Celtic Festival and Highland Games of the Quad Cities



2017 Performers

  Friday (9/15/17), 1 pm - 2:30 pm, Main Stage
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Milwaukee Irish band áthas lights the dance floor on fire with a combination of traditional and newly composed Irish dance tunes. Fierce fiddle, driving bodhrán, and funky guitar riffs come together to lift listeners’ feet, drinks, and spirits.

The band found each other and their voice as an ensemble while playing in Irish sessions around Milwaukee throughout 2005. Spending their time between tunes laughing and joking inspired them to make music together and their name, which is the Irish word for joy and happiness.

The band’s blend of exciting music and fun-loving attitudes quickly earned the admiration of Milwaukee’s Irish set and ceili dance communities, as well as audiences throughout their hometown stomping grounds. áthas has become a favorite act at Irish music’s premier event, Milwaukee Irish Fest, gathering praise for the excitement of their stage shows and the energy they display playing in the dance tent.

áthas is a band firmly rooted in the traditions of Irish music, constantly seeking inspiration from the past masters and passing on their knowledge by teaching throughout Milwaukee. The band remains receptive to new influences, and continues to impress audiences with their new compositions as well as their passion, energy and love for making music.

Black Hawk Pipes and Drums
  Saturday (9/16/17), 11 am - 11:30 am, Athletics Field
Saturday (9/16/17), 1:30 pm - 1:45 pm, Athletics Field
Saturday (9/16/17), 2:30 pm - 2:45 pm, Athletics Field
Saturday (9/16/17), 3:30 pm - 4 pm, Athletics Field

The band began in 2000, under the initial sponsorship of the Scottish American Society of the Quad Cities and we are now in our sixteenth year of parades and concerts in the Iowa/ Illinois region known as the "Quad Cities" and other surrounding communities.

Our music consists of many of the traditional 2/4 4/4 6/8 marches with our own mixture of reels, jigs, hornpipe, strathspeys and slow airs. Our venues are parades, concerts and special services both indoor and out. At some venues we conduct workshops for those interested in either the pipes or drums.

  Friday (9/15/17), 7 pm - 9 pm, Main Stage
Saturday (9/16/17), 3 pm - 4:30 pm, Main Stage
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Calan bring together the remarkable talents of 5 young musicians giving a fresh and vibrant sound to traditional Welsh music. With a contemporary and lively approach they breathe new life into the old traditions through their sparkling melodies, foot tapping tunes and spirited and energetic performances of Welsh step dancing.

They blast their way through some of the old favourite reels, jigs and hornpipes with fast paced and uplifting arrangements before melting into some of the most beautiful and haunting songs.

The group, who’ve raised some eyebrows with a deliberate policy of eye-catching clothes and presentation, despite the ancient roots of their music, see themselves as a new generation of ambassadors, striving to take their new sound to new audiences, while raising the profile of Welsh traditional music on an international level.

With their unique instrumental blend fiddles, whistles, guitar and bagpipes and a traditional reed instrument from Wales called a pibgorn made from a wooden pipe and the horns of a bull.  Great fun, a sense of humour and step dancing from a champion dancer who dances in a style unique to Wales.

Champagne Academy of Irish Dance
  Saturday (9/16/17), 4 PM - 4:30 PM, Dance Stage
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 2017-Champagne-Academy.jpg   Champagne Academy of Irish Dance and director, Trea Champagne TCRG, is a member of An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (Irish Dancing Commission) in Dublin, IRE (CLRG) and is located in North Liberty, Iowa. Dancers from all over Iowa come and start training around 3 years of age, but have classes for children through adults. Classes are available for those interested in Irish dancing for recreation, performance, or competition. They also work with local and international Irish musicians and performers such as: The Beggarmen, Danu, Lunasa, Gaelic Storm, Cara Butler, and The Chieftains. Stop by their performance to learn more about Ireland and Irish dance!
Colleen's Clogging and Celtic
  Saturday (9/16/17), 12:30 PM - 1 PM, Dance Stage

Colleen's Clogging & Celtic (C3) is a group of dancers who perform the beautiful, fun, and energizing styles of Irish Step Dance, Scottish Sword Dance and American Clogging. They perform at many festivals and events throughout the year around Midwest.

Drops of Green
   Saturday (9/16/17), 7 pm - 9 pm, Main Stage
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Drops of Green are a band of four young Irish men hailing from Laois, Kilkenny and Waterford. Formed in early 2014 they are Ireland’s newest and most exciting young balladeers. Featuring a variety of instruments, from Mandolin to Accordion and Whistles to Guitar, their show is a must see for Irish music fans young and old alike.

Combining this vast instrumentation with blissful four part vocal harmonies they cover all of your favourite Irish melodies within the show’s setlist, while bringing their own unique and modern style to all of these classics, along with a wealth of tradition, storytelling and passion. Drops of Green’s unmissable show is packed with energy and entertainment.

In a short space of time they have already toured America for 11 months where they have performed in Las Vegas, Boston, New York and Florida to name but a few and are currently back and forth to Europe such as Germany, Italy, Netherlands and France performing at festivals. Drops of green are quickly building a fan base both home and abroad and are looking forward to releasing their brand new original album in March 2017.

