SYDNEY — Celtic Colours International Festival is the source of inspiration for a new festival of a similar nature being launched this year in Maine, and its lineup is full of Cape Breton talent.
© Submitted photo
The five-day Crossroads International Celtic Festival began Wednesday. It is the brainchild of artistic director Phill McIntyre, who first came to Cape Breton to attend Celtic Colours more than a decade ago.
“The festival is basically born out of Celtic Colours, I’ve been going to Celtic Colours since 2000 and I’ve been collaborating with Celtic Colours for a number of years,” he said. “I went to Celtic Colours and tried to figure out a way that I could bring this type of talent to Maine and this type of festival to Maine. It’s taken me 10 years to do it, but it’s coming good.”
He noted he’s been able to build Skye Theater Performing Arts Center with the help of the community and they have been regularly staging shows each week with artists from the Canadian East Coast.
Among the Cape Breton performers to perform at the festival are Buddy MacDonald, Burton MacIntyre, Chrissy Crowley, Còig, Dwayne Cote and Duane Andrews, Rachel Davis and Sprag Session.
“Còig played (Wednesday) night, and we had a really full house for our opening event, it was very successful,” McIntyre said. “We’re looking forward to three or four really good days here of performances with the Cape Breton artists.
The celebration of music and culture takes place in the towns and villages of western Maine and will include dozens of concerts, an extensive lineup of community events, and a nightly after-hours festival club at Sunday River in Newry. Artists have also travelled from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Scotland and Ireland, as well as from across the United States, to join the local musicians.
In addition to Celtic, the festival also has a strong Acadian flavour.
There is also a trade show and delegates have come from all over the United States and Canada, with a few also from Europe.
McIntyre said the Crossroads International Celtic Festival took a page from Celtic Colours’ book in planning programming.
“I like the intimate settings, the way that things are laid out in the programming and (Celtic Colours artistic director) Joella (Foulds) has done an absolutely fantastic, amazing job over the years in the careful selection of artists and pairing up shows that have themes and we’ve done somewhat the same thing,” he said.
He noted the festivals are not in competition, they are instead helping to build each others audiences, and Celtic Colours is actually being promoted fairly heavily at the Maine event.
He added he’s appreciative of the doors that have opened for organizers due to working with Foulds and Max MacDonald over the years.
“There’s quite a cross-pollenization going on between the festivals,” McIntyre said, noting that of all U.S. states, Maine has the highest percentage of attendees at Celtic Colours events.
He said he hopes to have even more Cape Breton artists involved last year.