Saline Celtic Festival Offers Array of Celtic and Popular bands

 07/06/2014 - 04:13

Celtic music kicks off on Thursday, July 10, with a ‘sneak preview’ of the Saline Celtic Festival music, when Barleyjuice performs at Thursday’s free Saline Summer Music Series in downtown Saline. The Philadelphia-based band will then brings its drinking songs and Celtic rock to the  “Saline ShamRocks the Park” party in Mill Pond Park on July 11; and to Saturday’s day long festival, also at the park.

Kyf Brewer and Keith Swanson take lead vocals, guitars, accordion, harmonica, mandolin, bouzouki and bagpipes, while Alice O’Quirke fiddles, Keith Barnes drums, and Eric Worthington plays bass.  “We have a bit of a new line-up this year,” Brewer says. “Along with the original founders and songwriters, Swanny, Eric and myself, we’ve added Barnes, our new drummer, and Alice, our new fiddler, who will blow you away with her stage prowess alone.”

The Square Pegz ’80s tribute band from Detroit will bring a retro sound to Friday’s music, replicating 80’s cover hits.

Saturday’s headliners include RUNA, winners of the 2013 Irish Music Awards for Top Group and Top Traditional Group. A young, energetic band from Philadelphia with three albums of music from Ireland, Scotland, Canada and the U.S., RUNA comprises vocalist and step-dancer Shannon Lambert-Ryan, Dublin-born guitarist Fionan de Barra, Canadian Cheryl Prashker on percussion, Dave Curley on mandolin, vocals, bodhran and step-dancing, and fiddler Maggie Estes of Kentucky.

Jeremy Kittel returns to his native Saline to perform his unique fusion of jazz, Scottish, Irish, bluegrass and classical music, with mandolinist Josh Pinkham and guitarist Kyle Sanna.  A Saline High School grad, Jeremy earned jazz degrees from the University of Michigan and the Manhattan School of Music, has won numerous awards in Scottish Fiddle and jazz, has toured the world performing music, and has released four CDs.

“I’m excited to return to Saline to perform with my acoustic trio,” Kittel says.  “The festival grounds have been a special place to me, having grown up nearby, and I can’t wait to give back some energy. Let’s celebrate, Michigan!”

A different kind of Celtic Rock comes from the Vermont group, Prydein, with four albums to its name. The band teams Aron Garceau’s hard rocking guitar playing and Iain MacHarg’s mastery of the bagpipes, with Andy Smith on bass, Caleb Bronz on drums, and Dan Houghton on just about everything else.

Finvarra’s Wren from Michigan plays Irish, Scottish and Celtic-American folk music.  Jim and Cheryl Perkins sing, tell stories, and play guitar, dulcimer, and bodhran, while Allison fiddles and Asher plays accordion and concertina.

Celtic Jam comprises of musicians from SE Michigan who play Irish and Scottish traditional music on fiddle, banjo, harp, uilleann pipes, concertina, bodhran, guitar, string bass, and penny whistle.

The Festival will welcome back two local youth groups, Fiddlers ReStrung from Saline, and Chelsea House Orchestra.

Bryan Kelso Crow, host of NPR’s Celtic Connections radio show, will once again serve as host of the Red Dragon Stage.  Bryan and his friend Mike Shanahan comprise the Celtic Connections Band.

For more information, including YouTube clips of performers and a complete schedule of performances and other festival activities, visit

  • Admission to “Saline ShamRocks the Park,” at Mill Pond Park on July 11, is $5. The gates open at 5 p.m. and close at midnight.
  • The gates open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 12, and the fun runs all day till almost midnight.
  • Tickets at the gate on Saturday are $15 for adults; $5 for ages 13-17; free for children 12 and under, seniors, and active military. Tickets at are $10 for adults. Tickets will also be available for $10 at Saline City Hall this week.
Sheila Pursglove's picture
Sheila Pursglove
Sheila Pursglove is a long-time Saline-area resident, and a freelance writer for several publications in Michigan, around the U.S. and abroad.