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Irish melodies take audiences abroad
Historic Celtic music blends new with old
A member of Celtic Crossroads performs.
Celtic Crossroads
When: 8 tonight
Where: Pearce Auditorium, 331 Spring St., Gainesville
How much: $35, seniors $32, students, $28
More info: 770-534-2787

With hints of bluegrass, gypsy, classical and jazz, Celtic Crossroads weaves music genres together and then blends them with traditional Irish music.

The result is purely unique Celtic sounds.

“Celtic Crossroads is doing to Irish music what Riverdance did to Irish dance,” said Kevin Crosby, producer of Celtic Crossroads. “The show itself is based on Celtic music, but what we do, where the name Celtic Crossroads came from, is back in the old days in Ireland it was illegal for Irish people to practice their traditional art because of English rule over the country.”

Despite the laws, he said, the people found a way to celebrate their roots.

“So (what) people used to do, the great Irish lawbreakers that they are, was that they would meet outside of the towns, away from the policing at crossroads and intersections, and there they would celebrate the traditional art.”

Yet even with its roots in ancient traditions, Crosby said the idea for the show was completely new and original.

“It’s all very high energy, a very young cast ... it’s something that people haven’t seen before and it’s something original and unique,” he said. “A lot of the show will be different styles of Celtic music from various places in Europe, but we also have American bluegrass, we have gypsy music from western Europe and then we also have a classical, kind of English style.”

Appalachian bluegrass has roots in Celtic music, from the cadence to the sound itself, Crosby said.

“When you listen to the tunes or timings of bluegrass music, you will hear that it is very similar to the gigs and reels of Irish music,” he said. “When bluegrass was spawned around the time when Irish people were coming over — you know, kind of mixing with the musicians here — and gave birth to a new style of music.”

The show, which features 28 instruments on stage, will run two hours with a 15-minute intermission.

“One question that we always get asked at the end of the show is, ‘What are the pipes that the guy is playing?’” Crosby said. “You might know the bagpipes, which are a Scottish form of instrument. We have a different version of a bagpipe in our land called uilleann pipes ... we also have a bodhran, the traditional Irish drum. We have everything from different styles of guitars, fiddles, of course you couldn’t have an Irish show without a traditional Irish harp on stage.”

Other instruments, like a drum called a Peruvian cajon, Spanish guitars and flutes, are also mixed into the show.

Gladys Wyant, director of The Arts Council, said tickets are still available for the show tonight.

“It is quite a variety with the singing and music,” Wyant said. “One instrument that I particularly enjoy that you don’t hear that often is the uilleann pipes. It’s not as boisterous, if you will, as the bagpipes. It’s kind of a soothing and sometimes eerie sound.”