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January 2014

Irish American News

Top TIR Awards 2014 Well it’s time for the major market muscle of the 23rd Top TIR Awards. The best of the best. The big Gazoo. Here we Go! (Remember, Top TIR is a clever use of the column title, Tradition in Review. Clever, hey?) FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Laura Smith Laura Smith released her long awaited album, Everything is Moving in 2013. It is a masterpiece performed by the best we have ever heard in the business. No arguments. The best. Get a copy and try to disagree. She has already won several accolades for this in Canada. A national treasure shared with the world, as one Canadian put it. MALE MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR: Maurice Lennon Speaking of long-awaited albums,

Stockton’s Wing founder, Maurice Lennon offered his wonderful album, The Little Ones in 2013. Maurice has moved way past the drum kits and flash that became Stockton’s Wing. He is a master musician, and this is a master album. VOCALS/INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Roots of the Banjo Tree This album was released by what is

now the hottest group in traditional music, We Banjo 3. The album is a miracle of musical insight. The only thing that top this album are the band’s live appearances. Incredible stuff. We look forward to their next effort, to come out in mid-2014. If you are anywhere near Irish music, you know who this group is. Stunning. NEW GROUP OF THE YEAR: Socks in the Frying Pan The group’s self-titled first album is simply wonderful. Superior instrumentals meet wonderful harmonies. The

“We’ve Always Been Green!” Our Chicago musical heroine has produced another stunner, this time entitled On the Offbeat. When any musician has been as excellent as long as Liz Carroll has, you can only wonder how much longer she can continue at this level. Apparently, the answer for this fiddle genius is forever. Wow. CONCERT OF THE YEAR: A Mighty Squeeze Jimmy Keane and John Williams performed together at Chief O’Neill’s pub in November, 2013. A packed house saw the perfect concert. The best musicians, who also know how to entertain. Two hours of tapping your foot to the very best Irish music, while sharing tons of laughter. A perfect night from two perfect musicians. See how often we are using the word, “perfect”?

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HOME • LIFE • AUTO • HEALTH • BUSINESS group pointed out to the international ALL TYPES OF CONTRACTORS trad community how long it had been since fabulous harmonies have been 14308 Union Orland Park, IL 60462 heard in the music, as a regular feature of MALE7VOCALIST 0 8 - 3 4OF 9 THE - 2 YEAR: 0 0 0 Paul a group. Socks in the Frying Pan became McKenna immediately important in the music The Paul McKenna band released the album, Elements, in 2013. It is very difficult to get an emotional grip on this album as it is so layered. The one thing that shines through regardless of material is this Scottish tenor’s remarkable voice. A truly gifted singer, backed by a wonderful band. FEMALE INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Niamh Ni Charra Niamh Ni Charra, the extraordinary concertina and fiddle player gave us Cuz in 2013. The album is dedicated to the memory of Chicago musician, Cuz Teahan. Far more important than any for reminding groups worldwide how tribute to Cuz is the inspired and gifted important great singing and harmony musicianship on display here, from one should be in a vocal/instrumental group. of the hardest working gals in show business. Niamh is a force of nature and her Socks rocks! COMPENDIUM ALBUM OF THE talent leaves us stunned. YEAR: Masters of their Craft from Tara MALE INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: As It Happened Records From the wonderful Danny O’Mahony, Irish-based Tara has been a Hallmark of excellence for decades in Irish music who is a great button box player. He is so you would guess that any album of joined in this masterpiece by the untheir best would be fabulous. You would believable Micheal O’Raghallaigh on be right. You must have it. Thanks, Tara. concertina. Fantastic stuff. This is the FEMALE MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR: pure drop and the real deal from two of Ireland’s best. If you don’t have this, get Liz Carroll You know Liz Carroll has to win this. it. We listen to this CD over and over and

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have played it a ton of times on our radio show, Ireland Tonight. FEMALE VOCAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Portraits by Niamh Dunne She is the lead singer from Beoga, a terrific musician and a marvelous talent. Portraits is a stunner. Niamh is young with a huge future in front of her. We eagerly await her next album to see how she could possibly top Portraits. MALE VOCAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: The Hard Way Home by Paddy Homan Paddy Homan was our Male Singer of the Decade for the years 2000-2010. We have all waited a long time for this new

album, and it is well worth it, to say the least! There are these incredible talents in this music such as Paddy Homan, for whom we eventually run out of words. All we can say is: Paddy is absolutely the best. And this album is a pure delight. We’ve run out of adjectives. A magnificently gifted and important artist, and he is right here in Chicago!! You may have noticed that some of these awards look redundant, such as Female Vocalist and Female Vocal Album of the Year. It is a transparent, but necessary, ploy to get out as much recognition as we can for these artists. It’s the best we can do! The best YOU can do is to support these artists, buy their albums, and attend their concerts. Co-host Maryann Keifer and I are going to present these winners to you on our Monday night, January 6th radio program, Ireland Tonight at WDCB 90.9FM/wdcb.org. Let’s be repetitious. Support these artists. They have earned your respect and a place on your CD shelf or downloaded file.


Irish American News - January 2014