Music News & Reviews

Walter Tunis: ‘An Irish Christmas’ is its own show; Small Batch launches new album

Musicians in An Irish Christmas, which comes to the EKU Center for the Arts on Saturday.
Musicians in An Irish Christmas, which comes to the EKU Center for the Arts on Saturday. Photo provided

An Irish Christmas

7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at the EKU Center for the Arts, 1 Hall Drive in Richmond. $37.50-$55. 859-622-7469.

Before detailing what An Irish Christmas is, let’s examine what it isn’t.

The program of seasonally inspired Irish music, dancing and narrative isn’t A Celtic Christmas, the long-running holiday program featuring storyteller Tomaseen Foley that has twice played the Singletary Center for the Arts. It’s also not An Irish Christmas in America, which features singer Seamus Begley.

The similarly titled An Irish Christmas is overseen by the Los Angeles-based Kerry Records and its accompanying Kerry Dance Troupe. Both promote Irish culture through dance (mixing traditional style with contemporary appeal), music (largely folk based) and stories.

While Celtic culture is the obvious focus of An Irish Christmas, several of the traveling artists with the production come from other corners of the globe. Narrator and storyteller Sheelagh Cullen is an Irish native who ran a theater company in Hong Kong for more than 10 years and has worked extensively in England and Los Angeles. Fiddler and musical coordinator Bella Issakova grew up in Bulgaria and performed throughout Europe and the Middle East before moving to Southern California and, eventually, Atlanta. Principal dancer Scott Doherty hails from Massachusetts and works out of Virginia. He is the 2009 men’s world champion of Irish dance, with performance credits in Riverdance, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance and his own Rockin’ Road to Dublin.

Strictly on the music side, An Irish Christmas will enlist, among others, Zac Léger on guitar, bouzouki, flute and bodhrán. Leger has worked with famed Irish and Irish-American artists guitarist John Doyle and fiddlers Liz Carroll and Eileen Ivers.

For additional information, go to

Small Batch times two

You have two opportunities this weekend to celebrate the fine acoustic-driven Americana and pop of Small Batch and its new recording, True Loves.

The band — Reva Williams, Warren Byrom, Tree Jackson, Scott Wilmoth and Robby Cosenza — will offer a pair of performances Friday night at The Green Lantern, 497 West Third Street. The first will be a more intimate early-evening set at 6 p.m., with limited seating available. The chairs then get pushed aside for a 10 p.m. outing that will team Small Batch with local alternative folk-pop fave Bear Medicine.

A $10 cover charge will take care of you for one or both shows. For more information, call 859-252-9539.

Fahl-ing into Newport

Among the performances scrapped when Natasha’s Bistro closed its doors last month was a show planned for Friday night by Mary Fahl.

During the 1990s, the New York-born singer was the voice behind a wonderfully artful pop troupe known as October Project. After two albums and a radio hit (Bury My Lovely) that nicely showcased Fahl’s deep, incantatory singing, the group splintered. She made her only Lexington concert appearance thus far during the very early days of The Dame after the release of her debut album, The Other Side of Time in 2003.

Fahl will still be in the region this weekend. She will perform Saturday at the Southgate House Revival, 111 East Sixth Street, in Newport (8:30 p.m, $25, $30) in support of her new concert album, Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.

For more ticket information, call 859-431-2201 or go to

Solid Wood

Monday will bring the eclectic blues/folk/rock/what-have-you trio The Wood Brothers to the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center (6:45 p.m., $20). The Claudettes from Chicago are also on the bill.

In Sunday’s Living section, we’ll hear from guitarist/vocalist Oliver Wood, who will discuss, among other topics, the band’s alliance with the Zac Brown Band. The Woods released four albums on the country megastar’s label and, on occasion, toured with him. Interestingly enough, Brown and company play the KFC Yum Center in Louisville on Thursday (7 p.m., $46.50-$70.50). Call 859-252-8888 for WoodSongs reservations and 1-800-745-3000, or go to for Brown tickets.

Holiday Jam

It’s time again for Acoustic Jam, the now-annual parade of country stars playing in lean and largely unplugged settings.

Tuesday’s WBUL-FM-sponsored show at the Lexington Opera House will feature home-state hero Jarrod Niemann (who we will hear from in Sunday’s Living section), John Michael Montgomery, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, Easton Corbin, Thompson Square, Scotty McCreery (a returnee from last year’s Acoustic Jam), Raelynn, Craig Campbell, Cassadee Pope, Chase Bryant, Lauren Alaina and Brandy Clark. (7 p.m., $98).

As was the case with last year’s Acoustic Jam, ticket proceeds from this year’s show will benefit the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Only a handful of tickets remained as of this writing at

Walter Tunis is celebrating his 35th anniversary of covering music for the Herald-Leader.