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Oh, those rose-colored glasses!

Over the course of the past few months, I have had a ton of queries about why Phil Coulter left his position as Music Director with Celtic Thunder. One person even landed here asking “Phil Coulter wants to sink CT.” That one really burns my buns!!! What an utterly absurd notion! I can’t say exactly what was said, I wasn’t there. We can talk about what was put out there, and what wasn’t. I’ll probably go off on a tangent or two as well, just because that’s my style. It’s the curse of my mother.

We all know there really wasn’t any announcement from CT management that Phil was no longer with the group. I’m sorry, but an obscure phrase in one of Sharon Browne’s (CT producer) blogs:

…this years MD David Munro and I…

does not qualify as an announcement. Not that Phil was out, or that David was in. It certainly was not a move screaming with integrity. A number of people directly questioned whether this meant Phil, or the gentleman who usually acted as the Music Director on tour, Dave Cooke. Even though she likes to tout herself as someone who listens to the fans, there was no reply. She did think it was important for fans to know that Emmet had to wear Damian’s kilt on QVC. I just couldn’t have lived without that knowledge.

Due to circumstances I was not able to attend the concert for which I had a ticket. In some ways I’m not that disappointed. From all the reports of noise and screaming, that’s an experience I don’t need and it would have reduced my enjoyment. I don’t want to hear hear screaming teenage girls and therefore don’t go to Beiber concerts. I don’t want to hear screaming middle-aged women who seem on the verge of wetting themselves either. The fact that this apparently was encouraged from the stage doesn’t doesn’t speak well of the show. Now I’m definately all for showing appropriate appreciation for a performance. With a good amount of dignity.

There was also no way to know what you would see. More than halfway through the tour and they were still “tweaking” the show to get the flow right. If you hadn’t figured it out by that point, give it up and work on it in the off-season. Some of the reasoning was, once again, listening to what the fans want. Bull!! I didn’t see anyone ask that Kindred Spirits be removed from the show, but it was. I kind of hate to bring this one up because it involves someone who does post rather often in the CT forums, it’s just that the posts are rarely coherent. Anyway, this person didn’t object to Kindred Spirits being removed because “it’s been done and recorded.” It’s true, it had been recorded as an introduction for Emmet since he joined the group after the Heritage DVD was filmed. I guess I’m making an assumption here but I’m thinking the “done” is in reference to it being filmed. It wasn’t. This person, and a number of others, did request that Gold and Silver Days be added to the tour. It wasn’t. Are you listening?

If you look at those two songs, there is a common thread. That’s right, they are both Phil Coulter compositions. There was one other of his songs listed in the program which was never performed on the tour. The list for the Christmas portion of the tour lists that same song, along with another of his songs, which would be completely new. They have approximately 2 hours of music to condense down to one hour. I really doubt they will add a new song. Well, you never know.

On the other hand, I don’t remember anyone providing a list of what was performed for the filming. Maybe because they aren’t sure what they did see. I also recall a mention that some songs were filmed in the afternoon before the performance, like Ireland’s Call apparently was for the Heritage DVD. I know, there are some who seem to say they saw that being performed. There are others who expressed surprise to see it on the DVD since they didn’t do it night of the filming. I wasn’t there, but I will go with the latter based on my observations. First, their bewildered and bored expressions at the beginning of the song, like they were staring at an empty venue. Second, I know they don’t allow people to stand up during filming, but have you ever attended a show where they are doing this song and the audience is NOT rhythmically clapping along?? Personally, I find it rather deceitful to show people reacting to a song they didn’t even see, and possibly didn’t even enjoy. I’ll bet that if those pre-filmed numbers are included, we’ll see some of those reactions though.

By the end of the regular part of the tour, there were only two Phil Coulter songs left in the show. I rather doubt Noreen will be done for another tour anyway, and I wouldn’t bet much that Ireland’s Call will remain their “signature” song next year. That would sever all ties with Phil and complete the sweep.

I know, I’ve strayed quite a bit, but I have a couple more things to say before switching to the other side of this.

Sharon got a little dig in at the beginning of the tour with the statement about the new musical director doing;

…a great job and the sound is rich and full and real.

