Burning Bridget Cleary


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Irish American News

Piping It In: Best of the Year Awards 2016



By Jack Baker

Ever since I started writing this column, people have been urging me to come up with annual “best of” awards. I resisted for a long time. I had trouble picking the best music since there’s little music, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, American that I don’t love at one time or another. I love it all, to be honest, but at any given time there’s some I love more than others. This can change depending on my mood or how much I’ve had to drink or any of a number of factors. 

So why change? Friends in the music industry have explained to me how important it is to artists to win awards, especially so in these days of declining CD sales. So I hitched up my trousers, plugged in my brain and came up with the following. I established criteria for judging based on many factors, such as how well a recording sold or what customer feedback I received but in the end I primarily based my decisions on what I liked. For better or worse, there’s no one to blame, or praise, but me. So here we go.

Favorite Band to Watch on Stage. This was a tough one, there are so many talented, delightful bands performing these days but I ended up choosing Socks in the Frying Pan. Great musicians, talented singers but with a lovely sense of humor and a great joy in life that is shared with the audience. Better yet, they manage to transmit these feelings thru their three recordings.

Best Female Vocalist. Another difficult choice but the nod goes to Áine McGeeney who sings with the band Goitse.

Best Male Vocalist. Out of all the singers in celtic music, I have to give this one to the great Seamus Kennedy. No one knows better that music is more than words and notes and Seamus follows that belief in all his performances. He can make me laugh, make me cry, sometimes both at the same time.

Best Bodhran. Without question, Jackie Moran.

Best Fiddle
. Is there anyone I could say other than Liz Carroll?

Best Up and Comer Fiddler
. A shining star to keep an eye on, Gillian Head.

Best Button Box
. From Socks in the Frying Pan, Shane Hayes.

Best Uilleann Pipe CD. The Raven’s Rock by Cillian Vallely.

Best Solo CD of the Year. This one knocked me out and I listen to it daily. All Because by Pauline Conneely.

Best Accordion of All Time. Love this man, the great Jimmy Keane.

Best Irish Christmas CD. Not new but still the best, Bo-Ho-Ho-Hola, by Bohola, Jimmy Keane and Pat Broaders.


Best New Irish Band. A delightful bunch that, I hope, will go far. Cúig.

Best American Band CD. Lots of good stuff here, but I’m going with These Are The Days by

Burning Bridget Cleary.

Best Pipe Band Recording. From The great Scottish recording company, Greentrax, comes the finest recording of one of the best bands of all time, Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band Revisited.

Best New Sound. This one I tied, could not choose, so I give you both, River Waiting by Connla, from Northern Ireland and Doolin’, from France. Both unique, different, exciting, fresh and entertaining.

Best Encouragement of New Talent. Kind of an odd pigeon hole but one of the most exciting CDs to come along in awhile. The Tradition Continues by Murphy Roche. One of our schools of Irish Music, these folks not only teach but provide this CD platform to show off the students. Support your music schools!

Best Vocal Group.  Makem and Spain Brothers. On their new CD, Four Pounds A Day, these guys continue the great tradition that their families started.

Best Live CD. This year one band ran away with this, Runa. The  cd was Runa, Live and it was one of the finest live recordings ever, bar none.

Best Traditional CDThe Lady’s Cup of Tea, by concertina wizard Mary MacNamara and her daughter, Sorcha Costello. As Uncle Bill Margeson would say, “the real deal”.

Best CD of the Year. In some ways this was the toughest pick, but in many ways it was the easiest. No cd sold as well, got more positive customer reaction or caused more excitement at it’s  release. It continues to do so. String Theory by We Banjo 3. This band rocked it this year. They worked hard and presented a beautiful CD that everyone fell in love with. They earned this award!

That’s it for this month and the year. Already got a pile of new releases to write about in January. You can catch me at the store, 630-834-8108 or online at store@rampantlion.com



Celtic Radio News


November 2, 2016 - CelticRadio.net 

From their website, “Known for their captivating sound and engaging stage presence, Burning Bridget Cleary is currently one of the hottest young acts on the Celtic and folk music circuits. Band-leader Rose Baldino drives this band, delivering a dynamic blend of charisma, crackerjack fiddle work, and tightly woven harmonies. The front of the band is shared with some of the best fiddle talent on the East Coast. Currently featured is Amy Beshara, a multi-talented musician from the the NYC Scottish trad scene. The driving rhythm and bass end is supplied by Lou Baldino on guitar and Peter Trezzi on percussion.”

Burning Bridget Cleary have been working really hard to build their reputation as an exciting live act as well as excellent studio musicians. Their recent album, “These Are The Days” is a collection of songs that feel energetic, passionate and understated, translating the spirit of Celtic music with elegance and enthusiasm. Their engaging approach to music and the youthfulness of their performances are a true breath of fresh air for a group who isn’t only technically well-rounded, but also emotionally connected to the songs they perform. The have their hearts and their chops aligned, as they fill their songs with flamboyant fiddle licks, stunning harmonies and solid rhythm work courtesy of a skill percussion / bass section.

“These Are The Days” is chockfull of songs that showcase the most colorful and energetic side of traditional music. For example, their explosive rendition of “Madam I’m a darling” is a great example of the band’s musical prowess as well as their engaging approach. The band also shines on their instrumental work, including tracks such as “Chloe’s Passion”, where the fiddle truly takes its well-deserved place under the spotlight. Instrumental music has always been among my favorite expressions, and when you blend the Celtic tones and aesthetics with some really high quality musicianship, it is truly incredible to see things unfold. It is almost like a direct line that starts from the heart of the player, going to their mind, their hands, their instruments, and straight into the ears and hearts of the audience. From their most melancholic and heart-breaking tunes to their most up-beat and energetic vibes, these guys know how to rock some folk and get an audience truly excited! This band does a commendable job at keeping the authenticity of the Celtic sound alive, while approaching their genre with a playful, endearing twist that makes the music even more special. “These Are The Days” is ultimately a great snapshot of the band’s talent and personality! 5 stars from Celtic Radio!

These Are The Days


5.0 Stars!

Philadelphia Rowhome Magazine


While traditional Celtic music—lovingly referred to as
Trad—isn’t typically a genre you just randomly stumble
upon, it certainly begs the question: why not? There are
few genres of music that boast such an abundantly rich
history, that are so rugged and full of energy and evoke
such a wide range of emotions. You can see how a young violinist
might become completely enthralled with the utter madness
of the fiddle, and set her mind then and there, to practice
relentlessly until she’s made her mark on the Trad circuit.
Such is the story of Rose Baldino, fiddler-extraordinaire,
singer, songwriter and leader of Irish Folk Quartet Burning
Bridget Cleary. Rose began her musical journey at the age of
eight in Montgomery County, where she first began classical
training on violin. But by the time she reached middle
school, she was begging to take up fiddle lessons. Rose wasn’t
even finished high school when she formed the band that
would take her to unimaginable heights.

Burning Bridget Cleary has been captivating audiences with
breathtaking live performances for more than a decade. The
current lineup includes Rose’s father, Lou Baldino, handling
rhythm and bass on guitar, percussionist Peter Trezzi, and current
featured fiddler Amy Beshara. Over the years, they’ve garnered
numerous well-earned accolades within the Trad community
including being nominated for “Top Traditional Group
in a Pub, Festival, or Concert” by the Irish Music Association.
They are regularly played on syndicated radio programs, are a
fixture at major folk festivals, did a tour of Ireland in 2013, and
perhaps most impressive of all, have put out five full-length
albums since their inception. Most contemporary artists can’t
even come close to that level of prolificacy. Furthermore,
CelticRadio.net named their 2nd album, Everything Is Alright,
their 2009 Album of the Year, and their third album, Totes for
Goats, was formally entered into the traditional music archives
in Dublin, Ireland. Not too shabby to say the least.
Now what about that band name?

As far as band names go, Burning Bridget Cleary has to be
one of the more unique ones out there. The moniker’s origin
stems from a rather insidious tale. At the turn of the 20th
century, during a particularly harsh winter, Bridget fell ill
with a high fever and wasn’t feeling herself. Her husband incited
an angry mob of local townsfolk and convinced them
that Bridget had been overtaken by a fairy changeling. It remains
one of the more gruesome murder cases in Irish history.
The legal proceedings resulted in the formal outlawing
of witch-hunting in Ireland.

As you’re brainstorming Halloween costumes, I recommend
checking out some Irish folklore for a bit of inspiration.
Meanwhile, Rose also is busy working on a side project
called House of Hamill with her fiancé Brian Buchanan of Enter
the Haggis. Their first album, Wide Awake, was released on
September 17th.

THAT Music Mag



Burning Bridget Cleary, "These Are the Days" 


Named after the victim of a sensationalized murder trial that captivated Ireland in the late 1800s (Bridget Cleary was said to be the last woman burned for witchcraft in Ireland), Burning Bridget Cleary has been a mainstay of the Pennsylvania Celtic music scene for years. Well-known for their rousing live shows, their albums deliver the same high-energy that you would expect from a group that has honed their craft to perfection.

Their fifth album, These Are The Days, showcases traditional tunes intertwined with fun originals, all delivered with tempestuous devilry and thrilling artistry. Rose Baldino (vocals, fiddle, banjo), Amy Bashara (vocals, fiddle), Lou Baldino (vocals, guitar, bass) and Peter Trezzi (drums) brilliantly complement each other and the listener can’t help but hang onto every lyric-every note.

The traditional song “Madam I’m A Darling” is exciting and fast-paced and Baldino delivers the lyrics like a melodic spitfire. It’s an addictive tune in the vein of “Donald McGillavry” and “Mary Mac” with a dash of sauciness and wit. Instrumentals such as “Chloe’s Passion”, “Portherhead & BBC” and “Scones of Boxty” made me long for the days when I lived in Scotland and attended Wolfstone, Capercaillie and Phil Cunningham/Aly Bain concerts; thrilling fiddle tunes and a whole heap of nostalgia abound in these sets.

recently reviewed Darrell Scott’s Couchville Sessions and so was pleasantly surprised to hear a song from it. “Another Day” is a poignant, poetic song about the finality of life written by Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien, and Baldino’s version injects a little light into a rather dour subject: ‘Some days we fall, some days we fly/But in the end we all must die/Our rotten flesh and broken bones/Will feed the ground that we call home.’

These Are The Days is a timeless, imaginative album that will make you want to dance, twirl and feel comfort in the magic of a song.

Rating: Bad-Ass

No Depression: a Journal of Roots Music


Twin Fiddles & Acoustic Guitar…Incendiary Celtic Performances by Two Accomplished Sirens

Burning Bridget Cleary - These Are the Days

Several years ago I met these ladies at an outdoor music program. For the most part the crowd was appreciative toward the performers. They politely applauded, didn't expect too much because it was a free concert, and this audience always received musicians to these shows warmly. But, when I saw these two ladies from Burning Bridget Cleary come down off the stage as they performed one of their reels and walk through the seated crowd playing their fiddles like machine guns in a blistering, exciting manner and never missing a beat – the crowd came alive. Hey, this wasn’t Elvis, Bruce Springsteen or James Brown. This was just one of the greatest high-spirited Celtic bands on the east coast and though few at the time knew it -- Burning Bridget Cleary had arrived. I sensed it that late afternoon, it was inevitable.

A recap: their second release “Everything Is Alright,” was awarded “2009 Album of the Year” by CelticRadio.net in Boston. Following this Burning Bridget Cleary (BBC) broke new ground in 2013 when a fourth CD, “Pressed for Time,” topped the Roots Music Folk Charts at #1 – and became one of the most played albums by folk disc jockeys. Additionally, in December of 2013 -- they were nominated “Top Act in a Pub, Festival or Concert,” by the Irish Music Association. Quite an honor for a band not native to Ireland. 



Now, with their sixth (sic fifth) album –“These Are the Days,” – the band continues to perform in their distinctive traditional style -- mixing traditional with originals seamlessly. The fireworks are still there: with their electrifying fiddles the duo of Rose Baldino (who also plays banjo) and Scottish fiddle wiz Amy Beshara will rosin up their bows and capture your hearts with their careening, vibrating strings as they create a torrent of music that will do nothing short of stamp smiles on faces. The girls are still amazingly invigorating and have lost none of their luxuriant performance style. I still do not believe any photograph has accurately caught their "look" as they interact with their audiences as they play. 

This new collection begins sprightly, as an acoustically upbeat traditional song “Madam I’m a Darling,” is superbly updated byBurning Bridget Cleary’s ladies along with Lou Baldino on crystalline guitar (& doubles on bass when necessary). Peter Trezzi continues on percussion/djembre and drums. There is a lot of Celtic oriented lyrics mixed in with English but the mood, feel and rhythm is all you would need to get your toes to tap and your hands to clap…and clap hard. Sometimes music needs no translation…the body and soul does it all. Guest side musician Brian Buchanan has guest vocals on this track. 


Up next: a nice intermezzo jig. “Chloe’s Passion,” that includes the melodies of “Skin the Peelers” (Traditional)Chloe’s Passion”(Angus MacDonald)“Farewell to Whalley Range” (Michael McGoldrick). The song combination has that horse galloping stride in its rhythm. Yes, it’s an instrumental but, this is what really tests a musician’s mettle. They must convey their message through their hearts and fingers with no words, myths, fables and no story. The women manage to play succinctly with magical ambience that gives the allusion that many more fiddles are playing than actually are. Brian Buchanan returns to add one additional fiddle and his touch as well.

Several years ago track 3 appeared on an earlier album (sic single) and it still has the beauty I heard the first time. “Another Day,” is an infectious Tim O’Brien / Darrell Scott melody with expressive story-lyrics typical of this kind of music. The vocals remain strong, with interwoven harmonies. 

