Hitchhiker’s Guide to Culture: Roots of American Music Performance

The Wicked Olde Band performed in McDonald Hall

By: Lindsey Valancius

A group of roughly thirty honors students and faculty members, including the director of the Honors Program herself, Dr. Jennifer Paxton, crowded into the McDonald lounge for the annual performance by the band Wicked Olde on Friday, October 13th. Headed by the beloved honors philosophy professor Dr. Timothy Noone, Wicked Olde is a band composed of four multi-talented, older individuals who are still young at heart.
Everyone in the band plays a multitude of instruments that they switch between depending on the song. Noone, a philosophy professor here at Catholic, excelled on the harmonica, but also sang and played the guitar and banjo. Ray Sheehan, a retired attorney, played the guitar and was one of the lead singers. Brigitte Dehaven, a former teacher, played the keyboard and percussion and was the other lead singer. Heather Butler, the current Director of the Newtown Music Center, showed her vocal skills and played the violin and mandolin.
Wicked Olde was founded by Sheehan and Noone in 2013 “as a vehicle for exploring all of our musical influences,” as the band’s handout read. By the band’s own admission, its sound is “very, very, eclectic, and old.” The concert featured songs from nineteenth and twentieth century American genres, including blues, folk, Celtic, country, old-time, and bluegrass.
The songs chosen were played together according to genre. The concert started off with a “Wicked Olde special,” an Irish medley of “Star of the County Down” and “Red-Haired Boy,” which kicked off a selection of Irish, old-time, and bluegrass songs. The group then moved on to more soulful tunes with a progression of songs that particularly featured the sound of the harmonica. To wrap it up, the band played a series of folk songs and the finale was a piece composed by Sheehan himself.
The concert was a big hit among the students who attended. Although there were only a few people when the concert began, by the end nearly thirty students had crowded into the lounge. Many sat on the floor, others stood, and the few that had come early were able to sit in seats. The applause after each song was enthusiastic and the students were engaged throughout; some tapped along to the beat with their hands and feet while others bobbed their heads along to the tunes.
Freshman education major Brittney Reder appreciated the different sound of the event.
“It was music you don’t always hear,” Reder said. “Yet it was nice to appreciate it.”
Probably the biggest hit of the evening was the train-sounding “Lonesome Railroad” medley song. The first half was a harmonica solo in which Noone played train-like sounds on his harmonica. This impressive display of talent elicited quite the applause and cheering.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the evening for some students was to see their professors outside of the classroom. As Reder commented, Noone had performed with his harmonica on his birthday for his classes, yet seeing him in a band with his musician friends was eye-opening.
“It was awesome to see what he loves to do outside philosophy, and it made him seem like a cool normal guy,” Reder said.

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