If you are a regular viewer of AETN, chances are that you've seen one of the Celtic Thunder programs. They are quite popular and have been to the state a few times for concerts in conjunction with their program. We are quite lucky to have had some of "the guys" in the studio with us a number of times as we pledge their programs. We've had "the young one," aka Damien McGinty, a couple of times. We had Paul Byrom two times. Paul isn't, technically, a member of the group any longer, though he does fill in periodically. Paul is the massively talented tenor who gives you chills when he sings "You Raise Me Up." Last fall we met Emmet Cahill, the newest member of the group.
That leaves Keith Harkin. Keith is the blond, scruffy member of the band. He's joined us in the studio two times. The most memorable visit was easily last December. In Ireland, Keith is a successful solo performer and has been for some time. Their manager contacted us about a week before their last visit to our studios to ask if we knew a place - specifically, a pub - where Keith could contact to perform after our station visit. We were pledging until 10:00 p.m. and our offices are in Conway so we the earliest he could get to a pub, likely in Little Rock, and get set up would be 11:30 p.m. or later.
So, we thought, why not have it in our large studio? It seats about 200 people. And that's what we did. The fans of Celtic Thunder are known as Thunderheads. The Thunderheads are a very active fan base. They follow Celtic Thunder very closely. As soon as Keith knew that he would be performing in our studios, he put it on his Facebook page. The phones started ringing before we even had all the details worked out. We didn't know how many people would come out at 11:30 p.m. to see Keith perform. We were hoping for at least 50 and were thrilled that almost 90 joined us in the studios to watch Keith perform an acoustic concert. It was really good.
Of course, what the audience didn't know is that about an hour before we were scheduled to go on-air to pledge the program, the manager asked us if we would like to tape the performance. After Carole Adornetto, AETN's director of production, and DeWayne Wilbur, director of operations, picked their jaws up off the ground, they kicked into action. Setting up a taping of this kind of performance isn't something that is usually done in just an hour. It usually takes a few days to make sure the set, lights and sound are ready. There is usually a rehearsal with full sound check of all the instruments, etc. That's what usually happens. What happened on this day is that AETN's crackerjack television team pulled off a taping that is a great example of what makes AETN special.
You can see that example on tonight, Wednesday, August 10, at 6:30 p.m with the debut of "AETN Presents: On The Front Row with Keith Harkin". It's a great show. I have to admit that I like Keith even better in this type of performance than his performances as a member of Celtic Thunder. He's really, really talented. The show is great. So, when you tune in to watch the show knowing the "behind the scenes" details of the show, you can be really proud of your public television station, AETN. We're among the best in the country.
You can pledge your support for great programs like this on AETN by becoming a member of the AETN Foundation. When you do, we can send you an audio CD of Keith Harkin's performance as a "Thank You" gift.
And one other detail that you might be interested in is that Keith will do another similar performance in our studio on November 7, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available to this special show which will include an opening act of Rebecca Harkin & Emmet Cahill. Tickets are available exclusively through the AETN Foundation. Concert tickets are $45 each. There is a limited number of VIP tickets available which include prime seating and a ticket to the after-show Meet & Greet for $100.
And, yes, we will be taping the performance.