“A Day in the Life of Lou: The Pistachio Nut / The Pizza Connoisseur,” are two polkas written by Rose Baldino for her father and while it sounds heavily influenced by gypsy violin it’s fitting since her dad had some Gypsy in his lineage (as the press release states). As good as these ladies are when they sing a song or two, their talent really shines when they let loose on their instrumentals – as sampled here. John McGillian plays button accordion and this is filled with so many wonderful musical colors – a real treat for the ears.

Americans without an Irish background or understanding of this ancient language may have a hard time getting into the heavy lyrical words of Scots Gaelic. “Tha mi Sgith” – a traditional tune pronounced “Ha-mee-skee” translates into “I’m So Tired.”  This, as beautiful as it is melodically and sung very well – is an acquired taste. But so is fine cheese and expensive wine. Burning Bridget Clearytouches smartly on melodies that influenced them, and is the true roots of their music. It offers an education to listeners. Amy Beshara sings this nugget with sincerity. 

Another inspired, feet-in-the-air instrumental “Portherhead & BBC Set” is a rousing pot of boiling chocolate fiddle pudding –Lorcan Brady joins on fiddle, Liam King adds accordion, Joe Junker strums the guitar, Nate Godshall on bodhran and James Frawley paints with the concertina. This is one of those songs that requires sawdust on the wood floors if you want to dance because sparks will fly. These men are known as Portherhead and they provide the additional value-added instrumentation that fills everything out to a new dimension to BBC. In this conglomeration the melodies include:“Girl of the House,” a traditional reel, Stan Chapman’s (a Jerry Holland song), and the traditional “Boys of Ballymoat.” I’m out of breath just listening to this one. I may need new heels on my boots.

“The Mountain,” opens with some catchy ringing haunting acoustic guitar, pristine vocals and is the most commercially viable tune on the LP. A nice grungy fiddle is a nice change with its deeper tone. The song was written by Dave Carter & Tracy Grammar and includes a typical BBC (Burning Bridget Cleary) instrumental interlude. 



Fiddles fill the air again like a flock of birds with radiance on“Scones of Boxty,” and the intertwining fiddles are ever so clear and exciting. However, it’s Rose’s fiddle that is prominently featured. The contrasting tones is the secret to BBC’s attraction. John McGillian returns on button accordion and the instrumental current is punctuated by fine playing by all. A nice “wall of sound.” The melodies included under this title are: “Farewell to Miltown”(Junior Crehen) / the traditional “Three Scones of Boxty” and“Reel D’Issodun.” 

With the opening strains of “Return of Skelly Shelly,” – a Lou Baldino (Dad) original, I heard shades of recent Bob Dylan melodies in my head since Dylan had been experimenting with these types of guitar signatures on his last two original albums. It's a page torn from vintage guitarists such as Les Paul and Tony Mottola. And no, I am not saying this "sounds" like Bob Dylan. Dylan didn’t invent this genre but boy, I bet if he heard this tune he wished he had written it. This is a beautiful instrumental that begs for Dylan inspired lyrics. There’s a story in these notes and it's a total Lou Baldino showcase on acoustic guitar. Absolutely brilliant. The fiddles are old-timey but filled with vigor. Lou’s guitar dominates with catchy notes. The song starts off like an old 78 rpm record, scratchy and retro. But, on this showcase that effect works brilliantly as it “opens” up into this old sound with refreshing style and segues into something that blooms like a flower. This is a favorite. 


Ah…. bagpipes. Such a spiritual, happy and other-worldly sound.Andrew Forbes unleashes his fingers and breath on Scottish border pipes and Nate Godshall adds bodhran. This is so full sounding on my system – something that shames synthesizers. This has hi-fidelity, warmth, soul, and it stirs the inner man. Amy’s twin fiddles mesmerize and the dual tunes “Pipe Set: Over the Isles to America and Miss McLeod’s” are two beautiful traditional melodies not played on synthesizers but, are a synthesis of music that swells like a helium balloon and takes us aloft. God’s synthesizer is the wind and he put some of that power and endurance into man’s breath – blowing into a bag pipe. This music has shape and it endures. Jazz musicians have to jam for a long time to find their proper groove and be this intense.

Bagpipes are like a one-man orchestra. Burning Bridget Cleary was wise to close out their album with this song. I’m not even Scottish or Irish – but, this music – it loosens up the knots in the mind and body. It leaves a listener wanting more. This is a fine album. The band has invited guests and these guests diversify this album's sound. Burning Bridget Cleary is a first class band and Rose and Amy continue to push their own musical envelope. Their abilities as musicians is remarkable and they have articulate fingers. The first time I wrote about Burning Bridget Cleary I had to convey their music through comparisons to others. This time out there are few. They’re beginning to sound like no other modern band who perform these types of songs and there are many others. They have found their niche and they are accomplished beyond a reasonable measure. All they have to do is hope they never run out of traditional music because that helps keep them genuine, grounded and true. 



By the way, the real Bridget Cleary was "the last witch burned in Ireland" as this band’s biography details. But, that Bridget Cleary, as I mentioned before in an earlier review, with all her spells and potions couldn’t play Celtic music the way this band can.

The CD was produced in Philadelphia, PA by Jim Salamone and the colorful album package was designed by Sara Turner & Brian Buchanan The album’s music was all arranged by Burning Bridget Cleary.

Website:  http://www.burningbridgetcleary.com/

FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/Burning.Bridget.Cleary/


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this review / commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of No Depression. All photography is owned by the respective photographers and is their copyrighted image; credited where photographer’s name was known & being used here solely as reference and will be removed on request. YouTube images are standard YouTube license.

New Celtic Beat

Burning Bridget Cleary

These Are The Days

(In New Celtic Beat)

Wonderful versatility can only begin to describe Burning Bridget Cleary. In a world where skilled but didactic performance is informed by a past the musicians couldn’t have known, contrasted by a head bangerism (and it is that old and worn) which only plays lip service to ethnic clichés; Burning Bridget Cleary stands out as a beacon of musical truth. And that artistic truth continues here with These Are the Days.


The universal truth ala William Butler Yeats epitaph is so very well sung and summed up in “Another Day” by Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott. There is the grim reality of being finite, but we (or those who continue our legacy) can get up every morning whether it is with a guitar or a brush or a laptop or whatever is our instrument/tool/ and therein is immortality. There, death shall have no dominion. Only in the hands of the members of Burning Bridget Cleary, as it is throughout, with the vocals of Rose Baldino and Amy Beshara could this point be driven across better.


Burning Bridget Cleary is a band of contrasts. Like in a good painting they follow this intensity with a set devoted to “A Day In The Life (Of Lou).” The range is wide on this album. There is the lyrical wistful, beautifully performed “Bill Oja’s Waltz” and then to  the most appealing crossroads of Ragtime and Grateful Dead in “Return Of Skelly Shelly.” And the beauty of it is this fits right in on a Celtic album without at all totally straying from their core truth. Burning Bridget Cleary has balance where some bands have ended up totally falling off the edge of the earth. Because of that, Burning Bridget Cleary stands out as the Ameri-Celt band at this moment in space and time.


“Portherhead And BBC Set” is a favorite of mine as a cut  which exemplifies why this band is in the fore of stateside Celtic music; the positive values in their approach to the music with nothing holding it back. Likewise the cut of “Chloe’s Passion” runs like a musical interlace. Offsetting this is the vocal duo singing “Tha Mi Sgith” with the singing of Rose and Amy. .”Scones of Boxty” and the “Pipe Set” complete this instrumental picture. Again, Burning Bridget Cleary knows well how to offset one cut from another and does it so masterfully.


We end at the beginning with the first cut, “Madam, I’m A Darling,” whose fervent singing and performance sets the whole tone for this CD.


These Are the Days indeed, and Burning Bridget Cleary has made our day and theirs with this CD.  -AK

Music Connection Magazine


Very well-presented trad-folk band that practically gives you a bracing face-full of North Sea spray with each song. On Celtic folk tunes such as “Madam I’m A Darling,” the pastoral instrumental “Chloe’s Passion...” and our fave, “Another Day,” singer Rose Baldino leads the band with her clean, clear tone (though she sometimes succumbs to sounding too technically perfect). Meanwhile, the harmonized violins sound great, and the whole enterprise unites to generate a life force that can uplift the listener at every turn. From the strings to the zinging tambourines, every song is well-recorded, making it suitable for label consideration and film/TV placements. As a live attraction, the band would be a lively addition to any folk festival’s line-up.

Contact: info@burningbridgetcleary.com
Web: burningbridgetcleary.com
Seeking: National/Festival Booking, Film/TV
Style: Celtic Folk/Trad

FolkWords Reviews

‘These Are The Days’ from Burning Bridget Cleary - Creating Something Different


‘New is easy, different is difficult’ - long have I adopted that view and often used it to set the difference between bands. Those that offer something new and those that make the difference, among the latter are Burning Bridget Cleary. Listen to their album ‘These Are The Days’ and it becomes one of those that holds you from the first
note and remains with you for simply ages.

 these are the days from burning bridget clearly

This is the tradition respected and adored, it’s also innovative musicianship making its mark and creating something different.

Intriguingly named after an unfortunate woman popularly described as ‘the last witch burned in Ireland’, about which many words continue, Burning Bridget Cleary are themselves naturally the subject of considerable concentration, and rightly deserved too. Vibrant, vivacious, infectious and captivating, pick your choice of words to describe what you hear. ‘These Are The Days’ spans the depth of melodic, Celtic tradition yet sits comfortably within its undeniably eclectic mix.

The musicianship is of the highest order, harmonies tight and controlled, energy rampant and commitment evident. Opening with a scintillating ‘Madam I’m A Darling’ before swinging into the finely crafted slip jigs of ‘Chloe’s Passion’, they add truly powerful rendition of ‘Another Day’. Other delights include two delightfully original polkas, ‘A Day in the Life of Lou’, which slide into Brian Buchanan’s lovely ‘Bill Oja’s Waltz’ featuring Buchanan on lead violin, the expressive ‘The Mountain’ and for good measure, the jaunty enthusiasm of ‘Scones of Boxty’.

Burning Bridget Cleary are Rose Baldino (fiddle, vocals, banjo) Amy Beshara (fiddle, vocals) Lou Baldino (guitar, bass) Peter Trezzi (djembe, percussion), on selected tracks they’re joined by Brian Buchanan (fiddle, vocals) John McGillian (button accordion) Andrew Forbes (Scottish border pipes) Nate Godshall (bodhrán) Lorcán Brady (fiddle) Liam King (accordion) Joe Junker (guitar) and James Frawley (concertina).

Find band and album here: www.burningbridgetcleary.com

Review: Tim Carroll

The Irish American News

Excerpted from Jack Baker's Music Column, "Piping It In"

“I have been privileged to be able to follow the exploits of Burning Bridget Cleary for a long time now and I have watched Lou Baldino on guitar, Rose Baldino on fiddle, vocals and banjo, Amy Beshara on fiddle & vocals and last, but not least, Peter Trezzi on djembe and percussion, build a sound that is uniquely their own.

Not trad, not pop, but with elements of both and ultimately listenable. I love their vocals, clear and sweet and blended together perfectly. I’m not too worried about putting this group in a pigeonhole to define them, they define themselves, and part of that definition includes the words “damn good”.

Do I sound enthusiastic? Well I am. This band has worked hard to create their niche, and I have been lucky enough to watch them and it is impressive. Their newest CD, “These Are the Days” has just hit my desk and it is the best they’ve ever done. I love it and encourage you to give it a listen, you will not be disappointed”.  


11-21-15: Burning Bridget Cleary wowed a packed church nave with a debut 'Southern' performance in Alexandria tonight. Their finely worked arrangements feature Rose Baldino and Amy Beshara nimbly alternating melodic leads with tasteful harmonies on fiddle, which they then perform as deftly with vocal lines in a host of finely chosen songs! Having heard them do this on three excellent recordings to date, I've long wondered if they could rise to expectations live, and was well pleased to find that their sound is more than intact on stage, but indeed even finer, with the added dynamic nuances of live performance.

 Truly, the perfection of recordings is not, in fact, the finest exhibition of traditional material. Even some slight instrumental imbalances did nothing to prevent their resiliant arrangements from raising hairs on backs, in renditions of 'On a sea of Fleur de Lis', 'the Blacksmith,' and 'the Ballad of Tim Evans', the traditional song often heard as 'Go Down, you murderer'. Their instrumental sets were as lively as any group that have the benefit of pipes, in particular given the ability to appreciate the fiddle harmony lines they have so carefully incubated in sets of standards, like the great Gordon Duncan's infectious, 'Pressed for Time', which they paired sensibly with 'Bonnie Mulligan's', yet boldly opening the set with the Duncan tune where others seem to fall back on the reliability of closing with it; it is a solid statement of confidence in their arranging and performance energies.

 Similarly, a digression to Americana standards such as 'Ashokan Farewell' and the vocal tour de force, 'Oh My Little Darling' to the tune 'Fire on the Mountain' is not jarring, but seems to be a maturing of their identity as, after all- a largely PA-based group, with solid woodshedding origins in the great Irish sessions of Philly and NYC, but also, with one foot in the 'foothills' therein. Really, BBC do a great service by reinvigorating new-world versions of ballads such as 'Madam I'm a Darling'- essentially a relatively contemporary version of 'Spanish Lady'- where the trend among most of us is to return as much as possible to the archaic and arcane as a badge of authenticity. BBC is not burdened by that preoccupation, and it should be appreciated. Overall, Burning Bridget Cleary will certainly be welcomed back in this area by a host of fans they made tonight, but very likely will be safe performing anywhere they want south of the Mason-Dixon line!

