Story by Sharon Armstrong. Photographs courtesy of Legacy.
The Christmas season in New Orleans might be full of holy nights, but they will be far from silent if Irish music group Legacy has anything to do with it.
At a time when New Orleanians are starting to think about family, friends and old traditions -as well as, of course, about presents and parties- this Jackson-based band is planning a concert party of their own on Saturday, December 12th at the Deutsches Haus here in New Orleans. This well known band will present "An Irish Christmas - Songs and Music from West Cork". There will also be a follow-up show on Sunday, December 13th, at the St Alphonsus Arts and Cultural Center.
As an added bonus, rumor has it that the concert at the Deutsches Haus will be followed by a ceili which, as we all know, is Irish for a great big party with music, dancing, and general great craic.
Legacy, with singer Valerie Plested on fiddle, Don Penzien on guitar, and Justin Murphy on flute, bodhran and tin-whistle, will be appearing with County Cork native, singer and storyteller Jim Flanagan to bring an authentic Irish slant to the festive season. The band draws on both the rich heritage of seasonal traditional music, and the ancient festivities that still take place in modern day Ireland, Scotland, and the other Celtic countries.
“We call it a West Cork Christmas because Jim is from West Cork,” said Valerie Plested, talking about the songs and stories that they will be performing during their shows.
“There are all sorts of things that have been surviving for centuries, trends and culturally salient things that they do in West Ireland, versus East Ireland versus the North of Scotland, like the New Year thing in Scotland where it is good luck to have a dark-haired man cross your threshold first thing New Year’s day. But we do music from all around the Celtic islands, and it is not just about Christmas," said Valerie. "The first half of the show is focused on the anticipatory Christmas stuff; the second half goes into St Stephen’s Day, and the last bit ends with the turn of the New Year. There is a huge repertoire, and a rich tradition of music that can be delved into.”
The band members of Legacy are no strangers to New Orleans. When Valerie first moved from Texas to Jackson, Mississippi, she played regularly at O’Flaherty’s; Justin Murphy was one of the pub’s house musicians, and Don, along with fellow Legacy members and New Orleans’ own Betsy McGovern, was a recurrent attraction at Jazzfest, playing as the Poor Clares.
“I used to look forward all week to those weekends,” Valerie told WWOZ. “You know, going to New Orleans. It’s just a very special place; I always wish well for the city.”
“I guess Christmas means different things to different people,” she went on. “But a current thread is being together with family, and looking forward to the New Year – stopping and taking stock of what you have got and what you would like to go, as well as what relationships you would like to keep pursuing in your life, and maintaining your family and friends. And presents, of course, it is all about the X-Box.”
LEGACY with Jim Flanagan
An Irish Christmas - Songs and Music from West Cork
Saturday, Dec. 12 - Deutsches Haus - 200 S. Galvez, New Orleans
Sunday, Dec. 13 - St. Alphonsus Arts & Cultural Center
2045 Constance St., New Orleans
Ticket information is available at (985) 259-0882.