MDK at IAC in NYC
I apologize for yet another post about Maria Doyle Kennedy’s
concert at the Irish Arts Center in NYC, but I want to remember
every second of this magical evening for the rest of my life.
I wrote this out mainly for myself, to not only preserve, but
also to process through such an overwhelming experience, so
it is incredibly long - you’ve been warned.
Righty-oh, after eating at Russian Samovar, Jackie and I stopped
at a flower shop and bought some beautiful burgundy lilies on
51st and 9th, and headed two blocks down to the IAC hand in
hand. As we approached the venue at around 6:40pm, we could
see a figure in front of the door to the center. I assumed it
was someone waiting for the box office to open, but seeing as
I looked at every face while walking through the streets of
NYC thinking it was her, my heart stopped beating for a second.
Both Jackie and I fell silent as we approached the woman in
jeans, brown boots, and a large jacket. As her body turned toward
to door, her face turned toward us and she briefly smiled and
walked inside. Jackie and I stopped and slowly turned to face
each other. … Maria Doyle Kennedy had just smiled at us, and
both of us were too shocked to respond in any way. Jackie started
crying, I started shaking, and then crying. We calmed down slightly
as an older couple got out of a taxi and approached us asking
if the center was open. We replied that the door was unlocked,
but we were waiting for friends. We ended up following them
inside, pulled by the promise of warmth, and the possibility
of catching another glimpse of MDK.
We were glancing around at the absolutely beautiful artwork
of Feargal Doyle, Maria’s brother, when we heard her and Kieran
warming up. I recorded a short video of it for Lamorna (who
we all wish could have been there!), and shortly after, Jackie
got a call from Ame and Krissy who were waiting outside. We
told them about the above encountered and freaked out a little
bit more before reentering the lobby. As we stood inside getting
to know each other, I noticed MDK enter the lobby from the stage
area, and I immediately fell silent. She was talking to someone
else, but eyed the group of us. As she approached, I surprised
myself by uttering “Hello!” (fulfilling her request on twitter).
She greeted us somewhat shyly, but with friendly intentions.
I think she’s pretty unaware of her fandom, which was very endearing.
I held out the flowers, and told her that we had gotten them
for her. She looked a bit taken aback and thanked us for the
sweet gesture. Then, she glanced up at me, and we made eye contact.
Her eyes got a little wider, and she said “Wait, are you Shawna?!”
I, of course, instantly panicked, began blushing, and somehow
managed to mutter, “Yes.” She said that she was glad to meet
me and warmly shook my hand. We all got quiet, and Jackie said,
“Shawna’s so star struck she can’t say anything.” She replied,
“Oh, I understand, I’m always much more talkative after a show,
but right now I’m really nervous.” I mentioned that we heard
her doing “Sparky Personality,” and it sounded amazing, and
we said how excited we were for the show. She thanked us told
us the the bar was opening in ten minutes, so we should get
drinks, and to get good seats, and that shows at the center
usually start right on time at 8pm (She looked over the the
box office manager after she said this and asked, “Right?”).
Before she went upstairs, she assured us that she would talk
to us after the show. Cue more fangirling, and we were so obvious
that a gentleman in a flannel shirt who was filming the gig
came up to us and asked, “Are you guys the Maria Doyle Kennedy
groupies?” Feck yes, we are.
As we continued to get to know each other, I noticed more people
exiting the stage area and immediately recognized Kieran. I
didn’t say anything as he walked by to go upstairs to the dressing
rooms, but as he passed by Ame stopped what she was saying,
“Wait… is that-” Yes. Yes, it is. A few minutes went by, and
Kieran walked up behind me, and with his hand extended for a
handshake, greeted me with, “Hello, you’re Shawna, right? Maria
was just telling me you were here.” I remember shaking his hand,
nodding, and being utterly unable to speak at the realization
that MDK had told him I was there. We told him that we were
really excited for the show, and he thought it was going to
be a good one, and added, “Yeah, the tumblr you run is fantastic.”
*instant blushing* “I remember looking through some pictures
and I thinking, ‘How in the world did she get that picture -
no one has that picture!’” I sheepishly replied, “Magic,” as
both he and Krissy in unison said, “I/You don’t wanna know.”
*blushing intensifies* (“You’re the colour of your hair,” as
Krissy said.) Morto…
We decided to move closer to the door to the stage to make
sure we could have first choice of seats. A slightly tipsy couple
was standing next to us, and the wife was eyeing us when we
wasn’t ordering a beer or singing along to the MDK songs that
were playing from the bar. Eventually, her husband came up to
us, and asked, “So what are you guys doing here?” clearly referencing
the fact that we were the youngest in the room, but still obviously
there to see Maria and Kieran perform. We told him that we were
all introduced to MDK through her acting, but came to genuinely
appreciate her music, and he explained that he and his wife
were big fans of the Hothouse Flowers, and followed Kieran for
awhile. They realized that he was married to MDK, and started
following them together, even travelling to Dingle to see them.
Once the doors opened, we booked it to the front row of a very
intimate space. “Yep, we’re front row-ing it,” I said as a plopped
myself down in the seat approximately three feet in front of
her microphone/bells. I had a quick moment of regret because
I know that it can take you out of the moment to see someone
you recognize in the front row, but I honestly couldn’t imagine
sitting anywhere else. At one point Jackie leaned over to me
and said, “Shawna, what if she spits on you?” “I will never
wash myself again.” While we were waiting, I had another long
conversation with the tipsy couple about the east coast, the
olympics, Russia, and Pussy Riot.
At 8pm, MDK and Kieran walked on stage, and Maria was carrying
the flowers we had given her earlier, and she set them down
next to her set list. Their first song was ‘Sing from the Sea.’
As soon as she began singing, my eyes were filled with tears.
*commence gushing* No, but really. Maria sounds beautiful in
recordings even when played through my crappy computer speakers
or headphones, but live - there are not words to adequately
describe her voice. It is powerful, yet gentle; big, yet soft;
expressive, yet caressing; husky, yet clear; and it is always
Maria - in her voice is her essence. She once said in a video
that she gets real life wrong a lot, but when she’s singing,
she’s “there” and “she gets it somehow,” she’s “plugged into
the world,” and that’s what her voice does to an audience. It
forces them to be plugged into the present, to the space we’re
all occupying together, while simultaneously transporting everyone
to the atmosphere in which her songs exist. It is truly magical
to hear her live.