Lehigh Valley Live

Celtic Classic 2015

The bands Kilmaine Saints and Burning Bridget Cleary and festival staple Seamus Kennedy are among the acts who will headline this year's Celtic Classic Highland Games and Festival.

Other returning artists include Glengarry Bhoys, Blackwater, Timlin & Kane and Emish. Officials also announced Friday in a news release the addition of the groups The Mudmen, Bastard Bearded Irishmen and The Fretless to the lineup -- each of whom will be making their Celtic Classic debut. All music performances are free and open to the public.

"No Depression" Folk Music Review

The real Bridget Cleary is best remembered as "the last witch burned in Ireland", as this band’s biography tells us. But, that Bridget Cleary, with all her spells and potions couldn’t play Celtic music the way this band can.

Their second release Everything Is Alright, was awarded “2009 Album of the Year” by CelticRadio.net in Boston and then Burning Bridget Cleary broke new ground in 2013. Their fourth CD, Pressed for Time, topped the Roots Music Folk and Roots Charts at #1 – and became one of the most played albums by folk disc jockeys. This brings us to their fifth album – released this past September, entitled Another Day.

If you’re impressed by rock’s lead guitar dynamics and pyrotechnics, the electrifying fiddle duo of Rose Baldino and the Scottish fiddle wiz Amy Beshara will leave you absolutely breathless with their bow’s smoking and their strings ablaze in tunes that are so invigorating I am certain some people will not need their Zoloft medication while listening. This is invigorating, enthusiastic stuff that makes your skeleton want to dance right out of your skin.

The new album begins with the title tune “Another Day,” with a wonderful and infectious Celtic melody married to expressive story-lyrics typical of this kind of music. The vocals are strong, interwoven harmonies. The message is powerful – the voices of the ladies are satin-smooth. Then the fiddles come -- tuned differently from each other, I am certain, because you can tell the difference between the two. It unfolds with a dramatic punctuation. With the drive and determination of the traditional years of Mike Scott’s the Waterboys, this is the female version of that magical band. While not as mystical here, their tune is a strong opener for things to come.

“Pressed For Time,” is a fiddle workout weaved through the wonderful supportive relentless acoustic guitar of Lou Baldino (Dad). An instrumental of the highest order – it has notes that tell a story, but the real story unravels only in your own head if you have the imagination to apply to it. There is a suggestive moment in the tone of the fiddles that reminds of the dark and majestic fiddle/violin used by King Crimson in one of their more melodic albums. The darkness doesn’t last long here with BBC. The music is not so much aggressive as it is driving. It goes into peaks and valleys that are relaxing. The instruments sing. The tunings are so perfect and recording so clear, it comes off as something a doctor should order for anyone with the blues and leave the medication on the shelf. Even if you don’t get up from your chair, this tune will leave you dancing the entire time it plays.

There are too many songs on this album to individually assess, so I will skip some. But, that doesn’t mean they are less interesting than the ones I do comment on. For the whole of the album the musicians are always playing first rate. Vocals on many songs are reminiscent of the legendary McGarrigle Sisters from Canada, and the Roches. If you ever enjoyed those fine female vocalists then BBC will be a treat.

While many songs are heavily Scottish in flavor, the connection between Scottish, Irish, and old English traditional melodies was passed down to people who immigrated to America hundreds of years ago. The result, as some of you may know, is that much of the Appalachian music is rooted in these melodies. Evidence of this can be heard in “Oh My Little Darling” on this album. Is it European? UK? Or is it something out of the hills of Kentucky? With the addition of an electric guitar and steady percussion by Peter Trezzi, the parallel is beautiful -- an education for some. This song would have been at home in the fine film Songcatcher, which was all about the search of lost songs in Appalachia and their connection to the homeland. 

Photo from - Donna Fisher / The Morning Call

“Ashokan Farewell,” is an instrumental that makes Scottish music universal. How anyone with a heart can’t make a connection to some poignant time in their lives by listening to a melody like this is beyond me. This is a moving melody that could have been dropped into the classic film Gone With the Wind, and it would have been ideal.

“The Ballad of Tim Evans” is vigorous -- the kind of song that would inspire a young Bob Dylan back in the '60s. It's a murder ballad with machine gun fire fiddles that even Charlie Daniels would be proud of. This tune summons memories of Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention for me. Because our recording technology has improved since the early '70s, the fiddles are crisp, the bass bottomless. The guitar weaves like a snake and it’s a shot of whiskey in your ears. Vocals unfold the tale clearly and every word is understood. Nothing awkward here.

The tune “Stor Mo Chroi: Darling of My Heart” is going to be one of those melodies that some of us will say: “I have heard this one before somewhere else, with a different title and lyric.” That may be so. It’s like Simon and Garfunkel’s “Rosemary and Thyme” – a melody that is definitely not Paul Simon’s but old English traditional. Same can be said for Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country,” which is definitely not a Dylan original. This melody will ring true as something familiar. But, where it comes from is something one must figure for themselves. These are melodies in the public domain now -- hundreds of years old and no one really knows who may have written the original. So, it’s complimentary thievery. They're so good, we continue to reinvent them every 100 years for new ears, young minds. They are also melodies that never date. They're young forever.

The highlight of this album is “Clay Slaps.” It stokes the furnace until the coals are red hot and the chimney bellows with smoke. The instrumentation is absolutely fabulous. It sounds as if there are ten fiddles playing, but it’s only two young ladies with hummingbird fingers. You can tell they love what they do. Listen carefully, and you can hear so many things going on beyond mere rosining up a bow and stroking the strings. The wood in their fiddles must be the finest – the strings tuned to delight ears. Despite all the Scottish tradition, this is rock and roll fiddle playing. This is Eric Clapton and Roy Buchanan on a fiddle. Excellent.

Just when you think Burning Bridget Cleary gave you their best, the tale of “Two Sisters” comes rolling out of the speakers. It starts quite innocently as a story, but then the fiddles and the singing become even more exciting. Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers had better look over their shoulders because BBC is gaining on them. This is a song that suits a campfire, and if the lyric could be displayed, everyone should sing along. Again, in the tradition of Fairport Convention and Fotheringay, this is folk music with vitamins. Everyone on the band shines.

Another tune that is majestic on this album is “I Know Who Is Sick/On the Spot.” While sounding very traditional, it's arranged to have muscle. Having seen this band this summer at the outdoor concerts at Shippen Manor in Oxford, NJ, I was quite impressed as the ladies (probably performing this song but I am not certain) make it a habit of coming down off the stage to whip their fiddles into a frenzy, up close and before the eyes of the audience. It was wonderful and this song is one of those kinds of songs. They got the outdoor audience revved up like I seldom see.

Of all the songs on this album, the one that set fire to my interest was “Saucy Sailor.” Opening with what sounds like sitars, with vocals sung in unison, it becomes instantly magical, mystical, and of one voice. The sitars may really be another type of fiddle for all I know. But, the sound -- the melody with their words, the otherworldly percussion, and acoustic guitar paint a very intriguing picture. This is a winner, a multiple-play tune that's presented quite ingeniously. The heavy percussion and other instruments that are sewn into this fabric of sound is what makes the song so endearing and powerful. Set aside all the wonderful songs if you have no time for an entire album, but don’t miss listening to this one. This is a masterpiece.

The guitar-dominated opening and BBC show their freshness, versatility, and their ability to not be redundant. Here, the ladies sing with a hat tip to '60s groups the Seekers and the Sandpipers. That is a compliment. “The King and the Fair Maid” is not at a loss for fine fiddle soloing. And again, their strength is in the contrast of fiddle sound between the duo and the excellent acoustic guitar that anchors them solidly. This is a tune that children would easily enjoy listening to or seeing performed. There's a slight Medieval feel to the music, but it's modern in every way. Delightful.

“The Blacksmith,” once again, starts with some tuneful acoustic guitars that lead the way down the path to the fiddles. The percussion is never intrusive and, on this track, it’s like a frame around a painting. I could hear the old folk-rocker Donovan joining the ladies on a song like this. Songs such as this were his roots and he never wandered far from them.

2014 – Photo courtesy of the Burning Bridget Cleary website

"Electricity" is how I would describe the way the fiddles open the song “Where’s Pete.” The fiddles cry, wail like banshees. The band just knows how to set up a counter melody around a solo melody and build around it. Then, suddenly, stop and give your ears a flurry of what sounds like something you heard a thousand times already but, maybe not. This is the roots of bluegrass, where Alison Krauss found herself and Bill Monroe molded into an American tradition.

The band performs their title song “Burning Bridget Cleary,” and it’s somber, remorseful, all with the poignancy of better days to come. There was a fiddle player with a band decades ago called Private Lightning – a band with an overabundance of talent but no luck. Her name was Patty Van Ness and she was a fiery wall-of-sound-style fiddle player. The playing on this track reminds me of Patty’s on “When You’re Laughing” -- an incredible song despite some juvenile lyrics. Patty would really appreciate what BBC is doing today, no doubt.

I never thought I would ever say this but these ladies are also sexy as they fiddle. Their stage presence, their stance. There's no other way to describe their intoxicating enthusiasm as they play reels and jigs with such ease. Usually I try to insert a YouTube video that was studio-created, or a cut from an album, but the band itself must be seen to be appreciated. So, I broke my own rule and attached a well-recorded live presentation that, except for the wind in their pick ups, is a live showcase from a Kansas City Irish Festival. And this set, ignites every face with joy that gets near them.

Note: I am not certain fiddle player Rose Baldino is actually playing with her current partner Amy Beshara in the live videos. My apologies to Amy if the video predates her. 

My point in featuring these live shows is to show the audience reaction and how the music is so infectious even to children (at the PA show). No matter. Whoever plays opposite Rose Baldino and her band – is someone with grit on the fiddle as seen here. Women with talent in abundance. Today, that would be Amy Beshara and let’s hope she has a long tenure judging from her performance on this recent album. 



Burning Bridget Cleary music can be sampled on MySpace Music, Rdio and YouTube.


Website: http://www.burningbridgetcleary.com/index/

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this review / commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of No Depression. All photography is owned by the respective photographers and is their copyrighted image; credited where photographer’s name was known & being used here solely as reference and will be removed on request. YouTube images are standard YouTube license.

John Apice / No Depression / October 2014

Zone Music Reporter

Burning Bridget Cleary
Pressed For Time
Independent Release

Green Folk

I put on the uniquely named Burning Bridget Cleary album, Pressed For Time, and I think, these kids just got off the boat from the Old Sod and are trying to make it in America. Well, this energetic and talented quartet is from Philadelphia and recently returned from playing in Ireland. The irony of it all is not lost on me. The band offers tight harmonies and lively performances of traditional and folk Irish music, courtesy of fiddlers / singers Rose Baldino and Deirdre Lockman. Bass and percussion balance the music with the talents of Lou Baldino on bass and guitar and Peter Trezzi on drums. You will be entertained by their electrically charged jigs and reels and their warm ballads.

Of course, I had to know the history of the band’s name and it is rather peculiar. I returned to 1895, where Bridget Cleary, the wife of a cooper, was just judged a bit different from the other villagers and that difference is all it took to brand her a witch or maybe even worse, in complicity with the faeries. The insanity of her husband and the other villagers caused her strange disappearance. It was later that her mutilated body was discovered and the trial of the century ensued, that of the last witch of Ireland... perhaps. I love things and people that are different and that difference should be and is celebrated on this high-spirited recording.

Pressed for Time / Bonnie Mulligan is a full of brio instrumental. The title tune becomes the beginning of a musical chronology of historical happenstance. The band has cobbled together a rollicking set on this one. Pressed for Time opens with strong guitar strumming winding up for the fiddler’s grand performance. It is an industriously contrived reel and Bonnie Mulligan celebrates the creativity of fiddler Peter Ostroushko. I would buy the album on this song alone.

Ashokan Farewell is one of the few slow tunes on the recording. Written by Jay Ungar no less than thirty years ago, it is a sweet waltz that has been used on stage and screen as a “bid thee farewell” lament. I actually remember this song from a British TV series called Copper and I thought how sad, but beautiful when I heard it. To me it had a distinctive Appalachian tone to it.

Oh My Little Darling / Fire on the Mountain is a country tune, plain and simple. It does not matter what country you’re playing it in, the whining fiddles, steel guitar, and lyrics decree a square dance, a brightly lit barn, and a lot of straw. With raging fiddles, it is a fun song guaranteed to get your toes tapping, or better yet, grabbing a partner and twirling around the dance floor. At first, I thought it might be out of place, but when I considered the energy level of these music makers, it felt right at home.

Again, Burning Bridget Cleary takes on the anthem of an infamous crime in the tune The Ballad of Tim Evans. This song packs a lot of driving music into a short period, but keeps your attention with solid harmonies. The crime, the murder of the wife and daughter of Tim Evans, spans several decades. Oh, Tim was dropped through the trapdoor back in the 50’s, but the question of his culpability remains as controversial today as it did back in the day. 

No one likes the idea of leaving home, especially if you are the sort of people connecting to the land and its history, but that is what the song Sitting in the Stern of a Boat is about.Penned bythe Reverend William McLeod, in the early 1800’s as he leaves his beloved Isle of Skye for a new parish position in Argyll, this slow Scottish air fairly weeps with regret and trepidation. 

Much of Ireland’s traditional music is based on the stories of the diaspora of the Irish in the early 20th century. Stor Mo Chroi / Eddie Kelly’s is such a tale. It is a song of lover’s separated by Atlantic waters and the promise of fortune in the Americas. The vocals are sweet on this ballad, but the music is quite strong, the band sounding much larger than a quartet.

