By Laura Jean Grant –The Cape Breton Post
BADDECK — Any day in Cape Breton is a good day according to Tom O’Connell, one of two dozen delegates participating in the Celtic Colours International Festival buyers and media program.
The representative with the Milwaukee Irish Fest gave that compliment Monday following a networking session for international delegates at the Inverary Inn in Baddeck before heading out to take in some more festival events.
Currently taking in his seventh Celtic Colours festival, O’Connell says he enjoys every minute of his trips to Cape Breton. He said the Milwaukee Irish Fest has benefitted greatly from its association with Celtic Colours and learned ways to improve their own event.
“We come here to basically network with other festivals and hear great music,” said O’Connell, noting one of his main jobs while in Cape Breton this week is to keep his ears open for new, emerging artists who they may invite to perform in Milwaukee.
“We try to introduce our audience to the roots of Celtic music worldwide. We’re looking for things that are fresh,” he said.
Davie Henderson of the Shetland Folk Festival is also making a return visit to Cape Breton and the Celtic Colours festival this year.
“This is my fourth time here because I love the place, the people and the music,” he said. “There’s a really great vibe and excitement.”
Shauna Walters and Jennifer Pino, co-ordinators of the Celtic Colours international buyers and media program, explained that the whole idea is to export Cape Breton talent by targeting and inviting some of the most influential people on the festival circuit and international media to Celtic Colours.
This year, 24 international delegates from the United States, the U.K., France and Ireland are taking part in the program, traveling across the island, listening to music and considering a large number of performers for participation in their own events around the globe.
Walters said the delegates are able to make their own schedule throughout the nine-day festival and take in whatever shows and events are of particular interest to them.
Pino added it’s great that Celtic Colours recognizes the need for such a program which has proven successful in landing a number of Cape Breton artists — the Barra MacNeils, Natalie MacMaster, J.P. Cormier, Colin Grant and Beolach to name a few — gigs in the United States and overseas.
/> As another example of the program’s impact, Walters noted that Lisardo Lombardia, director of Festival Interceltique de Lorient, the largest festival of Celtic music in the world, made his second visit to Celtic Colours this year and indicated he’s seriously considering a couple of artists he saw on stage in the last few days.
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