The “real” part is something you have to work out on your own. It’s always been a little bit of a challenge since they’ve used musical enhancements all along for tours. As I said earlier, I wasn’t able to attend a show so I’m using limited info, but I have to take some exception with the rich and full part. At least on some songs. They did post a video of some behind the scenes activities with the new version of  A Place In The Choir as the background music. To me it sounded rather thin and I didn’t particularly care for the way they used Daniel in it either.

Finally, I think it was completely unprofessional of Sharon not to at least acknowledge the huge contribution that Phil has made to the success of Celtic Thunder.

————————————-

Now, to the other side of this matter. Again, I cannot relate conversations, and quite frankly, I’m not sure I’d want to repeat some of the things that likely were said. I can only give you some of the responses from Phil, which to me, convey his disappointment.

I WANT TO SAY A HUGE ‘THANK YOU’ TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU WHO HAS E-MAILED OR POSTED MESSAGES. I AM OVERWHELMED AND TOUCHED THAT HUNDREDS OF YOU HAVE TAKEN THE TIME AND THE TROUBLE TO MAKE CONTACT TO REGISTER YOUR SUPPORT, AND YOUR SADNESS. THE CHANGES WITHIN CELTIC THUNDER THIS YEAR HAVE INDEED BEEN DRAMATIC AND I CAN UNDERSTAND YOUR CONCERNS. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU KNOW THAT I DID NOT SIMPLY WALK AWAY. THAT IS JUST NOT MY STYLE. – 8/25/2011

 I have to confess that there are times that I really do miss being involved with Celtic Thunder, the lads,the music and the great adventure…… but not the other stuff. It irks that my departure was abrupt and less than cordial, but life goes on and I’ve taken great strength from all the messages of support I’ve been receiving.I love the fact that folks are taking the time and trouble to make contact,from Celtic Thunder fans to diehard Phil Coulter fans to old friends from my University days. Bless you all. – 9/27/2011

When I opened my e-mails this morning,on my first day back at my desk, I was overwhelmed and not a little upset.Literally dozens and dozens of messages from fans across the US to say how bitterly disappointed there were with the new Celtic Thunder show.They’re telling me that I am missed,asking me why on earth did I choose to leave and would I not think of coming back. Let me deal with those one at a time.As for my being missed,I only wish that the original Celtic Thunder could have continued for years and I would have been happy to have been as big a part of it as I ever was.Sadly that was not to be. Why did I choose to leave? The simple answer is “I didn’t” . As for my going back I’m afraid that is never going to happen. I wish the boys well,(after all I signed each of them,with the exception of Daniel) and hope that their careers blossom. – 10/31/2011

These have been copied directly and not corrected. With what has been said, what hasn’t been said, and what hasn’t been done, I think it’s pretty clear who was driving this situation. I don’t think you will be seeing any tie to Phil in the future. Wouldn’t want him getting any of those royalties you know!

While I’m in a “downer” mode, let’s just get this one out there too. Start getting used to it people, Keith will be gone soon as well. He is just now wrapping up his recordings for his new CD in Los Angeles with the big music producer, reported to be David Foster. Of course Sharon was going to say he isn’t leaving, there was no reason for it yet. He hadn’t done any of the recording. I would expect it won’t be out until the Spring, at which point he will be gone. Unless this CD turns out to be a big bomb, and that just isn’t going to happen, he will have no choice. Hang in there Aussies, he should still be able to make that tour though.

I think my buns have cooled a bit, so it’s time to wrap it up.

Paul

Why do they confuse me so?

There have been  a number of little things going on at the Celtic Thunder website recently. I successfully restrained myself from commenting, until this one came up. This is something that I have mentioned before, so it is fair game for me. They just have to stop confusing me like this, I’m getting too old.

I was one of the first, maybe the first, to mention my disappointment about all the short DVD’s they have put out lately. What I call half-DVD’s. The latest one, due out in the spring, was slated to be another one of those. Now, there has been an announcement by Sharon Browne, the producer of CT, stating there will be two DVD’s, and offers a rather convoluted reasoning for it. Here is what she said:

There will be the PBS TV special which will air for 2 hours in the March Pledge next year. There will be 2 x 1 hour DVD’s. I need to explain, in Europe, copyright costs (money paid to the song writers and publishers) are a percentage of the price of the DVD and then that percentage is split across the rights holders based on the number of tracks on the DVD.
In the USA, each track on a DVD has to have a copyright fee paid to the songwriter/publisher, therefore the more songs you put on it, the higher the costs. I didn’t realise that on the very first release and as a result the copyright fee was so high that we didn’t make any money at all on that DVD.
That’s why we have to limit the DVD’s to an hour of music.

