There is a music festival coming that deserves special mention. It is the Crossroads International Celtic Festival set for Wednesday to Sunday, Sept. 15 through western Maine. I recently telephoned Phill McIntyer, director of New England Celtic Arts and the Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center as well as the Artistic Director of this huge festival.

Q: From all I’ve read about this upcoming event, it seems to be the biggest, most extensive festival of its kind in the state. Is that correct?

McIntyre: There’s nothing like this anywhere in Maine. This is modeled after Celtic Colours in Cape Breton — that started out, and has always been, a nine-day festival. What has happened up there over the last 17 years is they now have almost 300 events taking place around Celtic Colours. So if you would envision Crossroads as being the skeleton, over the years we’re going to be able to hang a lot of flesh on this thing. And it already has taken that shape in that we’re having visual arts shows during the festival — art walks — and we’re having a few workshops. In the future, we’ll have many, many more, and one of the features that we have are what we call the Giant Jam. We’re going to have a jam session at the Bethel Inn on Friday the 13th with some good players to lead out. And then in Rumford, we’ll be having a jam session on Saturday, Sept. 14. They’re open to the public — no charge — and people can bring their instruments to the Bethel Inn and they’ll meet downstairs in the pub and just have a big jam session. The same thing will happen in Rumford right on Congress Street at a place called Stella’s.

Q: I take it folks can purchase tickets on the festival website?

McIntyre: Yes, they can. And there’s a YouTube channel on there where you can watch 24 different performances from some of the groups that are coming. We actually have about 43 different performance groups coming. The real exciting thing about Crossroads is that it really highlights who we are in western Maine, and we’ve done this specifically for Franklin and Oxford counties because it’s just the right setting. We’ve been working with all of the performing arts groups within the two counties. The focus of our festival is Celtic and it comprises Irish, Scots and Acadian — a lot of people don’t realize that Acadians are from the Celtic Nations — they’re from the northern part of France and they are very definitely Celtic. Their music is very Irish in flavor.

Q: Do you have any Maine performers in the mix?

McIntyre: Maine musicians are well-represented … we have a really good percentage of Maine performers that will be shoulder-to-shoulder with international performers.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this “What’s Happening” article?

McIntyre: Through Skye Theatre over the years I’ve been presenting Celtic music throughout Maine … and we are building a very deep music culture here in western Maine. For those in the Waterville/Augusta region, it’s a very quick jaunt up here into this western Maine area. We have shows going on all the time, but as far as this festival goes it’s very close by and it’s going to be an extremely satisfying experience for people to come to the festival. When they check out the website, they’ll see that we have performances in towns all around the area over here: Rumford, Farmington, Lovell, Fryeburg and Bethel. We want to engage not only people from away but, more importantly, we want to engage the people who live within these communities where we’re going to have these events. Because of my work over the years, we’re not just throwing up a trial balloon. We’re launching this off from a fairly solid platform of people who are used to the type of music that we are going to be presenting. If I could, I would like to especially mention our opening event that’s happening at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris Wednesday … it will be hosted by MPBN personality, Frank Ferrel — who is also a world-class fiddler — and will have performances by Fiddle-icious, The Don Roy Ensemble and Coig — which means “five” in Gaelic — a traditional group from Cape Breton that is very popular now.

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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