Summit's golden aspen leaves may be dropping away, but the jig isn't up yet. The Irish know how to keep a party going, and they're not stepping into the shoulder season quietly. The Breckenridge Celtic Music Festival livens up Main Street Station on Saturday with Celtic step dancers, live music and, of course, libations.
The Young Dubliners headline the event at 4:30 p.m. For three years, they've delivered high-energy rock, influenced by a rich Celtic tradition, to Main Street Station. "They have an affinity for Breckenridge, and Breckenridge has an affinity for them," said event organizer Karin Bearnarth. American and Irish natives make up The Young Dubliners, who fuse lyrically poignant tunes with an anthem-like feel. For a decade, Dubliner guitarist Keith Roberts has played with his fellow Irish mate, bassist (and vocalist) Brendan Holmes. American-born musicians Bob Boulding (guitar, vocals) and Chas Waltz (violin, keyboards, mandolin, harp and vocals) join them, while American percussionist Dave Ingraham keeps the beat. Uilleann pipe and pennywhistle master Eric Rigler - known for his work on the "Titanic" and "Braveheart" soundtracks - also joins the mix.They follow in the Irish tradition of storytelling by writing songs about the chaotic world they sometimes find themselves in, with tunes ranging from ballads to barnburners, intermingling politics, the travails of touring as musicians and the trials of both saints and sinners. Within this diversity, the Celtic spirit of faith remains apparent; the overarching theme is: Things can get better.
Bearnarth had the luck o' the Irish in scoring both An Dochas and Seven Nations for Saturday's event. "An Dochas is out of this world, and Seven Nations can usually command a huge following; we got them because they were passing through," she said. An Dochas is Gaelic for "hope," but the band brings more than that to the stage with its lively interpretation of Irish folk tunes. The artists' cultural and musical influences result in dynamic and poignant songs. They blend traditional and contemporary sounds, with Uilleann pipes, the bodhran, fiddle, mandolin and guitar, into their diverse repertoire.Seven Nations' name was inspired by the original Celtic nations of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Brittany. The band began in 1993 in New York City with the usual guitar, bass and drum lineup, but soon introduced bagpipes into its shows. It seemed to be a natural fit, since most of the musicians grew up playing Celtic music."Over time, the number of songs utilizing bagpipes grew, until it became obvious that they were integral to our emerging sound," said lead singer and guitarist Kirk McLeod in his bio, adding that the bagpipes and fiddle account for the band's unique and distinctive compositions. Since 1994, the band has regularly toured through Europe, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States. Album sales have reached a quarter million, and critics have praised the band's latest release, "Time as the Enemy," for "having the appeal of the original albums, yet a mature songwriting style." They also commend the lyrics for being surprising, yet easy to relate to. Plus, "the pipe/fiddle hooks stir a desire to listen to the album over and over."
Estes Park Vocal competition winner Lynn LeMieux also will perform her lilting ballads, and the Celtic Steps dancers will rev up the festival with a jig. Five of the local, Breckenridge dancers have reached championship level, Bearnarth said. Dancers from the Front Range will join in for the half-hour show. Trilogy Partners is sponsoring the stage."It's a family-friendly festival," Bearnarth said, adding that vendors will sell items from around the world, and the festival includes a special kids' play area.Now in its third year, the festival has held various time slots. The first, in August, drew about 3,000 people. This year, Bearnarth slotted it for fall, since June seemed too hot the previous year - what with the heavy kilts and all.And, due to popular demand, this year, organizers offer an all-access backstage pass, which not only allows fans to hobnob with the bands, but also provides complementary drinks from the Breckenridge Distillery throughout the afternoon - all for $25 (plus an online fee).The event is free, but if you want special backstage access, including drinks from Breckenridge Distillery, visit www.bit.ly/ORzKFC ($27.37) Info: (970) 547-3205