***I will leave open the possibility that she didn’t state this the way she really intended to. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before. However…..***

First of all, how it is done in Europe is of no consequence at all. It is included merely to gain sympathy, and a sort of back-handed swipe that they have a better system. Could be, but the bottom line is that you were not releasing the DVD in Europe, and some 3+ years later, still have not. If you didn’t know the system employed in the U.S., then you simply did not do your job. Even so, this is showing faulty logic on one side, and the lack of it on the other. It makes no sense to say that producing two DVD’s, under these conditions, would lower the costs. Of course, the diehard fans are praising her for this decision and information, and are preparing the application for sainthood as we speak.

It should also be noted that she didn’t say they lost money on that first DVD. In most people’s vernacular, “we didn’t make any money at all” means you didn’t make much. If you lost money you really wail and moan about it. If you made a bunch of money, you don’t say anything at all. I also wonder why she only mentions the first one, when the second DVD was essentially the same show and also two hours long.

Let’s plug in some numbers and see what happens. Let’s say that the first DVD will contain 10 songs and the royalties owed would be $200 per song. That comes to….click..click….hold on, my abacus needs a little lube…..okay, that’s $2,000. Let’s also assume that the second DVD is the same for another $2,000. Hold on a second….click…click…that comes to $4,000 total for the two. Now let’s figure this if all of the songs were put onto one DVD. That would be 20 songs times $200…..click….click. Something must be wrong with my abacus. It comes out to $4,000. That can’t be, this is supposed to be more. I’ve got one of these newfangled calculators, let’s see here. No, it comes out the same on that too. Why do they confuse me so?

To be honest, the above statement doesn’t make it absolutely clear that both DVD’s will contain music. Someone did ask about that in the CT forums and one of the staff did say that they would, and that Sharon didn’t feel it was right to just have one and have to charge $40 dollars for it. So let’s look at that aspect of this.

We know that each disc will be approximately one hour, so the number of songs should be very even on the two, and therefore the royalty costs will be similar. We also must keep in mind that the copyright costs are the only thing stated as being important. So let’s say it’s determined that a DVD must sell for $20. That would be for each. That would mean 2 times $20 to get the full show (and that’s an assumption really) which would come to $40 dollars. Now wait….let’s do this another way…..we’ll take $20 times 2 and…..well that comes to $40 too. Ok, Ok….let’s take the square root of pi times the hypotenuse of the year 2012 and……..nope, when you round it off it still comes to $40. But two DVD’s is cheaper!!!!! Why do they confuse me so???

While pondering this great conundrum, something else also occured to me. It would have been the case on some DVD’s more than others obviously, but who would have been the recipient of the bulk of those royalties over the life of CT? That’s right, the person who was pushed out earlier this year, Phil Coulter. That’s the topic of the next post which I hope will follow very soon.

Back to the current topic. It would seem that the European system of payment would benefit you putting more on  a DVD strictly from a royalty standpoint. Overall, it appears that is the case from the U.S. side of it too. Having 2 DVD’s eliminates your economy of scale. You have to purchase twice the number of blank DVD’s. You need twice the number of cases. You have to print twice the number of sleeves for them. You have more recording time. You definately have higher shipping/distribution costs.

Methinks the fandom is being fleeced for more money, not less.

Paul

Not much of a “Storm”

Seems a couple of the Celtic Thunder lads are a tad confused at how many DVD’s they have filmed. They are about to film the seventh one tonight but they are thinking it’s the eighth. Maybe there is another floating around out there not released yet.