I won’t go through the entire set list (though there is a picture
below), but I do have to mention a few songs/moments:
- “I call the people who comes to my gigs my chickens. (…) I
always have good intentions when travelling abroad to learn
the language, but usually I only learn a lot of alcoholic beverages.
(…) In Czech, you’re my little Kurátkos - it’s the sexiest
way to say chickens.” Someone from the audience interjected,
“We could be your pigeons!” “Yes, you could!”
- ‘Without You’ - I was shocked when I heard the first notes
of this song, and Jackie squeezed my hand a little tighter.
I put this song on a mix CD when she left after visiting for
Halloween, and it officially became one of our songs, but because
it’s from ‘Charm,’ I assumed it wasn’t going to be played. It
was much more stripped down than the recorded version, and a
bit more melancholic, which I’m always about.
- “Oh, wow, they’ve gotten me a bunch of bottles of water. I
think they’re trying to hint at something.” There were four
bottles around her microphone. “I always bring a glass of wine,
but I usually never get to the water. *sloshed accent* Apparently,
I have a reputation in New York.”
- Before ‘O Molly Dear’ she talked about the ‘Storms are on
the Ocean’ album, and explained that the picture of the cover
is of her grandmother (who she’s the spittin’ image of).
- ‘John the Revelator’ The first song of audience participation
of the night. After a few verses, she stepped in front of her
microphone (aka a foot in front of us)- her voice without a
microphone - never going to be over it. “I always like coming
closer because I think it scares you all into singing louder.”
- “Someone said that singing is better than really good chocolate
or sex. My husband doesn’t agree…” *Kieran shrugs* “Well, I’m
not shagging you all tonight, but if you’re still feeling down
after the show, I may get you some chocolate.”
- ‘Going Home’ I also wasn’t expecting this gem from Kieran’s
‘Pagan Irish’ album. And here I will gush about the look of
love. The glances that MDK and Kieran share while on stage are
full of such love and admiration - it was emotionally overwhelming.
You can really feel how much they love each other and how much
they love making music together. It was an honour to witness.
- ‘O Mother’ Second song for audience participation. “So, I’m
going to sing a line, and you’re just gonna fecking sing it
back to me.”
- ‘The Most Beautiful People are Broken’ I love this song originally,
but Maria added a new line to the end, “You are beautiful, don’t
let anyone tell you that you can’t go as far as you want to.”
(Or something similar) So powerful.
- I can’t remember which song it was after (maybe ‘The Silence?’),
but she said, “I’m not sure what that sound was that I made.
The voice is a very emotional instrument. It was like a banshee
- Also, I know I am mainly waxing poetic about MDK, but oh my
god - Kieran. He is such an amazing guitar player, and even
sat down at the piano for ‘Stars Above,’ and he has these crazy
pads of pedals to introduce things like Paul Brady on ‘Hola
Luna,’ or the pipes on ‘Sing.’ I have no idea how he keeps them
- As they wrapped up the set, Maria began to thank various people
for coming, namely her family members. She mentioned her brother’s
gorgeous paintings, “I probably shouldn’t say this, but they’re
for sale!” We even got a shout out, “And I wanted to thank my
new twitter friends-” *gesture to us in the front row* “-Yeah,
I curse a lot on twitter…”
- Of course, there was an encore. Maria came back alone at first
for ‘Lucinda.’ “So, I am turning fifty this year, and someone
pointed out that in this song, I said I’m going to get a tattoo
when I’m fifty. So my brother has been asking and I said, ‘Ah,
feck, well, I have to!’”
- ‘Suil’ Being at the Irish Arts Center and all, it made sense
for her to sing a song in Irish (it explains how she thinks
better than English). The lighting for this song was an eerie
green and I felt like I was transported into a dark fairy tale.
Maria looked like a mermaid.
- ‘Stars Above’ This is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve
ever heard, and live - absolutely mesmerizing. For the last
section of the song, Maria played her bells, and I could not
take my eyes off of her hands rising and falling, creating such
a beautiful sound with each tap.
- ‘Babes’ was the best possible song to end with. “If Johnny
Depp did his sashay. He was thinkin’ about an Irish lay, looking
my way. Do you know what’d I’d say?” From the audience came
a few, “‘Yes!’”s, and with her hands on her hips, Maria pulled
a face, and stepped back from the microphone for a second.
Immediately after they left the stage, Krissy, the experienced
fangirl that she is, hopped up on stage and took the set lists
for us. We decided to wait until most people had cleared out,
so as to not feel so rushed, so we went to the merchandise table,
bought a bunch of CDs, and fangirled from afar (“Such profile.
Wow.” “She has the most beautiful face to ever face.”). The
people ahead of us in line (until a few people snuck in before
us) were clearly Orphan Black fans (having called “Mrs. S” when
she called us her chickens), and it was nice to see fandom showing
her support! As we were standing around waiting, we noticed
MDK’s 18-month old nephew. He was sitting on the bench a bit
bewildered by the crowd of people. He crawled around and was
tracing circle very carefully on the floor. He was such a cutie
with his bright blue eyes and wispy blond hair.
Kieran came up to us. He called me out by saying, “I saw you
in the front row mouthing the words to ‘Babes!’ You knew every
word!” “It’s one of my favourites,” I replied. He asked us where
we came up from and was very impressed by Ame and Jackie travelling
up from Maryland. Krissy began to describe how beautiful the
looks of love were that they shared on stage. “People tell us
that the world round.” “I just hope someone will look at me
the way you guys look at each other.” “I hope so too.” He started
talking about their tour the west coast in May - Portland, Seattle…
Krissy nudged me, and I said, “I think I may skip my finals
to come see it.” “No, don’t do that!”
Krissy mentioned Lamorna and that she was really hoping for
a gig in London because she missed the ones in 2012. He said
that they’ll probably make it over next year with the new album
(to be worked on later this year). He talked about the live
album as well which is available on a USB drive at their gigs,
but they plan to have a wider release soon. “I’m still fucking
around with it.” I was going to ask more about the new album
and if they planned on using Pledge again, but someone else
started talking to Kieran, and now worried about how late it
was getting, we seized the opportunity to go up to Maria.
