A belated/ tardy road-kill, but here it is nonetheless.
Without exception, one of the world’s premier celtic events is the Bethlehem Pa. Celtic Classic [hereinafter CC]. Well overattendees year after year bear witness to this claim. What is however unique about this world-renown event is that has not aborted its small-town feel!
I forget exactly how many times we have played there –or perhaps: but it never ceases to amaze us how these savvy volunteers put on such a monstrous event, with what appears to be, little or no effort. Ah, but therein is the trick. If it appears well ran and effortless, one has succeeded in keeping it simple.
Room to park
- Ample fair-priced accommodation close-by
- Military sized CLEAN toilet areas throughout
- Isolated, yet close, pipe band contests
- Great ambience
- Superior venues
- Quality sound equipment and techs
- World-class acts of every kind: celtic music for every taste and preference
- Swiss clock precision time scheduling
- Ample food selection and celtic shops
- And tons of beer stations where one doesn’t have to stand in line for more than minutes, to mention a few
From a musician’s standpoint; they pick you up in “gators” at your vehicle, with a smile; remove your gear, help to take it on stage, provide you with sufficient grog and libation. What can I say!!!
CC audiences are the best. Period. Knowledgeable, engaged, enthusiastic, and are given an array of various acts year after year to dilute the same-act-same-style-stigma. There are great celtic rock festivals and great trad festivals, but the CC has it all and their objective is the promotion of celtic culture and heritage!
Hard-core celtic music fans return every year from all over North America because the “Classic” is the best of the big-time Celtic festivals. We have met people from Montreal, Toronto, Nova Scotia, and Glengarry, that return every year for all these reasons.
One of the highlights, apparently, is the pipe band parade down Main St. to the festival site downtown. I say apparently, because at9 am, we were never that bright-eyed to journey out for any reason, actually.
I have found that when festivals grow in popularity and size, they lose that ‘relaxed’ feel and often lose sight of the celtic emphasis. Too many rules. Too many cops. Too much pushing and shoving. Too much. Too much. But this has not plagued the CC yet, and hopefully never will. One can walk with ease, beer in hand (I love this part), from venue to venue, on pavement, without feeling you’re at the Pearson Airport!
We looked forward to our return to the CC afteryears. Every celtic act will echo this sentiment I’m sure: celtic entertainers graced with the CC nod, are humbled with the acknowledgement that what they do is worthy. We are thusly humbled.
I remember our first CC in, when John and Peggy Sweeney took a chance on this novice act from the north. We were so thrilled and truly thought we had ‘arrived’! Albeit11 am shows in lesser venues, we felt blessed. So we drank copious amounts of Kilian’s, went to every after hour ceilidh that would allow us entry and were never arrested once. Almost, but not quite and that’s another story. Good times!
This year we played on the main stage at 7 pm on Friday andon Saturday. Each night we went on before our good friends Scythian – a great bunch of guys. The venue was full to the rafters, and as previously mentioned, they were outstanding. Up and clapping, their exuberance was infectious.
Both shows ended in a flash. I encourage readers not to discount this factor, as we have, on occasion, played half-hour shows to dormant unresponsive audiences that seemed like days. I also caught performances by Milinky and Bua. Truly inspiring celtic musicians.
A special thanks goes out to our good friend Cindy, and her staff of great volunteers for their hospitality and trust. Thanks also to Marc and Laurie from Rochester NY for handling our swag and CD table. Moreover, thanks to the great folks in Pa. for making this another Classic Classic!
A la prochaine!