Actually, the one released last month, Storm, might just as well have not been released. It sat for 2 years and the aging didn’t do much to help it. Musically, it is quite nice. I don’t expect a Phil Coulter-composed/arranged show to be anything else. I do have to say the lyrics at times were not the best part of a song. At other times, the lyrics were quite remarkable. When You Are 18 comes to mind in that repsect. What an incredible prophesy of what Damian McGinty is experiencing at this very moment. Some of the songs are just plain beautiful, as you would expect from Phil if you have ever listened to his music. As always, the harmonies are wonderful. The CD will not be a disappointing purchase at all.

Visually, however, this is pretty dreadful. The set is way too large. I’m not going to say elaborate, though it isn’t chintzy either. It’s just way too large, they end up doing wind sprints back and forth. I don’t get the infatuation with the tree. You have multiple characters climbing this tree for no apparent reason. Once….Ok. Twice….Maybe. But they keep doing it, and it has no connection to the story/song at all.

Let’s just get it out there, the choreography is atrocious. Near the beginning, we have the gypsy king and his merry (?) band doing a sort of kata routine. I may very well be wrong, but I really don’t think that is historically appropriate. For all of them, the movements given to them, or allowed to be done, are way too exaggerated. I’ll even go so far as to say cheesy and hokey. Again, sometimes they just don’t fit the song or story. Granted, in a theater type of environment, they may not look quite so bad and a certain amount of exaggeration is required. It’s also a by-product of lip-synching, an overcompensation. The problem for me, and for most folks is, I’m not seeing it that way. I’m seeing it on a DVD in my living room, which isn’t all that big. It just plain looks corny.

That thought is driven home at the very end. Here you have a blood-pumping song like Hail The Hero (Mo Ghile Mear), a fine choice for the climax of the show. But then it is brought down by the return of the gypsies and their kata routine again, and the villagers doing what I will call the Celtic two-step. I don’t know what they are trying to do there, but it looks awkward as hell. Then in the very last minute, when I really do want to feel the power and pride of this rousing song, it is totally ruined when they get all up into each other with their “mean” faces on. All I can do is stifle a laugh.

I have a problem with direction here on a couple of fronts. It has been known from the beginning of CT that the guys are not dancers. They don’t seem to want to be dancers. If you want them to be dancers, or at least better at it, then give them some proper training. Instead, they are simply given a few days, at best, of some movements to learn. This whole issue seems to be a source of amusement for management. There is a simple solution here, train them to be dancers, or just don’t do it!!!!!

My other problem with direction is, what was the point of this production? The set is massive and would not fit on virtually any stage in any theater, which is where these guys perform. They are not a group that would be booked into arenas where this set could be erected. The flow of the story is not going to allow for condensing the set much. This show is only about an hour long and would not constitute a show by itself that could be sold to venues, promoters, or even the fans. From everything that was said pretty much from the time this was filmed by the CT management, it was never really intended to be toured. Then what was the point?? The only thing they could have been hoping for is to add a bit more to the PBS fanbase by entering a little different genre. It appears that was a bomb too. Each day my suspicion that PBS didn’t much care for this is proving true. Many stations didn’t air it, or did so at less then prime time. Fans are reporting that a number of stations did schedule it, and then showed something else in it’s place. Personally, I think they scheduled it before they saw it, and then changed their minds about airing it.

It appears that a number of folks are actually agreeing with me, at least subconsciously. I’ve seen a lot of comments like, “love the music,” “love the CD,” “I listen to the CD all the time,” “the music keeps running through my head.” What about that DVD people? Well……all is not lost with your DVD purchase. The guys and gals do look great, as always. Find a particular spot that you like and freeze-frame it. Then turn on the CD.

Paul

Meet & Greet, 2011

Although I haven’t received the particulars myself, some others have and are reporting the new rules for this year’s Meet & Greet for the Celtic Thunder fall tour, whatever the official name for it is. Yeah….I’m going back to calling it a Meet & Greet (instead of mingle) since there doesn’t seem to be any mingling going on this year.

It will stay a “sit-down” affair (makes it sound fancy doesn’t it?) but it seems the guys won’t be sitting with you. The first portion will be a question and answer period with, I guess, everyone at once. Raise your hands children. Kind of takes whatever level of “personal” there was in the past out of it. You can, however, takes pics of them at that time. The second portion will be the opportunity to get one item signed by them, and a pic with the two lads attending. No mention of band members taking part, so can’t speak to that. The kicker on this part is, THEY are taking these pics and then posting them to their website for you to download. HUH? First of all, did any of them stop to consider that some folks just might not want their photo posted to the internet? Second, if I screw it up and don’t end up with a pic for some reason, I’d be disappointed but I’d live with it. If they screw it up and I don’t end up with a pic, I’d be downright pissed.

