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story.lead_photo.caption Danu “basically evolved from a really good Irish pub session to the Celtic world stage, I suppose,” says one of the original band members, Benny McCarthy.

"Omnipresent is the astonishing versatility and exuberance of the band's members, ever tempered by the desire to allow the tune to speak for itself," critic Geoff Wallis writes of the band Danu. "The net result is that Danu remains some distance apart from (and several shoulders above) the majority of their contemporaries."

"Throughout the concert, Danu's players seemed to be having a musical conversation with one another. Flute and fiddle had mesmerizing dialogue between the choruses shared by the full ensemble; the uilleann pipes would quiet for a moment to hear what the accordion had to say. The audience, however, stayed silent, awed by every Celtic tune that Danu brought to life," adds Hannah Edmondson.



‘Féile na Nollag’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Sunday

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $15 & up

INFO — 443-5600

BONUS — Joining Danu will be Rince Arkansas Academy of Irish Dance and The Link Ensemble, a professional vocal ensemble founded by Stephen Caldwell, director of choral activities at the University of Arkansas.

And more than "20 years together have yet to dull Danu's edge," says Siobhan Long.

It was in 1995 that a group of friends from Waterford, Dublin, Donegal and Cork counties in Ireland -- some schoolmates, others who met through the traditional Irish music scene -- formed a band to represent Ireland at the biggest Celtic festival in the world, the Lorient Interceltic Festival in France, recalls Benny McCarthy, one of the original members.

"The band basically evolved from a really good Irish pub session to the Celtic world stage, I suppose," he muses. "Music was our hobby, still is, and making a career out of our culture was not our upbringing. It all happened for us, and we are thankful."

Danu last performed at the Walton Arts Center during the 2015-16 season as part of the 10x10 Arts Series, and the band is back this Sunday for "A Christmas Gathering: 'Féile na Nollag.'" McCarthy took a moment from the current holiday tour to answer a few questions for 'SUP.

Q. I know the name is a Celtic goddess associated with the land and people of Ireland. Why that name for the group?

A. We were actually given the name of the band by a friend, because this event in Lorient, France, needed all groups to have a native language (Irish Gaelic in our case) or a Celtic name.

Q. How do you explain your music to someone who has never heard it?

A. Lively, upbeat instrumental music, emotional songs in both Irish and English languages, all performed for over 90 minutes with Irish wit and charm. A fun and social occasion!

Q. It seems you tend to tour a lot around the holidays. What makes Danu such a good fit for Christmas?

A. Ireland has a particular charm around the holidays. It's an almost two-week occasion in Ireland from Christmas Eve until Jan. 6, and most Irish people try to make it back to Ireland at this time. It's a spirited music time with all sorts of days to celebrate, [and] preparations begin a few months before the holidays with all sorts of traditional cooking. The Christmas cake is a big centerpiece of every household, and we have a fun song about one such cake. Lighting the candle and placing it in the window on Christmas Eve? We have a lovely song in Irish about this tradition. All these pieces along some great sing-along pieces really lift the spirits of both us and the audience at this time of year.

NAN What's Up on 12/08/2017

Print Headline: Three Minutes, Three Questions Benny McCarty, Danu

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