A Review: Celtic group delivers glittering performance

A Review: Celtic group delivers glittering performanceBy BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

In a “best of” year for the Indian Wells Valley Concert Association, “Golden Bough” was one of the many well-received groups that returned to Ridgecrest this season to treat local audiences to sounds from all around the world. This time it was the sounds of Ireland, Scotland and other Celtic nations including somber ballads, rollicking sing alongs and everything in between.

Golden Bough includes Margie Butler, Paul Espinoza and Kathy Sierra, multi-instrumentalists and vocalists all. The acclaimed trio has toured North America and Europe for more than 30 years, resurrecting the music and magic of the old world.

As someone who fancies himself a singer (despite what his fellow audience members may say), I particularly enjoyed this concert with how often they invited the audience to sing along. And a surprising number of concert goers were familiar with the lyrics to folk tunes “Wild Irish Rose,” “When the Boys Come Rolling Home,” “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral.” And where the audience didn’t know the song by heart, Golden Bough took the time to run the chorus a few times for us to catch on.

The trio began the concert with a jig, playing a violin, tin-whistle and guitar. But with every song, it seemed, they substituted another instrument into the mix. By the end I counted a harp, a bodhrán drum, accordion, viola, mandolin and harmonica, in addition to three-part harmony throughout.

The instrumental variety added to the myriad of fun lyrics featured in these popular folk songs. (A bit of an aside, I would be remiss not to laud Robert Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire, for rhyming “true art” and “Stewart” in his famous poem-turned-song “Willie Stewart”).

As someone who gravitates more toward high-energy, up-beat songs (of which there were plenty), I have to admit that the trio’s heartbreaking rendition of “Isle of Hope” — a ballad that tells the story of Irish immigrants fleeing the hunger and pain of their homeland with nothing but hope in their hearts — was my favorite song of the evening. Through the elegant melody and the emotion in their voices and instruments, you could feel the struggle — the hope and the fear — of crossing the wide Atlantic to risk the “American Dream.”

This was the IWVCA’s second-to-last concert of the season. Acoustic Eidolon returns on April 10 and the 2017-2018 season artists will be announced this summer. The IWVCA is seeking new members. The association offers season tickets at discounted prices and ticket sales go toward the quality performances the community has come to expect from the IWVCA. For more info, visit www.iwvca.com.

Story First Published: 2017-03-17