Looking Back to the 2018
Spanish Peaks International
Celtic Music Festival
Before we look forward to the 2019 Festival lineup, last year’s Festival deserves an appreciative retrospection. In many ways, it was one of the most amazing Festivals we’ve had in our fourteen years. On June 26th the Festival leadership was working on the details of a summer fundraising campaign, including an event at the Cuchara Mountain Park. Artistic Director Pat McCullough had arranged for a performer lineup that highlighted individual and small group talent. We were busy working out possible combinations of performers for our larger venues that such a lineup might afford.
Then June 27th happened! What began as a small fire on the western slopes of the southern Sangres rapidly spread, producing an eerie smokey orange sky in Huerfano County.
Despite the strangeness of the day, few of us understood the scope of changes that were coming. Eighteen days later, all but the most northwesterly border of the fire had been contained, but in those eighteen days many in the County had been evacuated from their homes, and the rest (La Veta) remained on a pre-evacuation status. Festival fundraising plans were shelved, and daily concerns were focused on the spread of the fire, and the impact on friends and neighbors. Those who weren’t fighting the fire watched daily from whatever safe spot they had.
Then, after July 15th, those of us working on the Festival began to find our footing again. There were questions to address. Uptop, Cuchara, and Gardner, the venues that open the Festival each year, all amazingly survived the fire, but could they be readied in time? How would the uncertainties due to the fire effect ticket sales? And, oh yes, there were still those performer schedules, and the school program, to work out.
Fast forward to the third week of September. The concept for last year was “Traditions Alive,” the notion that the traditional roots of Celtic music continue to find life in a variety of fresh expression. Our vision was that the exceptional musicians we had lined up would find those common roots in each other, and then, by giving them a stage together, music would happen. And happen it did! Many, including musicians, said it happened “magically”. And, perhaps, nowhere more so than at the late night sessions. These sessions are always free to all, including professionals, semi-professionals, amateurs, and listeners. Performers such as Patsy O’Brien, Colin Farrel, Cormac de Barra, Dylan Foley, Joey Abarta, Máirtín de Cógáin, and Kevin Crawford led the sessions into the wee hours of the next day. It was a true taste of the musical magic that happened from beginning to end.
2018 Featured Performers
Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra
“I think Máire has one of the greatest voices the human ear has ever experienced.” – Bono (1985)
“‘Affinity‘ aptly describes the duo’s shared appetite for harmony-driven, rhythmically complex set-pieces as they mine both traditional and contemporary veins in pursuit of fresh perspectives.” – Irish Times (June 21,2013)
“I was particularly impressed by the structure of their set, building up the energy incrementally in a series of waves, taking the audience along with them every step of the way.” Johnny Walley 4 August, 2016 Folk Radio
Regarding their debut album, “Roam,” “The instrumentation available allows for a lot of variation in the sets, and the band’s love of what it is doing is patently clear in the crisp, fresh arrangements….If this is what they’re sounding like now, then the future can only hold great things for them.” From Gordon Potter of The Living Tradition
Patrick Doocey, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Crawford
From Irishmusic.org, and other sources – “An All-Ireland winning multi-instrumentalist, Patrick Doocey is quickly becoming one of the most in demand accompanists on the Irish music scene today. Predominately self taught on guitar, Patrick’s exciting style on both nylon and steel string guitar combines influences from many genres.” “He has toured all over Europe, Asia, Africa and America and current performs regularly with top band Lúnasa and Ragús.”
From New York Irish Arts – March 11, 2012, on Kevin Crawford’s album, “Carrying the Tune.”“There are ornaments so fast and fluid they sound like a bird whistling in tune, and the transition between tunes in a set seems so smooth you can only picture Kevin turning purple as he keeps playing without breathing. ”
From Paul Keating (2014, irishcentral.com) – On Foley’s winning the title of Senior All-Ireland champion, along with his work with The Yanks, and the release of his solo CD HUP, “(has)...already established Foley as a force to be reckoned with in the Irish music scene in America.”
“Patsy O’Brien’s songs are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, but always delivered with a strong sense of style and energy.” FREETIME NY