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Irish band Danu headlines benefit concert

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Traditional Celtic music benefits the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation

Who: Danu

Where : Millennium Place

When: March 13, 8:30 p.m.

Danu, a seven-piece traditional band that incorporates traditional Irish folklore in their music, comes to Millennium Place next week.

Organized through John Richmond and the Whistler Rotary Club, the concert is a fund-raiser for the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation, an organization named for the late Whistler resident. The foundation aims to provide education about and prevention of depression-related suicide, particularly among youth.

Richmond and his wife discovered the band in Cape Breton while touring the Maritimes.

"We saw this group and they were fabulous – you’re sitting in your seat and your butt is dancing!" laughs Maureen Richmond.

Indeed, Danu seems to cast a spell across the land.

The band’s name is taken from Danu, the mother of all fairies in Irish mythology. The fairies, called Juatha de Danannn, or children of the goddess, were forced to retreat into the hillside when the De Danann and other people invaded.

"Then we saw the band again at the Halifax airport, so of course we were asking them to sign our CDs, telling the airport security officers to ‘pass this album over to him?’" recounts Maureen Richmond.

They asked whether the band had traveled out west, and the seed was planted.

Danu is from Waterford, Ireland. The band’s newest member is Daire Breachan, the son of Cherish the Ladies singer Dianne Long. Breachan replaces L.A. native Jesse Smith, who joined the band as fiddler four years ago.

Their lineup, featuring instruments less familiar to most of us, includes Brendan ‘Benny’ McCarthy from Deelish, Dungarvan, West Waterford, on button accordion. Tom Doorley is on flute and low whistle, and Eamonn Dorley plays bouzouki and mandola. Donchadh ‘Dunnaka’ Gough plays uilleann pipes and bodhran for the band, while Noel Ryan plays guitar. Ciaran O Gealbhain is on vocals, joined by guest vocalist Liam Clancey, of the Clancey Brothers fame.

With an award for Best Group at the BBC awards show in 2001, Danu are well on their way.

They all began playing together in pubs, but found the "drinking and the hollering" at times stifling the music. Larger, seated concert venues seem to be more popular choices, including their recent show at the Capitol Theatre in Nelson, B.C.

But it was the festival in Brittany, France that really capped their success internationally.

"We really went to play the festival for the fun of it, and the excitement of travel," says Doorley by phone from Nelson.

"We came home to many phone calls, and started playing more here and there. Then we came over to play in North America," he says.

Danu played the Vancouver Folk Festival in both 2001 and 2000. Vancouver was their first introduction to Canadian audiences.

"There’s a real appreciation of folk music out here. People at the shows know a lot about the world music. West Coast audiences are always very lively," says Doorley.

The band will perform music from their latest album, All Things Considered.

Their previous album, Think Before You Think on Shanachie, features the lullaby An Paisti Fionn sung in Gaelic, the Celtic language of both Ireland and Scotland.

New songs on All Things Considered include one song about a man who is "follically challenged." Other comedic tunes and jigs round out the album.

Fair and Tender Ladies, as well as Green Brooms, will be performed at Wednesday’s show, before the wandering musicians are off to explore the backlands of Norway, Sweden and France.

If you can’t make this show catch more Irish folklore at this year’s Edmonton Folk Music Festival from Aug. 8 through 11, as well as the festival in Salmon Arm.

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