BY SEÁN P. FEENY
In 2010 the Earagail Arts Festival brought Donegal’s Henry Girls together with a group wild and talented boys from West Virginia for a collaboration that has latest three years and resulted in an upcoming album release.
The Henry Girls set off to America this week on an eleven-date US tour which will see them perform in six different States and being joined along the way by some old friends from the world of music.
The three McLaughlin sisters – Karen, Lorna and Joleen – will kick off their tour in Charleston, West Virginia on Friday night performing at Live on the Levee before they move on to Huntington, West Virginia to play at the Blacksheep Burritos & Brews.
On August 15 the Henry Girls will join their friends, the Fox Hunt, to perform at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, Illinois.
From August 16 to 19, the two bands will be performing at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, the biggest festival of its kind in the world.
Moving back to the East Coast the following week, the sisters will be joined by their old friend, Boston singer/songwriter Ry Cavanaugh who spent time in Inishowen, to close their tour with dates in New York, Massachusetts and Portland.
The trio will be joined by Cavanaugh at Barbes, New York on August 23, The Pushkin in Greenfield, Massachusetts on August 24, Club Passin in Boston on August 25 and their final concert at the Stone Mountain Arts Center in Portland on August 26.
This is the third trip the Inishowen sisters are making Stateside. In 2009 they performed at the annual Los Angeles Irish Film Festival, by kind invitation by the festival’s founder and fellow Malin woman, Lisa McLaughlin.
Last year the Henry Girls performed three dates in America, following the success of yet another series of collaborations in Ireland and Scotland with the Fox Hunt, they performed in West Virginia, Chicago and Milwaukee.
During their last visit to America, the Henry Girls had their latest album in the bag, December Moon, which has enjoyed great success since its release.
This time around, with a bigger tour and more contacts, the sisters will have another album with them, which is the result of their many collaborations with the Fox Hunt.
Lorna said: “Even before our very first collaboration with the Fox Hunt, we were composing together, working with each other through online communication, as we prepared for our first performances together at Earagail Arts Festival.
“I think through this collaboration, director Paul Brown wanted to show you can live in rural Ireland and still have a successful music career and work with other artists, which is great as I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but Inishowen,” she laughed.
Lorna said they will be performing in places they have been to before and are looking forward to bumping into some familiar faces.
“That’s the beauty of online social networks, many of the people whom we met at our concerts the last time have been able to keep in touch and will be coming again and hopefully bringing some friends with them.”
The Henry Girls will be launching a new collaborative album with the Fox Hunt while they are on tour, fittingly entitled From the Mountains to the Ocean.
“We recorded it while the guys were in Donegal last year. We set ourselves up in the Backroom at McGrory’s in Culdaff, while nobody was around, and Neil McGrory recorded a total of seven tracks for us, some of the featuring several tunes.
“I think the end result is a very good representation of the music we created together, including some originals, recorded around one microphone and giving it a very authentic live sound,” said Lorna.
The Henry Girls have been doing very well for years, but their latest album, December Moon, has really put them on the map, as well as recent collaborations with the likes of Dónal Lunny and Mary Black.
So much so that concert promoters MCD have taken notice and are hosting the Henry Girls as the beautiful Sugar Club inDublin on September 19 and tickets are on sale.
Lorna said: “The day after we return from America we will be on the Derek Mooney Show on RTÉ Radio One to perform and talk about the Sugar Club concert.
“After that concert we will be travelling to Devon in England on going on a small tour of Scotland and playing at a festival in Sweden so we will be kept busy until Christmas.
“All three of us really do love travelling so getting to see new, and more unusual destinations, whether its America or Europe, is very exciting for us, but also always love coming back home to Donegal.”