Exploring America a treat for newest Celtic Woman

Celtic music and folk sensation, Celtic Woman returns Friday night to the Clay Center. The group is (from left) Mairead Carlin, Lynn Hilary, Susan McFadden and Mairead Nesbitt (not pictured).

The last time Mairead Carlin came through Charleston, she was a rather newly-minted member of Irish folk band Celtic Woman. The twenty-something from Northern Ireland was staring wide-eyed at her first American tour and looking forward to visiting the Grand Canyon with her parents, who were coming in special to see her perform at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

“It was just incredible,” she said. “It was very emotional. My mom came backstage. I think it was the first time she realized I’d grown up.”

That was six months and many, many miles ago — not that Carlin is remotely complaining. She’s having the time of her life.

“It’s been completely amazing if I’m being completely honest,” the singer said. “Sometimes I catch myself and can’t believe I’m actually here.”

On Friday night, Carlin and Celtic Woman return to Charleston and the Clay Center for a second helping of Celtic, folk and some contemporary music. However, Carlin said the show would be different than what people saw in December when the group performed with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

“We do have quite a lot of fast numbers in this show,” she said.

The quartet is also showing off its band.

“The four of us are Celtic Woman,” she said. “But there’s a lot more that goes into it than just us. We have an amazing band.”

Which, she said, is being utilized more for this tour — a treat for fans of Celtic and folk music.

“They’re such an integral part of the show,” she said. “They’ve got their own numbers, which is really cool and very percussive.”

There’s also more play with the crowd and some dancing, she added.

“It’s very, very physical. Maybe before, there would have been a lot of beautiful singing, which is what Celtic Woman is known for — beautiful arrangements of these gorgeous airs, but now we’re down on the floor; we’re interacting with the audience.

“So yeah, it’s a very exciting show.”

Touring has been a great experience for Carlin. There’s lots to see, lots to explore, and she said she’s really enjoyed America’s cities.

So far, her favorite has been Chicago.

“I absolutely fell in love with Chicago,” she said. “As soon as I stepped off the plane, it was, ‘Oh, my gosh. I could live here.’ Chicago was very quirky. It was like London, actually. I live in London.”

But she also had a great time in New York.

“We did ‘The Today Show,’” she said. “That was one of the most exciting moments of my life.”

And in Denver, she got to catch up with a few of her cousins.

“It was the first time I got to see people from home, so that was really nice.”

She also got a look at how Denver’s citizens were making full use of their new rights since marijuana was legalized.

“That was interesting,” she said. “It was very open. We were there for 420, which is the festival, so you couldn’t walk down the street and not see it.”

Carlin said there are still a few more dates in the U.S. before a break in June. The group will go home for a short while before heading out again.

“We’ve got so much coming up,” she said. “Lots of exciting stuff.”

Some of that would have to be a surprise, Carlin said, but she did say they were looking forward to taking the show to Brazil — another place she’s never been — in September..

She could hardly wait.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.

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