INTERMISSION: FOCUS ON…Burning Bridget Cleary

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What better choice for St. Patrick’s Day than going to a CD Release Party for a Celtic band? I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the event at the World Café Upstairs in Philadelphia, where a fabulous band, Burning Bridget Cleary, was celebrating the release of their third album, Totes for Goats.

Burning Bridget Cleary consists of 4 main performers…Genevieve Gillespie and Rose Baldino are featured as the dual (and dueling) fiddle players and vocalists, Lou Baldino plays guitar and backs up on vocals and Peter Trezzi plays the Djembe (African drums.) Genevieve and Rose have been friends for years and collaborators for about 7 years (Rose mentioned last night that one song they played was the first song they wrote together…when they were 13-14!) They have been performing together since 2006, giving literally hundreds of performances throughout the East Coast. Their second CD, “Everything is Alright” was named 2009 Album of the Year by Boston-based They have been featured performers at various music and Celtic Festivals, and in May of 2011 are scheduled for a lengthy musical tour of Ireland.

Their latest album, “Totes for Goats” is a journey of sorts in its own right…the various tracks are old songs and new, some classics, some new pieces. What the songs have in common is the spirit of BBC…the energy and enthusiasm of Genna and Rose is throughout all of their music. As the ladies get older (Rose is now 21, Genna 20) their music also matures, their techniques more refined. They are both amazing fiddle players, their fingers dancing over the strings seemingly with ease. And their voices blend beautifully together, the timbre perfect for Irish folk tunes.

What separates BBC from other similar groups is the chemistry among the performers…the interplay between Genna and Rose as well as their constant banter with members of the audience keeps everyone involved and enjoying themselves. Add in Lou’s jokes (some quite horrid, but funny in context) and there is a light-hearted joyful feel to the entire evening. There is a story for every tune, a tune for every story…and the good natured jabs the girls take at each other and the others is a lot of fun for everyone in the audience.

BBC has a very full schedule leading up to their Ireland tour. You can find out more about this wonderful group at, including tour dates, more of their history, how to purchase their CDs, and the big question…who the heck is Bridget Cleary anyway?

Click below to give a listen to a wee bit o’ the sounds of BBC….


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Walter Bender

Walter Bender

Walter Bender is a veteran of over 35 years performing all over the country. He attended Texas Lutheran University as a Theatre Arts and Vocal Performance major. While in college he toured much of the Southern and Western states with various acting and singing groups. He appeared briefly on radio in San Antonio and on TV in Miami while in college. Moving back to PA, he has performed in well over 100 amateur and professional theatrical productions, and directed dozens more throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Among his favorite roles are Lt. Colonel Jessup (A Few Good Men), Daddy Warbucks (Annie), and most recently he was George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Arguably his favorite theatrical memory was creating the role of Alan Frick in A Fast Train to Heaven for Bill Gottshall Productions. He is co-founder of Spring-Ford Community Theater, has served as Managing Director of 2 different theaters, Artistic Director of a third and President of another. He worked for the Delaware Valley Arts Institute, where he worked with many wonderful artists and instructors, culminating in being selected to facilitate a post-graduate course at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Currently he serves on the board of directors for dcp theatre as their Director of Corporate Communications.

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