Attention all indie music hunters who are truly interested in new and different sounds: an unlikely venue is sure to peak your interest – the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, Pa.
Albeit, I had to open my mind to the possibility of finding modern experimental sounds in such an unlikely event, but the Celtic Classic did not disappoint. This outdoor event in this great university town in Pa is held in September every year. The added bonus is that you also get to see log throwing and sheep shearing – when was the last time you saw that?
The first innovative band I found playing was called the Moxie Strings. This was their first year performing around the US so good for them. They were very good, and said that they had a classical background but went into rock, Celtic, folk, and much more. They had some really cool sounds: a fiddle, a very stylish compact cello, and drums. The drums were very loud and intense and they didn’t block everything else out so no one was uncomfortable. This was a very interesting change to the norm. Here’s a little taste:
The sun was setting and there a very beautiful twilight over everything around this time. I decided that I should try one of the beers that they offer. I wanted to get something that wasn’t Guinness since that’s famous and very good, I wanted to try to something new. I ended up getting Smithwick’s, more or less a lighter Guinness and I really liked it. I also got a plastic Irish mug and it was awesome but they gave me way too much beer for a casual drink.
Encouraged by this first band, there were two more bands that I went to check out. I also found that the stage in the back (north) of the event is mainly the band music stage, while the stage near the front (south) is more about performances, like dances, etc. Obviously all these bands had a Celtic vibe, being at Celtic Classic but they were all really different uses of the same instruments and each band ended up with one instrument that was unique to their band.
So the second band I checked out was Emish, a four-person band consisting of drums, electric bass, electric guitar, fiddle, and their unique instrument, which was the flute. The flute added a different tone to just a strings band. Their songs were very energetic and like what would play in an Irish pub fight of an Irish James Bond movie. Their songs had some punk like characteristics and definitely some rock too. You can check them out here:
The last band was Seven Nations, and was, and I quote, “not your father’s Celtic band.” It was a big 6-person band with bass, drums, acoustic guitar, fiddle, and their unique instrument: bagpipes! They actually had two bagpipers doing harmonies. It was such a cool sight to have such an awesome sound in a more modern setting. They fit very well in this venue, obviously, and they had a bigger rock presence than the other bands. Additionally, they had a big stage presence, not just because they had lots of members, but that they were moving around and having fun with it all. A snippet of their video is here:
OK so this is just three of the many bands that performed over the three-day weekend, and what a treat it was to check out some great new sounds in this unlikely venue in beautiful weather. For an experimental music internet aficionado such as myself, this was a very pleasant surprise.