Luck o’ the Irish charms Keystone |

Luck o’ the Irish charms Keystone

Kimberly Nicoletti

KEYSTONE – The sounds of “Riverdance” mix with Latin and African rhythms when The Eileen Ivers Band kicks off the Celtic Festival at River Run June 14.

Eileen Ivers helped put Irish music on the world stage with her fiery fiddle playing in “Riverdance” for three years. However, she stands out most for her unique blend of Latin and African rhythms, which complement the spirit and nature of Irish music.

An African bassist, a Latin-born percussionist, an Irish-born piper, a blues singer from the Bronx and a Harlem-born tap dancer richly contribute to Ivers’ Irish flair. The band blends jazz and jigs, hip-hop and reggae, flamenco and bluegrass.

“It’s a multicultural band, but we all celebrate the similarities in music,” Ivers said. “At the end of the day, it’s dance music. You want to get people dancing and feeling the groove. It’s more of a show than just a band.

“It’s an emotional event because Irish music is that. It has its ups and downs, and at the end, we get it rocking. It becomes a big ole party. It’s very real music. It definitely comes from the heart.”

Ivers began playing fiddle at age 8, when an Irish immigrant moved to her Irish community in the Bronx.

“He really taught me the spirit and the love of the music,” Ivers said. She competed in the All-Ireland Fiddle Championships every year as a child and young adult, winning it seven times.

“Ireland has always been a big part of my life,” Ivers said. Her parents immigrated to America and worked hard, sending money back to their relatives. “In the beginning, it was my folks that just wanted me to learn, but now violin is an extension of my personality. You can express so many things through it. When you can touch so many people, it’s a blessing.”

Ivers has definitely touched The Hyde Family String Band, which will open for her. Iain Hyde, 18, and Joanna Hyde, 15, have been listening to Ivers for years, and Joanna Hyde is one of Ivers’ biggest fans. The Denver-based musicians auditioned for the gig, and now their grandmother, a 30-year ski instructor and landscaper for Keystone, is planting flower beds to complement their performance at Park Lane Pavilion.

“It’s like dream come true,” violinist and stepdancer Joanna Hyde said. “(Ivers) is one of the people I listen to the most.”

“Like Eileen, we’re eclectic,” Iain Hyde said. The siblings mix bluegrass, Texas swing and Big Band tunes of the 1930s and ’40s.

The Celtic Festival continues Saturday with Scottish athletics such as traditional fling and sword, Scottish dances featuring the modern hornpipe, clan tents, artisans and children’s activities.

“There’s something to do for everyone in the family,” Keystone Resort Communications Coordinator Helen Cospolich said. “It’s an opportunity to bring together Irish band music, games and good food. It’s something not a lot of people in Colorado get to do.”

Tickets for The Eileen Ivers Band are $10, and the remainder of the festival is free. For information, call (970) 496-$FUN, or visit the Web site at

Celtic Festival

– When: 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, 10 a.m.-

6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 15-16

– Where: River Run, Keystone

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