By Laura Jean Grant - The Cape Breton Post
SYDNEY — It’s almost that time again.
Over the next two days, musicians from around the world will be packing up their bags and heading for points east and west after coming together in Cape Breton for the 15th annual Celtic Colours International Festival.
The festival officially wraps up today with four final shows on the schedule. That will conclude nine days of non-stop music that hit just about every corner of the island.
For Ireland’s Alan Kelly Gang, the experience has been a memorable one.
Kelly said he’s been impressed by everything — the location, the people, the scenery, the volunteers, the venues, right down to the home-cooked meals prepared for them before performances.
“It’s so touching the whole thing, and I’ve been a lot of places,” he said, noting Celtic Colours reminds him of festivals in Shetland. “You bring the music to the people, that’s what is happening here. There’s hundreds, if not thousands, of events happening in different communities, so for me, that’s what makes it different.”
Fiddler Tola Custy, of the Alan Kelly Gang, said he’s enjoyed the “chilled out” feeling of the festival that only comes with experienced people — staff and volunteers — running all aspects of it.
“It’s been amazing on so many different levels. First of all because the festival is running for so long there are very few glitches. It just runs extremely smoothly,” he said.
Custy said there’s also a comforting camaraderie with Cape Bretoners who he has discovered share the “same sense of humour, same wit” as the Irish.
“We really get each other, we get the way we approach the wit and how we time it and it’s a lovely thing.”
In his first trip to the island, Custy had a flattering assessment of the fall colours.
“It’s the most stunning place I’ve probably visited during autumn ever,” he said. “We get a lovely autumn in Ireland as well because we’re just across the pond really from you, but we don’t get those crimson reds, we don’t get those unusual yellows.”
The Alan Kelly Gang performed in their last official Celtic Colours gig Friday night, and are looking forward to a day off on the island, before heading for home Sunday. Custy was hoping to see a bit more of the island today.
“I’m going to try and cajole one of the drivers to take me on a proper drive … not a destination drive. I want to see some of the more quaint places, I’d like to see inland a little bit. I come from a farming background so I always like to see what kind of farming goes on in a place. It’s my way of getting an indicator of what kind of people live there.”
The final four shows on the Celtic Colours calendar are Mentors and Musical Minds at 2 p.m. at Strathspey Place in Mabou, Dancing up a Suete at 2 p.m. at La Place des Arts in Cheticamp, the Pipers Ceilidh at 2 p.m. at the Gaelic College in St. Anns, and the finale show, The Barra MacNeils’ Celtic Roots & Branches at 7:30 p.m. at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion in Sydney. There’s also one final festival club installment tonight, starting at 11 p.m. at the Gaelic College.
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