Third Annual Celtic Festival Missoula: For the Fans


On Saturday, July 28, the Third Annual Missoula Celtic Festival took place with beer, food, dancing, and music.

The pasties from Lisa’s Pasty Pantry were sold out by 7:00 p.m. but the festivities carried on. Highlander Beer Battered Fish and Chips from Sean Kelly’s became the food of choice while two stages continued to feature bands and artists. With people dressed in kilts and the temperature hitting in the upper eighties, the cold kegs kept running and ice cream lines were long.

The highlights of the evening were the bands on the east side of the bridge that played back to back. Each band was great in their music and fun in their onstage and offstage banter. The band, Screaming Orphans, a group of four sisters from Donegal, shared with the audience their mishaps in losing luggage. This luggage happened to have their t-shirts and CD’s in them.

In her Irish brogue Joan states, “I don’t know why it went to Denver. It doesn’t make sense, we weren’t even going there.”

The Screaming Orphans wanted to play more for the audience who seemed to really enjoy their rendition of “I Would Walk 500 Miles”, a one-hit wonder song by The Proclaimers, asking the audience to sing: “Shot of Vodka, Shot of Vodka, and a rum, and a rum, and a rum, and a rum, and a coke!”

In private, the Screaming Orphans were as ‘full of it’ as they were onstage-talking over each other and excited to share. They never disclose their age.

Vocalist and electric guitarist Grainne says, “It is a lonely life in a way. We are all single and have been for a long time. We don’t date musicians.” Joan, their singer and drummer, chimes in, “It takes a really strong man to be with us.”

Even though it can be lonely the women love what they do and hope to return to Missoula to perform again. The Orphans say more often lately they have been heading up The Young Dubliners and really like doing it. Grainne says, “It is much, much better being the lead in to the main show. We just prefer it.”

Backstage, there was so much food and none of the Screaming Orphans wanted to eat before their show. Keith Roberts, vocalist and acoustic guitarist from the Young Dubliners, was about to make his appearance backstage. Grainne and Joan were getting ready to leave to appear onstage when Joan looked at me and said, “You tell that Keith not to touch a morsel of this food. Leave it for the Orphans!” She grins and heads out.

According to the Missoula Downtown Association, this is the first time a main stage was set on the east side of the bridge. This allowed for people to sit on the stairs leading up to the bridge and for people to see the faces of the performers on the stage from Higgins. The Young Dubliners often times mentioned during their performance the spectators on the bridge.

Including them in the music, Keith pointed and said, “You guys up on the bridge, get ready to jig!”

Keith says about Celtic Festival Coordinator Shannon Lukes that “she understands.” Shannon flew in the soundtrack performer for Titanic and Bravehart , Eric Rigler. He plays the Celtic Uilleann Pipes and at this time is not touring with the band for he is currently working on other projects.

On stage, after Rigler’s performance of one of his tunes from Braveheart, Keith turned to the crowd and said, “You may not know it, but he is THE man who wrote and performed this for the soundtrack.” The energetic and animated frontman then played it up to the audience even more when he continued, “Did ya think we’d bring an imposter!?”

Rigler blew everyone away and had everyone rocking during his small solo electric pipe performance with his rendition of Jimi Hendrixs’ Voodoo Child.

The Young Dubliners are on stage 200 days per year. When asked what they may want their fans to know that we don’t know about them Keith said, “Many of my long-time friends were fans first.” Keith told a story about a man he met at a show and they ‘partied’ afterward. “We call each other when things are good or bad in life. This friend of mine flies in unexpected at a show for the weekend. I can’t believe it! He is a solid lifetime friend. We have nicknames for each other; we never call each other by our first name. I call him General, he calls me Patton.”

Brendon Holmes (bass guitar and vocals) said about having a family or kids, “Not that I know of!” That was his answer for everything.

After the show, Bob Boulding (electric and acoustic guitar and vocalist) was walking back to the Wilma. While thinking deeply about what he wanted everyone to know, Bob said, “We don’t ever rehearse, only about one or two days out of the year. We perform so much we are always in shape musically. It’s great! We get together and we run a few chords. We collaborate then we go out and play the music for our fans. It’s about playing live for them.”



Read more of Leisa’s stories about the Missoula music, drama, and theater scene.


Missoula writer Leisa Greene Nelson

Call her a big city girl at heart, finding and satiating that appetite in the city of Missoula. Born in Butte and raised in Missoula, she is fascinated by people and looks for interesting characters to write about.  Everyone has a story to tell, or not, but the people and places in Missoula are unique.

Moving fast in life (for that big city feel) Leisa’s passions bounce around music, theater, food, art, family, and  friends that’s supported by an IV line of dark roasted coffee. A recent graduate from the University of Montana with a BA in Creative Writing, she learned what it was like to be a co-ed in her 40s.

She currently works as an Office Manager at Inter-State Studio and Publishing, working on school photos and yearbooks. Her personal life and nightlife is where she discovers and creates creative non-fiction stories. She has four supportive, loving children:  Dustin, Michael, Jalynn, and Mark (adopted through marriage to Dustin) who are all artistically creative in writing, theater, dance, and singing.  Leisa likes to think she moves faster than they do.