Often the term Celtic music is applied to the music of Ireland and Scotland because both lands have produced well-known distinctive styles that have clear mutual influences. These styles are known because of the importance of Irish and Scottish people in the English speaking world, especially in the U.S., where they had a profound impact on American music, particularly bluegrass and country music.
A chance to embrace these musical Celtic roots takes place at Historic Washington State Park this summer via their Music in the Park series, the brainchild of park curator Josh Williams. All shows in the series are free and open to the public.
The first performance ( all shows start at 7:30 on the 1874 Courthouse Lawn-bring your favorite lawn chair to enjoy the venue!) is this Saturday (June 15). That night local Ark-La-Tex country music band The Midnight Hurricanes perform.
Activities that day in Washington, Arkansas begin with the Farmers Market at 7:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day with Family Fun Day activities free for all from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Williams Tavern Restaurant will be open for supper and park tours are available at regular price from 8 to 5, if you would like to arrive early and explore.
The Midnight Hurricanes began in 2000 and are centered around De Queen. They play a variety of modern country music and have played in various parts of the Ark-La-Tex region. Members include: Jimmy Carver, Lead Guitar/Vocals; Shane Carver, Bass Guitar and Drums; Glen Hawthorne, Drums; Rick Shaw, Keyboard, Lead Guitar/Vocals; Brett Lowery, Fiddle; and Scotty Floyd, Lead Vocals.
Celtic music was influential with many pieces of music particularly in the 19th century that were sung around Washington, Arkansas. Blue Fiddle performs on July 20 at the park. Blue Fiddle is pure Ozark Irish music.
According to their website: “Blue Fiddle is the long, rich history of American music incarnate. Drawing from Irish, bluegrass, folk, roots, jazz, and polka, their signature sound takes you on a journey—from a Civil War era campfire, to an Ozark mountain foot stomp; from an impromptu jamboree on a neighbor’s front porch, to a cozy, wood-paneled Dublin pub. Formed in 2004, the Arkansas-based acoustic trio forges a new direction in Irish/American music…Influenced by the traditionalism of the Clancy Brothers and the Dubliners, and inspired by the drive and energy of Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys, Blue Fiddle is fueled by the band members’ longtime friendship.” Band members are Joe Hamilton, Tom Ware and John Lindquist. A video of the band performing is featured below.
Bluegrass also has strong roots in Celtic music. 15-year old Clancey Ferguson of Mountain View plays more gigs and jams with more notable artists, than most seasoned veteran pickers. She will perform at Historic Washington on August 17 for the series. She’s been playing since she was five and plays several instruments with the fiddle as her primary instrument. She is an accomplished player, singer and songwriter at folk, old time, gospel, contemporary and, of course, her favorite, bluegrass. Her current group, Clancey Ferguson and the Ragtags is composed of Dylan Barber on guitar, Gresham McMillon on the dog house bass, Kai Perry playing mandolin, Tiffany Turner on banjo and, of course, Clancey on fiddle.
Historic Washington State Park, a restoration village preserving one of Arkansas’s most prominent 19th-Century towns, is located on US 278 nine miles north of Hope and can be reached by taking Exit 30 off Interstate 30. For more information contact the park at 870-983-2684 or visit HistoricWashingtonStatePark.com.