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Ashland welcomes Celtic Nights on Tuesday

Mar. 03, 2013 @ 06:30 PM

Ever since the show Riverdance burst onto the scene in 1995 beginning a successful 18-year run, there have been many Celtic music-based productions that have appeared. And, rightly so, as Celtic music and culture is loved not only here in the United States, but around the world.

Now, coming to the Tri-state, is a new show from Ireland called Celtic Nights - The Emigrants Bridge, a multi-media production featuring many of the Emerald Isle's best singers and dancers.

Celtic Nights is coming to the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, on Tuesday, March 5. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets range from $20 to $40. More information can be found at www.paramountartscenter.com or by calling 606-324-3175.

The United States has hosted a large population of Celtic ancestry going back to the 1800s. Many Irish and Scottish immigrants ended up in the Appalachian Mountains and surrounding hills. Celtic music, storytelling and dance has influenced many aspects of American culture.

The Father of Bluegrass Music Bill Monroe often spoke of the "ancient tones," the roots of bluegrass that began in the British Isles. There are tunes found in bluegrass and old time music that are centuries old and can be directly traced back to Celtic origins.

In this new century, there is a highly-acclaimed program held annually in Scotland called The Transatlantic Sessions, where top musicians from Scotland, Ireland and the United States come together to collaborate. The two musical directors of the Transatlantic Sessions are Scottish fiddler Aly Bain and American Dobro great Jerry Douglas, whose parents and grandparents grew up in West Virginia.

The Mountain State is one of three places in America where the ancient sport of Irish Road Bowling is played, a tradition that can be traced back to the Irish Regiments that traveled and fought in West Virginia during the Civil War.

For decades, the holiday known as St. Patrick's Day was a bigger deal here in the U.S. than in Ireland. And, with March 17th soon approaching, all things Irish are in vogue, and that is why the Celtic Nights show is coming to Ashland.

Celtic Nights centers on six accomplished singers from Ireland who, along with the same number of Irish dancers, tell the story of the people of the Emerald Isle who left their home and journeyed to many parts of the world. The story is well-known, as the Potato Famine and British oppression led to several mass migrations by many in Ireland who were looking for a better life. In the Celtic Nights show, every eight minutes or so, another story of migration is explored, focusing on the many different destinations that were sought out by Irish immigrants over the last 150 years.

Tuesday night's show will feature lively music, including many jigs and reels and hornpipes, as well as songs sung in the native tongue of Gaelic. But there will also be classic Irish tunes sung in English that everyone knows, from "Danny Boy" to "Isle of Hope." Ultimately, however, the show comes around to pay tribute to the land where most of the Irish immigrants landed, the United States of America.

This traveling production of Celtic Nights has brought forth a letter from the Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny.

"Our melodies and rhythms, at times plaintive and evocative, at other times stirring and majestic, weave together a potent image of our hopes, joys, struggles, pain and sorrow since the dawn of Irish history," said Prime Minister Kenny, in the letter. "Irish artists such as Celtic Nights have brought our distinctive and evolving music and dance tradition to the world stage and showcase our tradition in spectacular fashion. Despite the globalizing influences of the modern world, our artists are helping to ensure that Ireland's music and dance, of which we are so proud, is more vibrant and celebrated than ever before."