slides: MUSIC: Newport’s Celtic Rock Festival
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Celtica – Pipes Rock opened the show with a high energy set of Celtic Rock ‘n’ Roll that served as an appetizer for the day ahead. New to the festival this year, and decked out like the Scottish warriors from Braveheart, they’re a fun band to see and hear. Their blend of bagpipes with classic rock originals like “I Love Rock and Roll” is infectious. They’ve got to be the only band out there that can segue easily from the traditional folk hymn “Amazing Grace” to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” both show highlights. We hope to see them back in Newport next summer!
The Screaming Orphans
The Screaming Orphans, a sister act from County Donegal, Ireland, made a triumphant return to the festival this year. Their songs merge Irish traditional music with a “pop” music beat. On “Rocky Road to Dublin,” drummer/lead vocalist Joan Diver announced they would play it “the girls way,” full of sweet harmonies and a rockin’ beat. We heard several from their latest album, Toy Theatre (2013), as well as a brilliant rendition of “John Barleycorn.” They had the crowd up and dancing throughout their set.
The Town Pants
Also returning to the festival this year, Vancouver based Irish rockers, The Town Pants. They played a tight set of classics and originals, and charmed the crowd with their Irish-Canadian wit. Opening with the Kiss cover “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” you knew a great set of music was ahead. They impressed on several originals including “Dark Annie,” a ballad in memory of a victim of Jack the Ripper. They led a toast for “Whiskey, You are the Devil,” an old Irish drinking song, and reminisced about a rundown apartment on the rocker “The Old Landlord.”
Eileen Ivers is a true “tour de force.” We can see why she is known as the “Jimi Hendrix of the violin,” and not just because of the “wah-wah” effect she puts on her “axe.” Ivers seems to play her violin effortlessly, moving around the stage and leading her band though a number of musical genres – including Bluegrass and Cajun, all rooted in her Celtic fiddlin’. She and her band surprise you with their jubilant energy, as heard in songs like “Walk On” and “Dance All Night.” She’s simply the most talented fiddle player we’ve ever seen, live, or on YouTube!
Boston’s Irish punks sure know how to rock and roll. The Dropkick Murphys, in their 17th year, are a powerhouse of sound, up there with the best of them. They’re an authentic band and stay close to their roots, something their dedicated fans recognize. With Ken Casey’s powerful vocals leading the charge, they played a pumped up set of familiar hits as well as cuts from their new release Signed and Sealed in Blood. Highlights included “The Boys are Back,” “Rose Tattoo,” and of course, “Shipping Up to Boston.”
Gaelic culture was everywhere at the Celtic Rock Festival. Newport’s own AOH Pipes and Drums, along with a spirited troupe of Irish step dancers, entertained the crowd between sets. The festival had a family feel with concertgoers ranging in age from newborn to 90! There was good “craic” with corned beef and cabbage in addition to liquid refreshments reminiscent of a warm Dublin pub. Erin go Bragh and we’ll see you next year!
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