I would imagine that coming away from a live performance of Burning Brigitte Cleary would leave me drained, but in high spirits. Sometimes the music reminded me of my Meme’s (French Canadian grandmother’s) Quebecois rondos. Even if I were sitting completely still, listening to this music would make my heart clap with these tunes. It is addictive and exciting.  Highly recommended.

Rating: Very Good+

Celtic Music Magazine

"Pressed for Time" Review

Already covered in numerous accolades, Burning Bridget Cleary is on fire with their fourth album “Pressed for Time”. It is a superb compilation of traditional and old time songs and tunes of various different origins, highlighting their Celtic and American roots. The album is filled with spellbinding fiddle work and multilayered arrangements. Each track possesses a vibrant clarity and the clear transitions within the songs truly allows each of the member’s skills to shine.

A perfect example is BBC’s version of Jay Ungar’s masterpiece Ashokan Farewell.  Based off of the style from the 19th Century, this slow waltz beautifully changes hands from a soft, emotionally played fiddle to the skillful finger picking of a guitar and then back. Yet, at no time does the piece seemed forced or choppy. The piece smoothly changes hands like a graceful dance. In the end, they just let the music speak for itself.

Likewise, their version Stor Mo Chroi is very different from any other version. While most are melancholy and slower in tempo, theirs is not. It is performed at a faster tempo with a driving rhythm in the background. Nevertheless, we still can feel the struggle between the lovers expressed throughout the song, the angst of their separation. So while they take the arrangement in a different direction the core of the song still remains the same.

Moreover, their versions of Oh My Little Darling and Two Sisters are fantastic examples from the canon of traditional music, with Two Sisters able to be dated back at least to the 1600’s. On this album, both of these songs are true standouts for me. The acapella start toOh My Little Darling with the fiddle taking lead gives it a true Appalachian feel. Plus, the percussion by Jim Salamone really helps to keep the piece driving forward. The piece blends wonderfully into Fire On the Mountain with an electric guitar solo before going into the final verse of the previous song. Likewise, Two Sisters is an up tempo murder ballad that will have you singing along with a smile on your face. After all, who doesn’t love a good murder ballad to pick up one’s spirits?

While the songs I’ve just mentioned are wonderful, they are just the start. Other songs on the album to note are On a Sea of Fleur De Lis, the title track Pressed for Time / Bonnie MulliganThe Ballad of Tim Evans and Sitting in the Stern of a Boat. Whether it is an instrumental or a narrative ballad they are all done with the same excellent care an attention to detail that BBC is known for.

In short, Burning Bridget Cleary’s fourth album “Pressed for Time” is one album you don’t want to miss. In this album, BBC strips these wonderful songs back to the core and then builds around it in their own unique way.

Stephen McSweeney is a High School English/Drama teacher. Besides writing for the Celtic MP3s Music Magazine, he enjoys acting, writing and playing Celtic music. He can be seen as one of the members of the band Terrible Musicians, where he plays percussion and mandolin.

Irish Voice / IrishCentral.com

Rocking to the smoking sounds of Burning Bridget Cleary

Mike Farragher @brainonshamrox  February 04, 2014 

Burning Bridget Cleary in Bethlehem, PA

With the namesake all over my family tree, the ears perked up when I heard of the group Burning Bridget Cleary!

This Philadelphia-based Celtic rock band have been called “the Allman Brothers of Celtic fiddle bands, only prettier.”  Pretty lasses like Rose Baldino (fiddle, banjo) and Deirdre Lockman (fiddle, vocals) prove that statement to be true! They are joined by the driving rhythm and bass supplied by Lou Baldino (guitar) and Peter Trezzi (djembe drum). 

They have played hundreds of gigs along the East Coast and produced four CDs.  Their second production, Everything Is Alright, was named 2009 Album of the Year by Boston-based CelticRadio.net.  
Their newest CD, Pressed for Time, has gotten much-deserved accolades from the Celtic radio and press communities. 

Their tangled Celtic roots are embedded inside contemporary soil, with hints of the Corrs and Fleetwood Mac evident in their arrangements and performance. 

“I adore thee Mother Mary, would you turn me into a witch?” they sing on “On A Sea of Fleur De Lis,” a sunny folk ditty with understated fiddling which showcases the impeccable harmonies of Rose and Deirdre. 

Pressed for Time is punctuated with lovely jigs and reels like “The Black Rogue/McIntyre’s Fancy/The Twin’s Delight” for those thirsty for some trad with their pint. 

The name Burning Bridget Cleary (BBC) is a tribute to the last witch burned in Ireland, according to folklore. 

“The name was chosen when we started the band and we were looking for something with some mystique behind it,” says Rose Baldino. “I had just turned 16 at that time and my mom found the story of Bridget Cleary on the Internet. As teenagers, the story really intrigued us and we thought it was a little spooky, too.”

The name ended up being a good luck charm for the band, giving them immediate notoriety in the upper echelons of Irish culture.

“Since naming the band we have had some amazing experiences that have connected us with Bridget,” Baldino explains.  

“Before our first CD was released, my dad called Liam Clancy to arrange licensing for the song ‘I Know Who Is Sick.’  He was so surprised when Liam himself answered the phone and when Liam heard the name of the band, he told my dad a childhood memory about how he and some other boys used to taunt an old man in his town that was reputed to have been involved in Bridget’s ordeal.

 “We play high-energy traditional Celtic music, but with our own distinctive resonance,” Baldino says. “We add in a lot of original pieces as well as contemporary tunes and songs, but it’s base is traditional and folk music. It’s very high-energy and exciting, but we throw in some haunting airs and beautiful waltzes as well.

“Deirdre and I do a lot of twin-fiddling, lots of harmonies and intricate arrangements. Lou provides the driving, rhythmic guitar, and Pete keeps us all together with his steady, consistent djembe playing. We like to keep things fresh and exciting, because we know not everyone has the ear for traditional Celtic music that we do, so we try to switch things up to keep it interesting for everyone. 

“We are definitely an American-Celtic band.  I have Scottish in my blood through my mother’s side, and have always been drawn to “all things Celtic.”  

Deirdre’s mom is full Irish and she has cousins in Co. Down.

It takes just one listen of Pressed for Time to be cast under the spell of Burning Bridget Cleary! 

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/irishvoice/Rocking-to-the-smoking-sounds-of-Burning-Bridget-Cleary.html#ixzz2uiwZOyUL 
Follow us: @IrishCentral on Twitter | IrishCentral on Facebook

Irish American News

Piping It In

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in Celtic music for quite some time now and in that time I’ve seen bands come and go.  I’ve seen talented bands with great potential rise up like sky rockets and disappear just as quickly. I’ve seen other bands hang around long after someone should have given them the hook. Every so often I’ve seen a band with great potential, a unique sound and bucket loads of talent work their way up, playing every gig they could and finally be recognized as a great band.  Such is the case with Burning Bridget Cleary (www.burningbridgetcleary.com), a uniquely talented group from the Philadelphia area that I’ve been privileged to watch over the past few years as they put out great CD’s and played their hearts out.  I’ve written about them before but they have a new CD and it’s easily their best yet. “Pressed for Time” is the name of the CD and of the first track, a Gordon Duncan reel that will leave you astonished at its complexity and at the way the band handles it. The band, I should mention, consists of Rose Baldino on the fiddle, banjo, and beautiful vocals, Deirdre Lockman, also on fiddle and vocals, Lou Baldino on guitar, bass and vocals, and percussionist Peter Trezzi who supplies the heartbeat. I like fiddle duos who know how to harmonize and these ladies do a great job. They also put together some great vocal arrangements.  In this CD, their fourth, they add a little bluegrass with a spirited version of “Oh My Little Darling” and one of the sweetest renderings of “Ashokan Farewell” that I’ve heard. The band played the Kansas City Irish Fest this year and was very well received.  They also played the Michigan Irish Music Festival in Muskegon where they were the talk of the weekend.  Everybody loved them.

Celtic Beat Magazine

Burning Bridget Cleary:

Pressed For Time


         This is an excellent second act following the first that we reviewed in these pages by Burning Bridget Cleary. Pressed For Time opens with the title cut-the first of several  illustrating so well Burning Bridget Cleary's ability to capture your interest in an instrumental and hold you. My particular favorite of these is "Clay Slaps Reel"/"The Appropriate Dipstick"/"Trip To Miriam's" where the instrumentals combine and take turns that you want to hold on for. "The Black Rogue"/"McIntyre's Fancy"/"The Twins Delight" starts with a great opening and continues in the same intriguing vein as the other instrumental cuts.

        "On A Sea of Fleur de Lis" by Richard Shindell is a song that is so well suited to Burning Bridget Cleary, not the least on this album. Whimsy here, but also the mythic. Burning Bridget Cleary always seems to strike the right note, between the old and the contemporary, between the mythic and the reality of day to day. "The Ballad of Tim Evans" by Ewan MacColl from strident singing emphasizes the heavy hand of injustice and oppression on the head of the innocent and I would not have believed it if I had not heard this condemnation of injustice masked as certainty from this CD. Pressed For Time takes an old time Country turn with the female vocalists, Rose Baldino and Deirdre Lockman leading the way in "Oh My Little Darling"/"Fire On The Mountain" and then back to a standard in "Two Sisters." The latter in it's straightforward and traditional rendition is one of the two best I have heard. "Stor Mo Chroi"/"Eddie Kelly's" brings it all back home.

        As a Celtic band combining several strains Burning Bridget Cleary makes the unorthodox familiar and integrates them back into their strengths in the tradition.  I just finished reminding someone about the old quote "A religion with no heresies is dead." Long life is for Burning Bridget Cleary for their mastery at bringing together many strands and in recombining them so well into that central  vision. AK

Dover Post

Pressed for Time

BBC's new album, "Pressed for Time," is a mix of folk and traditional Celtic music that's results in a colorful and enjoyable record. The new album, released last summer, reveals a band focused on delivering tight arrangements and grand soundscapes, while maintaining a vibe that feels organic.

Americana Rhythm Music Magazine

Pressed for Time

"This high energy Celtic Folk band from Harleysville, PA is turning heads with their fourth release, Pressed for Time. Hip, haunting at times, and fast paced; their harmonies and hand for the craft make this a group to keep on eye on for sure."

From the "Spins" page - p. 22.

Celtic Radio

Conquering the Spotlight

Burning Bridget Cleary is quickly conquering the spotlight of the Celtic and folk music scene internationally, hailed as an energetic and engaging live band, as well as a solid studio act that well represents the nuances and detailed history of the genre. The group’s latest effort, “Press for time” set out to capture the evergreen feel of the Irish Folk tradition with modern production values, which highlight the highly skilled musicianship of the band members, doing a great job capturing the organic vibe of these talented performers. Although I find no fault in the band’s recorded output, I feel that these recordings offer just a hint of what Burning Bridget Cleary can do on a stage, especially as a couple of stereo speakers are replaced by the “human touch” and all the intimacy these 4 talented individuals can offer to the audience.

The connection with Ireland deepened even further when this group was able to extensively tour the country, even having the opportunity to visit their namesake’s home (Bridget Cleary has been the protagonist in a dramatic occurrence, as she was reportedly killed by her husband (You can find more about it on the web if you are curious). Burning Bridget Cleary is a great example of the healthy conditions of Celtic folk. 5 Stars from Celtic Radio!


The Celtic Crier Website

CD Review

Burning Bridget Cleary recently released their fourth CD, "Pressed for Time". This album is folk music at its finest. It is the perfect blend of Celtic and traditional music.
This fantastic album starts off with the title track, "Pressed for Time", written by Gordon Duncan. It begins at a slow pace and takes off into a rousing number. I have discovered with Burning Bridget Cleary that this quartet understands when to play their hearts out, and when to tone the music down. It is refreshing to hear a band that is clearly in sync with the music they are playing and knows how to execute it to perfection. The two female singers, Deirdre Lockman and Rose Baldino, have such lovely voices. They are in perfect harmony with one another and really compliment the instrumentalists.

I felt very honored and privileged to review "Pressed for Time". Listening to this magical band perform has been a wonderful and enjoyable experience. I know you will treasure your copy as much as I will mine..."Pressed for Time" is definitely a CD to have. My hats off to Burning Bridget Cleary for such a remarkable masterpiece!


 Meet Burning Bridget Cleary

When was the last time you listened to a band that drew you into both their music and their lyrics?  In today’s music world, it’s becoming more and more difficult to discover a band that expresses a story to you though their song.  But, for Celtic band, Burning Bridget Cleary, storytelling is a key part of their music.

Who is Bridget Cleary the person, you might wonder?  Well, Bridget Cleary was an Irish woman killed by her husband in 1895.  Her death is notable for one distinct peculiarity: the stated motive for the crime was her husband’s belief that she had been abducted by fairies with a changeling left in her place; he claimed to have slain only the changeling.  Michael Cleary denied having murdered his wife, admitting only to having done away with her changeling.  His so-called “fairy defense” did not hold up in court and he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison- after which he sailed for Montreal.  His cohorts, including some of Bridget’s own relatives, were convicted of wounding Bridget and served lesser sentences.

As a result of this landmark case, a precedent was set in Irish law that a person could not be harmed or killed for suspicion of witchcraft, and a belief in witchcraft could not be used as an insanity defense in a murder trial.

In the spring of 2011, the band completed a week long tour of Ireland where they performed at seven different venues from Dublin to Galway.  They got the opportunity to visit the rural Tiperrary cottage of their namesame, Bridget Cleary, who is remembered as the last witch burned in Ireland.


