Searching for answers about Celtic Thunder?

March 22, 2010
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Google searchers may not realize this but when you do a search all the sites that come up that you click on can get your search criteria in their statistical logs. There is nothing wrong with this. It helps sites tailor their content to better serve you. I know there are a lot of ardent Celtic Thunder fans out there who have memorized every detail about “the lads”. But there are many more people who are merely curious and would like to know more. Their actual website is not always kept up to date and very little info is included in their shows. They don’t even introduce themselves, apparently assuming everyone in the audience knows all there is to know. So I will attempt to answer some of the most commonly searched questions.

First off, I will start with the upcoming tour. As of this morning no further info is on their site but I will keep checking. Like most bands they do have a pre-sale date that supposedly offers good seats to fans. This is sometimes the case but not always. Most of the time the very best seats are blocked out and are only available by making a pledge to the PBS station in the city in which the show will be performed. I have been to four Celtic Thunder shows so I will share a few things I have learned. Their show is much better in a theater than an arena. There are a lot of really bad seats in an arena where you will need binoculars to actually see and you miss a lot watching this way. Arenas are fine for sporting events where the action moves but not that great for this kind of show. The acoustics are better in a theater also. I will tell you that no matter how far away you are sitting you will always hear every note that Paul Bryom sings. That man has a set of pipes that you can only really appreciate in a live show. He sounds great on a recording but he will knock your socks off live.

You can make a pledge to the PBS station via the station’s website at any time. You don’t have to wait until the show is aired and call in your pledge. Just put the city + PBS station into Google to find their website. The downside of this is that you won’t know what seat you actually got until they mail the tickets out a few weeks before the showdate. If you go through ticketmaster or another ticket outlet you will know which seat you are buying. Always check with the seating charts first so you are familiar with the layout of the venue. I have only gotten one really good seat during the pre-sale day. It is sometimes better to wait until it’s closer to the show and the pbs station releases their unsold tickets to the ticket agent at which time the floor or orchestra seats will go up for sale to the general public. The closer you are the better with this act. If you can swing it, PBS is the way to get the best seats.

This upcoming tour is the closest they have ever come to my location. There are a lot of cities on this tour list that they have never been to before. Many are not major market cities and I think they should do well in most of them. Unfortunately this particular show is a bit less geared to fans of Irish and Celtic Music than their original outing or the show that they toured last year. But they are adding a whole first act of Irish music that will, hopefully satisfy our expectation that a show with the word Celtic in it would actually include Celtic or Irish music.

The main singers in Celtic Thunder are: Paul Byrom, George Donaldson, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly and Damian McGinty. This year the main line up has been extended to include Neil Byrne. Neil has been with them from the beginning as part of the band but is being brought forward now as a soloist. Neil has long been a fan favorite and has actually clocked more time on stage during the show than any of the others. ;)

Now on to other questions in no particular order:

When was Keith Harkin born? June 10, 1986 (I only remember the year for him because my daughter was born the same year). Damian will be 18 next Sept. George’s birthday is in Feb, Ryan’s is in November and Paul’s is in April and Neil’s is also in Nov.

Bio on Neil Byrne. There is a short one at the Celtic Thunder website. I can add that he used to be with a band called Hipple Street which is now defunct but you can still buy their EP at cdbaby and they still have a myspace page so you can hear samples there.

Celtic Thunder Sheet music — They do have a songbook which includes sheet music many of their songs. It is available through their shop and I have also seen it on the merchandise table at their shows. Speaking of buying merchandise at shows, it is always wise to bring cash to anyone’s show. Those credit card swiping machines are very temperamental and you don’t want to be caught short if the show you go to is the one it decides to not work for.

What are the names of the back up musicians? They are, as a group, called the Celtic Thunder Players or All Stars. They sometimes change from one tour to the next. The ladies in the string section are Ruth and Joyce O’Leary (who are sisters who also perform as Sephira), Nicole Hudson and on the cello, Megan Sherwood. The drummer is Declan O’Donoghue The bass player is Conor McCreanor. Pipes and other Celtic instruments have been played by Barry Kerr and Brendan Monaghan on different tours and dvds. The piano player/musical director (who is the only one who is introduced to the audience during the show) is either Phil Coulter, who is the musical director for the entire production, or Dave Cook. Neil Byrne has always been the guitar player for Celtic Thunder since the original show. He has also done percussion and anything else Phil has thrown his way. Not sure how his status will change now that he has been brought forward into the main line up.

UPDATE: This is an old post. The back up people changed for the 2010 tour. This is a show not a group so cast members will change. For 2011 there are also many changes. The main line-up will be different as two of the original cast members have left the show. Paul Byrom will be replaced by Emmet Cahill and Damian McGinty will be replaced by Daniel Furlong. Phil Coulter has also left Celtic Thunder.

Have Celtic Woman and Celtic Thunder performed together? No they haven’t. The producer of Celtic Thunder was also the original producer of Celtic Woman but they have always been two separate shows and entities. It is not likely they will ever perform together but nothing is impossible.

Do any of the members of Celtic Thunder have websites? Yes. Paul Byrom and Keith Harkin have their own websites http://paulbyrom.ie/home.php and http://www.keithharkin.com/

Do any of the members of Celtic Thunder have solo cds? Yes Paul Byrom has two cds and a single out. All are available through cdbaby. He is working on a third which is not yet out. Paul had the highest profile professional life before Celtic Thunder and has maintained it along with appearing in Celtic Thunder. I have heard rumors that all the other members will be releasing cds during this year and I hope that is the case. Keith Harkin is a songwriter and musician as well as a singer and fans have been waiting several years for his cd.

Paul Byrom: I

 

Paul Byrom: Velvet

This is one that comes up a lot which is the only reason I am mentioning it. “Are Keith Harkin and Ruth O’Leary dating?”. This is clearly in the private life not professional life category and is not something we will address here. Frankly, we don’t care. It is all about the music for us and both of them do a great job in the Celtic Thunder show. That is all that matters to music fans.

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