A bit of Eire in the Southwest? Yes.

Courtesy of Willson & McKee

Kim McKee and Ken Willson sound like they come from the Emerald Isle, but she is a Colorado native and he is from Minnesota. The duo is one of the headliners for the inaugural Durango Celtic Festival this weekend.

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

Durangoís Irish music scene is a team effort, which is what it has taken to put on the townís first Celtic music festival.

C.J. Alderton, a member of the band Patrick Crossing and one of many organizers of the inaugural Durango Celtic Festival, said planning has been going on since last summer.

W he said.

Patrick Crossing and its members are part of a regular core of musicians who play weekly at the Irish Embassy Pub, one of two host venues for the festival. The lineup is impressive, especially for a new event. The other venue will be the Strater Hotel. Alderton said staff members at the Strater wanted to be involved because it wanted to duplicate the success of the Durango Bluegrass Meltodown. The Celtic festival is modeled after the Meltdown, with three days of music on two stages surrounding a series of workshops by some of the performers.

The festival headliners come from afar. Gerry Carthy is a real-deal Irish performer from County Mayo in Ireland. He plays a slew of instruments and spins an enjoyable yarn in his native tongue. Heís able to appear at the festival thanks to his visiting professorship at Santa Fe College, where he also is an artist in residence for the New Mexico Arts Commission.

The duo of Willson & McKee have the authentic Irish sound but are Americans. Kim McKee and Ken Willson live in La Veta and are modern day troubadours. The professional and personal partners travel the country teaching traditional Scottish dance and performing the music.

Another duo, Jon Sousa and Adam Agee, have Colorado ties but know their Irish. Former Boulder resident Agee is a world-class fiddler who has taught and played in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, for the last 10 years. Guitarist Sousa received all of his considerable training in Ireland. Both men will teach workshops Saturday.

The rest of the lineup reflects Durangoís respectable Celtic music population. Bigíns, Patrick Crossing, Mad Haggis, Giantís Dance, The Kitchen Jam Band, An Sliabh and Gypsy Fire.


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