For Rose Baldino, who performs on fiddle, banjo, and vocals, touring Ireland was one of the most exciting experiences of her life so far.  "As far as visiting the cottage, it was a completely surreal experience," said Rose. “When you tell a story over and over again, it almost loses meaning in your mind. You become so used to saying the words that you almost lose sight of what the meaning is. Actually visiting Bridget’s cottage and walking around the house where she used to live was such an amazing experience. The story became “real" for me at that point. We were all in awe of the history and the kindness showed to us."

The band traveled with a tour bus full of fans.  The owners of the cottage arranged for the whole tour to be fed at the local pub, which was located next door to the cemetery where Bridget Cleary was buried.  Meanwhile, they personally picked up the band members and drove them to the cottage and showed them around. The house had been renovated, but the fireplace remains in its original state. 

 How did the band, Burning Bridget Cleary (BBC), come together? The band formed in 2006 when Lou and Rose Baldino were playing as a duo and Lou submitted a demo tape to the Green Lane Scottish and Irish Festival.  When they  got the call that they were hired, Rose called her friend, Genevieve Gillespie, and asked her to join in.  Lou began investing in recording equipment, and with his help they produced their  first album in time for the festival.  Pete, the drummer, joined in 2008.  Genevieve left the band in 2011 and Deirdre Lockman joined the group in 2012.  Click here for band bios.


 BBC has accomplished a lot since its inception.  Jack Baker of The Irish American News quoted, “ One of the most exciting bands I’ve seen in the last couple of years!”  irishphiladelphia.org called the band, “a rockin Celtic sound!”  Michael Kornfield of acousticmusicscene.com quoted, “(BBC) … a highlight of this summer’s Philadelphia Folk Festival.  In December 2012, BBC was nominated as “Best New Irish Artist” in the Irish Music Awards sponsored by the Irish Music Association. They’ve played at hundreds of performances along the East Coast and their second production, Everything is Alright, was named “2009 Album of the Year” by Boston-based CelticRadio.net. 

For BBC, all the accolades point to how much the band members love playing and performing with one another.  "Knowing that people enjoy listening to us as much as we enjoy playing for them is such a privilege, " said Deirdre, fiddler and singer.  "No matter how many venues we play, we always appreciate getting positive feedback. And receiving awards motivates and encourages us to keep on going."

One of the aspects BBC most enjoys about their music is getting the crowd involved. "The crowd always loves upbeat tunes like reels and jigs, " said Rose. “They like music that makes them want to dance and be happy. Then, in the middle of a set, we may throw in a slow, haunting air or a melodic waltz. It changes up the body rhythms of the whole place, makes people take notice, and sometimes you could hear a pin drop because everyone is into it. We love that, too"

   BBC’s CD “Pressed for Time” was released June 1st and is available on CD Baby, iTunes, and all other major music downloading sites.   The title of the album came from a tune written by Gordon Duncan, a piper who has since passed away. “We thought it was a fitting name for the CD, since we were literally “pressed for time" in getting the CD out, " said Rose. “We had deadlines to meet since we had CD release parties planned, and we were in the studio with Jim Salamone (engineer at Cambridge Sound Studios) up until the night before we delivered it to Discmakers."


It is those pressed for time moments that make Rose passionate about what she does.  "Honestly, it was those insane all-nighters in the studio that I loved most about creating this CD," said Rose.  "You just sit there, and drink coffee (sometimes Irish coffee!) and hear the music come alive. As it was with our other CD’s, getting to listen back to a track after spending so much time arranging is very rewarding."

BBC loves the festivals they perform as at they bring out tons of people who might not necessarily have seen or heard them before.  

For the first time with “Pressed for Time,” BBC is partnering with Charterhouse Music on a professional radio campaign.  In just the first few weeks, they have received very good airplay stats all across the country, in Canada, and even into Australia!  Of course, the hope is that increased exposure leads to more music sales and expanded bookings. (Update: the Folk DJ charts were just published and “Pressed for Time" came in as #2 album for the month of June- just one spin away from the top spot in its first month of release!  Click here to check it out).   

 BBC looks for showcase opportunities like at Folk Alliance events and other conferences where festival organizers and music program directors come to see bands perform. These showcases often require a significant investment of time and money, but it’s one of the most effective strategies for any band looking for good gigs.  

Are you looking to tap into your Celtic spirit and dance to some lively  music?  Look below for listings of Burning Bridget Cleary’s upcoming performances. (See "Shows" tab above).

Celtic Life International Magazine

Burning Bridget Cleary

Once called “the Allman Brothers of Celtic fiddle bands, only prettier”, Pennsylvania’s Burning Bridget Cleary features the remarkable musical talents of Rose Baldino and Deirdre Lockman, who lead the 4-piece band with high-energy and tightly woven harmonies in both fiddle and vocals. Recently Celtic Life International spoke with the ladies about their vocation. 

What is your own background/ethnic heritage?
Rose: I’m mostly German, English and Italian, though I did have a grandfather that emigrated from Scotland in the 1700’s. I guess we are typical “melting pot Americans”.

Deirdre: I’m half Irish with relatives still in County Down and a mix of Polish, Lithuanian, and Austrian.

When and why did you start playing music?
Rose: I started playing violin in public school in the 3rd grade and when I turned 12 I realized I wanted to play fiddle style and not classical. My mom saw an article in the local paper about a family of Irish musicians, called “The Lockman Family Irish Musicians and Dancers.” She decided to call and see if anyone could give me Irish fiddle lessons . . . and that’s when Deirdre actually became my fiddle teacher for a few years. She was 14 at the time.

Deirdre: I grew up in a musical family and I started taking classical lessons when I was 4. My first violin teacher was also an Irish musician and started teaching me Irish tunes when I was 5. I began performing with my family a few years after that. 

How long has the band been around?
Rose: The band formed in 2006, and with my Dad’s help, we produced our first album that year. Pete, our drummer, joined in 2008 and Deirdre just joined the group a year ago.

How has the group evolved since that time?
Rose: The group has evolved greatly over the last 7 years. We have definitely matured in our sound, which makes sense, as I was only 16 when the band began. We’ve been able to connect and play with a lot of other musicians along the way, which has helped us expand our repertoire and develop our sound. We started out as a trio, and were almost completely instrumental in the beginning. Now, we have a drummer, we sing, and sometimes incorporate other instruments into the mix. Also, we have been lucky enough to showcase at a few Folk Alliance and Celtic Music conferences. That has been really helpful in getting our band name out there and making connections for gigs.

Why the decision to start performing Celtic music?
Deirdre: It was really my first teacher who got me into Celtic music, although my mom’s family is from Ireland. My dad isn’t Irish, but he really loved the music and often brought me around to sessions and really got me involved in the Irish music community.

Rose: I really got into the music when I started taking fiddle lessons with Deirdre. I kind of just fell in love with the music and started going to traditional music sessions, as well. After I learned a bunch of tunes, my Dad started to back me up on guitar and we played some small community festivals and living history events together. It wasn’t long after that we sent a demo into a local Irish festival and, as a result, the band formed.

How would you describe your sound today?
Rose: It’s a mix of high-energy traditional Irish music with a twist. We often add in some contemporary numbers as well as some originals, but the main focus is on the double fiddle sound that we’ve created with our tightly-woven harmonies. We often write original fiddle melodies that are used as interludes.

Where do you typically perform?
Deirdre: We perform at a lot of Celtic and Folk festivals in the spring/summer/fall seasons and we also do shows like monthly music series during the winter. This year we are excited to be expanding our touring to the south and mid-west.

What is the response like from audiences?
Deirdre: People typically love the music, even if they don’t have an Irish or Scottish background. At festivals, the audience is often dancing and clapping, and we try to engage the audience as much as possible, because the music is very community-based. Generally, everyone is very responsive. We see lots of smiles and that’s really what keeps us going!

What have been some career highlights?
Rose:  Having the opportunity to play with other musicians during festivals and the after-party sessions is some of the greatest fun! Each gig is a unique experience, but some career highlights would definitely include playing The Celtic Classic, the Celtic Fling, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival. In May, 2011, the band travelled through Ireland with a busload of fans, playing at venues in each town – that was a blast, but we didn’t get much rest, were sick by the end of the week. We would definitely pace ourselves better next time. Also, the release of each of our albums is always very exciting. We just came out with our fourth full-length album, which we’ve worked very hard on for the last year. We have two CD Release parties scheduled this weekend so we will celebrate with our fans and bring cake and a champagne toast. Radio interviews are always fun, too. We’re looking forward to recording/playing more in the future and adding even bigger and better career highlights!

What does the band have on tap for the rest of 2013?
Rose: We have two CD release parties coming up to celebrate our new CD, “Pressed for Time”, which we’re super pumped about. They are at Godfrey Daniels, a hotspot for folk music in Bethlehem, PA on June 1st. The other is at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, PA on June 2nd. Also, we are working with Charterhouse Music Group to do a radio promotion campaign for the first time with this CD. Yesterday, we sent hundreds of CD’s to stations in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. So, we have our fingers crossed that programmers will like it and we will be heard more across the airwaves with this release. For gigs, we are looking forward to the Celtic Fling, the Bethlehem Musikfest, The Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Buffalo Irish Fest, among others. We’re also starting to travel more, and we’ll be at the Michigan Irish Fest, Kansas City Irish Fest and the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion in Tennessee for the first time this year.

Is enough being done to preserve and promote Celtic culture?
Deirdre: I think that we are lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by traditional Irish/Scottish music and I think there seems to be a renewed interest in the music and culture by younger generations. That being said, I think that people in general have a distorted sense of what Irish music and culture actually is – and hopefully younger people will start to take interest in the roots of the music, and the older traditions and stories that are being forgotten.

What can we be doing better?
Deirdre: Just spread the word! Bring your friends and family out to Celtic music performances, highland games and festivals. Let the music and the camaraderie get under their skin.


Montgomery Media Ticket Magazine

Burning Bridget Cleary to Play at the Firebird Festival

While Irish traditional folk musicians are viewed as raucous and rowdy, this ancient stereotype has been shattered by the harmonious high-energy music of Burning Bridget Cleary. This local and family friendly Irish traditional folk band will be entertaining the crowd at the Steel City Coffee House in Phoenixville on Dec. 9 during Phoenixville’s Firebird Festival.

Burning Bridget Cleary has played at the festival for the past four (sic five) years, offering a variety of traditional Irish folk music along with its own creations, which stand toe to toe with the old Celtic classics. “I am very excited to play the Firebird Festival again, it’s exciting for everyone involved and really fills everyone with lots of energy,” says Rose Baldino, one of Burning Bridget Cleary’s vocalists and fiddle players. “The crowd always enjoys the show and everyone enjoys themselves”

Baldino grew up playing violin and was trained in a classical style, but then she learned to play the fiddle and Irish folk music through her bandmate Deirdre Lockman. Baldino became enthusiastic about traditional Irish folk music because it was a new and exciting way to play music, the music’s energy was fun for her, and the musical style is very original and never rigid. Many listeners have a similar experience and fall in love with the music. The whole listening experience has a very Old World feel but with a contemporary twist provided by the musically adept members of the band.

In spring 2011, the band brought its own sound to Irish pubs throughout Ireland and was well-received. The members visited the cottage owned by the “witch” that their band is named after. Bridget Cleary was the last “witch” burned in Ireland. The tour allowed them to immerse themselves in the culture and bring the art and particular emotions they found there back to the United States.

While all traditional folk music has been passed down through the ages, individual performers put their own creative spin to different pieces. While bands will “cover” other bands nowadays, the method by which folk music is passed along is very different. Musicians will take a traditional folk song and make creative changes to the melody, harmony, lyrics or other parts of the song to offer their own interpretation of the musical expression. While the music may change, the energy and feeling of the music is preserved from olden times.

The band’s second album “Everything Is Alright” was voted the 2009 Album of the Year by Boston’s CelticRadio.net. All three of the band’s albums are available on iTunes, along with its newly released single “Stor Mo Chroi: Darling of My Heart.” Please join Burning Bridget Cleary for an evening of music and laughter as the band brings a distinct musical styling all the way from the Emerald Isle to Phoenixville’s Firebird Festival.

Burning Bridget Cleary will perform at Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville, PA 19460
Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 p.m. Tickets: $15 in advance; $18 at the door; $22 reserved seating.
Info: 610-933-4043


"Totes for Goats"

July 5, 2011 - Celtic Radio Contributor - Burning Bridget Cleary joined the world of Celtic music on St. Patty's Day in 2006 when, by what I would like to think was divine intervention, a group scheduled to play at a house party was unable to make the gig and father/daughter duo Lou and Rose Baldino stepped up to the plate. The duo was joined by Genevieve (Genna) Gillespie, Rose's childhood friend. Funny enough, it was Genna's family's group, Gilly's Hedge, who couldn't make it to the gig that fateful night.

The trio has embraced what I like to think of as a North American phenomenon wherein the Irish Celtic groups on the west side of the pond sound "more Irish" than the Irish groups do. This is certainly not meant as an offense to any Irish groups playing Celtic music, but is just a personal observation. I believe this stems from the Yanks, et al, striving to stay true to their roots, whilst the Irish, their feet already planted firmly in the cultural soil of their homeland, feel they have more freedom to musically explore their musical fence lines.

BBC certainly makes excellent use of those Celtic roots, as "Totes for Goats" clearly proves in each track. From hauntingly vocal-sounding fiddles to the deep heartbeat of the bodhrán and soul-wrenching D whistle, the very best in musical Ireland is represented here. BBC also has a recent welcome percussive addition of Canadian Peter Trezzi, who is heard on about half of the songs on "Totes for Goats." In prior works, Lou had the added duty of providing percussion when featured artists weren't available. By adding the explosive talent of Peter, Lou is now a bit freer to compose and concentrate on exploring his considerable talent for the guitar.

