Category: Archive

Benefit concerts slated for Tony Cuffe

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Earle Hitchner

During times of great tragedy, we often reach for music that heals and offers hope, and it’s different for each of us. In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., I’ve drawn solace and inspiration from Irish traditional music (first Bothy Band album, Altan’s “Island Angel,” “Noel Hill and Tony Linnane”), classical (Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings, Op. 11,” Henryk G=recki’s “Symphony No. 3”), and jazz (John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” Billie Holiday’s “The Commodore Master Tapes.

For me, the music of Ossian has also been a bulwark in recent weeks –specifically, the albums they made between 1981 and 1986: “Seal Song,” “Dove Across the Water,” “Borders,” and “Light on a Distant Shore.” What’s common to all four recordings from this brilliant Scots traditional band is the magnetic presence of Tony Cuffe. An exceptional singer and expert guitar, harp, whistle, and harmonica player, he joined Ossian in 1981 after distinguishing himself in two other Scots bands, Alba and Jock Tamson’s Bairns. Seven years later, Cuffe made his solo debut, “When First I Went to Caledonia,” an album on which he not only sings but plays all the instruments (guitars, whistles, harmonium, synth).

I’ve skimmed the surface of Cuffe’s musical accomplishments as a prelude to announcing two important benefit concerts coming up on Nov. 10 and 11. Born in Greenock, Scotland, but a resident of Massachusetts since 1988, Tony is now battling cancer, and these two concerts have been organized to raise needed funds for him and his family: Cath, his wife, and Lindsey, Christopher, and Aidan, their children.

Performers who will be volunteering their services on stage include STamus Connolly, Joe Derrane, Paddy Keenan, Brian Conway, Altan’s D_ithf Sproule, Joe Cormier, Tony DeMarco, John McGann, Jimmy Noonan, Tony’s Windbags colleagues John Skelton and Pat O’Gorman, Zan McLeod, Brendan Dolan, former Cherish the Ladies’ lead vocalist Aoife Clancy, Abby Newton, Randal Bays, Paddy League, Myron Bretholz, Laurel Martin, Mark Simos, Linda Hickman, Kathleen Guilday, Deirdre Goulding, Patrick

Hutchinson, and Tina Lech. Other musicians are expected to sign on soon as well.

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