VACAVILLE — There will be some fiddling around, humor, dancing and plenty of singing when The Celts invade Vacaville on Dec. 21.
The group is very familiar to TV viewers, as “Christmas with the Celts” has been featured on PBS stations as part of its pledge drive.
Described as “ancient meets modern,” the show brings together Irish and Scottish Christmas carols that date as far back as the 12th century. They are performed using technology such as modern drum loops and synthesizer work.
“These are songs most people have never heard before,” said Ric Blair, founder and leader of the group.
The Celts then turn the tables and bring out popular Christmas tunes and perform them on ancient instruments.
A seven-piece group plays the music. A narrator tells stories. Irish dancers click their heels and a children’s choir gets to share the stage. At the Vacaville show, members of the Alamo School Chorus will be featured.
The Celts also weave some humor into the show. Blair said that’s the essence of Irish and Scottish culture.
“There’s some bantering between the audience and band members,” he said. “It’s great fun and a celebration. Like being in a pub in Ireland.”
The goal is for the audience to forget their woes and find hope in what the Christmas message is about, Blair said.
Celtic music got a big boost from Riverdance, a theatrical show of traditional Irish step dancing, Blair said.
This is a crazy time of the year for The Celts. Blair spoke on the phone from a diner in Pennsylvania, grabbing breakfast before taking off to the airport for a show that evening.
“It’s a tight schedule,” he said. “I run on adrenaline. Then I crash.”
“I’m probably going to kill my booking agent afterward,” he said in jest.
Blair said it’s a job he wouldn’t want, adding booking agents deal with so many factors and work really hard. They can’t help the fact that people want to hear Celtic music at Christmas.
The band stays busy throughout the year, Blair said. Demand increases at the holidays.
“There’s something about Christmas and Celtic music,” he said. “It’s happy and joyful music. It fits well with the Christmas spirit.”
The hardest part is planning the tour and pre-production work. Once on the road, it’s fun.
“I was made to do this,” Blair said. “I must have some Gypsy blood in me. ”
A multi-instrumentalist, Blair served as the personal guitar instructor for Sheryl Crow and has composed film scores for actors such as Danny Glover and Morgan Freeman.
He’s also traced his Scottish roots back to John Blair, who was the personal chaplain to Scottish hero William Wallace.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.