Patrick’s Rune

In what has become an annual tradition and also in the spirit of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater (by which I mean green beer, does a more apt analogy exist?), I give you a poem that has had a lifelong influence on me:

Patrick’s Rune, origin anonymous, translated by James Clarence Mangan.

At Tara to-day in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place,
By God’s almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.

I’ll never be able to get behind missionary work when conversion is the goal and so I’ll never with a whole heart be able to celebrate the traditional legacy of St. Patrick (although credit is due for his efforts to incorporate Druidic traditions). Beyond any misgivings, I am divinely inspired by any image of the light that the darkness has not, shall not overcome.

I discovered “Patrick’s Rune” as a child in my first reading of The Swiftly Tilting Planet, from Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet. The poem is woven through the entire book so it’s impossible to miss and it starts with my name so my attraction to it was inevitable.

I like that the assumption of the poem is that all of nature is powered by goodness. I believe this to be true. I like that the poem does not pretend that evil does not exist because we also know this to be true.

I’ll need you to remind me of this. I’ll remind you too.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Come celebrate with us.

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…and Friends, Part Two

Our second very special guest on Saturday for our St. Patrick’s Day show at the Sanctuary Pub in Iowa City is no stranger to the traditional Irish music scene in eastern Iowa and was really the engine that kept The Beggarmen running all those many years in his multiple capacities of drummer, singer, sound technician, and first-string parent on call.

My husband, Joe Dutcher. He keeps me steady in music and in life.





…and Friends, Part One

Keith and I are looking forward to playing for you at The Sanctuary for our St. Patrick’s Day show and we are very lucky to be joined by two of our very favorite musicians.

Today I will be crowing about Frank Claudy and how happy we are that he will be with us. Check back for our other artist profile in the next few days.


As anyone who loves traditional Irish music must surely know, Frank Claudy is a flute and tin whistle player originally from Washington, D.C. who has been sharing his beautiful music and rich expertise not only in the Quad-Cities of Iowa and Illinois where he has made his home but also on the teaching staff at the Catskills Irish Arts Week for many years.

You have very likely heard Frank playing for céilís and local festivals with Keith, piper Jon Cooper (who joined us on our 2017 album Folk Songs You Never Sang in Grade School), and fiddler Guy Drollinger as The Quad Cities Céilí Band and The Big River Reeltime Band.

Most of my interaction with Frank in the past has been when I’ve been delighted to find myself playing alongside him at various Irish sessions through the years. I’m going to tell you something about Frank that I don’t think I’ve ever shared with him: I can think of no other album that has transformed my understanding of and devotion to traditional Irish music more than Frank’s 2010 album The Pretty Blue Seagull with Paul De Grae, Patrick O’Dea, and Anne & Joe Skelton. It is the finest and most authentic modern collection of recordings of tunes from the historic and enduring O’Neill collection and an album that I continue to find myself reaching for when I want to be transported by a rush of how much I love and respect traditional Irish music.

Keith and I dearly hope that Frank’s retirement at the end of February from his position as Physician Advisor for the Genesis Health System (no slouch, this fellow) means that we will have many more chances to play together in the future.

If you’d like a taste of what it means to be transported by music as I have often been by Frank, don’t miss us at The Sanctuary this Saturday, March 17 from 5-7 pm.

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Congratulations to Waelyn!

Introducing Waelyn, my featured musician for March and April!MARCH APRIL Featured Musician-page-001

Waelyn is a wonder. She has never met a melody that she doesn’t retain, can hear and demonstrate melodic similarities in vastly different pieces of music, and her impeccable rhythm extends to her comic timing, much to my continued delight.

Perhaps it is no coincidence given her musical gifts that Waelyn’s parents are two of my favorite local musicians (Benj and Nicole Upchurch). Even beyond my admiration of them as musicians, I really appreciate parents like Benj and Nicole who share my belief in music being a joyful, lifelong pursuit and never ever a drudgery or a battleground.

Given her vast array of interests and talents and her impressively balanced sense of self, I am curious and excited to witness how Waelyn’s passions will manifest in the coming years. I am grateful to be playing a part in her story.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day with Keith, Tara & Friends!

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We have secured for you a cozy, delicious and television-free way to enjoy Irish music on St. Patrick’s Day. Music, food, drinks, and friends. Nothing could be better.

Please join us!

Burns Night January 26 at the Trumpet Blossom in Iowa City

26840627_1147582428710763_4532419243623273119_oI’m so pleased to be a part of another Burns Night at the Trumpet Blossom on Friday, January 26 at 8 pm. We gather to celebrate the life of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, who was born 259 years and one day before our event and designated as “The Greatest Scot” by STV in 2009.

As my eldest Liam observed: “Wow, he’s super dead.”

Indeed he is and yet his work lives on!

Music by David MacLeod Burt and Craig Klocke, Ed Raber, Keith Reins, and myself and readings by Tembi Bergin-Batten, David MacLeod Burt, Kassia Scott and Jeff Biggers.

Free and open to the public! Come early to treat yourself to a tasty meal and to stake your place for a fun evening.

Our song is in Best of 2017 by IPR!


As you can see, this news is almost a month old but I just heard about it yesterday.

Many thanks to Karen Impola, Charity Nebbe and everyone at Iowa Public Radio for your wonderful advocacy of local music and of folk music in general.

Karen has positioned Iowa artists in the first half of her list of ten featured songs:

Karen Impola’s top folk music picks for 2017

1. Catfish Keith – “Shake Sugaree” – Mississippi River Blues

2. Al Murphy – “Steamboat Quickstep” – Hogs in the Cornfield

3. Keith Reins & Tara McGovern – “The Twa Sisters” – Folk Songs You Never Sang in Grade School

4. Raldo Schneider – “That Thing” – Churchills’ Blues

5. Medicinal Purposes – “Badazz” – That’s What I’m Talkin’ About

6. Rhiannon Giddens – “At the Purchaser’s Option” – Freedom Highway

7. Joel Mabus – “We’ll Understand It Better Bye and Bye” – Different Hymnals

8. David Rawlings – “Yup” – Poor David’s Almanack

9. Usher’s Island – “Felix the Soldier” – Usher’s Island

10. The Early Mays – “Chase the Sun” – Chase the Sun

Click through to read the rest of the article and to listen to music samples and discussion between Charity Nebbe and Karen Impola.