The 4th Annual Celtic Family Jamboree proves good music can beat out cold weather

Jacqui with Albannach with Rathkeltair

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent

Venue: Sertoma Youth Ranch, Brooksville, Florida–February 6th, 2016

The much anticipated Fourth Annual Celtic Heritage Family Jamboree arrived the weekend of February 5th-7th at Sertoma Youth Ranch, Brooksville, Florida, with misty rain and temperatures dropping to the mid-40s. Having traveled to London three weeks ago it actually felt like I was back there!

I arrived on Saturday evening to a homey little campground filled with Winnebagos, pup tents, and trailers decorated with strung Christmas lights and lanterns. Most of the patrons were keeping warm in their tents, sipping beer beneath the concert pavilion, or huddled around small campfires that filled the air with a nice smoky wood aroma.

The festival had an array of vendors with Celtic goods, kilts, sterling silver jewelry, and even currant-filled Welsh cakes.  Cameron’s British Foods provided authentic British, Celtic, and Scottish fare such as fish and chips, haggis, and bangers and mash. Also, there was plenty of good quality beer at a very affordable price (which was drastically reduced as the evening progressed). With the nippy weather many were strolling back and forth for hot chocolate.

The Fourth Annual Celtic Heritage Family Jamboree was organized and emceed this year by Marcille Wallis. It was sad to not see Greg McGrath, the late CFO of Celtic Heritage Productions and founder of the festival, who passed away last Spring 2015. He was much loved and every performer paid homage to his memory and vowed to carry on the tradition of spreading Celtic music and culture.

The bands this year included Albannach, Rathkeltair, Brendan Nolan, West of Galway, Marcille Wallis & Friends, and many more. The style of music offered ranged from traditional Celtic acoustic music to electrified rock and even tribal drum bands. What wass really enjoyable about spending the weekend (or day) at the festival is the performers rotate so one can easily see all the acts. Additionally, among the festivities were demonstrations, music workshops (e.g., pennywhistle, dulcimer, bodhran) and plenty of Irish dancing. A particular highlight was seeing Rathkeltair on the stage with Jacquie and DidgeriDrew of Albannach play a medley of tunes, including those of the late David Bowie. Also, I am still amazed that Albannach members like Jamesie and Colin performed in tank tops. I had to run home to put on my wool coat and gloves.

On Saturday evening, most of the music lovers sat in lawn or folding chairs while a few ventured toward the stage to bust a move. Since the event was a family affair, young children with neon-lit sneakers pranced and even sweatered pooches were observed during this “three dog night”.

Overall, the musical performers and offerings of this Celtic Heritage Production festivals was very organized, family friendly, and entertaining. In spite of the damp weather the music was top notch and the quality of the P.A. system rivaled many large concert venues. I would definitely pencil in the Celtic Family Heritage Festival on the calendar for next year—just come dressed in wool. Look for other Celtic Heritage Production festivals located in the southeastern US.


WEBSITE for Celtic Heritage Productions


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Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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  1. I’ve watched Albannach – most from a safe distance over the years – but sometimes having the opportunity to have them sit in. I’ve had the pleasure of having Rathkeltair sit in on Smithfield Fair sets and on recordings. One thing I can say is that the wild pan-Celtic spirit that inhabits both bands is amazing. Jackie and Jamesy have amazed me from the start with their “no boundaries-pure Celtic” attitude. Rathkeltair inhabits the spirit of the wild Celt and never fairs to force me to take a step back and say…”Whoa!”. Good on them both and best to all. dbs (Smithfield Fair)

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