best new talent, and we've really achieved that goal this year," says
Chuck Ward, Irish Fest entertainment coordinator. "It's going to be a very
Returning to Milwaukee Irish Fest's stages are some of the most popular
Irish and Irish American performers, including Tommy Makem, Leahy, Gaelic
Storm, Altan and La Bottine Souriante. Mix them with festival newcomers
like Barra MacNeils, Slainte Mhath, Flook, The Cottars and Afro Celts,
and it's a recipe for non-stop music and fun, according to Ward.
"Though our 2003 entertainers offer very diverse music styles, they
all have one thing in common — a lot of energy!" says Barry Stapleton,
Milwaukee Irish Fest rock stage coordinator and director of the John J.
Ward Irish Music Archives at the Irish Fest Center.
"What's interesting is that quite a few bands are coming from Canada
this year, including Barra MacNeils, Leahy, The Clumsy Lovers (Canada),
La Bottine Souriante, Evans & Doherty, and Slainte Mhath. Canada has
a tradition of great folk fests and great folk fest bands, and those coming
to Irish Fest have developed a strong stage presence. They know how to
communicate with the crowd."
Milwaukee Irish Fest kicks off Thursday night, Aug. 14, with a Hooley
and preview performances by several groups, including Flook, Brigid's Cross
and Slainte Mhath, which is fast becoming known for its folk-rock approach
to Scottish dance music. Interestingly, the band members are the sons and
daughters of the famed sibling band Barra MacNeils, also performing at
Milwaukee Irish Fest on Aug. 14 and throughout the weekend.
Groups such as the McPeake Family, Dublin City Ramblers, Carbon Leaf,
Waking Maggie and Fonnmhor will perform several times during the four-day
festival, as will Brendan Nolan and Welsh harpist Robin Huw Bowen.
Milwaukee Irish Fest goers have always found great diversity in the
festival's entertainment offering, and the 2003 festival should live up
to that popular tradition:
Altan, North Cregg with Karan Casey, Charlie Piggott, Liz Carroll and Tommy
Peoples are all on the "must-see" list for those who favor traditional
Irish music, while Irish tenor fans will be sure to enjoy Irish tenor Daryl
Simpson's encore performance.
Previously known as the Afro Celt Sound System, the Grammy-nominated Afro
Celts make their debut at Irish Fest this year. Fans will recognize the
group's unique blend of Celtic singing, Irish melodies and West African
rhythms on the soundtrack of the 2002 film Gangs of New York.
With his blend of comedy and musical talent, balladeer Seamus Kennedy always
puts on a show that has the audience laughing and singing along.
Spirited steppers Cashel Dennehy Irish Dancers, Glencastle Irish Dancers
and Trinity Dance Academy will perform, while fest-goers can dance to the
music of Barefield Ceili Band, Public House Ceili Band and —
Popular local groups Blarney and Theiss & O'Connor return this year,
as do Anam Ri, Leahy's Luck, Baal Tinne, Mary Ann Miller and The Jeff Ward
The Irish Fest Choir and the Omagh Community Choir will partner for several
performances. After touring on the east coast of the United States for
several days preceding Milwaukee Irish Fest, the choirs will participate
in an international youth exchange including an extended stay in Milwaukee
for Irish youth.
"Irish and Irish American music is very popular with the younger
generations, and that trend is reflected in some of the groups coming to
Milwaukee Irish Fest," says Milwaukee Irish Fest Executive Director Jane
Anderson. "All of the members of the Barefield Ceili Band, the Omagh Community
Choir, The Cottars and our own Irish Fest Choir are still in
"More than 50 groups will be performing at Irish Fest this year,
so there's a great blend of contemporary, traditional, folk and rock music,"
adds Ward. "There's really something for everyone to enjoy."
For more information on all of the entertainers coming to Irish Fest
in 2003, visit www.irishfest.com.
Fest Goes Reality:
Irish Music Magazine's Irish Idol Contest to Showcase Best New
The hype. The hopes. The heartbreak.
American Idol and its British forerunner, Pop Idol, have inspired an
exciting new attraction at Milwaukee Irish Fest: a dramatic talent search
for the best newcomer as decided by festival visitors.
"Milwaukee Irish Fest has long been known at the best American
source for up-and-coming contemporary Irish music. This new contest showcases
the latest talent in a fun and suspenseful format," says Robert Heuston,
publisher of Irish Music Magazine.
Milwaukee Irish Fest, Aug. 14 - 17, has identified more than 15 bands
for consideration for the award. Each band will be making its Irish Fest
debut in 2003. Voting will take place throughout the weekend by festival
visitors; ballots will be available at festival information booths and
in the Irish Music Magazine booth in the Cultural Village.
The Irish Idol winner will receive a Waterford trophy and be profiled
in an upcoming issue of Irish Music Magazine.
The Irish Idol will be announced prior to the Sunday evening "Scattering,"
a musical farewell that unites many of the weekend's musical performers
on one stage for a final performance.
For more information about Milwaukee Irish Fest, check out www.irishfest.com.
now being accepted for Irish Fest Summer School
Classes Begin Aug. 10
During the five days preceding Milwaukee Irish Fest each year, Milwaukee
Irish Fest Summer School offers the most diehard devotees of Celtic culture
an interactive week of instruction spanning the music, history, dance,
crafts and traditions of Ireland.