I would guess that it will be the same as last year….subject to change.

From my point of view there’s a lot of frustration from all sides in this matter. The PBS station in question sent a letter….yup, it’s right there in black & white….stating that the tickets would arrive by the end of August. They missed that by more than a week, so far. The thing that really upsets me (the word “upset” does not even begin to convey my true indignation) is they have also sicced a telemarketing firm on me to try and squeeze more money from me. It’s my understanding that many stations are doing this. I truly believe that PBS will severely regret taking this course of action.

And in other news…..

I was a bit disturbed about another of Sharon Browne’s comments in her recent blog. Is anyone surprised by that???

“David Munro, as Composer and Musical Director has done a great job and the sound is rich and full and real. Our Musicians, particularly our new string section, being Seana, Nicole and Laura are amazing musicians and add so much more to the texture of the music.”

I hadn’t realized that the previous musicians were such second-rate hacks and that Phil Coulter’s songs and arrangements were thin and fake. Wow….I feel so dumb and ashamed for having liked them.

Paul

Update on the Irishmen

Well…..my favorite Irishmen have been a little busy the past few days.

Concerning Phil Coulter, he has added comment capabilities on his website and has been giving updates on his recent work. Apparently he’s involved in a project which he hopes we will be seeing, and hearing, on television next year. As he puts it, “a brand new discovery.” Now that is something to look forward to. This is also the first time I have seen the playlist for his new CD, Heartland/ The Composer’s Salute To Celtic Thunder.

1. HEARTLAND
2. A BIRD WITHOUT WINGS
3. RIDE ON
4. THE ISLAND
5. BUACHAILL O’N EIRNE (COME BY THE HILLS)
6. THAT’S A WOMAN
7. GOLD AND SILVER DAYS
8. MIDNIGHT WELL
9. KINDRED SPIRITS
10. REMEMBER ME(RECUERDAME)
11. NOREEN
12. CELTIC THUNDER MARCH
13. TAKE ME HOME
14. IRELAND’S CALL

BONUS TRACK
FAREWELL TO INISHOWEN

Another question was answered in one of his comments, Dave Cooke is still working with him and will not be part of the Celtic Thunder tour. I had strongly suspected this but it was nice to get the confirmation. You sure can’t get any info at the CT website.

I posted the video for Heartland in the previous entry. If you have not viewed it, I urge you to do so to get a taste of how great this CD promises to be. It is available to pre-order at Amazon with a release date of September 27.

Now, you know I couldn’t let Damian McGinty not be mentioned here. The young man has moved into his new apartment in the last few days and seems to be awfully happy about it. I think I can remember when that happened to me. Apparently, he is better in the kitchen that I thought he would be. His new roommate, Cameron Mitchell, will be arriving this coming week and will find slightly different living arrangements than originally planned.

Damian was surprised with a gift from his other great friend from The Glee Project, Hannah McIalwain who presented him with a goldfish which was immediately named Rufus McGinty, or just Rufus the fish. Now at first, Damian was quite amazed and excited that Rufus was still alive after 5 hours, which it seems was the longest any of his previous goldfish lasted.

It is clear though, that Rufus is a magical and amazingly talented little fellow. Kind of like his owner I guess. Somehow, Rufus has managed to establish a Twitter account and has been very talkative over the past 24 hours. I have to admit, I’ve gotten quite a few chuckles out of his tweets. He can’t seem to get Damian to follow him on Twitter though and at the moment is querying his Dad as to what his middle name is. Drop on in to visit, and follow, Rufus and become a twimmer.

**EDIT** Guess I might have been a bit hasty in sending you to visit Rufus. Seems the little critter has passed on sometime in the night. We can only hope for a reincarnation.

Aahhhhh…..a boy and his fish. You gotta love ‘em.

Paul

My favorite Irishmen

This wasn’t something I was really planning to do, it just sort of hit me. I think it left a bruise too.

