Life, Family and the Celtic Music Festival

My life has been on hold.

My family declared me missing.

Why?

Well, because this last weekend and part of last week was the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival.  This year, Dan was the stage manager. Oh boy… What this translates into is that he had to make sure things got done. Mostly to do with sound and lights. This year’s theme was “From the Appalachians to the Rockies”. This festival was also special in that our daughter Morgan got a scholarship to attend the entire festival. The caveat is that she has to write a scholarly paper about the music/culture as it migrated from Scotland and Ireland to Appalachia.

Things started winding up on Wednesday. (ie, things got busy!) Dan was hunting equipment and doing his best to be in three places at once. Thursday afternoon, we had to be in Cuchara at the Dog Bar by 1pm for a “Ceilidh at the Dog Bar”. It was a smattering of the musicians giving everyone a sample of what was to come. Funny part is that one of the bands called the Old Blind Dogs got lost. So, we were making jokes about the Blind Dogs needing a seeing eye dog (guide) to get to the Dog Bar.

Then it was down to Gardner for  a “Taste of things to Come”. This was a ceilidh with the musicians playing teasers. The best part of this event is always Jack Yule. He and his wife Barbara are the reason we have this lovely event. His dry Scots sense of humor makes us all giggle. Lovely time! Of course, I baked two carob mayonnaise cakes for the potluck performers dinner. 🙂 The concert was great and we got home late. On the way back, a car ahead of us looked ‘wrong’. There were no tail lights. Brakes, but no tail lights. So, we followed them all the way back (27 miles) to make sure that no one hit them from behind. When we got to the junction, we pulled up beside them and told them why we had followed them. They were very grateful. Later on, I found out that she was one of the festival harp teachers, Nancy Bick Clark. She was very sweet and so happy that we’d done that. How could we not. Taking care of people is one of those things we do during the festival.

Friday… Free picnic at Uptop. We had a ceilidh which was fantastic. When we got there a piper was playing. I thought it would be our friend Jim Conley. No, it was a young man dressed in 1800’s cowboy gear with full claymore, plaid, knife and sixshooter. Wow! Later on, we found that this young man could dance a jig…with spurs on and sing. Wow!

The concert was great, but… we had to pack up all the gear and get to La Veta for a performance called Wickedly Funny Songs and Tales. We were a little late, but it went fine. Once we pulled our equipment for the second time that day, we had to head to Walsenburg for the big evening concert. “Scotland Meets Appalachia”. This was the Old Blind Dogs and David Coe. The Dogs had a new fiddler with them named Claire Mann. She was great. Dan ran the lights for this concert and it went very well.  Once again, we got home Very late. (see Jaye, Dan and Morgan. see Jaye, Dan and Morgan fall asleep 5 minutes after they got home…)

Saturday was crazy in it’s own way. We spent most of it running around La Veta making sure that sound was available wherever it was needed. Our biggest afternoon event was a concert and demonstration of harp and fiddle. David Coe played fiddle and Aine Minogue played harp. We were at the Methodist church in La Veta. It was called, “They met Here: Irish Harp and Appalachian Fiddle”. I knew that they had played together once before about three years ago, but honestly worried that the mix would be like chalk and cheese. That fear lasted about 6 notes. It was a beautiful concert and discussion.

The concert that night at the Fox in Walsenburg was “From County Clare to Appalachia”, with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill performing. I’d heard them twice on Thursday and was really looking forward to this performance. It started out with two Appalachian fiddlers, Cleek Schrey  and Stephanie Coleman. Cleek does the flat foot dancing or clogging. Really cool. They play so well. Then… Oh My Gods!!! How do you describe a fiddle that starts out slow and then works to a beat so rapidly that you can barely tap your foot that fast? Take the time to look up Martin and Dennis on YouTube. Amazing. Simply Amazing. The crowd wept, shouted, clapped and acted more like a rock concert audience than a bunch of Celtic music lovers. Three or four standing ovations. After they played, the four of them played. It was magical. Simply magical. Afterwards, home, bed and ZZZ’s. Oh, and we remembered to eat dinner!

Sunday. Sunday was “How many places can we be at once day”. We split the sound system three different directions at one point. We had a Dulcimer class with Wilson and McKee. Then we had a demonstration/talk/performance on Gailic Songs by Margaret Bennett. Once again in the Methodist church. I got to run the sound for that one as Dan had to set up for the ceilidh in the park. A bit nervous, but I’ve been learning to run the sound board. Margaret is amazing. Another one worth hearing. Her voice… oh my. Once that was finished, I headed to the park where the last concert of the festival was being held in the park.

Now, David Enke, who usually does a lot of the sound work for the festival had another engagement, so Dan got to run the concert. David’s equipment and Dan’s brain. 🙂 It started out with Roger Landis and David Coe. Everything was going well and then there was a change over. All the fiddlers got up on stage, joining Roger and David.  Martin, Claire, Cleek, Stephanie, Arlene Patterson and then Dennis and the rest of the Old Blind Dogs. Of course everyone was trying to plug in or find a mike and all the careful layout that David and Dan had done went away. Dan was now flying/mixing by the seat of his pants. Then there was another break and all the singers from the festival got up on stage. Ed Miller, Jennie McAvoy, Robbie O’Connell, Margaret Bennett and a choir of singers who’d been learning songs for the last three days joined in. Add to that a couple of fiddlers and I think there were nearly 30 people on stage. And yes, they too were looking for mikes or pick ups. Aieee!!!! Dan was sweating! Yes, he had no idea of who was where. However, he managed. He managed beautifully! 🙂 The sound for the whole concert was great! And no, it isn’t just my opinion. Loads of people commented on how well it went and he even had someone buy him a beer. 🙂

After that concert we packed all of David’s stuff up and stowed it and then went to the after festival ceilidh. Dan got his beer, we relaxed and after an hour or so, we packed the last of our equipment up and went home. By now it was nearly 8pm. We ate dinner and were in bed by 9:15pm. Gad it had been a long weekend of 14-16 hour days. Lots of wonderful music. Tons of things to do and lots of friends to visit with or meet. It was a great festival.

Now to get back to ‘normal’. Yawn… Still exhausted.

Oh, and Chas, In answer to your question… Yes. I went to the festival. Did you?

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7 thoughts on “Life, Family and the Celtic Music Festival

    1. Rozewolf

      Ah. Glad you enjoyed the Sunday show. Dan and I were at the back running sound. Or, I should say that Dan ran sound and I ran errands. 🙂

  1. Jaye, it sounds like a lovely time! I recognize several of the musicians and own their music, or have heard them play. How fun for you to be involved in the process, I find it makes it that much more magical. 🙂 Helping the harpist by following her car made me flash back on the latest de Lint novel I finished – Widdershins. And speaking of de Lint, he and his wife MaryAnn Harris both are wonderful folk musicians. And they love the American Southwest – perhaps you could convince them to join in your next event.

    1. Rozewolf

      It was lovely. Hectic, but lovely all the same.
      I read Widdershins a couple of years ago. Great book. As for invitations… That is up to our dear Barbara Yule. 🙂

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