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Anni McCann & Paul Emery


Paul met Anni in 1979 while playing the folk circuit in Oregon and Northern California, and so began their musical sojourn together.

Anni, a big fan of Irish music, wanted to rediscover her roots and persuaded Paul to travel to Ireland to play music. With an eclectic style covering jug band, folk, old timey, gospel, blues and swing jazz, armed with guitar, mandolin, banjo and Anni’s angelic “Bel Canto” voice, the Irish crowds fell in love with them instantly.

They were swept onto the stages of many folk clubs and festivals, including Lisdoonvarna and Ballisadare, where they played before large crowds of as many as 20,000 people. The bigger thrill was playing along side some of their favorite musicians; Christie Moore, Paul Brady, Andy Irvine, Planxty, DeDannan, the Bothy Band, Richard & Linda Thompson and the newly discovered band U2. After many months in Ireland they continued their musical travels playing throughout Europe before returning to their home town in Nevada City, CA.

One of their most memorable journeys in Ireland was traveling to Belfast during the time of the Irish Troubles, to play music for the culturally starved folks up there. The clubs were surrounded by barbed wire to protect them from possible bombings, and yes, they were approached by the IRA with a plea for help, to send guns and money from America. Belfast had some of the most appreciative audiences and was a rich and eye-opening experience, never to be forgotten.

But Galway, the wild west of Ireland, was their hub. Playing the Druid Theater at night with DeDannan, befriended by tinkers by day, as they met in the streets to busk for change with kindred spirits. Street music was very lucrative and Paul and Anni were no strangers too it, as they made their way across Europe.

Paul and Anni are best known for their long time collaboration with Tom Schmidt in the bands Emery, Schmidt & McCann and Backwoods Jazz. The band traveled the West coast extensively from Northern Washington to Southern California. They successfully returned to Ireland (and Europe), with their same eclectic mix, now including several Irish tunes, and recorded 3 albums together. When asked to perform for the Queen of England it was requested that the band refrain from playing any Irish music…

This will not be the case this year at the Celtic Fest! Over the years, Paul and Anni have traversed many diverse musical paths together and apart. Their most recent project together, A Thousand Kisses Deep, produced by Paul, is a show of all Leonard Cohen songs with 14 talented local musicians. After 7 years they continue to perform before sold out audiences.

This year Paul and Anni have reunited in a rare performance to rekindle fond memories and musical favorites collected and shared throughout their adventures in Ireland.

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