Actually, they really are statesmen. With nary a country left uncharmed by group leader Paddy Moloney and their beautifully honed musicianship, the Irish government, officially named the Chieftains Ireland’s musical ambassadors in 1989.

The group has taken the tunes of traditional Irish life away from the pubs, hearth sides and barn dances, and made it part of the world music lexicon.

No wonder the band has become a popular concert draw worldwide.

For the upcoming tour, fiddler Natalie MacMaster and Richard Woods join in the festivities that have the band playing 28 dates in the States January 12 – March 17.

The new trek marks the second time The Chieftains has been on the road with MacMaster. She and Joan Osborne joined the group for shows around the U.S. in January and February of 2001.

In addition to the upcoming road trip, The Chieftains’ 40th anniversary album is about to hit stores. The disc will feature classic hits as well as some previously unreleased material.