She was standing by the bar facing away from us and talking
to another woman. We waited for a few minutes, and when she
turned her head to survey the room, we made eye contact and
the expression on her face completely changed. She turned to
the woman while she reached her arm out to me and said, “Excuse
me, I have to talk to these lovely ladies.” And SHE PULLED ME
INTO A FECKING HUG. Please pardon me for gushing, but I could
hardly process any of this in the moment. I hope that I never
forget the mental image of MDK’s face when we made eye contact
with me. She just looked so genuinely appreciative of the support
and happy to see that we stuck around to talk.
We asked her if she would mind signing our CDs. “Oh, of course,
I wouldn’t mind!” She very sweetly asked how to spell our names.
Jackie said, “I almost spelled my name wrong.”
As she was signing Ame’s Mutter album, I piped in, “Actually
Ame and Jackie were a part of that birthday video we sent you.”
“Oh, I remember that!” she replied smiling, and Ame added, “Yeah,
that’s actually how Jackie and I realized that we lived so close.”
Krissy brought of the looks of true love again, and Maria began
to reply, “Well, we do fight a lot-” But she was cut off by
her sister-in-law who was leaving with the baby. When she returned
to us, Krissy asked if we could get pictures with her to which
she happily agreed. Krissy added that we were wondering if it
would be okay to get multiple variations, like groups and individuals,
but MDK couldn’t hear her, “I’m sorry what was that, love?”
Krissy repeated herself, and MDK with a posh accent said, “Yes,
of course! Because you know that next time I’m here, I’m playing
Madison Square Garden and there won’t be time for all this,
so better get them in now.” She was game for every picture we
took, happily putting her arm around each of us. After our group
photo, Jackie looked concerned, “Wait, did we get a picture
with just the two of us?” “No, you didn’t! C’mere!” and she
pulled Jackie right up next to her.
It started to get really hot in the lobby so we went to get
some fresh air, and MDK grabbed her coat from her brother and
joined us. We were nervous about Jackie’s train, but Krissy
said that she could stay with her if she missed it. As we walked
out, Jackie casually said, “Well, I may miss my train, but this
is worth it!” (Truth.) Maria was genuinely concerned, “No, don’t
do that! I don’t want you to have to take a dangerous train!”
We explained that Krissy had a car and Jackie was welcome to
stay, and she seemed pacified.
Her brother came out to join us, and MDK introduced us, “Yeah,
these are the girls from twitter, and Shawna runs an MDK fan
page on tumblr. One day, Kieran was like, ‘Maybe we should check
out tumblr?’ He checked it out and realized someone already
had one and was like ‘This is actually pretty good. Yeah, I’m
okay with it.’
I don’t remember when these things happened, but at one pointed
Maria turned to me and asked, “And, Shawna, where are you staying?”
I do not think I will ever be over the fact that she knew my
name, and kept using it, and the fact that she was so concerned
about our well-being. Also, she brought a glass out and Krissy
asked, “Water or wine?” “Oh, it’s wine. It’s always nice to
have wine after a gig, but it’s not good to drink too much before.”
Krissy mentioned that she is an intern for BBC and that everyone’s
excited for season two of Orphan Black. Cue MDK being the most
humble human being as she gushed on and on about Tatiana Maslany,
without a word to herself. She told us a story about how Tatiana’s
mother was watching the show and associates Tatiana most with
Sarah because she’s a kind of punky girl in real life, so when
Sarah wasn’t in a scene, she asked, “When is Tatiana coming
back?” “Even her Mother! She’s so incredible and she’s your
age!” “Way to make us feel bad,” Krissy joked.
As the conversation died down, I began to (rather in coherently)
speak. “I do have a question for you: when we found out about
this gig we hoped you would wear a certain dress. The one you’re
wearing is a great choice to, but we really love the sequins
dress. Wha- Where is it from?” “It’s vintage! Oh, isn’t it lovely!
Most of my wardrobe is thrifted, but a lot of time things don’t
fit me because a lot of older thing were just made for smaller
people. But this dress fit perfectly, and it’s got delicate
little sleeves. At a recent gig, I realized it has pockets!”
We all corroborated the point that dresses with pockets are
the greatest. “Yeah, I thought, ‘I finally know what to do with
my hands.’” “But you have such beautiful hand movements when
you sing,” I chimed in. “I have no idea what I’m doing on stage.”
As things were wrapping up, her brother said, “That tumblr
thing is really cool. If you ever want to make one for me…”
to which I replied, “I’ll get right on it!” We decided we were
going to try to get Jackie to her 11:05pm train (we had approximately
15-20 minutes at this point), so she pulled each of us into
a kiss on the cheek, thanked us for coming, and wished us safe
I could barely walk. Even with the longest legs in the group,
I kept trailing behind. I was desperately trying to comprehend
what had just happened, and it took so much effort that my body
ceased to function properly. Jackie, of course, missed her train,
and would have missed her train even if we had booked it out
as soon as the concert was over. Again, worth it. Krissy was
kind enough to take me to my friend’s apartment, and then we
The next morning, MDK replied to the picture of all of us that
Krissy sent to her, and asked if we all made it home safely,
adding that it was lovely to meet us. Not wanting to speak for
anyone else, I replied just to her.
Again, the use of my name floored me. I know it’s right there
on twitter, and I have tweeted her quite a few times, but it
is little gestures, like remembering a name or smiling when
we made eye-contact that truly made my evening. Maria is honestly
one of the most caring, hilarious, genuine, and absolutely beautiful
human beings inside and out that I have ever had the privilege
At the moment, I am still a confused ball of intense emotion
and extreme shock. It was truly one of the most magical evenings
of my life, and I feel so absolutely blessed to have shared
it with three lovely ladies. I couldn’t have asked for better
company. I really could go on and on (this is far longer than
any paper I’ve ever written), but now that I have been able
to relive fleeting moments in someway with each word that I
have written, I realize that words cannot capture the experience
I had, and while I’ve enjoyed trying to express it, I appreciate
how special it is that the essence of what happened is something
that can only live within the people who experienced it.
posted on 11.02.2014 at 00:02 with 25 notes
would also like to thank you for producing such incredible music.
