Judy Hensley was the featured speaker at the recent Speak Easy meeting, entertaining her audience with a talk on the Spanish Peaks Celtic Music Festival in La Veta.
She said there were 36 performers, 14 of whom were born or brought up in Scotland or Ireland; several bands (two Scottish and one Irish and a Celtic rock band). Many of the musicians have studied at the University in Limerick, Ireland, which offers a degree in Celtic music. A Celtic band from Brazil was scheduled but had to cancel when they were denied work visas. But since they had just toured Canada, they came on tourist visas and offered free concerts, some just in front of the house where they were staying. Hensley said the people of La Veta house and feed the musicians so the festival will be possible.
The festival also offers many musical workshops on dance, guitar, harp, flute, fiddle, bodhran (Celtic hand drum), whistle, concertina, mandolin, and three kinds of pipes (Highland, small bag and Irish small pipes), and stand-up bass. Other workshops featured Highlands dress, Celtic weapons, story telling, Glasgow vs. Edinburgh (taught by the master of Scottish folk music, Ed Miller, who now lives in Austin, Texas, but is a native of Edinburgh).
Hensley also talked about the origin of the festival. Barbara Ewell, who lived in Gardner, went to Scotland in 1973 to study Celtic music and returned to Colorado with a Scottish harp maker, Jack Ewell, as her husband. Their daughter now lives in Scotland, but Jack and Barbara still live in Gardner, an even smaller town than La Veta. La Veta has only 800 people, but supports this festival with six or eight venues.
The Speak Easy Club meets at noon on Fridays at Felisa’s Mexican Restaurant. Visitors are welcome.