By Peter McDermott
It will be a tour with a twist – or two. So promises Celtic jazz singer Tara O’Grady.
Her guitarist Michael Howell, who took on the world with the great Dizzy Gillespie, will in the fall take on the Atlantic Way; while David Shaich who has performed urban venues with new wave legend Debbie Harry, will experience the sea air and the Irish countryside on a bus journey starting out in Donegal on Oct. 24.
O’Grady’s eight-day Fáilte Music Tour of Ireland will visit the Cliffs of Moher on Oct. 28, the Cork Jazz Festival on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, and conclude with a Halloween candlelit dinner at the Brazen Head, one of Dublin’s oldest and most celebrated inns.
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The Irish Echo asked the New Yorker O’Grady a few questions about it.
IE: Tell us something about your childhood summers in Ireland?
TO’G: Mum is from Donegal, so I spent every summer on the farm with my grandparents in Gortward, Mount Charles, outside Donegal Town, since I was a 1-year-old. I loved feeding the chickens and riding on my grandfather’s tractor down the fields where he picked potatoes and brought in the cattle. It was a magical time for me since winters were spent in New York City. Two different worlds.
IE: You’re leading this tour. Have you ever been on one led by someone else?
TO’G: This is my first tour. I’ve performed at festivals in the U.S., but this will be my first music festival in Ireland and I decided to perform in a few other counties while I am over there.
I met the tour director Niall Leogue of Caddie Tours at the Irish Network National Conference in Boston this past autumn. He’s designed similar tours for Andy Cooney and Cherish the Ladies that were successful. With his knowledge of the best hotels and restaurants, and my ideas of how to give fans my insider’s personal view of Ireland, we put together a great itinerary.
IE: Obviously, the Cork Jazz Festival will be special for you. Is there any other stage in the itinerary that you are particularly looking forward to?
TO’G: I’m looking forward to starting the tour in Donegal where most of my family live. We will have the Henry Girls joining my band on stage, from Malin Head. And BBC Radio Ulster’s Linley Hamilton is coming from Belfast with his trumpet. He has performed with Van Morrison and Paul Brady. That will be one memorable show on Oct. 26. Then Oct. 28 in Galway, and Oct. 30 at the Cork Jazz Fest. The rest of the time we will be showing our fans on the tour bus the cliffs, castles and countryside of Ireland with plenty of craic in between. Fans from New Orleans and San Francisco have already signed up.