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Michael Londra's "Ireland With Michael" concert, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2021

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If it's Irish you want, Michael Londra is about as credible as it gets.

The 55-year old singer and stage producer has been representing the Emerald Isle for the better part of three decades -- including stings with "Riverdance" during the early 2000s. He also co-produced the PBS special "Beyond Celtic" and created the Radiocelt Internet radio station, and he has a theater company whose first work, "NOEL," was staged at the National Opera House in Wexford, Ireland.

These days Londra -- who splits his time between Ames, Iowa, where his partner works for Iowa State University -- also hosts a TV series called "Ireland with Michael," which was also the catalyst for a streaming concert at the National Opera House that debuts on Saturday, March 13...

Londra says by phone that the "Ireland With Michael" concert was filmed specifically for segments for the travel show but was easily turned into its own production. "We only used, like, two or three clips from (the concert) for the TV show. We kind of dropped in clips of the songs. And we had all this great footage, with a lot of different artists. And since there haven't been shows for so long and won't be for this year's (St. Patrick's Day), it seemed like a good idea to put the whole concert together like this. It's just a little escape into Ireland."

Londra does point out that St. Patrick's Day has a different meaning in his homeland than elsewhere, particularly across the pond. "Irish people, we're not as celebratory about St. Patrick's Day as you guys are in the U.S. We tend to do it a little bit more low-key -- for sure less drunk. We don't have the exaggerated kind of binge-drinking thing that happens here. WE don't dye our rivers green. Everyone goes to the pubs, but it's not our nature to be over the top. There's also that direct link to Catholicism; People go to mass, then to a parade, then to the pub. It's all one kind of cultural experience that's interconnected."

As "Ireland With Michael" prepares for an April debut with PBS, Londra describes it as "a travel show" that incorporates other musical artists from around the country, especially younger performers. "They play host to me in their parts of Ireland and we do some duets and then to out and do all the touristy things -- which really has been a lot of fun for me. I've kind of enjoyed over the past few years becoming a tourist in my own country." He plans to start filming a second season as soon as pandemic protocols are lifted.

Londra considers his "Riverdance" run "a real game-changer, a life-changer for me. There were 80 of us on tour, not really aware of the cultural phenomenon it was at the time. Then we were treated like rock stars everywhere we went. It was this insane, massive machine, but it felt really good to be part of it."

Londra has "very fond memories" in particular of Detroit's Fox Theatre, one of the venues partnering for the "Ireland With Michael" concert. Performing there with "Riverdance" during the fall of 1998, he says that "I remember being super-excited to be there. I literally was just off the plane from Ireland, and I was so excited to sing my name on the wall backstage. I had never seen such a huge, brand auditorium like that, so it has a special place in my heart -- as do all the Fox venues in the States."

"Ireland With Michael," a virtual concert with tenor and "Riverdance" alumnus Michael Londra from the National Opera House in Ireland, debuts at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 13 and will be available for 48 hours afterwards. Tickets start at $25 via 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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