Nevada County will ring with the sound of fiddles, bagpipes and Celtic music when the KVMR Celtic Festival kicks off Saturday morning with more than 200 performers in 12 performance areas. The two-day festival showcases international touring Celtic musicians, dancers, living history, falconry, athletics, storytelling, jam sessions workshops and a marketplace with more than 50 vendors. The outdoor event takes place Saturday and Sunday.
The main stage hosts many of the finest Celtic musicians on the world stage. This year’s lineup includes Celtic rockers The Elders from Ireland, The Prodigals from Scotland, Paul McKenna Band from Nova Scotia, Samantha Robichaud, cutting-edge pipe band Bad Haggis, Celtic super-group Comas, flutist Hanz Araki and the Mighty Few.
The fairgrounds will be transformed into a Celtic Village where world-famous Celtic musicians perform, shopping and dining opportunities abound, and O’Dea’s Irish Pub celebrates the change of season. Hundreds of regional performers, singers, bagpipers, actors, jugglers and storytellers will roam the fairgrounds.
Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments and join in with jam sessions and workshops scheduled throughout the weekend. Revelers make music into the night in the campgrounds complete with tall trees and a lake.
History buffs explore encampments of “Guilds” that re-create points and places in time. Royalty and their subjects demonstrate how peasants and gentry lived in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The educational Celtic Animals exhibit houses falcons, eagles, hawks, owls, sheep and ponies.
Amateur and professional athletes will test their strength and skill in Scottish Games. Children can be kept engaged with arts and crafts, storytelling and romping in a straw-bale castle. Seniors are admitted an hour before the event opens on Sunday and treated to scones and tea. The festival is disabled accessible. There is camping and RV hookup available on-site.
One of the all-time favorite party bands returns for a command performance on Saturday night, according to organizers.
The Elder’s music features powerful vocals, blazing instrumentals and songwriting that is unaffected by fads, trends and commercialism. Their songs are mystical, comical, political and cultural, while covering a wide variety of topics, such as poverty, civil war, family bonds, spirituality, love and friendship. They tell stories of people, places and events — some recent, some distant, some real and some imagined.
The Prodigals are one of the most successful bands to emerge from the East Coast Irish scene. The band members grew up largely in Ireland; their original songs blend a funky and anarchic energy that is pure New York with a passion for the traditional music of Ireland. The band has headlined major venues and festivals throughout the United States, Los Angeles and Las Vegas to Chicago, Boston and Maine, as well as abroad in Canada, Germany and Ireland.
PAUL McKENNA BAND
Since being awarded the title of “Best Up and Coming Artist of 2009” at the MG Alba Scots Traditional Music Awards, Scotland’s Paul McKenna Band has toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
With a contemporary approach to songs, though not straying too far from its roots, its arrangements are both fresh and innovative. The exciting sound is created through outstanding vocals, driving guitar and bouzouki, intense fiddle playing, a warm pairing of flute and whistles and dynamic bodhrán and percussion.
Combining its love for folk and traditional music along with original songs and tunes, the group has been captivating audiences with live performances of its new album, titled ‘Stem the Tide.’
From the dual leads of the bagpipe and guitar by Eric Rigler and guitarist Mike Hoffmann to the deeply grooving rhythms laid down by bassist/vocalist Mick Linden, Brazilian drummer/vocalist Rogerio Jardim and Colombian percussionist Alberto Lopez, Bad Haggis employs a new musical vocabulary.
Based in Los Angeles, the band has toured across the U.S. and Europe, where their concerts were recorded, filmed and aired by the BBC and Spanish TV. In recent years the band has been featured twice on TV’s Blind Date.
KVMR Celtic Festival fans will remember Eric Rigler and Mick Linden from their numerous appearances as members of Alasdair Fraser’s Skyedance.
From Nova Scotia, Samantha Robichaud’s passion, desire and drive have led her to achieve incredible success in just a short time. Recent performances include Carnage Hall, 2010 Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremony, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, The Strawberry Music Festival and the Grand Ole Opry.
She was the 2011 East Coast Music Award winner for “Instrumental Album of the Year” and 2010 winner for “Fans Choice.” She composed and performed on the Documentary CD “This Is My America” with Dolly Parton and Mark O’Connor.
Robichaud has always demonstrated a strong love for all styles of fiddle playing: her drive to perfect a unique feel and style has also been influenced through classical training. She has discovered after several years of classical training a deeper understanding of the instrument.
One of Europe’s most respected Celtic bands — Comas — brings together four of the most exciting musicians of their generation.
From County Claire, Aiden Burke won more than 20 All-Ireland championships on the fiddle. His most recent CD, “Feel The Bow,” received rave reviews. Having Kevin Burke (fiddler with The Bothy Band, Patrick Street and Open House.) as a first cousin, he was destined to play the fiddle and started at 8.
From Belgium, Philip Masure’s mastery of the guitar is evident. He has become one of the most sought-after guitarists on the Celtic scene and is also in demand as a studio musician.
The Breton genius Sylvain Barou is on flute, whistle and uilleann pipes. Acclaimed by Dónal Lunny “the greatest flute player of his generation,” his playing is based on the ‘open’ style of uilleann pipes and traveling pipers, such as Paddy Keenan.
Jackie Moran is considered among the world’s best Celtic percussionists. Born in Thurles, County Tipperary, Jackie immigrated to Chicago with his family at the age of 10. Moran has toured with Riverdance and recorded and performed with Kevin Burke, Liz Carroll, Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill and Paddy Keenan.
HANZ ARAKI & THE CHOSEN FEW
Irish flute player Hanz Araki is the quintessential world music musician. He has performed around the world with the Juno Award-winning Paperboys, Casey Neill, alongside members of The Decemberists and REM. He has performed with the Seattle Symphony, the University of Washington Wind Ensemble and is featured on more than a dozen recordings and soundtracks, from feature films and documentaries to popular video games.
Along with his Juno and West Coast Music award-winning work, he made KLCC’s “Best Music of 2004” list and was voted liveireland.com’s Best Newcomer of the Year in 2005.
THE GOTHARD SISTERS
The Gothard Sisters grew up performing on stages across the Pacific Northwest. Starting out with classical violin and competitive Irish dance, they were soon in leadership positions in the local youth symphonies and winning Irish dance competitions.
With their love of music, dance and storytelling as an inspiration, Greta, Willow and Solana perform on fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bodhran and voice. The Sisters have recorded six CDs, beginning with their Christmas release in 2006 and progressing to their most recent original album, “Story Girl,” in November 2011. Their latest Christmas was included on a recent Putumayo World Music compilation of unique Celtic Christmas music.