It is difficult to play favourites with songs as they all offer
a unique experiences, but "Stuck," true to its name,
has stuck with me. Once the repetitive guitar melody begins,
I always feel like I am stuck in the middle of the ocean with
waves continuously ebbing and flowing around me. The addition
of multiple voice tracks and another guitar, and later the drums
and the cymbal gradually builds with the struggle to "get
up" or swim to shore, but constantly being tossed back
by the currents and "torn asunder." Yet despite the
despondent quality of the sound, the lyrics inspire me to push
against the waves, the despondency, the "back up,"
because getting up even to be "fucked around" again
is better than "staying on the floor." My words cannot
capture all the complexities of the song (I think music's ability
to transcend words is one aspect that makes it so powerful),
but I hope you don't mind me sharing my impression.
Best wishes for The Rivoli tonight, and I hope to catch you
live somewhere in the US in May!
Thank you so much,
Concert in Aid of Sonas and Aisling Project Ballymun Dublin
Ireland Feb 15 2013
below from Laura's Heart)
Marie Doyle Kennedy and Kieran Kennedy, live at the Axis.
A hint of spring on a soft soulful day, I entered into the
spirit and community of Ballymun. I ventured to the Axis Theatre
and was transformed beyond recognition.
For one night only,
I was lifted and challenged to fly in freefall.
Open to the wonders of magic and alchemy that were
created by acoustic guitar. A very different experience like
no other that I can compare it with. This reminded me of my
first time listening to Gary Moore. As the musician's notes
sang and soared through me and in me. The music spoke and sang
in a provocative tone with a unique sound.
The goddess muse sang in perfect harmony like the waves on
Wild and wonderful in total abandon.
Using her voice as an 'Artist' plays a Harp, as this was no
Yes I rose, I fell and my heart and soul cried more, long after
the night departed and the silence fell.
I am different now. My broken parts freed, the struggled truly
acknowledged as only an artist can.
Thank you both for an amazing experience
I awakened from a dream, wondering was I ever truly alive.
The meteor has landed in Ireland....the unique artistic experience
of the Maria Doyle Kennedy Concert at Axis Ballymun. Sean O'Dwyer
It's 7:10 in the morning after the night before when I was
inspired by the euphoria created by watching a magic muse, Maria
Doyle Kennedy and Kieran Kennedy perform live at the Axis Ballymun
thanks to the kind invitation by kind friends whose taste I
respect, Darragh Doyle and insightful Programme Manager at Axis,
Niamh Ní Chonchubhair
Let me tell you.... The meteor has landed in Ireland....
"Draw Sean Draw" whispers The voice of The Muse.
The euphoria remains with me this morning...hours after the
gig. Watching their performance is not just a something you
will enjoy, revel and be completely engrossed and involved in.
They made you want to sing and experience the pure joy of music
with them.... literally. Thinking you were going to hear someone
you thought you knew only created the perfect atmosphere for
the surprise, these performers are not celebrities alone, they
are artists of the highest order. The minimalist maximum sound
of more than a full band is completely evoked by the magic of
Kieran's guitar. So many different sounds come from such a small
space between the plectrum and the strings that I never knew
was possible. Kieran Kennedy is an orchestra. And now I am leading
Be prepared to be mesmerised by the woven threads of echo,
pitch and tone and the melody that the voice of Maria melds
with. Harmony and evocation is what takes place. Maria casts
a spell with her voice. During her rendition of "Sing"
after which her latest album is named, the singer and the song
become one. Would it be fair to compare Maria Doyle Kennedy's
voice to anyone? Only if you can understand that she is unique
and apart from anyone. And she is Irish. She makes me proud
to be Irish and be an artist myself. She made me feel like drawing
and draw I did. My pen moved in the stage-light to the rhythm
of their pure crystal sound, perfect in the atmospheric auditorium
of Axis Ballymun. I felt that my little portraits vibrated in
unison with the casting of the spell that went on through the
night as Maria moved her hands to her heart, clapped and swayed
through the piece "Hola Luna" possessed by a moon
goddess. But this is a goddess that knows, as her song says,
"The Most Beautiful People are Broken". This is a
husband and wife team at the height of their creative powers,
whose heart beats as one with their audience. As contemporary
performers unfettered by the trap of cliché or traditionalism
they move beyond the oeuvre of the everyday. Sounds from the
misty heights of " The mountaineers courtship" evoke
the past but remake it as modern. These artists are completely
tuned in to what is happening right now and I suspect well into
the distant future as they present their astounding array of
vibration and extensive back catalog to the anxiously needy
and weary world.
Are you overworked, tired, angry, indignant at what the world
has become? This is what you have been waiting for....
....this sound will soothe your soul, like the local Ballymun
Sing project who have been working with the National Chamber
choir and who walked on stage to perform with Maria and Kieran
last night.... like them your life might well be transformed
by the experience as they sang as any choir you would be delighted
to hear in St Martin in the Fields!
They were allowed to thrive and made feel at home on stage
by Maria's charm, humour and many talented gifts shown to its
best effect in a community where anyone can see that people
just really love her and where proceeds from the performance
went to the worthy Sonas and Aisling Project in Ballymun
Be prepared. This delightful couple were happy to stay behind
and sign albums but also chat in the most natural way with their
adoring fans (among whom I now count myself and Laura ) who
obviously feel very connected to them and their music and who
answered them from the stage when invited to sing also as accompaniment
to both the Ballymun Sing Choir as the vibrant audience became
a partner in the performance themselves.
Could you possibly ask for anything more of an evening?
I was lucky enough to speak to The magician Kieran and The
blue eyed charismatic and multi award winning vocalist Maria
Doyle Kennedy... International, interstellar, bright, shining
stars here in our midst. We are reminded of the true treasure
we are lucky to have in Ireland. Intelligent, informed, knowledgable
about the arts and Picasso as we discussed how real creativity
emanates sometimes from reduction and simplicity broken down
into its basic constituents like a cubist painting. With their
feet on the ground but singing into space it is a great pleasure
to say I have seen these performance artists create an event
I will never forget.
I am only doing you a favour by letting you know about these
masters in our midst. To my friends I say... Be fortunate enough
to witness them for yourself. Go to their website now. Let the
healing begin. www.mariadk.com
The above written by a fellow Irish artist completely impressed!
To begin with, let me just say - what an amazing voice you
have! What a talent and the exuberant creativity and meaning.
I shudder full of joy and comfortable when I listen and roars
up and humming with the songs I have ever heard before, until
yesterday. I myself write a lot working as a freelance journalist,
writing my novels in the subjects of forbidden love and a poem
now and then and can know how and feel with you the tryly amazing
way of express by words and acting something that really can
bring the feelings to come.
So. Hm, who is this man writing maybe you wonder then? My name
is Backolars Johan Hermansson (Backolars is something we in
Sweden call yardname, and is a name that have followed the family
since the 1700:s and is very usual in my country) and I come
from Sweden. I'm twenty-one (well, I have my birthday the tenth
next month, but thinking that I might as well start now and
oppose the anguish my friends suffered at that age of 21 for
some reason, lol) and I am a loyal fan in terms of history of
England through the ages - primarily in terms of the monarchy
in the country. Something that's fascinated me since a very
young age. For example I remember so well how my classmates
read Harry Potter while I was reading a biography of Henry VIII,
and so on. So really, the interest I've had a good long time.
Sure you understand that The Tudors is like gold to my ears
and eyes when I'm telling you this. A series I just absolutely
can say that I love - and I really cringe to see occasionally.
Some scenes and sequences. And you do it so well, so fantastic
in the role of Queen Catherine. You make her just like I imagine
her - faithful, subdued but firm, determined and a real people's
champion, always keeping the head up high whatever is going
on around. And what a dream for you - it must have been to play
her in the series and be a part of something so amazing. And
of course. You are so worth it!
And with your role performance, I was also aware of your music.
It was the other day and I was going to see if you have a website
- and yes, you had! And that's not all. You sing the well, I
saw. And it is something that stands out so beautiful fine and
that feels absolutely roaring within me with a mixture of excitement
I want with these lines wish you all the good things in life
and simply overwhelm you with admiration and joy for what you
do - and which I hope with all my heart that you continue for
a very long time and continues being just like you are today.
With all my deepest and friendly greetings,
Backolars Johan Hermansson
Hi Kieran, hope you're both doing great. Watched Maria on 'The
Meaning of Life' on Sunday night and she was radiant. I thought
Gay Byrne was way out of his depth.
Was talking to a writer friend about it Frank Sinnott (brother
of the legendary Declan) and he said Maria was "absolute
poetry." We will have to catch up. xo Martin
Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2012 7:41 PM
Subject: Review of the Pepper Canister Church: Behind Closed Doors
Behind closed doors, they tell us, the awkward inner sanctum
of a man and wife, as if it were taboo. You dont know
what goes on behind closed doors. They say. So we stay away.
Ignorance is a powerful thing. Fear is even mightier.
And yet, last Thursday, in the Pepper Canister Church a whole
congregation gathered, for a candle lit mass, that brought us
all in, from behind closed doors, to see a man and his wife,
on stage, by the altar, long after their wedding day.
And we sang, we all sang with them.
We sang for the broken ones, and we prayed theyll do just
fine in years to come, for arent they dressed in love
all their lives. And with a certain raw Irish maturity, that
hardens up like weathered oak to stuff like time and the ages,
we wasted no time on failing in love and the slippery sap of
a young branch.
No, straight into the oak.
The age of it. The durability.
The weathered steadfastness.
We were all about staying in love.
We bid Adieu to Johnny Depp, politely.
Ive got my baby.
We sang one out from our hearts to the Gallaghers in Donegal,
because we knew the power of praying people with humble hearts
who love their children.
We went right behind the taboo, through the closed doors, and
rattled out the ignorance of it, right up to the rocking rhythm
of one couple holding the floor for ages
and we with them, all the way, solid, steadfast, quirky cool
Old loves worth singing for. Lord hear us.
And we dealt with the Church, and the institution.
We had to. We were in the thick of it.
And we affirmed that one must be very clear with ones
intentions in a Church.
And clear we were - in every evocation from the Great
Mother to the Brahmin to the ancient airs of Ireland, that toned
ever before the bells rang out, just like before.
Oh yes we did a lot of work through time and space.
Until we were ready to chant in the Great Mother into the Mother
Skin and Bone. Eyes and Ears. Hearts and Heads. Laughing Tears.
And as for the music sure twas mighty.
And as for the concert well, there were three Mexican
waves and a rustling of petticoats whose eaves havent
been whished on an aisle like that for a long time, let alone
hopping on the altar electric.
And as for Maria and Kieran sure look its
like this - Ive never known a finer testimony to a union
between a man and his wife. Twas elemental my dear Watson.
Earth and Water, married in the air through music, with the
fire of love ablaze in their hearts, for a long time now, much
longer than either of them look.
And the pagan ley line, under the feet of the woman who evoked
the Goddess, rippled on every level, past, present and future,
with the protection of the beat of the feet of the man who served
her melody, holding her in sound, minding her space, shifting
cobwebs the pair of them, clutter and consciousness. And so
it was, our evening mass in the Pepper Canister Church.
Ill be sure to light a candle the next time Im passing.
Merry Christmas x
Sent: Friday, August 31, 2012 1:11 AM
Subject: Sing...brilliant album!
Hi Maria and Kieran
Hows it going on the Ocean Bed?
I have listened to the new Sing album a few times
now. In Promises Maria asks How can I give
you my best if I havent yet found it and misinterpreting
the sentiment slightly from the lyric, you have given your best
so far in album form
this is the best yet. You have found
it Maria, and I am sure you both know that yourselves.
I do wonder how much longer you can remain our secret. You
must break out to a wider audience some time and this might
do it for you, although a mainstream appeal is probably still
not inherent in the album.
There are four essential elements to any album; the songs themselves,
the vocal, the arrangement and the actual playing of the instrumental
accompaniment. A new Maria album uses those elements in a unique
way. The songs you write are not formulaic in any way, but have
a feeling of
I dont know
have unusual lyrical content that makes them stand out from
the norm. Who else would construct a song around the words keep
your sparky personality at bay
so tired of putting out
put the matches away?