  Friday (9/15/17), 11 am - 12:30 pm, Main Stage
Saturday (9/16/17), 5 pm - 6:30 pm, Main Stage
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Front man Victor McMullan grew up singing with his friends in the pubs of Northern Ireland, and he understands that when people spend their hard-earned money on a night out, they want to have a good time; they want to laugh, sing, and be part of the show. For a decade, Exorna has been leaving people with smiles on their faces, playing music that is authentic and down to earth, singing songs loaded with humor and sentimentality, fiddlling tunes Irish dancers can dance to, and doing it all on traditional instruments. Victor and his crew are keeping alive a truly vanishing art form, and have practiced their craft at pubs, festivals, wakes, public television, and everywhere in between!

   Friday (9/15/17), 3 pm - 4:30 pm, Main Stage
Saturday (9/16/17), 11 am - 12:30 pm, Main Stage
17342942_1262632057190750_3761859527397467318_n.jpg   Three individuals that enjoy each other's company and have a ton of fun playing music together! The three are Rob Dahms, Howard Hilliard and Joe Nobiling. When Heather joins us, it's even more fun!
Laural Almquist
  Saturday (9/16/17), 12 PM - 12:30 PM, Dance Stage
Saturday (9/16/17), 3:30 PM - 4 PM, Dance Stage



Laural Almquist is a 17 year old harpist from Galva, IL. She has been playing the harp for 7 years, and in those 7 years she has released two albums: A Celtic Christmas and Dreamers and Stars. Laural plays gigs all around central Illinois for all different sizes: from twenty-five people in attendance to thousands. The Quad Cities Celtic Festival and Highland Games is a favorite of hers, an event that Laural loves to play for each year. This past April, Laural played the National Anthem for the Quad Cities River Bandits baseball team.

At the end of September, you will find her in two episodes of the NBC hit show, Chicago Fire. Laural is not just involved in her community, she is also involved in her school. Since her freshman year, Laural has been the captain of the Galva Scholastic Bowl team, the head of the Alto Section in Chorus, part of the Homecoming Skit and Banner team for the Class of 2018, a member of National Honor Society, the “sole member of the Galva orchestra,” and has gone to state many times, both with choir and with her harp.

Patsy O'Brien & Dick Hensold
  Saturday (9/16/17), 9 am - 10:30 am, Main Stage

A concert of traditional Celtic music, but with unique and innovative arrangements, including a variety of songs from Britain and Ireland, accompanied by guitar and Northumbrian smallpipes (a quiet bagpipe from Northeast England), or various whistles. It also features traditional and historical tunes from Cape Breton Island, Scotland, Ireland and Northumberland, with a good measure of original music in the traditional style. As well as a broad range of styles of Celtic music, this program also features an impressive range of expression, from the jaunty and humorous to soulful, led by Patsy’s warm and multi-colored baritone voice, Dick’s variety of pipes and whistles, and the nimble instrumental virtuosity of both musicians.

Patsy O’Brien, vocals, guitar. As well as supplying the driving guitar rhythms of Celtic/World Music diva Eileen Ivers’ last European tour, and collaborating with many giants of the Celtic/World music scene (Paddy Keenan, Cathie Ryan among them), award-winning artist Patsy O’Brien hosts guitar workshops all over the country, and NPR saw fit to feature one of his song arrangements on the prestigious All Songs Considered. With 4 critically-acclaimed solo albums under his belt, along with numerous live and studio collaborations, Patsy’s songwriting reflects his penchant for seamless genre-hopping, and a strong interest in roots Americana as well as jazz.

Dick Hensold, Northumbrian smallpipes, Scottish reel pipes, whistles and recorder. The leading Northumbrian smallpiper in North America, for the past 20 years Dick Hensold has performed and taught in England, Scotland, Japan, Canada, and across the United States. He is an active composer, writing both music in the traditional Celtic idiom, and more contrapuntal pieces. This repertoire is featured on his solo CD, Big Music for Northumbrian Smallpipes, released in 2007. He is also a studio musician and theater musician, and is a 2006 Bush Artist Fellow.

   Friday (9/15/17), 5 pm - 6:30 pm, Main Stage 
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Meaning trip or journey in Gaelic, Turas is, a journey of friends who gather to share songs, stories, and good times (what the Irish call craic).   Playing a wide variety of Irish/Celtic music, Turas never fails to deliver on good music and good times.  So sit back, draw yourself a pint, and join us in the journey.

Wylde Nept
   Saturday (9/16/17), 1 pm - 2:30 pm, Main Stage 
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Wylde Nept was started when a few of the guys found each other during a camping trip at a Celtic music festival and have been playing ever since. Their music, primarily inspired by traditional folk, is lively, fun and sure get your face smiling and foot tapping.

Seemingly with out effort this band is able to take a crowded room of people from all different back grounds and ages and transport them all to a different place. The music starts and people seem to forget about their daily problems and issues and raise a glass with someone they may or may not even know and begin to sing along to an Irish tune.


They have been called a folk band, rock band, and have even opened for Fog Hat once upon a time. But they don’t just perform the music, or try to re-create the songs how they may have originally been presented. Instead they capture the feeling behind the songs and do an incredible job at putting it to music and sucking in the audience.

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