After a COVID interruption, the long-running Irish music spectacle kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday. Get the preview, festival playlist and more at Local Spins.
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When the Michigan Irish Music Festival resumes its toe-tapping, knee-slapping celebration at Muskegon’s Heritage Landing this weekend, it will do so with help from internationally renowned Celtic touring stars such as Scythian, Old Blind Dogs, Shane Hennessy, Kittel & Co., Aoife Scott and The Elders.
But Irish-hued Michigan artists will play a big role in the weekend affair as well, including The Moxie Strings, CrossBow, Toby Bresnahan, Conklin Ceili Band and others – all eager to reconnect after a two-year COVID hiatus.
“We love the Michigan Irish Music Festival so much,” said Diana Ladio, fiddler for The Moxie Strings (as well as The Elders).
“The festival grounds, bands, people and treatment of their artists are second to none. This is one of the highlights of our year. We’re proud to call it our ‘home fest.’ We’re looking forward to seeing so many other great bands and also getting to perform with students on our Saturday afternoon set.”
Added cellist Alison Lynn: “We love the time and energy our home fest puts into finding the most amazing musical acts each and every year. We feel so honored to be a part of such a powerhouse lineup.”
Mick Lane, of West Michigan’s Conklin Ceili Band, noted that his group is one of the longest running acts performing at the Michigan Irish Music Festival.
“For us, it’s like coming home. Many of these world-class performers from all over the world are old friends, and given the two-year absence, it’s a homecoming of sorts,” he said.
“I’m excited to drive over that hill and see our Irish version of Brigadoon, the city that rises once a year, on the grounds of Heritage Landing. It will be a grand four days of music and fellowship.”
Lane credited the festival’s “dedicated and smart” volunteer committee for assembling a well-run annual event that treats workers and performers well, while showcasing top-notch musicians and dancers. The festival also donates food and thousands of dollars each year to help the “most vulnerable” in the community.
Lane also encouraged attendees to not only catch sets by stars ranging from Scythian and Old Blind Dogs to Connla, Rory Makem, The Alt, Runa, The Friel Sisters and One for the Foxes, but to check out the “session area” where anyone of any skill level can sit in with Conklin Ceili Band for informal jamming.
Steve Lesko, fiddler for Michigan’s CrossBow said it all shapes up as “a helluva welcome back.”
That’s because the festival ultimately serves as a gratifying reunion for musicians and fans alike.
“We are excited about everyone on the schedule,” said Lynn. “It’s wonderful to have amazing friendships with all of these musicians. We are all on the circuit together time and time again. The bonds we have created are absolutely priceless.”
Four-day festival passes are $50, available online here. Day passes ($10 Thursday, $15 Friday, $25 Saturday, $10 Sunday) are also available, and kids 12 and younger are free.
MICHIGAN IRISH MUSIC FESTIVAL 2022: The Local Spins Playlist
VIDEO: Conklin Ceili Band for “13 On Your Side”
VIDEO: The Moxie Strings, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
VIDEO: Crossbow (2020)
VIDEO: Scythian at Dublin Irish Fest 2022
VIDEO: Old Blind Dogs at Edinburgh TradFest 2020
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