First there was Riverdance, then Celtic Woman, now the popular PBS Pledge show Christmas with The Celts is taking the U.S. by storm with their popular Christmas show. After two past sold-out performances, Christmas with The Celts returns to The Ridgefield Playhouse on Sunday, December 10 at 8pm as part of the Pepsi Rock Series Powered by Xfinity.
This year’s event, which is partially underwritten by Heidi’s Inn, features The Gray School of Irish Dance and the St. Stephen’s Choristers. The popular PBS Pledge show features a mix of lively traditional Irish music and instrumentation with American pop music and their own originals along with ancient Irish and Scottish carols and traditional Christmas favorites. This year’s performances includes Celtic rock versions of “Jingle Bells,” “Run, Run Rudolph” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.
The Celts lineup stars, Ric Blair on vocal-guitar-bodhran & piano along with female lead singer and all Ireland champion fiddler and Irish dancer, Eimear Arkins. Rick and Eimear will be complemented by an array of top-flight musicians on uilleann pipes, Irish whistles, fiddle, bodhran, banjo, five-string bass, drums and of course, the crowd-pleasing Irish dancers. Christmas with The Celts isn’t just a concert; it is a celebration of the holiday spirit, people, community, and common connections. You can’t listen to Celtic-flavored music and not be happy! Media sponsor for the evening is 90.7fm WFUV.
Some of the musicians that have performed with The Celts include Donegal fiddler Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, Irish singer Cathy Jordan from Roscommon, Ireland, Riverdance piper Ivan Goff, from Dublin and Braveheart/Titanic Movie piper Eric Rigler just to name a few. The Celts perform in venues around the world including The Grand Ole Opry, Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, Lincoln Center, and many other Performing Arts Centers, Theaters, and major Casinos. The Celts have also shared the stage with Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, John Anderson, Tim O'Brien and many others. The Christmas with The Celts PBS pledge show was so successful that it was aired country wide for three years.
Ric Blair, founder of The Celts’ was a promising jazz major at the University of Cincinnati's prestigious College Conservatory of Music until a chance encounter changed the entire course of his life. "A buddy of mine said, 'Hey there's this Irish group playing tonight,' American-born and Nashville based Blair remembers. It took a little prodding, but he agreed to give the concert a shot. "I opened the doors, and people were literally dancing on the tables," says Blair. "The music was so happy. As soon as I heard the pipes and Irish whistle, something in my blood hit me and said ‘this is what I want to do’." Today, Blair reigns as one the country's most respected purveyors and historians of Celtic music. He and his band, The Celts, pack concert halls all across North America. Blair credits the group's popularity to their unique blending of Celtic traditional instruments and modern hit songs and sounds, as well as the success of their PBS-TV Christmas special Christmas with The Celts. "I'm proud of my Irish/Scottish roots, but I am equally proud of my American music roots. So, our music has become a product of merging the two cultures."
For tickets ($47.50), call the box office at 203-438-5795, or visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org. The Ridgefield Playhouse is a non-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT.