This Christmas season the Irish House on St Charles Avenue will be continuing its plans to provide a venue for live Celtic music in New Orleans, with a little help from the Mississippi-based Traditional Irish band Legacy - fiddler and singer Valerie Plested and guitarist Don Penzien - and Cork native and twice-crowned All-Ireland Storytelling Champion, singer, dancer, and bodhran player Máirtín de Cógáin.
The trio will bring a Nollaig Shona, and a Joyeux Noel to audiences all across the south with their mix of holiday themed music and stories, a tour also known as An Irish Christmas Celebration: Traditional Songs and Music of West Cork.
““The songs and stories are drawn from seasonal traditions of the Celtic nations, with an emphasis on West Cork,” explained Valerie Plested. “ The Christmas music, except for one piece which will be sung in Irish, will likely be completely new for listeners - though the songs are very old.”
This is not the first time that Máirtín and the rest of the gang have performed in New Orleans, but an added bonus for the band this year, as well as a chance to order far too much food at the Camellia Grill, is the opportunity to perform at the new Irish House.
“Every town in the world needs an Irish Music venue,” said de Cógáin,” but with all the historical ties NOLA has with Ireland, I was always amazed that it lasted so long without one.”
The show is based, in part, on past Christmases’ in Máirtín’s home town of Carrigaline, a single-street town (or sráid bhaile) in Co. Cork, Ireland. So what are his memories of Christmas Past back home, and how do they differ from those spent in the US?
“All my memories of Christmas at home are mainly two weeks of gathering with family and friends around dinner table or fireside, “he reminisced. “My mother would cook for twenty people at the very least every Christmas, and never would you see a strain of pressure upon her.”
“In the show we will bring in many stories of my Christmases’, but also a more rounded look at the traditions of Christmas in Ireland down the years, and throughout the island. If I get home twice a year, I am a very happy man…get the feel of an Irish Christmas to spread around the South of the US.”
“Sometimes,” he went on. “With the world being so busy and the stress of everyday wear and tear, it is hard to look up from the hard road of life. New Orleans has a unique spirit; a resilience. It's difficult for me - one who breezes in and out - to really have an understanding of the situation, but above all I think the music is what will bring New Orleans back to new heights, no set of people or money, but music. If people get into the spirit of Christmas through our show, and go home feeling all Christmassy, I think that it will be a great success.”
Legacy with Máirtín de Cógáin will be performing at the Irish House, 1432 Saint Charles Avenue on Monday, December 12, at 7pm. Further information is available at 601 454 5573, and www.LegacyIrishMusic.com