As for the voice it is totally bewitching; at times powerful
and emotional, at other tender and warm, always complemented
with phrasing like no-one else. I love this trait (which I find
in a totally different way in Ian Felice of the brilliant Felice
Brothers; his phrasing is odd but brilliant) and it is in my
opinion what helps to set Maria above other singers. Moreover,
Maria, probably subconsciously, acts out each song giving it
that extra something that other singers cant manage as
they dont have her acting talent. This album uses that
unique voice to the full.
The arrangements here seem to me more complex, perhaps more
considered than before which added to the excitement of the
whole piece giving added depth and interest. It's less 'rocky'
than Mutter, maybe folky in approach, but thats still
not quite right the right description. Certainly acoustic. The
acoustic guitar is there to underpin everything and as always
is faultless. Kieran must be praised for this and for the excellent
instrumentation. I havent seen any instrumentalist listing,
but I imagine its Kieran who plays most things on the
album, all of which is pretty darn impressive.
These elements have worked together to give your albums thus
far an extraordinary, almost weird intimacy. One feels that
you are singing and playing for me and it is this
in particular what I love about your albums. Few if any acts
have managed to achieve that level of intimacy. Its here
again in Sing, but perhaps not so predominantly,
and this might be due to the more complex arrangements and the
guest appearances of John Prine, Damien Rice and Paul Brady.
This is not a criticism, as I love the arrangements and the
guests each bringing a fabulous amount of value-add
each would, of course. It is just that this time it is more
Maria and Kierans album than a for me album.
Less intimacy. But I love it!!!
Each of the songs is noteworthy. The extra layers of guest
vocals are all expertly used
I dont usually like
the guest appearance syndrome, but here it works to perfection.
I love the nice country feel and shuffle beat to Am I
Choosing Right and its good to hear harmonica included;
a too neglected instrument in these hi-production days. I love
the great double tracking. Maria tells us I keep making
stories for you and we say yes please
doing so! She asks Am I getting all the right words,
am I choosing right? Another resounding Yes!
This is a very good opener featuring the more complex arrangement
and it sounds just right. And with Maria bells in
I found Sing redolent of the Skullcover album (which
it was my most played album for a very long time).
Its feel, its sound and the emotional vocal reminded me so much
of some Skullcover moments. This is a lovely song and Maria
lends the vocal to Damien Rice who really does the song justice
juxtaposes the beauty of her vocal with a slightly huskier though
weirdly similar vocal sound. Uilleann pipes add a brilliant
spectral feel to proceedings, especially with Damiens
reverbed backing vocals at the end. Excellent. I particularly
like the middle 8 harmonies. This song has continued to grow
on me over a number of plays
and I loved it first time
The Silence. The strong banjo throughout
gives the song bluegrass undertones. Excellent arrangements
with harmonics and great build up as the song progresses with
echo on the double tracking
love Marias husky top
note on I tell you, you have no choice Maria sings
Ive found my voice and shes right! And
the Maria bells are to the fore again. This is brilliant!
I love the Latin feel to Hola Luna Theres
so much going on in this song, and so much to like. The arrangement
is fabulous, the harmonies with Paul Brady are excellent and
I love the chanting on the bridge between the verses. The chorus
is very good and I loved the contrast where the backing drops
off before returning with great gusto at the chorus with complex
handclaps supplementing things. The little boy is a lucky boy,
methinks! Sweet little boy never know what hit him.
Great effects on the outro. Another excellent song. Great stuff
Once again I find that The most beautiful people are
broken is very redolent of Skullcover and I love it. The
brilliant acoustic guitar gives it a country feel. There is
a lovely, lazy, laid back feel to the song and another perfect
and the sentiment in the words If you
going to wake up with sound of your own voice ringing in your
ears youd want to start making a sound you like to hear
give real food for thought. I love this song.
In contrast, Twelve White Horses is steadily piano
driven while some beautiful harmonies reside in this song. I
imagine they are with Kieran. Beautiful. An ethereal guitar
offers perfect backing. Some nice and punchy handclaps return
for the instrumental break replete with castanets offering evidence
of the Kennedys relatively recent Spanish sojourn. This
is an excellent song with a strong chorus. I love this one,
Perhaps influenced by Marias part in the Titanic TV production
Sing from the Sea is powerfully sung with contrasting
tenderness as the song demands. Jesus, those lyrics! Take
me with you your ocean bride if you were dead and
I was alive would you sing to me still from the ocean.
Really powerful stuff. A great arrangement once again in which
the handclap pattern returns and another climatic ending complete
with double tracking and hup-hups! Fabulous stuff.
Probably Yes We Will was the song that I was most
looking forward to hearing due to John Prines much publicised
presence. I think Maria and John are beautiful together and
complement the stunning simplicity of the song. Once again I
loved the hugely effective arrangement relying basically on
acoustic guitar although other instruments come along around
the middle 8 which is beautiful. And lyrically outstanding again:
Will we take the next hill? Oh yes we will. Brilliant.
I think that Sparky Personality is a very sweet,
slightly quirky and very effective song. I loved the timpani
introduction and the work builds steadily with a dual tracking
Maria. I like the simple construction of the song. And once
again what brilliant unusual words. I have already mentioned
keep your sparky personality at bay
so tired of putting
put the matches away and I particularly
liked flick the switch from naught to fever pitch.
I find Promises a slightly throwaway song, less
adventurous in some ways and, dare I say, there seems to be
less feeling invested in the delivery. I do like the way it
starts with similar timpani intro as Sparky and
the bells back again! I do like the middle 8, too. However,
this is, for some reason, my least favourite song on Sing
so for me it presents a slightly disappointing end to an otherwise
But generally, I found that I was disappointed only when each
I wanted it to go on for ever as each was so
the showbiz maxim is, of course, leave them
wanting more, so you have done a perfect job. Thanks for
a brilliant album. I am enthralled by you both once again.
