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Four Shillings Short playing pair of shows

September 15, 2011
By ZACH KUKKONEN - Features Editor/DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - Music, history and education will collide Sunday, as Four Shillings Short will be playing two shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Hancock Sunday.

The unique celtic/folk/world band is composed of husband and wife duo Christy Martin and Aodh Og O'Tuama. The two met 16 years ago and have basically been playing together ever since, sporting a wide variety of instruments - from the hammered dulcimer and medieval psaltery to the mandolin and krumhorn.

The initial show from 3 to 5 p.m. is titled "Around the World in 30 Instruments."

"The first show is a two-hour overview of world music dating back 1,000 years to the present through the instruments and through stories about the instruments, where they originated," Martin said. "We have lots of different music sung in Irish, English, Spanish and Sanskrit. It's broad, diverse and very kid-friendly; we do fun songs for the kids and try to engage the audience, have them singing along.

"We try and encourage the world to have more musicians by introducing people young and old to the world of music and how far it goes," she continued.

The evening show from 7 to 9 p.m. is dubbed "Celtic & World music concert," and will be closer to a typical Four Shillings Short show.

"We play a lot of pretty upbeat material for a concert like this," Ireland-native O'Tuama said. "We do probably about 85 percent traditional, historical music and then 10 to 15 percent original music. We play music by a lot of contemporary songwriters as well that we like for an audience who wouldn't normally hear them."

Four Shillings Short has actually been around since 1985, with O'Tuama one of the founding members, but has been nationally touring in its current form since 1997. Drawing on the troubadours of years past, Martin and O'Tuama actually live a nomadic lifestyle, never staying in one place for too long in an effort to bring music to the masses.

"We live with the patronage of friends and family, and we go camping," Martin said. "We try to keep our costs down that way so we can give our music to as many people as possible with the least economic barrier.

"That's the heart of what we're doing; folk music is so important to the continuity of culture."

The Upper Peninsula is also a special place to the duo, as they had their first official gig together in Menominee.

"They were a delightful surprise coming out of nowhere," Mike Kettu, who helped book the band back in 1997 in Menominee, said. "Their reception was hugely popular."

A picture of Lake Superior also dons the cover of their album, "Icing on the Lake."

"We love being in the U.P.," O'Tuama said. "It's one of the places that calls to us, and we'll be back twice next year."

The Orpheum Theater is located in Studio Pizza at 426 Quincy St. in Hancock. A $5 to $10 donation is requested for the show, and kids get in free. For more information, call 482-5100 or visit For more information on the band, visit



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