The Chieftains

March 8-10 • Music Hall

Mar 6, 2013 at 9:23 am

There is every other traditional Celtic Folk band on the planet and then there’s The Chieftains. Or maybe that should be the other way around; a good many critics would agree that the Chieftains singlehandedly raised the profile of Irish music on a global basis and paved the way for every band that has subsequently followed a similar path. The six-time Grammy-winning outfit’s list of collaborators reads like a who’s who of international music (Van Morrison, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello, Tom Jones, Sting, Madonna, Roger Daltrey, Jackson Browne, Mark Knopfler, Willie Nelson and Luciano Pavarotti among them) and provides solid evidence that The Chieftains’ legacy is exceeded only by their extraordinary talent and drive.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Chieftains’ formation. Founder Paddy Moloney named the group after John Montague’s book, Death of a Chieftain, and held rehearsals in his home in 1962. Over the next five decades, they’ve notched some impressive feats, including a 44-album catalog (studio, live, greatest hits and collaborations), playing a concert for Pope John Paul II in front of an audience of more than a million people, being the first Western group to play on the Great Wall of China and the first group to play in Washington DC’s Capitol Building and accepting the honorary title of Ireland’s Musical Ambassadors.

Last year saw the release of the Chieftains’ latest album, Voice of Ages, produced by T Bone Burnett and featuring contributions from Bon Iver, The Decemberists and Paulo Nutini, as well as NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, who played her flute part while orbiting the earth in the International Space Station. If any band can escape velocity and figure out a way to play a gig from the moon, surely it would be the Chieftains.

THE CHIEFTAINS perform Friday, March 8 through Sunday, March 10 at Music Hall in Over-the-Rhine with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.