I know there are people out there that have to rely on public computers which can be restricted on what you can access. I may be showing my ignorance, but I’m not completely sure what sort of social media is allowable on them and what is not. YouTube may be perfectly OK; don’t really know. However, I am confident that others are simply not aware of some of the videos that may be out there, so for any of you who might be seeing these for the first time, I’m happy to be providing some entertainment I’m sure you will enjoy. It’s movie night at the Penthouse!! Grab the popcorn and Milk Duds and settle in!!

Of course, recently there has been a lot of excitement around Damian McGinty and his win in The Glee Project. Since that was aired on a rather obscure channel, some of you may not have had an easy time seeing some things, or may not know of some of the extras available for view. When Damian was leading the Fan Favorite poll for so much of the time, it was said that he asked his new friend from the show, Cameron Mitchell, if he would like to join him in the performance the winner would receive. When it was Cameron that actually ended up winning, he returned the favor and asked Damian to perform with him. What a great bromance it is! They really do work well together. We can only hope this won’t be the only time they do it.

I have to interject here that I am always a bit hesitant to put these videos in the blog because of the video/audio lag that you sometimes get. For some of them I will also provide the link to it so you can view it there and maybe leave a comment if you like. This one is from Damian’s YouTube channel, so hopefully you will visit there often anyway. I’ll keep the link to it in the menu on the right in the Blogroll. CAUTION: There’s a whole lot of cuteness going on here.

Haven’t Met You Yet

This next one isn’t quite what I was hoping for at first. Even on his channel, it has some lag problems, and every video that runs through his computer seems to be in reverse. Must be an Apple thing. Anyway, I have found it elsewhere so I’ll use that one. It doesn’t quite fill the screen but is still quite good. It also includes a bit more like the pretty cool dedication he did to Hannah and Cameron. Here is his final performance on TGP that certainly helped him secure the win.

Beyond the Sea

A fellow blogger has mentioned the hope of Damian playing Frank Sinatra in a movie. I sincerely wish for anything that big to come Damian’s way. The above video is evidence of his qualification at least on a musical level. I know there would be time, and good people could be hired, and nobody would work harder than Damian. But…have you heard his American accent??? Mercy!!!! It’s a bit redneck and pirate-ish. What’s even more disturbing is the wholesome, moral, Christian dude feeding him those questionable lines to say. Gotta love the snort though.

This isn’t the best one for the announcement of the winner(s), but it’s the best one available for embedding here. I guess if you haven’t seen it yet, then any of them will do.

Here is the link to a better, more complete version if you like.

The Glee Project Winners

Now I have to turn my attention to Phil Coulter. We have recently become aware that he is no longer associated with Celtic Thunder. I’m really sad about this development. According to a press release about the upcoming tour reprinted on the CT website, it doesn’t appear we will be hearing much of his music in the future, which is very unfortunate. He has done so many memorable songs, but there is one in particular that really strikes me, The Town I Loved So Well.

When he wrote the song in the 1970′s, Phil asked that Luke Kelly, the lead singer with The Dubliners, be the one to sing it. Phil was the producer for them at the time. I would gladly listen to Luke sing this song all day long, but I have been drawn to another version mostly. This one is also The Dubliners a number of years later, with the great Paddy Reilly as their lead singer. I just love his rich voice and wonderful phrasing. This one does not contain all five verses but is still effective. The song begins with his days as a youngster; not having much in the way of money or material things, but still experiencing happiness in many ways. Not hard to grasp that in the life of a young boy. It then goes on to tell us about returning to see the devastation wreaked by “the troubles” on his beloved town of Derry. If you can’t love, or be moved by, this song, then I have little hope for you.

Now Phil is putting out another CD titled Heartland: The Composer’s Salute to Celtic Thunder. I was a bit surprised to see this video available. I have no knowledge that it will happen, but I’m holding out a small amount of hope that we get a DVD too. Seems a little pointless to go to all that time and expense just to produce one video. But I’m not in the music business. It does show there will be one helluva CD though. I hope that Phil and his record company will not mind a little promotion from whatever readership this blog enjoys.

 

Phil Coulter – Heartland

 

Another batch of popcorn is coming up. Anyone need more?

