Arts & Leisure

O’hAnleigh gives a hometown performance

MATT BEAN, CINDY Hill, Tom Hanley and Becca Hanley will perform at Notte in Middlebury for a special hometown St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Saturday, March 14.

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury’s own Irish-American folk band is making a rare hometown appearance at Notte on Main Street, Middlebury on Saturday, March 14, in celebration of the St. Patrick’s Day season. The band features Middlebury police chief Tom Hanley, his daughter Becca Hanley, local attorney Cindy Hill and Essex musician Matt Bean.
The band has been performing together for 18 years. Tom Hanley, a second-generation Irishman descended of immigrants from Counties Laois and Roscommon, performed with bar rock bands since the early 1970s. When asked by a social organization to perform some Irish music at a St. Patricks Day event in 2002, he enlisted his then 12-year-old daughter Becca, counting on her ethereal soprano to evoke visions of Ireland past. For the next year, Tom and Becca performed at fairs, Irish clubs, farmers markets and social events.
In early 2003, fiddler Hill joined the father-daughter team. Hill’s ancestors hail from Counties Tyrone and Limerick. Her musical credentials range from school orchestra, band, jazz band and chorus including being selected for New York State’s all-state jazz bands, orchestra and chorus, to a succession of party rock bands, and her interest in traditional Celtic music sprang from her long political activism in the Irish independence movement. Hill ran a weekly hands-on music program for developmentally disabled adults in Chittenden County in 2008-2009. She brings a knowledge of Celtic mythology and legends to the band along with her multi-instrumental talents.
In 2019, Bean, a veteran of Mark Sustic’s Fiddleheads program and Vermont bands from Trinity to Longford Row to the Cop Outs, joined forces with O’hAnleigh, adding to the band’s vocal harmonies, fiddle tunes and array of other stringed instruments. 
In 2019, O’hAnleigh released their third and fourth full-length CDs.
“Come to the Faire” features primarily original music and fresh takes on traditional pieces like Scarborough Faire. The CD also presents an original song, “My Cullohill,” which includes the Scottish small pipes of Middlebury attorney Jennifer Wagner. Bristol percussionist and Celtic artist Reagh Greenleaf Jr. also appears on the CD with a djembe and the bodhrán, an Irish frame drum.
“Winds of Change” provides a new twist to Irish-American music of the 1880s through 1920s with songs about immigration, coal mining and working on the railroad. It also features an unusual cover of the 1950s classic “The Old Lamplighter.”
In the summer 2019 the band also released an EP of children’s songs, “Faerie Tales,” to benefit the Vermont Fairy Tale Festival, an annual event of the Vermont State Library Association.
The group’s performance at Notte will feature old favorite Irish pub songs to sing along with, sizzling fiddle tunes, haunting historical ballads and an array of their award-winning original songs about Celtic myths and legends.  Their CDs are available through their website and at the Vermont Book Shop. For more information visit ohanleigh.com.

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