Tommy, Moya and Fionán Sands Concert Review
Saturday March 26 2011
By: Rob Gavin, Irish Balladeer

Sometimes at a live concert, the performers, audience and room acoustics come together to create a memorable experience. This is what happened last Saturday night when Tommy, Moya and Fionán Sands took the stage at the Rockhurst’s Rose Theater. The concert benefitted the Irish Museum and the Children for Peace in Ireland Program.

Certainly music has been used for centuries in Ireland to summon patriotic spirits on both sides of the Irish Struggle. Many Irish performers use Rebel music to teach audiences about the courage, commitment and sacrifices made by generations of Irish Patriots. Although I have known of Tommy Sands for many years and perform several of his songs, I had never understood the real essence of his music, which is to bring peoples together. Tommy is known as the Bard of Peace. His song; “Music of Healing” is the official song of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It has caused Loyalist leader David Irvine to comment,” Tommy is the only man without a private army that can intimidate me.” Tommy employs his music to reconcile the hurt and anger between the Loyalist and Nationalist communities in the north of Ireland.

The concert Saturday night was uplifting. At the conclusion, it was the same feeling you get walking out after midnight Christmas Mass wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. The small but “quality audience” as Tommy phrased it was treated to Sand’s original songs and stories masterly told by this legendary performer. Accompanying him was his enchanting daughter Moya, whose persona and never ending smile charmed us like a siren luring sailors to the rocks. Her violin/fiddle performance added beautifully to the music matrix as did her haunting tin whistle and heart pounding bodhran tipping. Moya also used her talent of step dancing to add percussion to several songs and her “broom dance” was light and flawless.

Tommy’s son Fionán is a bit more reserved. However, he can play banjo and mandolin runs like Ricky Skaggs or Earl Scruggs. His ornamentation of the simple folk arrangements added the Irish character that brought the music to life. Together the family troupe had tight harmonies and was an absolute joy to the ear. To listen to Tommy perform his own work; “There were Roses”, a true story about his friends, one protestant and one catholic that were both senselessly killed in the Troubles was heart wrenching. Tommy ensnared the audience into singing along to “The Lagan Side” or “Send for Maguire”.

If you ever get the opportunity to experience this group in the future, jump at the chance. Until then go out and get their CDs, you will not regret it.