Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first Irish or Celtic festival. I have to say it was a real hoot. It was the Colorado Irish Festival in Littleton Colorado. My main reason for going was to see The High Kings. I had not seen them in a live performance since Killarney in 2009 and they did not disappoint.
But let’s start at the beginning. I had chatted with friend Amy about this and she said she’d like to go. I picked up tickets for both of us for Saturday and Sunday in exchange for staying at her place and her transporting us to and from. I hopped the bus from the San Luis Valley and the four or so hour ride north up highway 285. A late morning arrival saw here waiting for me and we then went straight to the site of the festival at Clement Park.
We wandered a bit and checked out various tents including ones for the Irish sport of Hurling. No, not the kind of hurling you get from too many pints! It is played with a stick and ball but on a field much like soccer. We also stopped at a tent for Irish wolfhound rescue and met a laid back dog named Finbarr. We also grabbed a lunch at a Scottish place housed in a trailer that came up from Albuquerque. We watched some of the bagpipe band competition too and then headed to the open air venue to watch our first of four bands of the day. They weren’t so hot and were local. Stubby something or other. Next up was a fine Canadian group called Searson. It is named for the two sisters in the group including one who is quite the fiddler. They are from eastern Canada and a four piece band with keyboards, fiddle, Base, and drums, along with vocals and dance. Very good and we’d see them again the next day. Weather had been cloudy for the most part but with breaks of hot sun. That cooked things and set off the storms. Thankfully it was just rain. But at times for the rest of the day and night it was heavy rain and everyone was soaked. Next up was a great local group called The Elders. All of them were top drawer but I especially liked the violinist, Colin, and drummer, Kian. The lead man Ian Byrne happens to be the uncle to outstanding Celtic Woman piper Anthony Byrne. No one stayed seated for this show and it was simply excellent. Next up the headline act for the night was Gaelic Storm. I have waited to see them for years and I finally got the chance. As billed by others who had seen them it was high energy and no one sat down. I got my exercise between these two groups bouncing and dancing. First day was done and I was very impressed with it all.
Day two began with a hearty breakfast and then to pick up tow of Amy’s gal pals for the day. As with the first day we had to park away from the site and be bused over. Clement Park was the scene of sports camps and baseball games and parking was taken up by that. So, we parked at a place of high notoriety, Columbine High School. There is a nearby memorial and I could feel a few of the ghosts floating around at times. We arrived and the day was sunny and warm with some clouds at times. I opted to head right to the music venue and grab some chairs in what little shade near the stage I could for all of us at stage left. The others wandered a bit as I minded the store. First up was another local group called Angus Mohr. Like The Elders it included a father and son team. It was a four piece group that included some didjeridoo along with guitars, drums, and bagpipes. It was like traditional Irish meets Led Zeppelin and was very good. Some fine work by one and all. Amy and company got in on the last bits of it. I went for some ice cream on the break and made it back for sound check for Searson. Slightly different set list and as good as the Saturday show. Sadly, the crowd had not really developed yet so their reception was not as boisterous as the day before. Clouds were rolling in but no major rain and only scant sprinkles as we readied for the headline of the day, The High Kings. Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden, Martin Furey, and Brian Dunphy are all multi-talented on instruments and sing. I have many fond memories of them when they opened for Celtic Woman in 2008 and the Killarney show in 2009. I was able to chat with Martin before the show and he is as fine as they come. The performance was excellent and they did a couple encores. I could have easily stood a full two hour show. After the show we lined up for CDs, autographs, and photos. I chatted with a young couple who had sat in front of me, the Parlanes, from Columbus Nebraska. Nice people and this concert was a bucket list item for them. Also at the show were long time fans Norma and Charlie Brock from Texas. Great folks. I did not ask for the lads to sign anything. I just wanted to say hello and get a photo. We stay in touch on Facebook and I just had to thank them for the great show. It was then off for Amy’s, an overnight, and home the next day.
This was a great event well done and I will most certainly be back, God willing. Only flies in the ointment were vendors not taking cash, no Guinness, and the wet weather on Saturday. But what is an Irish anything without rain? I was just thankful no lightning. I would encourage them to look into the Gothard Sisters, and Screaming Orphans to add to their list. Aside from that I was very pleased and congratulate one and all involved for a marvelous weekend.