Eileen Dahill/North America/Minnesota

On the Road with Charlie Roth

I am the founder of the St. Paul Irish Dancers in Minnesota. I was looking forward to our first of five gigs with the Ring of Kerry Band from Saint Cloud. I chose to take the country road to our gig in New London. I wanted to pass through the towns that my Scandinavian grandparents grew up in before leaving their farms and migrating to the cities.

There was nothing romantic about the windswept prairie. It looked more like the Alaskan tundra – a permafrost. Our small rental car was rattling hard in the wind and my Belfast mom said a quick prayer. But we had a rendezvous with The Ring of Kerry Band and all rendezvous have a bit of adventure in them. I was looking forward to a chat with Charlie Roth about his new CD and what became of the recording session with the Henry Sisters.


New London Minnesota’s Little Theater of NO HEAT

We arrive a bit disheveled from our two and a half hour car ride. The Ring of Kerry Band is tuning up but Charlie Roth gives us a quick grin and a nod and then a second nod acknowledging my mom in the house.
We have been invited to different gigs over the last 14 years with the band. A quick scan tells me there is no tech crew, no front-of-house, and NO HEAT. I say nothing to the dancers huddled in one aisle with their fleece tied blankets that they made draped over them. One dancer, Kelly Ann, still has her high school letter jacket on. I asked if their was heat in the basement and they do not even reply.
Another quick grin from Charlie Roth does not dispel my grim scan of New London’s Little Theater. (It is being restored by the community). There are no colored filters on the spot and flood lights. We will look like dancing ghosts.


But then Virginia’s mom perks up that she has brought a hearty rotini pasta salad and I raid the lobby fridge for a couple of pops and I begin to feel A BIT warmer.

I wanted my chat with Charlie Roth about his new CD “Oh My Stars” and what songs with the Henry Sisters ended up on in the final cuts, but the show is beginning to pick up steam – and it feels MUCH warmer.

Our show is at 7:00 p.m. and someone came at 6:00 p.m. to turn up the heat. The first audience member has shown up. I can tell he is off the farm because of the clay and dust on his van. I said he can have the best seat in the house – or any seat in the house for that matter. But the farmer goes next door to the diner for a bite to eat. And then everything falls into place. A modest crowd appears, dancers scamper to get ready, and I get to see the Ring of Kerry’s new show for the St. Patrick’s Day season. We all practice separately and I love the way the song-music-dance came together particularly on A Capital Ship. My mom and I duck out during intermission for the long ride home – just when we were feeling quite cozy in the theater.


Charlie’s Angels

I called Charlie at his farmstead yesterday and he is excited about his new CD. The Henry Sisters are featured on 4 tracks – “Five More Minutes”, “Good”, “Jocelyn” (about a young girl who died at 7 from cancer), and “Rae Ann”. He felt honored to work with them and tells me they are currently touring around Boston, Massachusetts. I am sure the Henry Sisters will perhaps meet more well-known folk on their tour – but few worth knowing more than Charlie Roth.