Early Spirit, featuring Spirit of the West’s Jay Knutson, will be performing at the 2019 Roots and Blues Festival. (File photo)

Festival adds Celtic flair

Roots and Blues line-up grows with additions of Dervish, Early Spirit

Whether or not the ancient bloodline runs through your veins, the Celtic connection at the 2019 Roots and Blues Festival will move you.

Straight from Ireland comes Dervish, “arguably the hottest Celtic band in the world,” raved, Roots and Blues artistic director Peter North.

Described by the BBC as “an icon of Irish music,” Dervish has been bringing Irish traditional music to the world for more than 25 years, playing festivals from Rio to Glastonbury.

Renowned for its live performances, which match dazzling sets of tunes with stunning interpretations of traditional songs. the band’s 13 studio and live albums make up one of the outstanding catalogues in Irish music.

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Over the years, the band has been on the same bill as artists such as James Brown, Neil Young, Sting and Iron Maiden.

“The cool thing is that Dervish present like a folk-rock band in their stage show,” said North, noting he will pair the band with three great Canadian Celtic acts.

North offered high praise to Edmonton Folk Festival producer/artistic director Terry Wickham, for making it possible for Roots and Blues to get acts like Dervish.

“I feel like we are presenting the best Celtic music in the world,” he said, pointing out the Edmonton festival is a week prior to Roots and Blues. “And that’s thanks to Terry. His knowledge and connections are probably unlike anybody else’s in the country and it’s great we could piggyback on them.”

Violin, fiddle, which is better? Both!

Just listen to talented Anne Lindsay, who has established herself as one of the most engaging and versatile instrumentalists in Canada, adapting her unique violin/fiddle style to the eclectic sounds and musical languages of this country’s rich cultural texture.

She is a popular session-player-to-the-stars (Led Zeppelin, The Chieftains, Blue Rodeo, James Taylor, Roger Daltry) whose skills have graced many a stage around the world.

Lindsay has played on hundreds of recordings and is a featured performer with the Jim Cuddy Band, The Skydiggers and John McDermott.

Cut to the Celtic folk-rock music of Vancouver’s Early Spirit.

Guitar player and lead vocalist Jay Knutson previously arranged, performed and wrote with John Mann and Geoffrey Kelly in their band Spirit of the West. Later, he worked with major Canadian artists including Hart-Rouge and Connie Kaldor. His solo material, a constant throughout his career, draws from jazz and roots music. He uses wisdom gathered from more than 50 album projects to write for and perform with Early Spirit.

“A grizzled veteran with three young guys and they’re really good,” says North, who saw the group at last summers Mission Folk Festival. “Not only were their own sets great, but their collaborations were too; they worked seamlessly with others. We’ll have them do something with (Celtic harp player) Tristan Le Govic.”

Next in line, Victoria-based brother-sister act Qristian and Quinn Bachand have been winning major awards in Ireland.

Born on Canada’s West Coast, with its signature embrace of experimentation and improvisation, Qristina and Quinn have developed their own voice, exploring various musical traditions, fusing styles such as old-time, Celtic, folk and jazz to create their own distinctive sound.

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Their music features a hint of grunge, a dash of noir, a healthy sprinkling of Celtic and a dollop of rootsy goodness, engaging contemporary listeners with jaw-dropping effect.

“They’re really getting to the top of the food chain in Celtic music in Canada,” said North, noting he believes it’s important to have a great B.C. representation at the festival.

“We are really fortunate that we have so many fine young artists coming up in all genres, but in this particular case obviously Celtic.”

For tickets and more information, go to www.rootsandblues.ca.

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