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Ladies bring out music in Irish hearts

Cherish the Ladies offers an versatile blend of traditional folk, step dancing and time-honored Irish music to enjoy with friends.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001

BROOKSVILLE -- They may have been born in the good ol' USA, but for the members of Cherish the Ladies, Irish is a state of mind.

With just six musicians and 16 instruments on stage, members of the all-female Irish band have to be versatile, said Joanie Madden, who started the New York-based group 14 years ago.

"My story is the same as everybody in the band," said Madden, who hails from the Bronx,New York. "Our fathers were musicians who emigrated from Ireland."

The idea for the band, which performs this evening at the Hernando High School Performing Arts Center in Brooksville, came from a concert featuring women artists, Madden said. The name was taken from a traditional Irish jig.

"There is a long tradition of passing music from father to son," Madden said. "Now we are starting to see music passed down to the daughters."

Besides traditional folk virtuosity, the concert also features step dancers, Madden said, thrown in for visual and percussive effect.

"Even though we were born and raised in America, we can play Irish music with the best of them," said Madden. "But if you want to see me dance, you have to wait until the end of the night."

In the Irish tradition of making music with friends and family, the group is set to release its ninth album in April, Madden said. The Girls Won't Leave the Boys Alone features guest appearances by the fathers of the band members and by the Clancy Brothers, Pete Seeger, Tom Chapin, Arlo Guthrie and Brian Kennedy of Riverdance.

The recent popularity of shows such as Riverdance has given Cherish the Ladies and other Irish bands a much-needed boost, Madden said.

"We've definitely been riding a tidal wave of popularity sparked by bigger shows," she said. "So many terrific Irish bands touring have laid the foundation."

At a glance

WHAT: Cherish the Ladies

WHERE: Hernando High School Performing Arts Center, 700 Bell Ave., Brooksville.

WHEN: 7 p.m. today

TICKETS: Reserved seating $15. Call 799-5577.

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