Oh, and let's not forget that this is the group who won the 2009 Celtic Music Radio award for their album "Everything is Alright." I fully expect "Totes for Goats" to follow closely in the success of that album.

A few comments on each of the album's tracks:

1. Where's Pete, The New Copper Plate, The Old Copper Plate, The Scholar
(featuring Nate Godshall on the bodhrán)
The first track on the album is a dance set that grabs you and makes you realize you are going to have to set aside the next forty-five minutes to listen to the album in its entirety. Typical of the traditional Irish dance sets, each song effortlessly flows into the next so you really aren't sure where one ends and another begins. This set showcases the wonderful fiddling talents of Genna and Rose.

2. The Elfin Knight
A traditional Scots ballad, this updated rendition is a foot-tapping endeavor and you quickly find yourself singing along. Mid-song, the tempo picks up with a southern rock element being added with drums and electric guitar, offset by the lilting voices of Genna and Rose. This is one of my favorites.

(featuring Nate Godshall on the bodhrán)
The second dance set on the album, this one includes a quiet jig. The set brings to mind lords and ladies dancing a quadrille in a gilded ballroom while the wallflowers sip punch on the sidelines, hoping for their chance at a spin around the floor.

4. The King and the Fair Maid, Moses the Goat
When Genevieve and Rose harmonize on this track, you feel like you've been transported to the edge of a faerie glen, peeking through the bushes to secretly witness a sacred celebration filled with twirling dances and foot-stomping joy. This is a hundreds-year-old song with such humorous lyrics as, "Farewell my king, you've been generous and fine. What has been between your legs is now between mine," and is sure to become a favorite.

5. The Unfortunate Rake Set, The Unfortunate Rake, The Boy in the Boat, Jimmy' Groove
Number three of the album's dance sets features acoustic guitar that seems to sing unwritten lyrics. The Unfortunate Rake truly highlights Lou's amazing talent. This is the most haunting of the dance contained in this album.

6. Nead Na Lachan Sa Mhuta ("The Duck's Nest In The Moat")
Nate Godshall earns his keep on this one with the necessary addition of his bodhran. Siddharth Bhaskar joins in with the haunting D whistle. With Lou's guitar, the fiddles and the girls' Gaelic harmonizations, this is a toe-tapper that makes you wish you could riverdance.

7. Jigs for the Gangly Sort: Cameron's Twinkle, Trip to Spektor
This dance set starts out with lilting fiddle with acoustic guitar accompaniment that is quietly unassuming in the background, yet the instruments trade off, with the guitar becoming the focus while the fiddle seems to relegate to the background. Joseph Plowman once again joins the group with his throaty bass. These jigs have an edge that make them something fun to dance to.

8. Lament for Emil
Haunting soul-filled fiddle from Genna and Rose impregnate this song with a depth that needs no lyrics. In listening to this heart-wrenching song, I could imagine a Jane Austen moment as the heroine stands upon a rocky overlook, her long skirts and hair whipping behind her, watching the sea hopelessly for signs of her long-lost love who will never return.

9. The Blacksmith
The edgy guitar melody at the beginning of The Blacksmith sets the stage for the haunting vocals that tell the age-old story of love found and then lost. Rose and Genna harmonize beautifully in this rendition of an old English folk song.

10. To My Wife, Short and Sweet
Very beautiful and, true to its name, short and sweet at only thirty-nine seconds. This tune says "I love you" in the best possible way. It definitely leaves you wanting more, so you'll have to put this one on repeat.

11. The Fort: Are You Ready Yet, The Return to Miltown, The Fort of the Daft Woman
The last dance set on the album is probably the most fun. With acoustic guitar off-setting the fiddles, this one has a rock feel to it. Warning: With the addition of electric bass, this becomes a knee-slapping foot-stomper that could cause accidents if you listen to it while driving.

12. The Connemara Shore
This is the only song from "Totes" with Lou singing the lead. This track is reminiscent of sipping a pint in a quiet pub while being lulled by James Taylor in the background. Lou has a very pleasant voice, although it seems the melody is in a key a bit too high for him, lending a near-falsetto to his vocals. This is a beautiful song, however, and if you listen closely, you could swear you can hear the sea spray as it shatters against the crags along a lonely seashore.

13. The Cuckoo
When the song starts with the sweet notes of the fiddle, you might think it's a Celtic rendition of "How Great Thou Art," but the upright bass talents of Joseph Plowman intrude and catch you off-guard, and soon you find yourself swaying in your chair, eyes closed, wishing you had lyrics to sing along to.

No matter which song becomes your favorite, this album is certainly one you will do well to grace your Celtic collection with. Who can go wrong with fiery fiddlers, rocking guitar riffs, a percussion plethora and smoking vocals?

USA Today Online

Foot-Stomping Irish Fun from Burning Bridget Cleary

Categories: ,
Posted by Jodi Duckett at 04:58:43 PM on March 13, 2011


By Steve Siegel Special to The Morning Call

BRIDGET2 Celtic group Burning Bridget Cleary delivered a lively, foot-stomping show at Godfrey Daniels Saturday night, as bubbly as the celebratory champagne that was passed around the sold-out audience. Call it a release party for the group's third disc, "Totes for Goats," a celebration of the group's fifth anniversary or just a head start on St. Patty's Day revelry, Burning Bridget Cleary sounded as fresh and vibrant as always.

The band has gained a member, with percussionist Peter Trezzi joining fiddlers Rose Baldino and Genna Gillespie, and guitarist Lou Baldino.

The performance was rich in youthful energy and spontaneity. Most groups perform a carefully planned set. Yet Burning Bridget Cleary keeps things fresh with a charming sense of playful chaos.Rose Baldino and Gillespie get so lost in their giddy anecdotes they forget what song comes next, or even who's supposed to be onstage. Like a great party, fun stuff just happened, including tossing Mardi Gras beads and stuffed plush goat toys into the audience.

It's a good thing, a few bars into "Jigs for the Gangly Sort," they remembered to call acoustic bassist Joe Plowman onto the stage to join them.  The addition of a bass line gave the collection of toe-tappers an added dimension, with Plowman either doubling Baldino's guitar lines or contributing his own percussive element.

In the midst of lots of lively jigs and reels was an occasional sweetly soulful number, such as the lovely Scottish "Achindoon Set," ironically performed after an hysterical exchange of dead cat jokes and champagne-induced giggles. Yet the group gained its composure and tackled the sad set without missing a single break or chord change.

Trezzi's djembe playing was always solid, pumping up a few notches the group's already high energy level. Nate Godshall on bodhran joined in for a jig or two.

The band fabulously performed a pair of Celtic/rock group Steeleye Span covers, giving an exotic Middle-Eastern twist to "Saucy Sailor," and a harder, grainier edge to "The Blacksmith," in one of the best arrangements of the evening.

For a rousing conclusion, Gillespie and Baldino stepped offstage and pranced through the aisles with fiddles flying in a vivacious "Burning Bridget Cleary," even sitting on a lap or two along the way.

Oliver di Place Blog

"Totes for Goats"

To conclude my St Patrick’s Day festival, here is the new album from Burning Bridget Cleary, Totes for Goats.

Somewhere, there is a rulebook for putting together an album of traditional Irish music. It says that there should be sets of dances, jigs, reels, strathspeys, hornpipes, and the like, and these lively instrumentals should alternate with songs featuring vocals. Then more instrumentals, chiefly a slow air or two, can be worked in. This is a good set of rules, and Burning Bridget Cleary followed them in putting together their new album. So here are five songs and five dance sets, plus two slow airs and one other instrumental. But otherwise, Burning Bridget Cleary breaks as many rules as they follow, and the resulting album is a delight.

Genevieve Gillespie and Rose Baldino each sing and play fiddle and banjo; I’m not sure which one I’m hearing where, because the album notes do not say. But both women have beautiful clear voices, one alto and one soprano, and they trade off lead and harmony vocals, depending on the song. The interplay of their voices is just one of the many pleasures here. Both women play the fiddle with a beautiful clear tone; that’s what I said about their voices, and indeed, their fiddle playing has an amazing vocal clarity to it that one rarely hears outside of classical music. This quality is one of the highlights of the band’s sound. Lou Baldino plays electric and acoustic guitar and electric bass, and overdubbing is used so that he can play more than one on the same song. Lou Baldino provides a solid rhythmic foundation, but he also takes a couple of solo turns here that show off his fine work as a lead player. When last I heard the group, they were a trio, but now the have added Peter Trezzi on djembe and drums; he plays on perhaps half of the album’s songs, so I wonder if he may have joined the band after they started work on the album. Then again, not every song here needs percussion, so it could be as simple as that. These are not selfish musicians; some songs have only one fiddle, or just guitar. Cleary does not need to add instruments to make sure everyone has something to do; rather, they excel at giving each song just what it needs. Guest musicians on a few tracks add bodhran, stand-up bass, and pennywhistle.

The treatment of the five songs here is unusual. Three of them are traditional songs, while The King and the Fair Maid is a cover of a song by the German Celtic band Cara, and The Connemara Shore is a traditional poem with original music by Lou Baldino. As recorded, The King and the Fair Maid sounds the most traditional, while the three traditional songs get varying degrees of folk-rock treatment. In the lyrics, The King and the Fair Maid has a “Did she really just sing that?” moment; yes she did, but it’s not quite that simple. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but this is a moment of good humor that only makes the band more appealing. The acoustic instruments always dominate the arrangements, but they are used in ways that can border on Steeleye Span territory. It is a sound that Cleary makes work for them. The Connemara Shore is the ringer here. This is the first time I have heard Lou Baldino sing. He uses the high end of his tenor range, almost in falsetto territory, and it limits his expressiveness. It also gives this song a 70s pop vibe that doesn’t fit the sound of the rest of the album. That said, the song does have its own beauty. I would like to hear Baldino sing lower in his range next time, however; I think that would fit the overall sound of the band better. Let me also say that Lou Baldino has written two other songs on Totes for Goats, and they are both stunning instrumentals. One is a brief solo guitar piece, (just 39 seconds!) called To My Wife, Short and Sweet. Based on this song, she is lucky to have found him. How do you say “I love you” without words? You play the notes you need, and then you stop. The last of Lou Baldino’s tunes is called Jimmy’s Groove; this one is placed in the dance set called The Unfortunate Rake along side two traditional tunes, and it sounds right at home. I confess that I can not tell the difference between a jig and a reel, but whatever this one is, it is a fine example.

I mentioned that there are five dance sets. Each one has great energy, and the transitions within each set are executed perfectly. In Irish dance music, these sets are constructed in such a way that one tune stops and the next picks right up, with no break in the music. The dancers keep going as if nothing happened, but the knowledge that it did makes the dancing that much more enjoyable. There is no transitional music to get from one tune to the next. Cleary executes these transitions perfectly, making each one an exciting moment. There are, as I mentioned, five dance sets here, and each has a different flavor. The first, Where’s Pete? leads off the album, and features twin fiddles dancing over Lou Baldino’s strong rhythm lines and great propulsion from the bodhran part. Sloppy Set starts with a heartbeat on the bodhran, but the treat here is the interplay of the two fiddles. There is also some banjo on this one, but strictly as a rhythm instrument. The Unfortunate Rake is two guitar parts overdubbed, with no other instruments. This is Lou Baldino’s shining moment, and he delivers a wonderful set. Jigs for the Gangly Sort is a fiddle and guitar duet; the guitar plays a rolling rhythm with single-note runs on top, and the result is a wonderful musical conversation. Finally, there is The Fort. This one is for guitar, fiddle, and electric bass, and it has a mostly acoustic sound but a rock feel.

This is one of my longer reviews, but I must take a moment to talk about the two slow numbers. I don’t know if they qualify as slow airs, but they are two of the most emotionally powerful moments on the album. On Lament for Emil, twin fiddles keen over a drone that I think is played on an electric guitar. There was an ancient Celtic custom of sending the bodies of dead nobles out to sea in funeral barges; I get a mental image of that as I listen to this song. This is clearly a song about honoring the departed and seeking comfort in shared mourning, and I have never heard it done better. The album closes with The Cuckoo. It starts with fiddles played in a rougher, more folky style than elsewhere on the album, accompanied by a bowed bass. Half way through, the bass player switches to plucking and the fiddle sound smoothes out and gets back to that vocal quality we’ve been hearing. This style shift does not break the mood at all. This one has a wonderful aura of peaceful contemplation, and it is a great way to end a beautiful program of energetic dances and beautifully performed love songs.

Stage Magazine

Intermission: Focus on...Burning Bridget Cleary

Walter Bender
March 24, 2011Posted in: Intermission, Reviews

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 CelticRadio.net. 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 http://www.burningbridgetcleary.com, including tour dates, more of their history, how to purchase their CDs, and the big question…who the heck is Bridget Cleary anyway?

The Morning Call

Totes for Goats Cover (Nate Godshall - Cover Design)

Burning Bridget Cleary Revels in Irish Energy

On St. Patrick's Day in 2006, two teenage fiddlers backed by a dad on guitar stepped up to perform as last-minute substitutes at an annual house party.

The threesome named their new band Burning Bridget Cleary, after a 19th-century Irish woman burned by her husband who believed her flu symptoms were evidence of witchcraft.

Within a couple years, they became a favorite of regional audiences captivated by their boundless energy, jolly stage presence and effervescent charm. They performed at venues such as Bethlehem's Celtic Classic, the Green Lane Scottish-Irish Festival, the Shawnee Mountain Celtic Fest, and many more. And they didn't just perform, they partied, and everyone was invited.

