Several months ago, one of the artists we actively follow reached out to alert us that they would be coming to our area to perform. We immediately put the event on our calendar and have been counting down the days since. Now that the 2017 Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA, is only a couple of weeks away, we find ourselves eagerly awaiting not one but seven Canadian acts making the trek down to northeastern Pennsylvania.
If you are anywhere within driving distance of Bethlehem the weekend of Sept. 22-24, we encourage you to come along. Here are previews of the Canadian artists performing at this year’s festival. You can also check out the Spotify playlist we created in anticipation of their performances.
Cassie and Maggie MacDonald
We’ve featured Nova Scotian sisters Cassie and Maggie MacDonald previously here on GDW – first with an interview about their most recent album, “The Willow Collection,” and then a recap of a great concert they gave in Corning, NY. We’re thrilled that we’ll get to see these delightful and talented young ladies again. For those of you who have not previously heard them, you can expect some top-notch musicianship and dancing delivered with a great sense of humor and panache.
The Glengarry Bhoys
Hailing from Glengarry County, Ontario, the Glengarry Bhoys were founded in 1998 by two members of the Cornwall Police Service, and have evolved over the last two decades into what they term a “hybrid of Canadian Highland Scots and French Canadian musical idioms.” We look forward to hearing them live for the first time – based on the video below, we anticipate a rollicking good time!
Qristina and Quinn Bachand
This hugely talented brother-sister duo from British Columbia already possess terrific résumés, despite their youth. Not only have they developed a tremendous following as a folk/roots pairing with strong Celtic roots, but each has pursued other musical endeavors – Qristina recently earned a master’s degree in traditional Irish music and performance, and released a solo album, and Quinn, a gifted multi-instrumentalist, also fronts the swing jazz band Brishen, which released its first album earlier this year.
As we have not yet seen this group live either, we cannot tell you definitively what to expect, but judging from their most recent album “Little Hinges” (2016), we’re expecting a performance with unexpected hints of other genres amidst more traditional folk/roots music. (For those of you who live closer to Lancaster, PA, Qristina and Quinn are also playing at Chestnut House on Sunday, Sept. 24.)
Searson, comprised of sisters Erin and Colleen Searson, come from the Ottawa Valley and specialize in “incorporating the Ottawa Valley style music with Celtic, East Coast, Scottish and various other styles.” Both not only are talented instrumentalists but also will undoubtedly demonstrate their step dancing skills during their performances in Bethlehem. We’re really looking forward to hearing their great harmonies and energetic playing (and seeing some dancing, of course!).
Steel City Rovers
This Celtic group from Hamilton, Ontario, refers to themselves as “Celtibilly.” Anchored by the instrumental skills and harmonies of brothers Joel and Ryan McKenna, the group delivers a great blend of traditional and modern sounds, and Team GDW is really looking forward to hearing them live. (In all our trips to Hamilton, we’re amazed that we haven’t heard of them previously – but we’ll work to make up for that!) Watch the video below to get an idea of what they mean by “Celtibilly”…
Ten Strings and a Goat Skin
This bilingual folk/fusion trio from Prince Edward Island has been on our “live concert” bucket list for a while now, so we’re thrilled that we’re going to get the chance in a few weeks. Their music is a blend of Celtic, Franco-Canadian, traditional, and contemporary, and they definitely have no aversion to experimentation. (Their most recent album, “Auprès du poêle,” also incorporates some B3 and pump organ.) Like many of the other groups on this list, the trio includes a pair of brothers, Rowen and Caleb Gallant, along with string player Jesse Périard. (And for those of you near York, PA, the group is also performing at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday, Sept. 24.)
West of Mabou
West of Mabou, a lively Celtic group from Saskatchewan, first came to our attention several months ago when they released their debut album. Their music incorporates elements of styles from both Scotland and Cape Breton Island, delivered in their own unique (and always intriguing) way. This five-piece band will bring tremendous energy to the stages in Bethlehem, and we are really looking forward to finally hearing them live.
Photo credits: Thomas Weller (Steel City Rovers); West of Mabou website; Qristina and Quinn Bachand website; Brian T. Walters Photography (Searson); Ten Strings and a Goat Skin website; Glengarry Bhoys website