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No Festival This Year, So KVMR Honors It With ‘Celtic Saturday’ Special

Come for the music. Stay for the magic.

That’s been the KVMR Celtic Festival catchphrase for years, although this weekend’s 25th edition had to be postponed because of the pandemic. But the spirit is still there, and it’ll be celebrated this Saturday afternoon. Safely. On the radio.

“We’re doing this because we feel that it just won’t be Fall without the KVMR Celtic Festival,” says John Taber, the producer of the annual event.

So the festival hits the 89.5 FM airwaves with a “Celtic Saturday” special noon to 4 p.m., with special guests including Scottish fiddling legend Alasdair Fraser, who has headlined numerous times including the inaugural in 1996, plus the String Sisters.

KVMR Celtic Cadence host Irish native Annie Hestbeck was one of the original founders of the event in the mid-’90s and she sings its praises very nicely.

“Well, what a gift for our community with people coming from far and wide to gather together for a beautiful, cultural and entertaining weekend in our little hamlet,” she muses.

“So many Celtic performers have come here over the years and are so delighted to connect with the audience on the grounds and meet and greets at the KVMR Festival Artists area after their performance,” adds Hestbeck. “All of this for a benefit fundraiser for our beloved KVMR Community Radio.”

“I never would have envisioned this so many years ago when I landed here in the 1980s.”

“We’re all so disappointed that we can’t be together with everyone at the Festival this year,” notes KVMR Membership Director Adriana Kelly. “This’ll be the next best thing, being live in the moment on the radio that very day.”

Longtime Celtic Festival emcees Hestbeck and Jerianne Van Dijk will host the first two hours, with KVMR broadcasters and Festival veterans Laurie DesJardins and Jenny Michael on air 2 to 4 p.m.

KVMR is releasing a double CD set, “Music Magic: KVMR Celtic Festival Highlights Through The Years” available for a sustaining membership of $7.50 a month or a onetime gift of $89.50 or more via or by calling 530/265-9555.

“We tried to make it a combination, a cross-section of both the fun and the beauty of music played at the Festival,” explains DesJardins, who helped choose the selections with fellow broadcaster Andy Dooley-Miller.

“We’ve got the sweet lovely sounds of Maura O’Connell and Cathie Ryan, the upbeat and danceable songs of Skerryvore and Manran, and, of course, the sense of humor of The Elders.”

Other artists include Dervish, Baka Beyond, Sharon Shannon and Alan Connor, James Keelaghan, Bad Haggis, Molly’s Revenge and Emily Smith, among others. Included, of course, is Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas with “Highlander’s Farewell.”

Wake The Dead does a medley of decidedly non-Irish music with the Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and the Grateful Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil.”  And the final song on “Music Magic” is Dougie MacLean’s gorgeous “Until We Meet Again”.

“Obviously, with 24 different festivals, we didn’t have room for everyone,” adds DesJardins.

Included on the set is The Screaming Orphans, who have also sent producer Taber an 18-minute video that will kick off a post-radio hive of video activity from 4 p.m. into the night on KVMR’s Facebook page.

Taber also plans to run Celtic Festival video from previous years until 7:30 p.m. Saturday when the longtime Irish group Kila does a US & Canada Virtual Tour concert online for KVMR and other Celtic festivals. Registration is available online at

KVMR’s 2001 Celtic Festival came close to being cancelled just days after 9/11, but it turned into a two-day community healing with friends, old and new, hugging and smiling at each other on the weekend after the attacks on Manhattan and Washington, D.C. It was perhaps the first community event following 9/11 here.

Fraser — originally booked to play in the east — had his shows cancelled there and became the KVMR Celtic Festival headliner, replacing Richard Thompson. He also arranged for some professional Celtic musician friends to come here from Portland, Oregon to perform.

Every festival has been special, but that one just seemed extra special.

26th September 2020 – 7.30pm Local Time
Online Registration
Suggested donation of $10 to cover costs
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In January 2020, Kíla were one of the highlights at Folk Alliance in New Orleans and are making plans to tour the USA and Canada in 2021 & 2022.  Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, Kíla are bringing their unique live sound to KVMR Celtic Festival through an exclusive online hour long concert that will be streamed on September 26th at 7.30pm local time.

Kíla have collaborated with Danielle Devlin of to bring these festivals and venues together on September 26th 2020 for a unique KÍLA LIVE online concert.

Formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1988, Kíla’s unique and ever evolving sound, while rooted in Irish tradition, is inspired by a myriad of musical influences worldwide. Kíla’s 8 members stem from differing musical backgrounds, including Irish traditional, classical, folk and rock.

Kíla have played in over 35 countries and at notable festivals like the Montreux Jazz Festival, Edmonton Folk festival in Canada, WOMAD festivals in New Zealand, Spain and Australia, RWMF in Malaysia, Festival de Ortigueira in Spain, the Sziget Festival Hungary, the Electric Picnic in Ireland, Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival and Boomtown in the UK and many many more.

Often defined as contemporary Irish World music, Kíla fuse their own melodies, Irish (Gaeilge) lyrics, Irish folk instruments such as whistles, fiddles, Uilleann pipes and bodhrán with djembe, congas, drums, mandolins, brass and acoustic/electric/ bass guitars. Kíla’s eight members come from the differing musical backgrounds of traditional, classical and rock.

“Whatever it is… this is it. Kíla are right there at the cusp of it… Somehow you get the feeling they lit the fuse for the big bang.” – BONO

“One of the most beautifully euphoric live experiences” – BBC WORLD REVIEW

“Softly spoken off stage and complete lunatics on it, Kíla have torn up the rulebook with their wantonly eclectic mix of styles, Brilliant!” – HOTPRESS

“All the wonderful, shamanistic energy of the amazing Kíla” – NEIL JORDAN

Online Registration:
Donate to Kíla:
Kíla Facebook: @kilaofficial
Kíla Twitter: @kilarecords
Kíla Instagram: @kila_official_
Promoted by Gardiner Music (Ireland) & Canis Major Music (USA)