Celtic Festival and Marketplace
As a session player, percussionist Fraser Stone is used to accompanying in various genres such as rock, blues, jazz, samba, African and Cuban.
Yet what the Scottish Highlands native would rather play is the traditional music of his country.
“As a drummer, I’ve grown up playing all different types of music. I’m a drum kit player. But with my group of friends, there’s an emphasis on traditional music,” Stone said unabashedly last weekend from the Sebastopol Celtic Festival. “I grew up with traditional music, and traditional music is where my heart is. It’s in the blood.”
So it was logical that two years ago Stone joined Old Blind Dogs, a group founded in 1990 to play traditional Scottish songs and fiddle tunes with world music, reggae, jazz and rock influences. Stone performs on a variety of drums, including the African djembe, conga, Turkish percussion and a drum kit.
“It’s such a buzz being on stage playing what you love,” said Stone, whose Old Blind Dogs appears at this weekend’s Celtic Festival and Marketplace at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. (The group from northeastern Scotland also appeared at the KVMR Celtic Festivals in 1996 and 2000.) “I just do my job, a job I love, and that’s it.”
With eight acclaimed CDs and a new record in the works, Old Blind Dogs plays its danceable, fast and upbeat covers and originals every month, either in Europe or North America. The group’s “Fit,” released in 2001, was a finalist for “Celtic Album of the Year” by the Association for Independent Music. Old Blind Dogs was nominated for Britain’s BBC2 Award for Best Folk Band in 2002.
Wanting to keep a continuing dialogue going with American fans, Old Blind Dogs band members just started a fan club.
“We have a lot of people in America who like to keep in touch with the band so the fan club is an individual way to write to the band. It makes them feel close to the band as a listener,” Stone explained. Also on the band’s Web site at http://www.oldblinddogs.co.uk/ is a tour diary and pictures of the current American gigs.
“We just went to Hawaii for our first time, which was really special,” Stone said appreciatively. “It was great to be received by the audience because they didn’t know who we are but we got a warm reception in our five gigs there. It was so good, the places we stayed at and the way we were treated.”
That’s a different audience reaction from what the band receives in its native country, according to Stone.
“In Scotland, people are just a wee more reserved,” he laughed. “When we come here, we get a really nice reception, a good vibe. Because we’ve concentrated on America quite a lot, we’re just starting to focus on Scotland. In Scotland, traditional music is everywhere.”
With its huge popularity in America (resulting in two tours a year here), the band perhaps had the foresight to name itself after an Old-Time American folk song. Or, as Stone points out, they liked the sound of it.
“‘Old Blind Dogs’ is an old Kentucky song. The guys heard that song and went with that. Making music isn’t too difficult; making a name for a band is one of the hardest things I’ve always struggled with,” Stone said.
The Old Blind Dogs will informally discuss their music Sunday from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. and then close the Celtic Festival with a concert from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
KNOW & GO
WHAT: Eighth annual Celtic Festival and Marketplace
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley
ADMISSION: For anyone over 16, Saturday-only and Sunday-only tickets are each $20 in advance and $25 at the gate, and for KVMR members $18 in advance and $20 at the gate. Tickets good both days are $30 in advance and $40 at the gate and, for KVMR members, $28 in advance and $35 at the door.
For anyone 6 to 16, Saturday-only and Sunday-only tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets good both days are $12 in advance and $15 at the gate. Anyone 5 and younger is admitted free.
Advance tickets are at the KVMR office, Love Shack Records, Yabobo, BriarPatch and Record Connection.
INFORMATION: 265-9073 or http://www.kvmrcelticfestival.org
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