"Summer School furthers our mission to promote and preserve the
Irish heritage by making Irish culture and traditions accessible to the
public," says Milwaukee Irish Fest Executive Director Jane Anderson.
Summer School 2003 runs Aug. 10-15 throughout the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
campus. Accommodations for out-of-town students can be arranged in the
university's residence halls.
Eamon O'Cuiv, Ireland's Minister of the Department of Community, Rural
& Gaeltacht Affairs, will deliver the Summer School's keynote address
at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 13. O'Cuiv's presentation is titled "Ireland
1840-1940: A Personal Perspective" and may offer rare first-hand insights.
O'Cuiv's grandfather was Eamonn de Valera, the activist for Irish independence
who became Ireland's first prime minister and eventually its president.
Other new lecture topics at Summer School will include "Pathways to
Peace," presented by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Tim Crain;
a genealogy workshop by Dubliner John Grenham; "Early Irish Society Literature,
Law & Myth," by Trinity College graduate Seosaimhin Nic Rabhartaigh;
and "Representations of Ireland in American Popular Culture" by Natasha
Casey, a writer and academic.
Step dance students will have the opportunity to study under Jean Butler,
one of the originators of Riverdance. Other significant highlights will
be an intergenerational puppet making class and the return of the new teen
curriculum offering music, song, Gaelic and calligraphy.
Many popular offerings from past years will also be available. They
include music lessons in flute, fiddle, harp, bodhran, singing and history;
dance lessons; and a revolving roster of arts and cultural activities including
history, language, genealogy, film, Aran knitting, basket weaving and calligraphy.
Classes run $15-$110 for a single class. Weekly rates are $215 for one
child including supervision throughout the day, $375 for a single adult
and $500 for a family of up to 5.
Classes are arranged for children 6-10; teens 13-18, and adults. Family
participation is encouraged.
For more information about Summer School monitor www.irishfest.com or
call Barb Breed-Heidt 262-227-6538 or email@example.com.
The Good, the
Bog and the Underworld
New Exhibits Enhance Milwaukee Irish Fest's Cultural Village
Wherever you are, you are home.
This year, Ballyfest, Milwaukee Irish Fest's Cultural Village, celebrates
that universal feeling of being in a place where the Irish congregate -
by exploring the influence of the Irish outside Ireland. Come home to several
new cultural exhibits this year, including:
Favorite attractions from past years will return and expand in 2003 including
an enhanced exhibit about the Irish Railways; willow rod basket weaving
demonstrations by Irish sallyweaver Grainne Ui Mhaitiu; the Hedge School
and Seanachie's Space; Irish language, song and storytelling in the Gaeltacht,
authentic crafts and wares in the Moore Street Market; some of the best
in Irish music and song in the Pub, the opportunity to discover family's
roots in the Genealogy tent; and organized games of tug of war. Currach
races will be held in Lake Michigan and hurlers will be playing north of
the grounds at Urban Park.
"The Irish American Outlaws," examining the lives and times notorious villains
of Irish descent, including of Billy the Kid, Mad Dog Coll, members of
Murder Inc., and associates of Al Capone in Chicago;
A still-building demonstration by stone wall builder Bartley O'Dohmnaill,
highlighting the old Irish moon shining techniques used to distill poteen;
An exhibit tracing the Claddagh area in County Galway and the origin of
the popular Claddagh ring in cooperation with Dillons of Shop Street and
Galway historian Peadar O'Dowd;
Horticultural displays exploring the common traits of bogs found in Ireland
A new interactive Irish music session activity for festival-goers led by
Waltons Music of Dublin and New York;
Bing Crosby memorabilia from the Ward Irish Music Archives and a visit
from Bing's nephew, Howard Crosby, in celebration of the Irish American
crooner's recent centennial birthday; and
Irish folklorist and storyteller Eddie Lenihan sharing stories about fairies
in our midst.
For more information about the Cultural Area at Milwaukee Irish Fest,
call 414-476-3378 or monitor www.irishfest.com.
Children's Activities Electrify Kids' Celtic Curiosity
Milwaukee Irish Fest boasts a proud tradition as Milwaukee's only festival
with an interactive children's area.
A rainbow of activities promise creative play with cultural value, including:
The Lilli-putt mini-golf area, built by volunteers to look like Ireland
including a drawbridge, a castle and sheep;
Crafts and educational activities, including castle-building with Legos,
fashioning Celtic crosses from foam, weaving fairy wreaths, and decorating
potatoes with JuJu fruits;
The Fairy Ring musical game where youngsters hop among stepping stones;
Birthday parades for Official Irish Fest mascot Paddy McFest on Friday
and Saturday in which kids can participate using hand-made instruments.
Children's entertainment is designed with the interests and attention
spans of the little ones in mind. Performances on the children's stage
are interactive and under 45 minutes long. Attractions include storytellers,
plays and sing-alongs.
For more information about activities for children and teens at Irish Fest,
contact 414-476-3378 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Admission to Milwaukee Irish Fest is free for children under 12
Children under 12 must be supervised by an adult in the Children's Area
and throughout the festival grounds.
Consider volunteering as a family with kids 12 and under; teens 13-17 may
volunteer with friends or on their own.
Kids rule at Irish Fest. If you know a talented teen Irish Fest enthusiast,
please refer them to the new Youth Leadership Program.