Kilmaine Saints, Albannach, and Gaelic Storm Perform for 20,000 at Annapolis Irish Fest

The rebirth of Celtic Identity in North America and accompanying surge in attendance at Celtic festivals is not letting up. The Annapolis Irish festival is being held this weekend, (July 11-12) in the historic American city of Annapolis, Maryland.  A stunning 20, 000 revellers are expected to attend.  Estimates vary on the number of American’s claiming descent from the modern Celtic Nations.  An analysis of the American 2010 Census data proffered in an August 2013 article in “Business Insider” estimates descendants of Celtic immigrants to be in the vicinity of an astounding 50 million.

Three of the headline Celtic Rock bands performing at this weekend’s festival are the Kilmaine Saints, Albannach and Gaelic Storm.  Each of these bands have a strong Celtic identity and view themselves as promoting Celtic culture.  Transceltic have interviewed spokesman for each of these exciting acts over the past year.  Below we have presented excerpts from these interviews in which is described the role each band sees itself playing in the North American Celtic Renaiassance.

Mike McNaughton - Kilmaine Saints

We absolutely see ourselves as a Celtic band.  With our mix of Irish and Scottish traditions, bagpipes, fiddle and whiskey fuelled original compositions...we are certainly not aiming for Top 40 radio audience. As for being ambassadors of Celtic culture, I believe we do see ourselves that way. The music is in our blood when we perform, in our hearts when we write it and in our heads when we sleep.  We may not appeal to some true die-hard traditional Celtic music lovers, and that's okay - to each their own - but I do feel we are out there leading the charge for a younger generation that likes their Celtic music a little harder, a little angrier and a little faster. And we carry that flag proudly.  

Jamesie Johnston – Albannach

When people watch us perform they are experiencing Celtic culture and I see that as the takeaway from our performance, that the audience is experiencing Celtic culture when they attend our performance.  Too many people, you walk about and you say to people 'where are you from', and they say 'well generations back, I was Scottish'. They should be more proud than that, to be Scottish means something, it means a heck of a lot to be Scottish. If you take a minute to look at where our ancestors have been before us, who we fought, things that we invented, just to keep Scotland on the map, just to hold on to a place called Scotland. A heck of a lot went into that and people should be more proud.  This is what this is about, we’re trying to get people to realise that being Scottish isn’t just about wearing a Kilt or taking an occasional whisky, it’s so much more, it’s about all the things that have been said and done. To be proud of the generations that went before you, that is what this is all about.

Steve Twigger – Gaelic Storm

It is nice to us that we have been able to bridge the gap and connect with audiences who may have a tenuous connection with their own Celtic ancestry and I think we can do that through a blending of our youthful exposure to Celtic folkloric traditions, our exposure to modern Irish or Celtic pub music, such as the Clancy Brothers  and our contemporary musical tastes, such as Dépêche Mode and our appreciation of the Pure Drop (traditional music unadorned by modern accompaniment or stylish influences).  This connection is enhanced by our blending these influences into a contemporary musical style in a way that we find very satisfying.

Editor's Note 16th July:  Attendance at this year's festival exceeded 30,000.  A remarkable feat given this is the Festival's fourth year and serves as further testimony to the Celtic Reniassance.

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