 

Paul

Rethink that one Damian

I have to add just a short post. After reading Damian McGinty’s usual eloquent blog post at the Celtic Thunder website, I was struck by one of his statements. And yes, your posts are beautifully done. You express yourself so well. Don’t lose that ability, it will stand in good stead in the years to come.

I do have to implore you to rethink something you said, and make absolutely certain that it does not happen.

“And it makes me SO sad to realise, that, more than likely, I may never work with Phil again.”

No, NO, NO!! You are much too intelligent to ever let that happen. You know so well of the genius of Phil Coulter. I truly believe it will not be long before you reach that goal of yours and are out there selling those millions of CD’s and touring on your own. I really don’t think it will be needed, but if you find it necessary, get on your knees and beg Phil to write you a song (or two, or more, this can be multiple choice if you like). There is no one who knows you and your style musically better than Phil.

This could be the reincarnation of the great collaboration between Frank Sinatra and Sammy Cahn. Only better because it is you and Phil.

Paul

Addendum to defections

Some added thoughts and new little bits of info. Sometimes I just plain forget to add some of the ideas I have on any particular subject. I normally blame it on age. On occasion it does get you some sympathy. On rarer occasions it gets you some respect. Usually it just gets you prune juice in the mornings.

On the subject of Phil Coulter stepping down as Musical Director of Celtic Thunder, I have to add a few things. First, I think it is pretty clear now why Brendan Monaghan has also left the band. He and Phil have worked together for quite some time, and I’m sure will continue to do so. He, well he doesn’t have a bag of instruments, it’s more like a truckload, and his immense talent will be missed as well.

I also think this will be an added incentive for Neil Byrne to move on in the not too distant future. He had an EP of his own music out last year, and is in the process of producing a CD at the moment. He, too, was brought in at the beginning of this venture by Phil because of having worked together previously.

As for the other two original members, I’m not so sure that Phil leaving will have a huge impetus in their plans, but I do believe they will move along as well. Keith? I’ve never really been able to figure that dude out. I’m not sure exactly what it is that he is after, or how he plans to get there. I can pretty much say that wherever he lives, it will be near the water, and I don’t get the feeling he wants to be away from that home base for extended periods. We’ll see how it goes down.

Now with George, I truly think he will move in a little different direction. I don’t think he will totally abandon us, but I can see him doing tremendously well on the continent. Europe would absolutely adore him. It would also allow him to do a string of shows over a one or two week period and be back home very quickly. He’s another one I don’t think wants to be away from home and his family for extended periods.

To the person who thought it was disrespectful for someone else to blog on the CT website about Phil leaving before the producer of the show, Sharon Browne, had a chance to announce it herself, your feeling of indignation is just looking more foolish by the day. It has been more than three days now, actually several months, since this parting of the ways took place, and still not a word from Sharon. Your claim of disrespect is misplaced. A professional would have made a statement of some sort by now, and I really don’t think a short, ambiguous phrase like “this years MD, David Munro and I” qualifies as an announcement. I don’t care if they had a knock-down, drag-out, hair pulling donnybrook of a fight, something should have been said by now. She should at least acknowledge the immense contribution he made to this show, and express her sadness at his departure. Even if it is insincere, it would be professional. We’re all used to insincerity in every facet of today’s society.

Many of us knew it was inevitable that folks would start using the phrase, “change is good” in the CT forums. In their zeal to defend Sharon they will use anything they can think of. There is a reason why rats jump ship. Their present situation is untenable compared to where they are headed, or at least it is perceived as such. The “change is good” concept  really only works when you have initiated the change. If others have started it for you, then by stating such you are only engaging in rationalization and damage control.

In other business, it would appear that one of my fears is to be realized. Sharon did reply to someone’s comment about the upcoming filming. It’s sometimes a bit of gibberish, but I think I was able to glean the intent. Apparently the entire show is to be filmed, but will be edited down to an hour for airing on PBS, and presumably the DVD. So, yes, once again there will only be a half-DVD put out. Since she stated that most of the show, including the Heritage portion, is new, I just do not understand putting out only half of it.

Oh well, the prune juice seems to be working, so it’s off to do other things.

 

Paul

 

Defections galore

It’s as bad as the Cold War around the Celtic Thunder website, otherwise known as Thunderland.

