Ceol Cridhe performs different sort of folk music


The music Ceol Cridhe (a Gaelic phrase pronounced keel cree) plays is a little hard to characterize. It's pan-Celtic music, according to group member Bob Cox, with tunes from Irish and Scottish traditions as well as some other Celtic cultures.

Ceol Cridhe is comprised of Cox, on fiddle, bodhran, another drum and on backup vocals; his wife, Bryn Bowen Cox, on harp, keyboard, sometimes concertina and on backup vocals; and lead singer Jack Twombly on guitar and bouzouki, a stringed musical instrument from Greece that is somewhat like a mandolin. Ceol Cridhe has been together more than five years, and all members live and work in Frankfort.

Cox says the music the band plays doesn't get a lot of airplay in the United States. Listeners might recognize some melodies, but not realize they originated in Celtic tunes.

"If people are curious (about Celtic music), they can come and we'll do the best we can to entertain people," he notes. "I think people have a preconceived notion of what traditional or folk music is. They might be surprised when they hear (the music of Ceol Cridhe). It is much more accessible than they may realize."


Ceol Cridhe's music has a "heavy emphasis on jigs, reels and hornpipes," Cox adds.

"Most of the music is traditional, meaning lot of the stuff we play, the tunes of songs are fairly old - 100 or 200 years old, and some much older," he explains. "There are tunes that aren't done in a traditional vein. And we lean toward ballads.

"(Themes in the music include) people's love for their homes, and immigration and exile, which is one of the consistent themes of Celtic music. And there is unrequited love."

Although the group members are not strict traditionalists, Cox says, they play instruments that are traditional, such as the fiddle, guitar, harp and bodhran.

"But we have some electrified instruments. Bryn plays the electroharp. ... And the bouzouki has started to creep into Celtic music. It is an instrument that comes out of Greece, and is like a long-necked mandolin. It has been picked up by a number of Celtic bands, and has a pretty prominent place in a lot of Celtic acts."

Ceol Cridhe has played all over the state, including at the Kentucky Music Week in Louisville, state occasions and private events in Frankfort, a music festival at Locust Grove in Louisville, and Celtic music festivals in Cincinnati and Virginia. Occasionally, Cox notes, the band plays for traditional dances in Lexington.

Cox says describing why the members of Ceol Cridhe like the Celtic tradition is difficult.

"It's very hard to understand why people like what they like. I hear (Celtic music) and think everybody should like it. I think I like the traditional nature of it. I've been crazy about fiddle music all my life, and this is one aspect of it that appealed to me. ... It is natural for us to want to do this."

If you want to go

Ceol Cridhe performs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Weisiger Park. The concert is free, as it is part of the Whimsy in Weisiger series.

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