Im now heading for two years in the musical limbo that
Love in music
Review: In the church of Kieran and Maria Doyle Kennedy
by Tom Mc Carthy on FEBRUARY 18, 2012 in ENTERTAINMENT, LIFE
Maria Doyle Kennedy (MDK) and Kieran Kennedy (KK) were clearly
looking for an intimate venue to give upcoming album Sing a
voice of its own, and they found this at the Spaniard in Kinsale.
Illuminated by simple candles, and framed by gothic beams overhead
and blood-red curtains at their side, we really were in the
church of Maria and Kieran, and the congregation were perfectly
happy to be converted
An exhilarating rendition of Storms Are On the Ocean
early on told the audience they could expect something special,
and the seductive set-list infused with a heady mix of both
new and perennial material did not disappoint. The soulful nature
of Stuck and Swoon (from 2007 album
Mütter) were also received well, with the power of the
elements, belonging, loss and letting-go buffeting themes that
featured strongly, though much of the new material also reflected
an unquenchable lust for life.
A small crowd of perhaps fifty sat mesmerised for the 2.5 hour
set, belying the homegrown musical stalwarts before them. It
seemed incredible that the punters in the adjacent bar were
blissfully unaware of their loss, though they would likely have
recognised MDK from a variety of film and TV roles, including
The Commitments, The Tudors, and period drama Downton Abbey,
as well as Neil Jordans upcoming vampire thriller Byzantium.
Kieran Kennedy is also no stranger to fame, having been at the
helm of a string of bands, including Black Velvet Band and Hothouse
Flowers, as well as being a successful musician in his own right.
This rich musical history, combined with six albums in their
wake (released under self-launched label Mermaid Records), meant
the duo had nothing to prove on the night. Perhaps that is why
both were so at ease and at times mischievous on stage.
To my mind, this gig was payback for one I would dearly loved
to have seen in 1996 Eva Cassidys Live at Blues
Alley. MDKs voice is of the same calibre, but also incredibly
unique and full of character. Even ignoring her phenomenal range,
her stage presence was a performance in itself, a haunting trance
of flamenco style writhing and rhythmical clapping, nourished
by the backdrop of KKs vocals, acoustic guitar and an
impressive array of instruments and effects, all from a simple
The venue decor resembled the set of The Crucible, as MDK herself
pointed out during a handful of breathers from an incredible
20+ song set. It was during these mini-breaks that the audience
got a peek at their colourful personalities and natural chemistry.
Mirthful renditions of Babe (from 2001 album Charm)
and The Mountaineers Courtship (2011s The
Storms Are On The Ocean) had the crowd in stitches. Audience
participation also featured strongly, a favourite ice-breaker
of MDKs:Not to get too heavy, but people raising
their voices together is a glorious sound.
There was no air or graces, either during the gig or after
when they mingled with the crowd, just two normal people happy
to have a bit of banter. Nuggets of interactions with Paul Brady,
John Prine, Tom York, Johnny Depp, and even a dedicated band
of Twitter followers (several of who were present), were also
It was difficult to find anything to detract from this solid
offering. A minor technical problem (booming speakers) was solved
immediately, but the overall performance was flawless. If pushed,
it would have been interesting at times to enjoy them as simply
a pair of voices and an acoustic guitar, without any effects.
Such is their musical prowess, this would likely have been as
As the congregation filtered out to wash the experience down
with their chosen sacrament, I asked MDK if there was any particular
inspiration behind Sing. She paused for a moment, and then answered
simply: Many, many things have influenced it, but mainly
the act of singing itself. KK added: Its about
moving on too.
Sing is due out sometime this year, promises MDK: To
be honest they always take me a little while. Writing songs
can be the easiest thing in the world, until you record
This performance reaffirms it will be worth the wait. In the
meantime, a series of upcoming gigs will have to satisfy any
urges. Besides, to have a crowd pleading for more, even after
four encores, is pretty special. You need to see them live.
The Storms are on the Ocean
I returned from a stint in UK to find lying abombly on my doormat
(actually on my settee [or is it sofa?] arm
had been popping in for cat feeding and post harvesting purposes)
to find The Storms are on the Ocean patiently awaiting
my return. My visit had taken in a session at HMV Forum in London
to see the re-formed Jayhawks (I have put re-formed
rather than reformed as the latter would suggest
that they had been bad boys and had now turned over a new leaf).
As you may know
or not, of course
one of their main
writers Mark Olson, acoustic king, had left to form his many
solo projects about 15 years ago just as the band had reached
its zenith, leaving the band to soldier on for another 3-4 albums
with Gary Louris, electric king, as the main man. However, more
recently the two had reconciled their musical differences and
recorded an album together before reforming (or re-forming!)
the best of the Jayhawks configurations and have
been touring and recording again.
Yippee!! I said as I was pleased about this.
But I went to see them with some reservation
when I saw
them in their classic days they were good
but only good.
As we know when bands get back together they are often disappointing.
But the Jayhawks were utterly brilliant. The sad thing is that
most of the concert was (although a tad understandably) music
from the classic albums of 15 years ago, but it was performed
brilliant stuff. And the few newbies they did were
in the same vogue as the old stuff, is that bodes well for the
try to hear it
Bird Time, I think its to be called. Well worth
it, Ill wager.
We left North London the next day...only to find out that the
riots started in Tottenham that night close to where we were
staying. What frigging eejits that crowd of
were. I can understand, up to a point, although obviously cant
condone, the looting and so on, but to set fire to shops in
the knowledge that people were living above
is just beyond comprehension. Criminals against humanity in
every way as bad as a certain pursued Libyan leader.
But this was to be an email to say Thanks for another
great album. So Ill leave the UK behind and carry on with
what I was going to bother you with
Storms is another great offering, while being so
different from its predecessors
but I guess that was the
idea. One of the remarkable things about all of Marias
albums is a remarkable
thats all I
can call it
that no other artist I know can convey. It
is something that once again pervades this album, and at once
elevates it into a remarkable piece of work. How do you manage
to get that intimacy into it? Remarkable. Its got to be
both singing and production.
In places it is redolent of the soundtrack to O Brother
Where Art Thou? in its content and arrangement
thats OK by me
Brother is in my mind
the best soundtrack album ever (with the Commitments!) and so
this is GREAT praise from me. I guess its the mixture
of bluegrass and gospel inspired songs that does it. But leaving
that particular album aside, Storms works so well.
