Irish singer Cathy Jordan celebrates 'green Christmas' in the States
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"We call it St. Patrick's Day," she said. "You call it St. Patrick's month."
Not that she's complaining.
"It's good for us. It's like green Christmas."
Through the month of March, Jordan's traditional Irish music band, Dervish, will be on tour across the United States. The group performs Sunday night at the Culture Center Theater in a concert sponsored by the Friends of Old Time Music and Dance.
March, Jordan said, is a great time to be Irish.
"Everybody is Irish in March," she laughed, adding that's pretty much worldwide as far as her experience. For St. Patrick's Day, people embrace their Irish heritage, no matter how tenuous a thread that might be.
"People just love that connection," she said. "They love the music and love that there's a little Irish blood in them somewhere."
Still, it can get weird.
"It's mind-boggling when somebody comes up and says, 'My great grandfather was from County Cork' and they look at you as much to say you must know them."
And of course, Jordan doesn't know them. How could she?
"There are five million people living in Ireland," Jordan said. "The chances of knowing somebody's great grandfather from County Cork are very, very slim."
Nonetheless, Jordan said it's a good thing for people to "dust off their Irishness and look to their heritage." Connecting people is what music should be about, and of course, it doesn't hurt that Dervish gets work.
In times like these, the arts are suffering, she said, particularly in Ireland. The country was hit particularly hard by the financial collapse of 2008 and is struggling to recover from a deep recession. Everyone in Ireland is feeling the financial pinch, she said, but it's hardest for the arts community.
"Money for the arts is always the first to go when there's a financial crisis," Jordan said. "It's such a pity because the one thing that gets us over a recession is the arts."
People need music to lift their spirits, inspire them and give them hope. It's comfort and encouragement. Sometimes it even points the way back home if you've lost your way.
Music has always been that for her, which is part of the reason why she put together a solo album of Irish folk tunes called "All The Way Home." This might sound odd since she's in a band that plays Irish folk tunes, but it actually isn't, she said.
"It's not really that odd. In a band, the material has to pass by everybody. You make musical compromises, do songs other people want to do or they do songs you want to do. With a solo album, you can do pretty much as you like."
"All The Way Home" is a more personal record for Jordan. Some of the songs were the songs her parents sang to her as a child. Others she listened to as a teenager. On the album, she took them and framed them into a kind of musical narrative about growing up, leaving home and finding your way back.
"I'd wanted to do those songs for so long," she said. "They just kept getting louder and louder in my head."
For her, the problem with doing the album was she wanted to make an album of Irish songs done in a folk style, but she didn't want it to sound exactly like a Dervish record. So she recorded in Sweden with noted Swedish folk musician and composer Roger Tallroth.
The result is an emotional, bittersweet album that's still folk music, still Irish, but not precisely traditional. It will be released on Tuesday.
"I'm very happy with how it came out," she said.
Yes, it's a great time of the year to be Irish.
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5195.