Now, five years later, the group has matured without losing any of its youthful energy. It is now a foursome, with the addition of Canadian native Peter Trezzi on djembe and drums. And just in time for St. Patrick's Day, it is celebrating its fifth anniversary with its third recording, "Totes for Goats."

It is holding CD release parties both March 12 at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem, and March 17 — St. Patrick's Day — at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. The World Cafe Live gig is a coveted one. The group will perform upstairs while internationally renowned band Solas performs downstairs.

Burning Bridget Cleary has been a treat to watch as much as to listen to. Fiddlers Genna Gillespie and Rose Baldino spontaneously break into frenzies of giggling and step-dancing, grounded by the solid guitar lines of Rose's father, Lou.

Gillespie, with her endearing teenage perkiness, and Baldino, with her more staid presence complement each other with a chemistry born of both friendship and love for the music they so passionately perform.

The band has a lot to celebrate. Last April its second CD, "Everything is Alright," was named Album of the Year by the Celtic Radio Music Awards of Highland Radio, a 24-hour Internet radio station at CelticRadio.net.

Earlier this month the group made its fourth appearance on WXPN's popular "The Folk Show," with host Gene Shay, and recently taped a half-hour interview and performance segment on the syndicated cable program "Horses Sing None of It," which airs in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. They'll be touring Ireland in May, with appearances in Dublin and County Clare.

"Totes for Goats" shows just how far musically the group has come since its first release, "Catharsis," in 2006. It has the group's typical mix of traditional foot-stomping jigs and reels along with enchanting ballads and original material. But there is more musical introspection, more sophistication, more diversity of style — and even more fun.

"I think the new album offers more of a variety than the others — there are some traditional things, really intricate and beautiful, and other things that are just fun and peppy," says Gillespie, daughter of Tom and Alison Gillespie of Blackwater, a locally based Irish band. "It actually has a light sort of attitude, and is entertaining with a lot of funny, upbeat songs. And we're also using a drum set for the first time."

The addition of a percussionist is welcome. When the group was formed, Lou Baldino, a veteran guitarist who had traveled and recorded with several bands from the 1960s through the 1980s, including the Platters, had to provide the percussive ground. Now, he's freer to supply dynamic rhythms and distinctive chording, especially evident in such tunes as "Connemara Shore," which he composed to the setting of a traditional poem, and sings in a sweet, near-falsetto.

The group's songwriting is a shared task. "Gen and I write a lot of the tunes together, sometimes one of us will write half a song and the other will finish it. My dad also helps with writing tunes and arranging," says Baldino, who, along with Gillespie, attends the School of Communications and Theater at Temple University.

One of the most passionate tunes on the disc is Baldino's "Lament for Emil," which she wrote in memory of Emil Godshall, the grandfather of her boyfriend Nate, who designed the album's graphics and performs on the bodhran with the group. In it, Baldino's fiddle morphs into a bagpipe and speaks with haunting beauty over a bittersweet, plaintive drone.

The most noticeable thing in "Totes for Goats," in addition to the fierce fiddle playing, is the maturity of the girls' tightly woven vocal harmonies, which have acquired both depth and resonance. In "The King and the Fair Maid" the vocal lines bubble and sparkle around each other, like water running over pebbles in a stream. They meld together in the breezy ballad "The Elfin King."

The girls have a long relationship.

They met as preteens. Gillepsie was a performer with her family's Celtic music trio Gilly's Hedge. Baldino performed with her father and had just switched from classical violin to fiddle. When Gilly's Hedge couldn't make it to a gig at a St. Patrick's Day house party in 2006, Baldino and her father were asked to substitute, and Gillespie joined them. Becoming a band was a natural evolution.

Despite lots of forays beyond the traditional, Burning Bridget Cleary at its heart is a traditional Celtic band, with deep respect for the roots of Celtic music. "We really like the ancient stuff, the old Gaelic songs and the old tunes that nobody knows who wrote them because they've been around for so long. They're very beautiful and melodic," says Gillespie.

Burning Bridget Cleary breathes as much life into traditional ballads, jigs and reels as it does with its own arrangements. In "Everything is Alright" the group gives the English classic "Saucy Sailor," made popular by the British folk rock/Celtic group Steeleye Span, an exotic Middle-Eastern flavor.

In "Totes for Goats" the group again pays homage to Steeleye Span with an equally provocative and hauntingly mysterious arrangement of "The Blacksmith," one of the strongest tracks on the album.

Where does the disc's unusual title come from? "Well, that's really kind of bizarre," says Gillespie. "Rose's boyfriend Nate just started using that expression. Like instead of saying 'yes, totally,' he would say 'totes for goats.'

The funny thing about it is that Rose and I had been contemplating names for a long time, and we went from serious to kind of lighthearted, but nothing completely silly like that." "But," adds Baldino, "it kind of works out. When Gen and I play we're often compared to mountain goats, the way we're always climbing on things, like on chairs and the bar."

While the girls have matured, they don't take themselves too seriously. Says Gillespie, "Instead of us both becoming more serious, I think we both have got a bit more crazy. Rose and I go to the same college now, and that gives us tons of time to spend together, so sometimes I kind of feel like we're one person."

Steve Siegel is a freelance writer.

PaMusicScene and The Valley Beat Weekly

Review by Michael McKenna 3/22/11

The birth of Burning Bridget Cleary took place on St. Patty's Day in 2006 when Genevieve Gillespie joined forces with the father-daughter duo, Lou and Rose Baldino. The combination sparks a blaze of Celtic sound that is perceived way beyond the sum of its parts!

The girls front the band with their fiery fiddles, bringing a lively flair of youthful intensity and exuberance to traditional tunes. Lou‘s guitar bestows the dynamic rhythm and bass end, tastefully embellished with distinctive chording. Weaving in some choice vocal numbers and building the energy with some spirited step dancing, Burning Bridget Cleary has wowed packed audiences at the Scottish-Irish Fest in Green Lane (2006 and 2007), the Celtic Classic (2006 and 2007), the 2007 Celtic Winter Classic, the Mayfair Festival of the Arts (2008), the Spring Gulch Folk Festival (2008), the Shawnee Mountain Celtic Fest (2008) and many more popular venues.

Rose and Genna met five years ago at Granny McCarthy’s Irish music sessions in Bethlehem PA- both have been first-place trophy winners in the Celtic Classic fiddle competitions. Their debut CD, Catharsis, was released in September, 2006 and"Everything is Alright", was released November 25, 2008

Their influences include: Liz Carroll, Steeleye Span, Tony Demarco, Martin Hayes, Solas, Natalie MacMaster, Kevin Burke, John Doyle, Aoife Clancy, The Beatles, Alela Diane.Burning Bridget Cleary is Genevieve Gillespie (Genna) on fiddle, vox & banjo, Rose Baldino on fiddle, vox & Banjo, Lou Baldino on vocals, guitar and bass and peter trezzi on djembe & percussions.

Their new CD “Totes for Goats” includes 13 eclectic tracks. “Where’s Pete” reminds me of the some of the music that was in the John Wayne movie ‘The Quiet Man’ features upbeat and peppy violins by Genna and Rose which dominate this track. “The Elfin Knight” is a traditional Scottish ballad dealing with supernatural occurrences. The song also forms the basis for both the melody and lyrics for Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” first recorded on The Freewheeling Bob Dylan in 1963. “Sloppy Set” features Sloppy’s Slip Jig, The Night Poor Larry Was Stretched and Booley House in an Irish/Folk instrumental masterpiece. It breaks down into 3 separate entities that are very refreshing to listen to!
“The King and the Fair Maid” features the guitar of Lou Baldino and of course the violins in a story about a young and fair woman and the king and his knights riding in the forest. Versified into a song, it has probably been circulating for a long time before Disley of St Giles, London, printed it on a broadside c. 1860. The chorus & hook are very happy sounding! “The Unfortunate Rake” is a British folk song from the 18th century and is one of 20 of the rake cycle of ballads.
“Nead Na Lachan Sa Mhuta” (The Ducks in the Moat) is a traditional Irish Tin whistle tune that is sung in Gaelic by the ladies.”Jigs for the Gangly Sort” is a nice guitar and violin duet that is gay makes one feel like he is in County Cork. “Lament for Emil” reminds me of the music played at the ancient funeral pyres. It gives one the feeling of sadness connected with the passing of a loved one. “The Blacksmith” talks about the man and his work who leaves home and goes across the sea and his lady laments at his not being near.
“To My Wife, Short and Sweet” that was written by Lou Baldino starts with a laid back guitar and morphs into an energetic violin that pervades throughout this cheerful tune. “The Fort: Are You Ready Yet, Return to Milltown, Fort of the Daft Woman” is another traditional Irish favorite that spans many years. This trilogy of tunes is masterfully linked together and performed flawlessly. “The Connmara Shore” features Lou Baldino’s vocals that are a bit falsetto and give this number an Easy Listening/Folk feeling that was popular in the 70’s. ‘The Cuckoo” ballad is the Irish ballad- Bunclody (Streams of Bunclody/ Maid of Bunclody/ Bunclody) Bunclody (meaning the bottom of the Clody) is located at the foot of Mount Leinster, County Wexford. It is the meeting place of the Clody and Slaney Rivers where there are many cuckoo birds, hence where the song originated from.
This refreshing CD full of traditional Irish/Scottish music is well composed, performed and produced and would make a nice addition to one’s library of Celtic classics. I give this TWO THUMBS UP!

The Mercury, Time Out Magazine

Fun Music and Loving Family Bring Audiences to their Feet

For father and daughter Lou and Rose Baldino, playing traditional Irish music together with their band, Burning Bridget Cleary, has been and continues to be a memorable experience.

Burning Bridget Cleary took form on St. Patrick's Day 2006 when Genevieve Gillespie joined forces with the father-daughter duo.

"I met Genna when I was 13," said Rose. "We took off Fridays during school to exchange tunes. We played so well together."

 Rose, now 20, said she fell in love with the Irish culture at such an early age. 

"I wanted to try Irish music and I just took a liking to it," Rose said. "I began studying with the Lochman Family Musicians and Dancers from Telford."


USA Today Online

Burning Bridget Cleary Wins Album of the Year by CelticRadio.net
Categories: ,
Posted by Jodi Duckett at 10:47:01 PM on April 11, 2010


BridgetEverything is Alright,” an album by Lehigh Valley-based Burning Bridget Cleary, has been named Album of the Year by the Celtic Radio Music Awards of Highland Radio, a 24-hour Internet radio station at CelticRadio.net.

The award acknowledges “musical creativity and extraordinary work on an album which provides recognition of exceptional contributions to Celtic music.”

Burning Bridget Cleary was formed five years ago by teen fiddlers Rose Baldino and Genevieve Gillespie, along with Rose’s father Lou on guitar. They have since been joined by Peter Trezzi on djembe. The group was named after Bridget Cleary, a vivacious young Irish woman burned as a witch in the late 19th century after catching the flu. She was the last witch burned burned in Ireland.

“Everything is Alright” is the group’s second CD. It’s a high-energy romp of 13 original and cover songs.
“This CD has the depth and character of musicians many years advanced to their young ages and we will are very much anticipating their future recordings,” said the station.

In addition to album of the year, the station awards honors in individual categories of Celtic music. Nominations are made throughout the year by listeners and members of Highlander Radio. The station considers the nominations, along with ratings, requests and other radio statistics and chooses three for public vote in each category.

Two of the songs on Burning Bridget Cleary’s “Everything is Alright” also won awards — “Three Set” in the jigs and reels category and “Soldier, Soldier” in the contemporary category.

Other winners include Enter the Haggis, for Celtic rock, with “Murphy’s Rock” from “Gutter Anthems”; Celtic Thunder for traditional, with “Caledonia” from “Act Two”; Jim McRae for bagpipes, with “The Queen’s Piper Medley” from “Global Gathering,” and Celtic Thunder for roots traditional, with “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” from “Act Two.”

Rose and Genevieve are now in college, so their performance schedule is limited. Here’s what’s on tap.

