Michigan Celtic Festival Announces Music Lineup


The Michigan Celtic Festival (formerly the Saline Celtic Festival) will showcase a dynamic line-up of Celtic bands, with new faces and returning favorites, July 12 and 13 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor.

“This years musical line up is bigger than ever,” says Entertainment Director Paul Wikarski. “We’re bringing in Internationally known Seven Nations, on their 30th anniversary tour this year. Also new to festival will be the Scottish band Highland Reign from Indiana. We’re also excited to have one of our festival favorites from Canada, the Steel City Rovers, return to the festival. So many great bands from Michigan will also be performing, including Brother Crowe, On the Lash, Whorled, Black Murray and more.”

The Grand Rapids trio Whorled—featuring guitar player Thom Jayne, Keala Venema on fiddle, guitar, tin whistle and bodhran, and accordion player Mariko Venema—makes a return visit, playing on the Friday evening.

“Whorled had such a wonderful time playing at the Celtic Festival last year—we could feel the support from the crowd, the hospitality of the organizers, and it was also great to rub shoulders with other great musicians and bands there,” Thom Jayne says. “Had so much fun having Derek Wikarski come up to sing Shipping Up to Boston with us, we might need to enlist him again this year. With a summer schedule packed with performances at Blissfest, Wheatland, Buttermilk Jamboree, and other festivals, the Michigan Celtic Festival is among this year's festivals we’re most looking forward to.”

Also performing on Friday evening, as well as on Saturday, is Highland Reign, a Scottish-American folk rock band from Indianapolis that has been performing for 25 years across the U.S, Scotland, and Ireland. The band features Patrick Norris on guitar, Leslie Miller on bagpipes and bodhran, and Sarah Yingst on fiddle, while all contribute vocals.

“This is our first time at this Festival, and we’ve always have heard great things about it,” Leslie Miller says. “We’re very excited to participate!”

The Canadian band the Steel City Rovers, from Hamilton, Ontario, will round out Friday’s musical performances, and also play on Saturday, with their unique composite of traditional Celtic music and North American styles including bluegrass, folk and roots, with vocals, rhythm guitar, pipes/accordion, fiddle, and drums.

Saturday’s music is headlined by Seven Nations, combining American pop and rock and roll, with Celtic roots. Seven Nations, that has had PBS and CNN specials, has toured full-time since 1994 in Europe, Canada, Puerto Rico, and every U.S. state; and has recorded several albums with over a half million units in sales. The band has played with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony, and the South Carolina Philharmonic; and with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra at the Dublin Irish Festival. Seven Nations also has played the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, a New Year’s Eve performance at Scotland’s Royal Mile for some 40,000 people, and at the New York City Marathon; and has appeared in over 20 major publications including Rolling Stone, Billboard, Playboy, Maxim, GQ, Stuff, and FHM.

The musicians from On The Lash—Patrick Hartson on guitar, Joel Tyrone Myers on mandolin, Elizabeth June on flute, and John Robey on fiddle—return for a second year, with Irish traditional music, new takes on classic songs and original constructions of established standards. The band, formed in 2021, has played at several Celtic festivals around the U.S.

The young musicians from Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic, all from Saline High School, feature American folk, fiddle, bluegrass, jazz, western swing, and Celtic traditions, with spirited vocals and Appalachian step dancing.

New to the festival are The Langford Lads, the versatile acoustic trio of Larry Halverson, Tim Staudacher, and Bob Phillips, with guitars, tin whistles, flute mandolin, banjo, and vocals.

“As the creator and founder of the Saline Fiddlers, I performed at the first eight years of the Saline Celtic Festival where my former student Bonnie Rideout was the featured performer,” Phillips says. “Now almost 30 years later I’m so excited to be returning with my band The Langford Lads, who’ve been described as, ‘A sonically stunning trio where the intersection where Irish, Old-Time, and Folk music meet.’”

Brother Crowe, a gritty, bluegrass-leaning Celtic roots rock band from Detroit making its fourth appearance at the festival, is touring with a new member this summer in addition to brothers Paul and Derek WIkarski, Stephen Vilnius and Bob Gilbert.

“We’re excited to announce that front man and fiddle player from Michigan’s own Crossbow band, Steve Lesko, will be touring with the band when he’s not performing with Crossbow,” Paul Wikarski says. “We used to have a fiddle player for years and decided it was time to bring one back. We performed recently to great review at the Motor City Irish Festival with the new line up, and it added a whole new dimension back to our music. Come check it out and see for yourself!!”

For the complete musical line-up and all the other Celtic fun, including Corgi races, Highland athletics, Highland dance, Wee Folks fun, pipe & drums, and much more, visit mi-celtic.org.

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