DUNEDIN — The Scottish American Society of Dunedin will present the inaugural Dunedin Live: Haggis Winter MusicFest, a four-day series of free and ticketed events spread out over 10 partner venues in downtown Dunedin.
Dunedin Live: Haggis Winter MusicFest will run Jan. 23-26 and feature concerts, workshops, films, dance, whisky tastings and traditional music sessions. The event is designed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Scottish American Society of Dunedin as well as Robert Burns, the arrival of the Imbolc — Celtic spring — and the sun-soaked community of Dunedin.
The introduction of the Haggis Winter MusicFest follows the 2018 launch of Haggis Celtic Concerts, a monthly series of concerts at the Scottish American Society’s historic meeting hall at 917 Louden Ave. in downtown Dunedin. Since its premiere, the series has presented touring groups such as Runa, the Tannahill Weavers, MacGilliossa, Daymark, The Screaming Orphans, Seven Nations, One For the Foxes, Derek Warfield & The Young Wolfe Tones, The Finns, The Byrne Brothers, and Skerryvore.
According to event organizers, Dunedin Live: Haggis Winter MusicFest is designed to be similar to Temple Bar TradFest in Dublin, Ireland; Celtic Connections in Scotland; and other urban festivals that use public and private spaces — including historic churches — and offer both indoor and outdoor concerts. Presenters seek to bring more Celtic music and culture to the community and to promote the Scottish American Society of Dunedin. The nonprofit organization is currently raising funds for restoration of its historic meeting hall as well as the middle school and high school dance and music programs and Dunedin Cares, the local food pantry.
The festival will feature live performances by many local and regional musical artists, as well as international acts such as Scottish band Skerryvore, the Ashley Davis Band, House of Hamill and Seven Nations.
Skerryvore will perform Thursday, Jan. 23, 7:30 to 10 p.m., at the SAS Meeting Hall, 917 Louden Ave., Dunedin. Tickets start at $25.
Skerryvore began as a Ceilidh band on the Hebridean island of Tiree, Scotland, and has evolved into a unique fusion of folk, trad, rock and pop. Two Gillespie brothers — Daniel, who plays accordion; and Martin, who plays pipes — grew up on Tiree. They tapped their friends Fraser West, a drummer; and Alec Dalglish, a guitar player; to form a new band. Later additions include Craig Espie on the fiddle, Jodie Bremanson on bass, Alan Scobie on keyboards and Scott Wood on pipes and whistles.
The band’s musicianship and the mesmerizing voice of singer Alec Dalglish has made Skerryvore an international sensation, performing in cities such as Beijing, Madrid, Munich and New York. They are two-time winners of Scotland’s Traditional Music Live Act of the Year Award. Their newest album, “EVO,” hit No. 1 on the World Music Charts. They have just announced they will celebrate their 15th anniversary as a band next June by hosting a weekend concert with 15 special guests and friends at Inveraray Castle in Scotland.
Skerryvore also will take part in a whisky tasting event Friday, Jan. 24, at the meeting hall; and will headline a free concert Saturday, Jan. 25, in Pioneer Park.
Ashley Davis will perform Friday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m., at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 639 Edgewater Drive, Dunedin.
Davis began performing live throughout the Midwest region at the age of 14. Four years later, she began her undergraduate study at Nashville’s Belmont University, taking advantage of Belmont’s renowned music program and studying literature from the Irish, British and Latin traditions, while also performing solo at many of Nashville’s pubs and venues, including the legendary Bluebird Café. Pursuing a graduate degree from the Irish World Academy of Music & Dance at the University of Limerick, Davis then earned her master’s degree under the direction of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin.
In 2006, she journeyed to the Isle of Man, where she was an artist in residence, capturing and recording the native Manx language, as well as the melodies and stories of the island.
Davis also will take part in events at the SAS Meeting Hall and will perform at the free concert Saturday, Jan. 25, in Pioneer Park.
Seven Nations will perform Friday, Jan. 24, 9 to 11:30 p.m., at Flanagan’s Irish Pub, 465 Main St., Dunedin.
The original Seven Nations lineup of drums, guitars and bass made room for bagpipes and fiddle to develop a unique Celtic sound and driving, original songs, honed by 20 years of touring and more than a million miles on the road. Their rollicking style is blended with a charismatic, passionate stage presence creating an unforgettable live experience. Seven Nations has been touring since 1994 and has played the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, New Year’s Eve at Scotland’s Royal Mile and at the New York City Marathon. Their latest album is called “Tales from the Eighth Nation.”
House of Hamill will take the stage Thursday, Jan. 23, 9 p.m. to midnight, at Flanagan’s Irish Pub, 465 Main St., Dunedin.
Rose Baldino and Brian Buchanon met 10 years ago in Pennsylvania when Buchanon’s band Enter the Haggis and Baldino’s group Burning Bridget Cleary shared a stage. They became musical collaborators in 2014. Whether House of Hamill is playing songs from their debut album “Wide Awake” or stomping through a set of original jigs and reels from their follow-up “March through Storms,” their chemistry onstage is always engaging and often hilarious.
In the summer of 2018, their quirky all-violin cover of “Sweet Child of Mine” went viral, amassing over 15 million views and more than 400,000 shares on Facebook in just a few weeks, and was picked up by publications all over the world. House of Hamill is on the bleeding edge of a new generation of traditional musicians.
Among the other musicians schedule to perform at Dunedin venues as part of the inaugural Dunedin Live: Haggis Winter MusicFest are Dennis Panars, Brendan Nolan, S.G. Wood, Dean Johaneson, Frank Califuira, Mighty Fine Peppers, Benjamin Road, Meg Shannon, Steve Avery, Born Again Heathens, Pio Ryan & David Gilmore, Those Meddling Kids, Jonathon Di Renzo, Steve McNulty, Big Jim & Kenny and Paleface.
Tickets may be available at the door for some concerts, workshops or other events but this is not guaranteed due to limited seating in each venue. A complete listing is available online at www.haggiscelticconcerts.com.