Various New Orleans Celtic groups will be performing this weekend at the popular Mississippi CelticFest in Jackson, Mississippi.
For the New Orleans Strathspey and Reel Society this will be their 10 year anniversary in Jackson and they plan to mix it up.
“In New Orleans there is just so much going on, and so many other types of music,” said Jim Gunter, President and Director of the Society. “In Jackson it’s something different that only happens once a year. People might think that it would be more Bluegrass, or Old Time or Art Concerts or Philharmonic in Jackson, but there is a lot of Celtic music there, it’s great for first timers. And the big ceilidh on Saturday night, the big dance, is just huge.”
The Strathspey Society perform in New Orleans at various functions throughout the year, but they are not adverse to taking their tunes out on the road, playing each year at events such as the Mississippi CelticFest in Jackson, the Highland and Islands Games Festival Gulfport, and over the last few years providing music for the Baton Rouge Caledonian Society’s annual Burns Supper. They are also involved in the Trinity Episcopal Church’s Arts Series, and they hold weekly open house sessions for those who are keen on developing their Scottish chops.
“As far as I know we are the only Strathspey Society in the Gulf Region of the South, “said Gunter. “ I could be wrong in that, but I haven’t heard of any others.”
Being thematic is important to the Strathspey Society and highlighting Scottish music is a major component of their mission as a non-profit organisation - they often tie their performances closely to particular aspects of Caledonia rather than taking a more scattered approach. This results in what Gunter describes as musical ‘tours’ of Scotland, due to concentrating on gathering and playing tunes and styles particular to certain regions in lucid sets.
However Gunter is quick to point out that although they define their group as Scottish, they are not rejecting other types of Celtic music by doing so.
“It’s not like that at all,” he said. “A lot of the tunes are interchangeable, they have different names but they are the same tunes. There’s a great tune called Timor the Tartar, that’s the Scottish name for it, and in Ireland it is known as Peter’s Street. But it’s the same tune. There’s a lot of that goes around - so it’s not kind of us against them kind of thing. We are just doing a different thing with the tunes."
Other New Orleans groups that CelticFest Mississippi will be welcoming this weekend include the New Orleans Shanty Krewe, The Crossroads Ceili Band, the Louisiana Rhymers, the Irish Dance Club, the McTeggart Irish Dancers of New Orleans, and the New Orleans Irish Set Dancers. It should be quite a party.
Further information is available at: http://www.celticfestms.org/performers.htm