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The Celtic Thunder Connection - Guest Blog

Posted on 21 Nov 2012

Celtic Thunder Voyage Concert, Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m. 

If you’ve read any blogs at all lately, you’ve probably noticed one of the new buzzwords: connection. You probably also know that AETN is ahead of the curve on this idea—and so is Celtic Thunder.

    I never actually thought seriously that I’d get to see Celtic Thunder live. Like many families, mine has to be somewhat careful of money right now. What’s more, we live near Fayetteville, which adds driving time and gas costs to the equation. Travel is also complicated for us by the fact that I use a power wheelchair—an old power wheelchair which has been in something of a bad mood for the past year or so.  So this year, after a couple of “Wouldn’t it be great if” comments, I pretty much shelved the idea of going to see Celtic Thunder in Little Rock.   

Submitting a letter to George Donaldson via AETN’s Celtic Thunder Love Letter contest wasn’t so much a whim, or even a bid for tickets, as it was a plain old-fashioned attempt at a fan letter. I was impressed with Mr. Donaldson’s singing ability and sense of humor after first seeing the group on AETN, but after following him for a while on Twitter I really came to appreciate how much he cares about his family. That impresses me much more than his considerable talent.   

When I didn’t hear anything in response to my letter on November 12th,  the day contest results were to be announced, I was a little disappointed but not surprised. The next day, Tuesday the 13th, had little to recommend it, being the Latin American equivalent of Friday the 13th, and generally acknowledged as a bad luck day. That made hearing that I’d won tickets all the better, really!   

So that both my parents could attend the concert with me, we reserved a mezzanine seat. On the day of the concert we found that our seats had been moved up; assuming that we were moved to the front of the mezzanine section, we were pretty amazed to find ourselves at the front of the entire auditorium.    
The guys who make up Celtic Thunder are marvelous musicians. I don’t know anyone who would argue with that. But people don’t come to see them for the music alone. What these musicians have really mastered is the art of connecting with an audience. Whether it’s Keith Harkin’s questions about how everyone’s been behaving, Ryan Kelly’s account of his recovery from a severe accident, George Donaldson’s and Neil Byrne’s memories of their parents, or Colm Keegan’s confessions about being the “new guy,” listeners get genuine insight into real people. And if talking doesn’t seem sufficient to make the connection, these musicians have other options, too, as Emmet Cahill unforgettably proved by (accidentally) launching his violin bow toward the orchestra pit at the beginning of the show.   

When I first thought about what I wanted this piece of writing to say, I had intended to wrap it up by reminding you of what you already know—that for many people, the possibility of a personal connection to these remarkably talented men has come about through the linking power of AETN. That is still very true, and I thank the network profoundly. But Celtic Thunder is one step ahead, again, and I really want to add a small postscript: I found out today about the “unplugged” benefit concert they have scheduled in New York City for people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Here, too, they’ve provided us with the means to make a vital connection: if New York is not somewhere you can go, a donation will get you a downloaded recording of the concert. Details are available here. Whether by donation or simply spreading the word, this is another connection we can all support.



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