Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Music "Reels" at Rockford!

By Guest Blogger, Sydney Schumacher, Public Relations Assistant, Arts in Media

Celtic Harvest, one of the appearances at the Rockford Tower Summer Concert Series, describe themselves this way: “Most of the songs we play you’d hear if you darkened the door of an Irish pub or two.” And it’s true…I think. The band consists of Kelly Crumpley, fiddle and whistle; Jan Crumpley, flute(s) and whistle(s); Kathy Doyle, vocals and piano; Jim McGriffin, guitar and banjo; and Mike Nielsen, bass, second guitar and occasional accordion.

The third song of their set was the first one to catch my ear; it was a lament for a lover, filled with fantastic harmonies and a flute/fiddle point-counterpoint melody line that was resounding. They followed this up with a few Irish reels, which were fun, little skip-y songs filled with pep and feeling. For these, I give props to the flutist and whistler, who flawlessly executed the runs and scale increments. They did a few “songs about redemption” which were a bit more mellow (though not as slow as a lament), through which they tried to engage the audience with prompts to clap and sing along.  

For a moment of technical difficulty, they filled in what would have been silence with a traditional Irish Lament played on the whistle. This was absolutely my favorite moment of the performance, only topping the reels by a little bit. The song was poignant and beautiful; deep-reaching and just barely outside the realm of what I would term ‘haunting.’ One drawback of the family-friendly outdoor venue presented itself in this moment: It’s tough to enjoy a concert when half of the audience is not there for the music, but to chit-chat, play with their dogs and run with their children. But, that’s the nature of a concert such as this. 

The next song — one “about the transition of shoes from hand-made to machine-made” — was saucy and proved that the Irish really will make anything into a song as long as they can dance to it, or perhaps sing along! The final tune was one that almost everyone should recognize — Danny Boy, Oh Danny Boy. A fine way to end, not only because it captured the audience’s attention with the familiar, but also because Ms. Doyle did a fantastic job on the vocals.

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