Latest News

Spanish Peaks Festival “Takes Down the Door” Once Again May 22, 2019 - Last year Take Down the Door gave us a Sunday to remember in two marvelous ways.  The entire band put on a highly energetic Sunday matinee concert, and then, Sunday […]
Spanish Peaks Welcomes the Conifers! May 12, 2019 - Much like our excitement in having the young Irish group, HighTime, to the Festival this year, we feel equally excited that the Conifers will be making their debut.  The Confiers […]
Once Again, From Lunasa… May 9, 2019 - In 2018 the Spanish Peaks Celtic Music Festival was fortunate to have three fabulous musicians who have all played with Lunasa, the band that the New York Times described as […]

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2019 Featured Performers


Old Blind Dogs

“The skill, talent, and verve with which they played belied their laddishness and the crowd responded with thunderous applause. Folk is the new rock and roll.” – Evening News

“The Old Blind Dogs play with a compelling energy and intoxicating rhythm; players and audience seem to share a wild ecstasy of emotion.” – The Scotsman

“Old Blind Dogs have mastered the tricky art of innovating within a musical tradition while faithfully revealing its essence.” – Acoustic Guitar

Aaron Jones

Bouzouki, Vocals, Guitar

Jonny Hardie

Fiddle, Vocals

Ali Hutton

Pipes, Whistle, Guitar

Donald Hay

Percussion, Vocals

Kevin Burke
Fiddle

HighTime

Cillian Valleley

Kevin Crawford

The Conifers


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. Meantime, 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 us.

Then June 27th happened! What began as a small fire on the western slopes of the southern Sangre de Cristos rapidly spread, producing an eerie smokey orange sky over 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.

Photo by Tomi Price

Photo by Heather Curtis


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.

Photo by Bob Kennemer

Photo by Bob Kennemer

Photo by Bob Kennemer

 


That same chemistry evolved during the demos, workshops and concerts. Enjoy a few more images from last year’s magic, and then begin looking forward to this coming September.

Photo by Bob Kennemer

Photo by Bob Kennemer

Photo by Bob Kennemer

Photo by Bob Kennemer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Bob Kennemer

Photo by Bob Kennemer

 


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)

Heron Valley

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

From Lúnasa:

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. ”

Dylan Foley

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

“Patsy O’Brien’s songs are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, but always delivered with a strong sense of style and energy.” FREETIME NY

Joanna Hyde

“Joanna’s fiddle work can be blazing, but is always beautifully controlled and tasteful. She is a fiddle star already…”  Chicago Irish American News

Dave Curley

A talented multi instrumentalist and much requested singer, Dave Curley has become a force in the Irish music scene. Whether the guitar, mandolin, banjo or bodhrán, he plays with masterful finesse….His style is seductive….Oh, did I mention, he is a terrific Irish dancer, too…!” Maryann McTeague Keifer – Ireland Tonight Host at WDCB Public Radio

Tadhg Ó Meachair

“Tadhg, from Dublin, is an All-Ireland champion piano player and has been touring the globe with the award-winning Irish group, Goitse. He is renowned for his ability create dynamic and invigorating arrangements for both traditional and newly composed music.” TradConnect December 21, 2017

Take Down the Door

Máirtín de Cógáin

“Cork’s Máirtín de Cógáin is a seanachie, and there ain’t many left. He is a wonderful, total entertainer. Bigtime new talent! “- Bill Margeson from www.LiveIreland.com

Robbie O’Connell

The Boston Globe describes Robbie O’Connell as “a writer of timeless-sounding, emotionally powerful and often hilarious songs” and places him “among the most respected guitarists, singer and songwriters in Celtic music.”

At the 2010 Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival – Uptop

Ed Miller

His humor and warmth matches his knowledge of Scottish folk music.  But even more impressive to me is the love for song that he expresses in his singing.  He honors every tune, seemingly caressing each in its turn.”
Jonathan James – Spanish Peaks Celtic Music Festival

Tanya Kay Perkins

2016 Festival Memories

The High Kings with the Walsenburg High School Choral Singers ~ 2016

“We are rarely rendered speechless by our experiences on the road but yesterday was one of them! For the last few weeks these HS kids have been rehearsing ‘Schooldays Over’, ‘Goodnight Irene’ and ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ and yesterday we finally got to sing them together. Ladies & Gentlemen, the Walsenburg High School Choral Singers!! After we took this photo we performed these songs live together in front of an audience, including the WORLD EXCLUSIVE first-ever performance of ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ Take a bow boys and girls, each and every one of you were amazing!! #proud — in Walsenburg, Colorado.”

~The High Kings


The High Kings with the Walsenburg High School Choral Singers ~ 2016

“I’m hoping you will forward this message to all the Board and the Volunteers who made our weekend so great! We loved it, working with the HS kids in Walsenburg was a highlight, as was the show on Saturday, and then those special talks and performances on Sunday! Thanks to all for your very kind hospitality, we will never forget it.”

~Paddy McPoland
Tour Manager
The High Kings
Dublin, Ireland


Defining the Festival

The Spanish Peaks Celtic Festival is designed as an intimate four-day gathering led by renowned guest artists, teachers, and scholars from Celtic countries abroad, Canada, and the United States. The Festival offers over 60 different events, including major concerts; two singing programs; instrumental workshops and master classes; a series of demonstration talks and performances on aspects of Celtic music, history, and folklore; a Celtic Harp Retreat; a newly established Piping Retreat; and sprinkled throughout are ceilidhs/ceilis and playing sessions where anyone can freely join in or enjoy as an audience. Finally, the friendly ambiance and spontaneous interplay between artists and participants spark the exciting sharing of music, ideas, and knowledge, all reflected gifts from the fullness of a rich Celtic experience.

We thank you for coming and sharing this experience with us.

The Festival Board

We invite you to embrace music that reflects the rousing spirit of Celts past and present, whose songs haunt us with their pure beauty or make us laugh with their bold humor, and whose tunes, be they deeply rooted or newly composed, are as delicate as the lilt of a flute on the air or as explosive and exciting as the jigs and reels that fly from a fiddler’s bow, lifting your feet right off the ground –music as compelling today as it was a hundred years ago.