Paddy Moloney’s Chieftains to play here March 6

Paddy Moloney, the ringleader of The Chieftains, is not only a beloved musical icon but also a great salesman for his live show. He’s had a little experience in touring America, though; he’s played 42 tours in 42 years, supporting 42 albums in the process.

During a telephone interview to promote The Chieftains’ March 6 show at the Circle Theatre, Moloney dispensed with the typical interview give-and-take and instead launched into a delightful monologue about the band and its music. He paused a few times, once to greet some friends and another time to pour coffee for his wife, but Moloney spoke for 25 minutes in what was basically one continual sentence.

On The Chieftains’ live show:

“We have a fairly big entourage and we put on a fairly big show. But never do we get away from what we do best, and that’s traditional Irish music. That’s what we do best. At every show we bring in a local bagpiper and he’ll join us for the very first song.”

On The Chieftains’ recent marriage of Irish and bluegrass music, which culminated in the recording of two albums, Down The Old Plank Road (2002) and Further Down the Old Plank Road (2003):

“I call it my bluegrass-green grass connection. It started out in 1992, when we did Another Country, which got us two of our six Grammys. We had a track or two left over from that, but I always felt like I hadn’t completed the job, that there was much more research to be done. I always felt like I’d come back to it someday."

“It was always my intention to do one album. But we got such an amazing welcome from so many great musicians and singers, we recorded enough for two albums. It was a great coming together in Nashville. It was very much like being home in Ireland. The fun we had before we ever recorded one note was just incredible. In one day with Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas, I remember putting down four tracks in one day. In 10 days work, we came away with 24 tracks, enough for two albums. The reaction from around the world has been amazing, even from places such as Spain and Italy."

“On this new album, we worked with such people as Carleen Carter, Emmylou Harris and Rosanne Cash. Rosanne Cash was just so delightful to work with. She is just such an exceptional young woman.”

On his bluegrass backing band:

“Jeff White is the fifth Chieftain on this tour, you might say. He’s an unbelievable bluegrass player and singer. Wait ’til you hear him on stage! He’s been with us for two years and you might say he’s our right-hand man."

“We also have two men from Ottawa, Jon and Nathan Pilatzke. Polish names but an Irish mother. They do Irish dancing, but it’s a style of dancing called Ottawa valley style of dance. None of this Riverdance stuff with the hands, you know. This is wild stuff! They bring down the house. Jon is a brilliant fiddle player as well."

“This show is all about that young feeling. There’s plenty of fire. The whole concert is very dynamic. You’ve probably heard about the loss of our dear friend, Derek [Bell, longtime band member], whom we lost in October 2002. The new concert DVD of ours, that’s his last concert. It was very sad. For almost a whole year, we cancelled all of our concerts. I couldn’t bear to have a harp player on stage with us. So I went with a cello player for a long time. But I think Derek would be pleased with our new harper, a young girl from Dublin, Triona Marshall. She is just brilliant and it’s a delight to have her around. With her, we’ve gone back to harp music we haven’t played in many, many years.”

After a few more words about the wonderfulness of the traditional Irish dancers on stage with The Chieftains, a brief plug for the new album, another cup of coffee (this one for himself), Moloney wished his interviewer a lovely day. Before he hung up the phone, he wanted the people of Indianapolis to know just how excited he was at the prospect of being back in a town that has shown him so much love over the years.

WHO: The Chieftains

WHERE: Hilbert Circle Theatre, 45 Monument Circle

WHEN: Saturday, March 6, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $30-$70, 639-4300, or online at


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