We all know that Paul Byrom left the group after last year’s tour. It was announced shortly before the end of the tour that he would be leaving, and I was quite fortunate to see him perform with them one last time a few days later. It also allowed me to hear him sing “Chrismas Morning, Donegal” in person. That situation was handled rather nicely and gave people a chance to adjust to the news, and it has been left open that Paul could appear on occasion as a guest performer.

Late this spring, another member, Ryan Kelly, chose to step aside. This time it happened quite abruptly, but apparently was out of necessity because of some crazed fans causing serious problems. I don’t know the factual details so will just leave it at that. It was still quite a shock to the fans as no warning was given and all social media links were cut off.

Now, we suddenly get the news that the musical genius behind Celtic Thunder, Phil Coulter, has had a “parting of the ways” with CT and is no longer the Musical Director. If you liked any musical aspect of CT at all, it was because of Phil Coulter. He was the rock-solid foundation of things aural. The fact that he composed at least half of the CT songbook, and arranged the rest to suit the talent the best way possible, speaks volumes. If Sharon Browne showed any sense the past four years, she has kept herself basically out of this portion of the production. Somehow I have a feeling that didn’t happen in recent times. Phil is excellent with words, and “parting of the ways” doesn’t sound like a completely amicable parting. I don’t think that was just an unfortunate choice in phrasing. I’m sure eventually we will get the obligatory “virtual hugs” and adoration expressed between them, but will not be given the complete and true story.

What really bugs me is the relatively small controversy that began over Paul writing a blog on the CT site to express his admiration of Phil, and sorrow, at his leaving. Someone took umbrage that he posted this before Sharon had a chance to say anything herself, and that this was showing a great lack of respect to her. There a couple of things that make that a very strange notion. First, Sharon made a rather cryptic comment in a blog back in May that the Musical Director “for this year” was David Munro. The “for this year” is curious in itself, but I won’t go anywhere with that. Rightfully so, some of the fans questioned whether this meant Phil Coulter had left, or if this new fellow was replacing Dave Cooke, the gent who plays piano and directs the band on tour, and who has also had the title of musical director. No answer. It’s funny that something that’s kind of important like this doesn’t warrant an answer, but Sharon does answer someone’s comment that the kilt Emmet wore on QVC on St. Patrick’s Day was actually Damian’s. Critical information like that just has to be disseminated.

In any case, the real issue is that Sharon has had several months, or more, to make a statement that Phil has left CT and did not do so. Surely as some point this could have been done, or at least a statement prepared for posting at the appropriate time. In actuality, it has been two full days since Phil made his leaving announcement, and there has STILL been no statement from Sharon. It seems to me that this person’s concern about lack of respect has been misdirected. There are those who will say she is simply too busy at the moment with Damian’s career in LA. First of all, that’s why a statement could/should have been prepared ahead of time, and secondly, I will cover this more in a moment.

In my opinion, Sharon is a PR nightmare. Not as bad as Ryan Murphy, but she seems to aspire to reach his level.

In a few days, there will be another defection. Damian really has no choice. It doesn’t matter if he wins or loses The Glee Project, it has to be done. Of course, if he wins, there is the filming obligation for Glee first and foremost. Yes, the guarantee is for only 7 episodes, but which 7 episodes? I really don’t think it will be consecutive ones, so who knows what the shooting schedule will be. It has also been said that if the new character becomes popular, that role could be expanded for more episodes. Unless he really bombs as an actor, not expected by me, do you really think that Damian won’t be popular????

In the end, none of that even matters. Damian is HOT right now. NOW. His name is out there. His face is out there. He has offers up to his neck from people in the entertainment business. He has to grab that opportunity NOW. Not in December after the CT tour. Not in January after the Phil Coulter cruise (sorry Phil). Not in February after the CT tour of Australia. NOW!!!!! I’m not a religious person, but I am praying to everything I can find that the real reason Sharon accompanied Damian to LA was to sign him over to a proper agent, one who knows the Hollywood entertainment business, which she does not.

With all that has happend with CT in recent months, I’m sorry that I put out a rather hefty sum of money for a show on this year’s tour. It might very well have been misspent and go unused. At least I have the consolation that the money went to PBS.

 

Paul

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