Seamus Kennedy, one of Ireland's most entertaining exports, will headline a special St. Patrick's Day concert at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Kennedy is a singer, songwriter, musician, comedian, author and all-around entertainer. He has a huge repertoire that includes traditional Irish music, classic Country & Western, American standards and Scottish ballads. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he has been entertaining audiences all over the United States for nearly four decades.
An accomplished guitarist with a ready wit and a vast store of songs, he travels from Alaska to Florida, Maryland to California, performing for audiences that range from popes and presidents to bartenders and brick-layers.
In concert or at a festival, in pub or club, in colleges or high schools, Kennedy has the repertoire and the ability to make folks forget their cares for a while, to relax and enjoy themselves. When he plays a lively Irish jig or reel, he often will coax someone to jump up and dance to the music, much to the delight and often amazement of their friends. He encourages the crowd to sing along to silly lyrics and daft ditties or act out the choruses of children's songs. His audience participation songs and tongue-twisters have amused the ablest of participants and the nimblest of tongues.
His endless supply of rib-tickling jokes, stories and one-liners can leave an audience breathless from laughing so hard. Many a crowd has gone home from one of his shows giggling to one another, "do you remember the one about ...?"
But the Irish have their serious side too, and when Kennedy performs one of the more somber ballads such as Tommy Sands' "There Were Roses" or Pete St. John's "Dublin in the Rare Old Times," you can hear a pin drop as the words sink in. Kennedy's greatest musical influences have been the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, the Dubliners' Luke Kelly and the Irish Rovers; so it is no surprise to find many of the songs they made famous, such as "The Wild Colonial Boy," "The Wild Rover," or "The Black Velvet Band," in his performance.
Joining Kennedy will be Opera House favorites, dancers from Clann Na Cara Irish Dance. Clann Na Cara was established as a western New York Irish dance school in 2006 by four National and World Champion medalists. Prior to receiving their dance teacher certifications, all four founders were regular performers at the Opera House during St. Patrick's Day celebration events. In addition, each has led dancers in performances with such notable artists as The Chieftains, Cherish the Ladies and Natalie MacMaster.
The students at Clann Na Cara range in age from 4 to 21 and include numerous preliminary and national championship dancers.
Tickets to Seamus Kennedy are $15 ($13 for Opera House members) and may be purchased in person at the Opera House Box Office or by phone at 679-1891, Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. They also may be purchased online any time at www.fredopera.org.
This performance is part of the Folk in Fredonia Music Series, which is graciously sponsored by The Gilman Family. It also is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County.
Chautauqua County's only performing arts center presenting its own programming year-round, the 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia.
A complete schedule of events is available at www.fredopera.org.