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Irish Music Festival comes to Deer Valley

Imagine if St. Patrick’s Day in Park City was 75 degrees and sunny. This weekend, Toby Martin of Park City Concerts and Rick Butler of local Irish band Swagger are delivering the next best thing.

The two forces are joining together to bring the inaugural Irish Music Festival to Deer Valley’s Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater on Sunday, Aug. 1, from noon until 8 p.m. The celebration will feature live music, close to 80 performers, traditional Irish fare and of course, plenty of Guinness.

The festival is something Butler has wanted to bring to Park City for a couple of years. He has been eyeing potential venues and crafting his vision since he moved to Utah, but it wasn’t until he started working with Martin, executive director of Park City Concerts, that he was able to nail down the details.

The band lineup for the festival includes local favorites Swagger; Irish tribute band The Wailing O’Sheas; the recently reunited Slaymaker Hill; Celtic ska band The California Celts and headliners The Young Dubliners.

"This kind of music you don’t hear on the radio every day," Butler says. "There’s a lot of storytelling involved and a lot of energy in this music that other types of music don’t have. It’s something you have to go to a festival to get the gist of."

According to Keith Roberts, co-founder, vocalist and guitarist for The Young Dubliners, Irish festivals in the United States have become more numerous and more popular than they are in Ireland.

The festivals started as a way for Irish-Americans to gather together and celebrate traditions of the homeland, Roberts says, but the appeal has expanded beyond Irish transplants to a much larger demographic.

Roberts, a native of Dublin, started The Young Dubliners with fellow Irishman Brendan Holmes in the late 80s. They are joined by three American-born members who have wholeheartedly embraced Irish music and culture. "We’re working on developing their Irish accents every day," Roberts says.

The group plays original music as well as cover songs paying tribute to Irish bands. They draw from various other genres of music but maintain traditional Irish and Celtic sounds. "It’s such a wide range of influences, and I believe that’s what makes us unique," Roberts says.

The show in Park City will also feature guest member Eric Rigler, a Uillean pipe and pennywhistle master who has worked on film soundtracks such as "Titanic" and "Braveheart." Audiences can expect to hear stirring renditions of songs from the films, Roberts says.

The performance at Deer Valley will be The Young Dubliners’ first all-ages show in the state. "We’ve been playing Utah for a long time and I always wondered when someone was going to do an Irish festival," Roberts says. "We were thrilled to say, ‘We’ll absolutely do this and help you get this thing off the ground.’ I think this could really develop into a fun event every year."

In addition to live music, the Irish Music Festival will include performances by the Crawford Irish Dancers, the Webber Academy of Irish Dance, the Heathen Highlanders and the Utah Pipe Band, as well as a "vendor village" and a children’s area with arts and crafts, face painting and games.

Deer Valley will prepare a special Irish menu featuring corned beef and maple bacon sandwiches, apple oregano slaw, Guinness mustard aioli and Irish cheddar on a potato roll. A large beer garden will be open to guests 21 and older.

Festival sponsors include Guinness, Miller Lite, Sport Kilts, Piper Down and The Hibernian Society.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 11. Gates open at noon and the music continues through 8 p.m. Coolers and picnics are welcome. Tickets are available in advance at http://www.smithtix.com and at the Deer Valley box office or the day of the festival at the gate (prices increase to $20 for adults). VIP packages are available through Piper Down in Salt Lake City. For more information, visit http://www.myspace.com/IrishMusicFestival .

Performance schedule

1:15 p.m. California Celts

2:15 p.m. Wailing O’Sheas

3:15 p.m. Webber Academy of Irish Dance

3:30 p.m. Heathen Highlanders

3:45 p.m. Slaymaker Hill

4:30 p.m. Heathen Highlanders

4:45 p.m. Crawford School of Irish Dance

5:00 p.m. Swagger

6:00 p.m. Crawford School of Irish Dance

6:15 p.m. The Utah Pipe Band

6:30 p.m. The Young Dubliners


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