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Wednesday July 24, 2013

From Good Times Weekly

Music Worth Cherishing: Joanie Madden of Cherish the Ladies reflects back on the Celtic quintet’s 29-year career
By:Brian Palmer

Joanie Madden—the flute and whistle player of arguably the world’s foremost Irish-American Celtic group, Cherish the Ladies—knows the band has been neglecting California.

“We haven’t been down to Santa Cruz in years,” Madden laments. “I can’t even remember the last time we were there. We’ve had a lot of people complaining to us, ‘When the hell are you coming back?’”

But considering the band’s humble beginnings, Madden counts it a triumph that she and the rest of the quintet—Mary Coogan (guitar, banjo, mandolin), Mirella Murray (piano accordion), Grainne Murphy (fiddle) and Kathleen Boyle (piano)—have been successful enough to travel to places like Santa Cruz at all, even if only occasionally.

“Cherish the Ladies started completely as a fluke, an idea by Dr. Mick Moloney, who wanted to put a concert series featuring women together, never thinking in a million years that it would still be going,” Madden says. “We started out as a three-concert thing in 1985, and that turned into a two-week tour paid for by the National Endowment for the Arts. Now we’re sitting on 29 years … and we’ve got almost 300 nights of symphony performances under our belts and have played with a bunch of cool musicians, so it’s a pretty amazing feat for anybody.”

Over the course of almost three decades, the band has released 15 albums; recorded with the likes of Arlo Guthrie, Vince Gill and Pete Seeger; performed with The Boston Pops, James Taylor and Joan Baez; and received worldwide critical acclaim. Madden herself has recorded five additional solo records and appeared as a guest musician on nearly 200 more albums.

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