8 p.m. next Saturday, The Colonial Theater, Phoenixville, with Coyote Run and Tempest
8 p.m. May 8, Molly Maguire’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, Phoenixville
8 p.m. May 15, DCP Theatre Concert, Telford
May 29, 30: Shawnee Mountain Celtic Festival, Shawnee-on-Delaware
May 31: Mayfair Festival of the Arts, Allentown
3 p.m. Aug. 8: Musikfest, Bethlehem
Sept. 11, 12: Green Lane Scottish-Irish Festival, Green Lane

The Intelligencer/Bucks County Courier Times

A Twist on the Traditional

Don’t let the name fool you. Yes, the infamous tale of Ireland’s Bridget Cleary — burned in 1895 by her husband, who believed her flu symptoms to be evidence of her possession by evil fairies — is indeed a gruesome one. But there’s nothing dark about the band that is her namesake. Burning Bridget Cleary, in fact, prides itself on serving up a sprightly blend of traditional and original Celtic music with the primary goal of working audiences into a toe-tapping, hand-clapping frenzy. The foursome, comprised of Lou Baldino, his 19-year-old daughter Rose, her longtime friend Genna Gillespie, 18, and Pete Trezzi, is known for its exhilarating shows and the driving beat that anchors most of its music. “Rose and I like things that make us and other people get up and dance,” says Gillespie, who fronts the band with Rose, both of them fierce fiddlers, while Lou plays guitar, keyboards and bass, and Trezzi percussion. “The music has to have a certain vitality to it.” But when it came to choosing a name for the Upper Salford-based group, she says, “all those things like Fiddle Chicks sounded too cheesy.” When Lou and his wife Cheryl, who manages the band, discovered the story of Bridget Cleary — often referred to as “the last witch burned in Ireland” — the girls were intrigued, as much by Cleary’s spunk and independence as they were by her unfortunate fate and the folklore surrounding it. That her murder trial helped set a precedent protecting others from such heinous acts made her a heroine of sorts in their eyes, and so Burning Bridget Cleary became both name and tribute. The group has even recorded two pieces in her honor, the instrumental “Burning Bridget Cleary,” from their 2006 CD “Catharsis,” and “Ah Tusa Shi/Killavil Jig,” which tells her tale in ethereally lilting song, from their most recent CD “Everything is Alright.” On a trip to Ireland several years ago, they made a point to visit her home, “the fairy cottage,” in County Tipperary, as well as the site of her unmarked grave. “She was really very spirited, and it’s kind of an inspirational story even though it’s morbid,” says Gillespie. Burning Bridget Cleary also seemed apt given the band’s interest in the music of that era and their search, according to Lou, for a name that was “kind of mystical and eerie.” For while the girls obviously enjoy displaying a more electric, boundary-blurring musicianship, they also are adept at evocative ballads that brim with quiet mystery and plangent beauty. They sing in English and in Gaelic, though Lou occasionally takes the vocal lead. The band has been a fan favorite at area festivals as well as venues such as the Tin Angel and Colonial Theater since forming on St. Patrick’s Day 2006. “What separates them from other Celtic bands that I’ve seen is the fact that they’re young and when you see them live, they’re not just standing there. There’s lots of movement and they get into the crowd,” says Trezzi, a newcomer to the group in the last year. Advertisement For Rose, it’s important that the group — despite her and Gillespie’s first-place trophy wins at the annual Celtic Classic Fiddle Competition held in Bethlehem — not take itself too seriously, which is why interacting with the audience is such an essential part of their live shows. In many ways, those elements of naturalness and spontaneity can be traced back to the roots of the band, which in addition to performing Sunday at the 13th annual Celtic Day at Bristol Lions Park in Bristol has scored a coveted slot at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in August. Gillespie already had experience performing with her family’s Celtic music group Gilly’s Hedge (her parents also are founding members of Celtic band Blackwater) when she met Rose at age 12, while Rose had always been drawn to Irish culture. Both have since attended the prestigious Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, N.C., which boasts a teaching staff of a veritable who’s who of Celtic music and fiddle greats. Lou, who traveled and recorded with several bands from the 1960s through the ’80s, including The Platters, began accompanying Rose’s fiddle-playing on guitar initially just to help her out when she switched to the fiddle from classical violin. When they were asked to play at the Green Lane Scottish-Irish Festival, with nine months’ notice, Lou figured they might as well put together a CD to sell at the event. In the interim, father and daughter were asked to sub for Gilly’s Hedge at an annual house party where the band had long provided the entertainment. Gillespie joined them for the gig. “That St. Patty’s Day was a high for all three of us.” says Lou. Becoming a band was a natural evolution. But for all of Burning Bridget Cleary’s adventurous forays beyond the traditional. Rose and Gillespie have a deep respect for the roots of Celtic music. “A lot of Irish music can be very hokey and I’m not into that and neither is Rose,” says Gillespie, who also began her training on classical violin. “We really like the ancient stuff — the old Gaelic songs and the old tunes that nobody knows who wrote them because they’ve been around for so long. They’re very beautiful and melodic.” Still, they appreciate the freedom to embellish. “With classical music, you don’t have any deviation from what they’re telling you to do,” Gillespie adds. “The Irish are, like, ‘Here are some tunes. Do with them what you will,’ which is really great. It keeps the music alive and fresh, and it never gets old.” June 26, 2009 09:53 AM

Irish American News

"Burning Bridget Cleary Rides Again"

One of the most exciting bands I’ve seen in the last couple years is a trio out of the Philadelphia area called Burning Bridget Cleary. Named after the “last witch burned in Ireland,” this group features Genna Gillespie on fiddle, Rose Baldino on fiddle and Lou Baldino on guitar, keyboards and bass. All three sing and very well too. Their first CD was good but didn’t capture the fire of their live performance but they’ve corrected that on their new CD called "Everything is Alright". The new release grabs your attention and keeps you listening with blazing fiddle duets, great songs and a mix of music that’s away from the ordinary and downright inspirational. This is trad music at it’s best, alive, vibrant and lyrical. Don’t miss seeing this band if you’re given the chance and until you can, pick up a copy of their independently produced CDs and listen to the future of trad.

The Curious George (January 2010)

 "Band Burns up the Stage at George School"

As the buzz of conversation and lights dimmed in the auditorium, students knew nothing of the day’s performers: a group of Irish fiddlers.

 Upon this description, bodies sank a little deeper into seats and students settled in to listen mindlessly to a genre of music that is not typically on their iPods.  But by the end of the assembly, the energy was completely reversed, and the entire student body enthusiastically supported a new view of this “Irish music.”

 The band, Burning Bridget Cleary, was not the type of music a group of tired teenagers would expect to fall in love with on a Friday morning, but they did.  The Burning Bridget Cleary phenomenon swept George School off its feet, and opened up a sudden new perspective to fiddling and the world of Celtic music.


Rose and Genna, the two young, energetic leaders (on fiddle and vocals) of Burning Bridget Cleary are talented musicians who magnificently bring their compositions to life on stage.  Accompanied by Rose’s father on guitar and Peter Trezzi on drums, the group’s music was not the typical Celtic band that students expected to perform that day.  Because of Rose and Genna’s lively and genuine personalities, they are masters of captivating an audience.  By the end of the assembly, they had all of George School’s students on their feet, and even some on their chairs, clapping and jumping as the girls danced their way through the auditorium. 

 “We began playing together as a band by accident,” said Rose as she told the story of how BBC was created.  She explained that she and Genna met when they were twelve and thirteen and had a lot in common.  They leapt upon the opportunity to play for the first time at a gig that Genna’s parents couldn’t take, and the rest is history.  The group’s fifth anniversary is this Saint Patrick’s day, and their popularity is growing and growing.

 Stephanie and Bob McBride recommended BBC to Judy Bartella after seeing them perform at the Shawnee Mountain Celtic Festival in 2008, knowing that they should perform at GS.  Because of scheduling complications, it was only until this year that BBC and George School were able to coordinate a date to the O’Neill Music Assembly. 

 “The group had a lot of high energy, and was fun to watch,” said Emily Alexander ’12.  Jake Kaplan ’12 added that he has both of Burning Bridget Cleary’s albums on his iPod now, and his favorite songs are “Soldier, Soldier,” and “The Faeries.”

 But George School isn’t the only place that is recognizing Burning Bridget Cleary’s talent.  Cheryl Baldino, the band’s manager, was pleased to share that on January 15th, two songs from BBC’s album “Everything is Alright” have been nominated for the Celtic Radio Music Awards (the songs Three Set, and Soldier, Soldier).  The awards are international, and out of 127 nominations, only eighteen were selected as finalists.  In addition, their music is being played on Pandora.com, the popular Internet radio that creates playlists based on one’s taste in music.   BBC is also presently recording their third album, which George School will greatly anticipate. 

 Burning Bridget Cleary had never performed at a high school before, but felt confident when “[they] saw how rich in culture and intellectual all of the students were.”  Sure enough, George School responded to them fantastically: BBC CD’s were emptied out of the bookstore and the Facebook comments are endlessly being posted, that Rose said are read and greatly appreciated. 

 “I honestly had the absolute best time at George School, and I know Genna and my Dad did too.  On the ride home… we were all smiles and talking about how awesome of a gig that was,” she said, “Everyone was so incredibly nice and wonderful, and it was so great to connect with people our age through music.” 

The Pottstown Mercury Online

Scene and Heard: Burning Bridget Cleary Announce "Everything Is Alright"

There's lots of so exciting I think I wanna jig around the office news coming out of the Burning Bridget Cleary camp today. Namely, they've finally laid the pipes for their highly anticipated new CD--Everything is Alright. And after 9 months of writing & recording it--it's safe to say it's their baby. The album, which is sure to be ripe with cheer, will be out just in time for the holidays. They also announced a fresh batch of upcoming holiday shows including their CD Release Party & Holiday Show Extravaganza on Dec 13 at the ol' Steel City Coffeehouse.

"Tune Up" Newsletter of the Philadelphia Folksong Society Vol. 49 - No. 9

"Views and Reviews"

Traditional music just got younger and prettier with the arrival of Burning Bridget Cleary, a band as exciting and charming as their name is unusual. (It seems that Bridget Cleary was the last witch burned in Ireland. She was done in by her hubbie and his side of the family. You'll be glad to know that divorce is now legal in Ireland). 17 year old, Genna Gillespie, Irish singer, dancer and champion fiddler is joined with 18 year old, Rose Baldino, Irish singer, dancer, whistler and champion fiddler and Rose's dad, guitarist, Lou Baldino.. Their debut CD, "Catharsis", is a winner and I bet you will like it but I can't wait to see these kids perform I know they are local and that they work a lot. Maybe, they have a website. http://www.burningbridgetcleary.com BBC (If you think I'm typing "Burning Bridget Cleary" a lot, you don't appreciate my sloth) features the depth and texture of double fiddles and the haunting beauty of voices that blend like coffee and cream. Their songlist is impressive but mysterious due to tiny print (theirs) and aging eyes (mine). This is an enchanting performance that deserves a place in every celtophile's collection.

The Morning Call

Local Soundtrack: Burning Bridget Cleary "Everything is Alright"

In just over two years, the high-energy Celtic band, Burning Bridget Cleary, has established itself as a favorite at such performance venues as Bethlehem's Celtic Classic, the Green Lane Scottish-Irish Festival, the Shawnee Mountain Celtic Fest, and more. Its second CD, "Everything is Alright", shows just how far musically the group has come. The foot-stomping pyrotechnics of teenage fiddlers Genevieve Gillespie and Rose Baldino, backed by the solid guitar of Rose's father Lou, are all still there. But, what has been added is more musical introspection, more sophistication, and more diversity of style. The fiddle playing has become more contemplative without losing its passion. In "Bunch of Green Rushes," Gillespie weaves a Martin Hayes intricacy into her own youthful style. Lovely vocals prevail throughout the disc, especially in the softly mysterious "Ah Tusa Shi", a self-penned homage to the band's namesake, a young out-spoken 19th century woman murdered by her husband who thought she was a witch. The album mixes original material with traditional ballads, jigs, and reels, but even these get the band's own special twist. They give the English classic "Saucy Sailor" an exotic Middle-Eastern flavor, and the slow ballads glow with bittersweet beauty, enhancd by the lovely guitar work - and voice - of Lou Baldino. Here are old-time guitar solos, harmony singing, and traditional fiddling cast into a lively new mold. The band's passion for making music and stretching its boundaries is evident in each carefully-crafted arrangement.

The Bethlehem Press

"Cleary a Don't Miss"

. . . Above all plan to hear (and see) a local band that recently packed Godfrey Daniels with a sell-out crowd at the group's CD release party for their first recording, "Catharsis". The group appeared at last year's Celtic Classic and the Green Lane Scottish and Irish Festival in Montgomery County, where they will be a mainstage attraction this year. According to the rather laid-back Baldino, "We do a real high-energy show." If seeing them at Godfrey's is any indication, he's got that right. The girls are pretty, charming, and lively, and often break into spontaneous step dancing and fits of giggles, as the mood swings them. Sweeney (Executive Director of the Celtic Cultural Alliance), himself sounds like a proud parent when speaking of the girl's accomplishments. "They're both products of our fiddle competition and scholarship winners. Now they're moving into performanace and really carrying the Celtic tradition forward," he said. "It's gratifying to see what we're doing is working."

The Morning Call 11/25/06


 The name — honoring a stong-willed Irishwoman burned to death by her husband — draws you in. The bio — two teenage fiddlers backed by a dad — piques further interest. The spirited music brings it all home. Burning Bridget Cleary — Genna Gillespie (daughter of Blackwater's Tom and Alison Gillespie) and Rose Baldino, along with Rose's father, Lou — gave a sold-out CD release show at Godfrey Daniels last Sunday that revealed a group with talent and places to go. The girls worked their fiddles with skill and style, like youthful Natalie MacMasters. Lou, joking that ''If you haven't noticed by now, I'm the young and beautiful one,'' added drama with his rhythmic guitar. The trio conveyed an aura that was at once sweet and spicy. The two sets contained originals and classics — foot-stomping, hand-clapping reels and jigs and enchanting ballads — many merged into single numbers. Energetic step dancing by the girls completed the package. Genna, the perky, chatty one, and Rose, a little quieter with a mature air, complemented each other with a chemistry born of friendship, respect and love of Irish music. There wasn't much singing in the first set, until Lou's heartful solo on the traditional Welsh hymn, ''The Miner's Life,'' with lovely backup harmonies and fiddling by the girls. The girls brought out their voices on the second set. Genna's sister, Fiona, assisted on a fun, drinking-song sing-a-long, with their father Tom on the bodhran. There wasn't any singing on (their original) ''Burning Bridget Cleary,'' but the lilting drama of the original song, which transitions into fiery fiddling, make it memorable like its namesake, past and present.

The Hearthstone Town and Country 11/23/06

Burning Bridget Cleary

" . . . Listening to their lively Celtic reels and jigs had my foot and heart tapping. Their ballads were warm and beautiful. The group was having a party on Sunday at Godfrey Daniels to celebrate the release of their first CD. Titled "Catharsis," it truly is an emotional release through music. . . Their on-stage energy is infectious and their mastery of the fiddle borders on brilliant . . . The trio has been performing as a group for seven months, but from the way they complement each other on stage and in the music, one would think it was seven years. They wowed the massive crowd at the 2006 Scottish-Irish Festival in Green Lane . . ."