When Scots meet Irish, a Celtic jam session ensues

Posted by ERIN SHAW on April 3, 2014 

It is entirely possible to rock out on the accordion. And the flute. And the fiddle. 

At the Savannah Music Festival show "When the Scots Met the Irish," a quartet of assembled Irishmen and a trio of Scots shared the Charles Morris Center stage Thursday to showcase the best of Celtic and folk music. 

They brought with them a set of bouncy, lively tunes fit for a boisterous pub atmosphere, cross-pollinated with references to their Western European backgrounds.  

The show began with the Irish group comprising flute player Kevin Crawford and piper player Cillian Vallely from Irish supergroup Lunasa, Irish guitarist John Doyle and fiddle player Duncan Wickel. 

Lunasa is a traditional Irish music group, renowned for its constant touring, having performed over 1,500 shows across the globe since the band formed in 1997. 

Vallely and Crawford have record two albums together, and Vallely recently recorded with Bruce Springsteen. 

Doyle is a singer/songwriter from Dublin, and Wickel, though American, is sought after for his mastery of Irish, old time, jazz and bluegrass music. 

Together they played a number of toe-tapping, jig-worthy tunes, many about various places around Ireland. 

"This is a song about a place near Waterford where people go to vacation, because it's sunny four days instead of the usual two," Crawford said, making a joke about the near-constant rain in Ireland. 

After a short intermission, folk trio Lau took the stage, injecting even more energy into the crowd with sparkling instrumentation from Kris Drever on guitar and vocals, Martin Green on accordion and piano, and Aidan O'Rourke on the fiddle.

Lau is a three-time "Best Group" winner at the BBC Folk Awards, and it was easy to see why. The way their three instruments weave in and out of each other made their folk music sound contemporary and cool. Green's mastery of the accordion added rich bass vibrations as he squeezed a variety of otherworldly sounds out of it. Rocking out is the only way to describe it. 

The group was especially adept at building intensity within their songs, but peppered them with snippets of humor. 

"This is a song about snogging," Green said. "I know you all don't do that here because you are respectable people." And later, "I made my own waffle this morning. That was a cultural experience for me."

For an encore, both groups met on on stage for a final song, bringing the audience to its feet. 


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