BWW Review: IRISH CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA Brings the Christmas Spirit and the Jameson to The Sofia
Now that Christmas is over, we have only 364 days to wait until next year's festivities! Even less than that to begin thinking about attending all of the holiday activities that contribute to making the season so special. I will definitely be starting a new tradition of seeing the show, Irish Christmas in America, after experiencing it at The Sofia last weekend. I am hoping that we are gifted with another tour in the area in 2020.
Oisin Mac Diarmada has created something special with his Irish Christmas in America. In Sacramento this year the show fell on the evening of the winter solstice, lending it an even more magical aura. Comprised of six talented musicians and accompanied by dancers from our local McKeever School of Irish Dance, this show is the embodiment of what you imagine an Irish Christmas to be. A cozy respite from the chill outside, making merry with family and friends, the yule log burning in the fireplace, and folklore being passed down from older generations.
Mac Diarmada is a natural emcee, down-to-earth and relatable, who easily segues between his fiddle to volleying back and forth with Seamus Begley, accordion player and comedian-extraordinaire. Vocalist Niamh Farrell is accompanied on guitar by Patrick Doocey and the Irish harp by Grainne Hambly, although she could easily sing a cappella and we would be equally transfixed. Rounding out the group is American (!) Sean Gavin on the traditional uilleann pipes, which are much like their highland bagpipe counterpart but with a softer sound.
This show really does have everything and the sold-out house enjoyed traditional Irish music and dancing offset by more relatively contemporary songs such as "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," "River," and "Who Knows Where the Time Goes." We learned about such Irish holidays at St. Stephen's Day (December 26) and, my favorite, Women's Christmas (January 6), when women do nothing all day and the men do all of the work. When the Jameson was broken into on stage, I should have known that the highlight of the evening was coming...the Seamus-led singalong of the Irish folk song, "McCarthy's Party." What sounds like it should be about a drunken frat party gone wrong is actually about a village gathering at a fellow named McCarthy's house. I've never wanted to visit Ireland more in my life.
Follow Irish Christmas in America on Facebook or visit their website at irishchristmasinamerica.com to keep abreast of their 2020 tour dates. Oisin Mac Diarmada and the men will be back in California in February with their group, Teada. You can find information on their performances at teada.com or on their Facebook page. Slainte!