Thursday, 7 July 2011

Saline Celtic Festival Offers Great Music Line-Up

Cathie RyanCover of Cathie Ryan
“You can’t swing a cat without hitting a fiddler,” is a fact at the July 9 Saline Celtic Festival, according to entertainment chair Sheila Graziano.

Two high school fiddle groups – Fiddlers ReStrung from Saline, and The Tecumseh Fiddlers – will launch the day on the Red Dragon Stage.

The Tecumseh Fiddlers are directed by Saline High School grad Amy Feldcamp Marr. One of the original members of the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic, she played with that group at the first Saline Celtic Festival.

“Amy has established, from scratch, the entire orchestra program in the Tecumseh Schools, and started this fiddle group four years ago to give to the Tecumseh community some of the riches she gleaned from her own experiences in Saline,” Graziano says.

The high school fiddlers will be followed by Blue Fiddle, featuring Tom Ware on fiddle; and a performance by the current (and youngest ever) U.S. Open Scottish Fiddle Champion, Maura Shawn Scanlin. Fiddler Matt Mancuso, a former lead fiddler for Lord of the Dance, plays with The Cathie Ryan Band; Cape Breton fiddler Dan MacDonald is part of North Atlantic Drift; and fiddlers Devin Shepherd and Rose Duffy are one-third of the band Chicago Reel. Local fiddler Brad Battey will play for the CommonWealth Dance Collective.

“Now that’s a lot of fiddles,” Graziano says.

The festival’s headliners are The Cathie Ryan Band, Chicago Reel, North Atlantic Drift, and Blue Fiddle.

Blue Fiddle’s sound draws from Irish, bluegrass, folk, roots, jazz, and polka. Formed in 2004, the Arkansas-based acoustic trio comprises multi-instrumentalists and award-winning songwriters Joe Hamilton, Tom Ware and John Lindquist.

Beth Patterson, who will host the Mr. Pretty Legs In Kilt contest Friday evening before entertaining the pub crowd, will host the Red Dragon Stage on Saturday, and perform throughout the afternoon and evening. The multi-instrumentalist is primarily a player of the eight and ten stringed Irish bouzoukis.

Irish American Cathie Ryan had a seven-year tenure as lead singer of Cherish the Ladies. The Detroit native has released four critically acclaimed CDs on Shanachie Records and is featured on more than 40 compilations of Celtic music.

Chicago Reel performs traditional Irish music, with two fiddles, banjo, button box, piano and vocals and songs rooted in the Sean Nos (old style) tradition.

Dan MacDonald, Ross Griffiths and Brian Taheny from North Atlantic Drift play Cape Breton fiddle, Sligo fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, Uilleann pipes, Highland pipes, whistles and bodhran. The three will also teach workshops on the Friday evening.

Bryan Kelso Crow, host of the Brecon Stage and well known as the host and producer of NPR’s Celtic Connections radio show, will perform with Mike Shanahan as The Celtic Connections Band.

“We’re very excited to have Road Kilt, our ‘house’ Celtic rock band return for Friday’s Pub night,” Graziano says. “Based in Washtenaw County, the group includes two alumni of Saline High School: fiddler Jessie Nieves, and my son Ezra. It’s an all new show with original material – these folks have been busy this past year.”

Other local acts include Blackthorn, Ealain Ceime Irish Dance School, and Ann Arbor Morris.

“Once again, I’m overwhelmed at the quality and variety of performers who will be gracing our stages,” Graziano says. “Our musicians are from around North America as well as from across the pond, representing music from Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton and the United States. Always eager to involve the public, there are plenty of hands-on – and feet-on – activities both Friday evening and Saturday. It’s part of my mission to offer opportunities for people to get involved and inspired. For those who prefer to simply listen and watch, there will be 12 solid hours of stage activity to enjoy!

“My heartbeat hastens every time I think about how cool this fest is going to be. I have ‘audience envy’ – I wish I could sit and listen and watch all day rather than running around like a crazy person making sure everything is OK.”

The July 9 festival, running from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., also will feature jousting knights, clan encampments, living history reenactments, pipe bands, weaving demonstrations, sheepdogs, rugby games, an Irish Song and Dance competition, food and drink, Celtic merchandise, Highland athletics, and Millie the Mill Pond Monster. Festivalgoers can take part in a “Celtic Survivor” contest, or the Haggis Hurl, Celtic Clobber or Golf Chip.

Tickets for the July 8 Pub Night at Mill Pond Park are $5 at the gate. Tickets at the gate on July 9 are $5 for ages 13 to 17; $15 for adults; $10 for seniors and veterans. Active military, and children 12 and under are free. After 8 p.m., the cost is $5. Adult tickets are $10 when purchased online.

Tickets may also be purchased in advance at various locations in Saline; at the City Hall office counter; and at the Celtic Festival Office in City Hall.

For more information visit

Saline Celtic Festival Offers Great Music Line-Up - Saline-Milan, MI Patch

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