The arrangements work expertly on both the gospel and bluegrassy
stuff as well as the more country / folk songs. The intro to
title track is brilliant, and almost everything on the CD is
a winner. The Mountaineers Courtship made
me laugh (for the first few times)
great ending, and I
loved the throw away and a baby which is gas.
Yes altogether a brilliant album and I am so grateful that you
put it out on CD so that we of the pre-download generation (or
is it just me!!??!!) can enjoy its excellence. Talking of that,
the CD case is brilliant, too
I love it.
just thanks to you both for another musical
gem. A great dénouement to a great musical interlude
that started with the Jayhawks.
I hope to catch you in concert somewhere/when, until then
Thanks and Best wishes
john from Leitrim
Model Theatre Sligo Concert
Im sorry for not having contacted you before, but I have
been busy in preparation for albeit a little bit of work; but
when its new work the preparation needed is more proportionately
than otherwise. And my daughter came to stay with us for a week,
so I was showing her the delights (!?) of Leitrim and its surrounds
an overnight in Dublin where I was working in DCU for an afternoon
result of some of that preparation, you see. So all in all a
decent excuse I feel!
I see that Dublin got some of the floods that the rest of us
have had for the last week or so (I exaggerate that
have had a few flooded roads
however in Fermanagh around
Derrygonelly and Boho
the flooding was
water as far as the eye could see
beyond, no doubt. Horrible.
The best yet!!! I have seen you and Maria 3 times now and this
was easily the best
not that the others werent good
but each has been better than the performance before.
Im not sure why this was so good
just the selection
of material, the brilliant performances and the intimacy that
you produce is just quite scintillating. Not sure how you do
that intimacy thing is quite extraordinary, and translates
onto your CDs which is even more baffling.
Some thoughts / memories of a great concert:
The old Gibson may have seen better days, but can it ever have
sounded so good? The effects were pretty darn good, too
just the harmonics as the boy who kept calling things out said
really a heckler
an enthusiast or something
certainly enhanced those songs brilliantly. Really captivating
The embarrassed delight that was all over Marias face
when the audience applauded. I wondered how that delight could
be so strong considering all that she / you both have done in
the recent past
but it was special to see.
The depth and spread of songs from the forthcoming album and
each of the past albums was perfect and gave a varied and yet
familiar feeling to everything. The new material sounds great,
too. It is always a worrying period for us, the public, between
albums that your favourite performers produce. Will it match
the last? Will it be a disappointment? Has the song writing
deteriorated? Is the production too much? That sort of doubt
that nags away at times during the day when they have no right
to nag at you. And I guess that if the rest of the album matches
those new songs we heard, most of those doubts are already eliminated
on the New Year! But the way the old material was woven in was
great. I liked the interlude where the Storms material
found its way in
and I laughed at the Mountaineers Courtship
again whereas I had stopped laughing at it on CD
how live performances do that
and a baby
And the final version of Stars as you finished was
stunning. Altogether a brilliant set
thanks a million for
such great entertainment.
The performing of John the Revelator was a brilliant surprise!!
As you may know there are a number of versions of this (the
verses vary quite considerably) and the version I know and have
is by Son House the old blues singer
so old he is dead,
in fact!! I have always loved this song and have incorporated
it into one of my songs Solemn as Barclay
I was surprised and delighted to hear it
and to join in
I didnt want to spoil
proceedings!!! Incidentally, Maria said that she had thought
the words were Whos that riding John the Revelator
which was really amusing
less amusing but in the same vein
was my belief that Son House was singing that he wrote
a book on the seven seas which I didnt understand
for years. It wasnt until I read the book of Revelations
that I realised it was a book on the seven seals. Did you ever
read Revelations? Weird or what!? I enjoyed it though! So thanks
for John the Revelator
lots of great memories associated
not quite the extravagant footwear
of previous sightings (they were mentioned at the first gig
I saw you both in and so have looked ever since
have a predilection for womens shoes, you understand)
but they were of pretty unusual and inspired design nonetheless.
Is she one of those women with a million shoes, I wonder? Why
do women need so many? I have 2
Oh, and a pair of boots
for when it snows this winter
I dont want to break
my ankle like last year in my work shoes with no tread on the
soles! Work shoes, runners and boots
In the interval between Glen Cal and yourselves one of the
albums by the brilliant Felice Brothers was played
believe it. Kieran, Maria and the Felice Brothers in one evening;
what a double whammy for me. The Felice Brothers are probably
my current favourite band alongside long-time favourites the
Jayhawks that I mentioned last time. They are a country rock
band I suppose youd call them but with such an anarchic
approach to their music that it takes them above the other bands
of their ilk. However, for me, their last album suffered a tad
of the Will it match the last? Will it be a disappointment?
Has the song writing deteriorated? Is the production too much?
issues mentioned earlier. However they are at the Dublin Academy
mid-December and I hope my ticket is winging its way to me soon.
Try and see them. Where was I
? Yes the interval was an
especially entertaining one for me, too!
I mentioned when I spoke to you briefly after the gig that
you look more like Roy Harper every time I see you
take this back
quite coincidently I saw him on Jools Hollands
programme soon after Sligo, and he has changed SO much since
I last saw him
almost bald now, but then he is 75, which
is hard to believe. Roy was mainstay of the 60s singer / songwriter
crew in London where I saw him many times. His best album is
probably An Old Cricketer Never Leaves the Crease
(or something similar) and his most well-known song 'I Hate
the White Man a monolithic but great song about all the
evils that the white man has perpetrated on the world and especially
on the worlds of many indigenous populations (cant think
of a better description) such as First Nation Americans and
great stuff. But you do look like he did in his
Hey! I must stop
you are too busy with the new album and
stuff to read this rubbish!! But I just wanted to say thanks
to you both for such a great evening
again. I was enraptured
by your performances. I am at a loss to explain to myself why
you are not bigger than you are (I mean in public esteem, not
) and spread the word as much as
I can to all and sundry and maybe a few more. So thanks, you
you are gems
Take good care you both and heres to the next time
john Still from Leitrim
PS Try to catch the Felice Brothers
Im sure you
will be delighted!