Gaelic Storm, Skerryvore and Carbon Leaf are among the favorites returning to the 23rd annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival at Riverplex this weekend.
As always, there are some new faces as well.
"Some of it goes back to roots and some of it is very contemporary," says festival director Nan Krushinski.
On the traditional side is Kevin Burke of The Bothy Band.
"He is widely considered to be one of the best Irish fiddlers anywhere," Ms. Krushinski says. "There's a great buzz about him coming. We're getting a lot of emails about him. I didn't know he had that underground following."
RUNA promises a contemporary take on traditional music, fusing sounds from Ireland, Scotland, Canada and the United States. "It goes back to the roots of playing kitchen parties in Ireland," the director says, "but with a more contemporary sound, which appeals to our audience, which is skewing younger."
The Olllam is an Irish jam band formed in Ireland by Ann Arbor, Mich., multi-instrumentalist Tyler Duncan (from the band Ella Riot) and Irish uilleann piper John McSherry (Lunasa),
"It is utterly groove-based," Mr. Duncan told AnnArbor.com. "We get people dancing when we tour in Ireland. Some people call it trance-y. The grooves are funky, but they are not funk. They are rocking but they aren't rock. They're kind of dark and pulsing. It's a cool combination, these simple stark melodies with a pulsing groove machine happening underneath it."
Rounding out the new faces is Clear Blue Sunday, which applies familial harmonies to a modern folk sound. Regulars should also watch for a live recording of ballad songs with Tom Sweeney, Evans & Doherty, and the Makem and Spain Bros., working under the banner of Seven Deadly Sons.
And don't show up too late this year, because, due to a noise curfew, the music is going to stop an hour earlier, at 11 p.m.
Along with the music, there will be a marketplace, Irish food, children's activities, storytelling, Irish dance workshops and performances, Irish dogs tent, special Irish Mass (Sunday 10 a.m.), plus an Irish in Rock traveling exhibit, Blarney Bingo, Irish Kerry and Dexter Cattle.
Pittsburgh Irish Festival
Where: Riverplex, between Sandcastle and Waterfront.
When: 4 p.m. to midnight Friday; 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: $10 advance; $12 at the gate; $8 senior (60+) and students with ID; $5 military active/retired and public safety officers with ID; children 12 and younger free; $3 admission Friday 4 to 6 p.m. www.pghirishfest.org.
Emerald Ampitheatre (EA), Celtic Spirit Stage (CS), Magners Pub Stage (MPS), Hedge School (HS).
4 p.m.: Macdonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh (EA), The Wild Geese (MPS)
4:15 p.m.: Donnie Irish (CS)
5:15 p.m.: Terry Griffith (MPS)
5:30 p.m.: Corned Beef and Curry (EA), Evans & Doherty (CS)
6:30 p.m.: Mike Gallagher (MPS)
6:45 p.m.: The Olllam (CS)
7 p.m.: Skerryvore (EA)
7:30 p.m.: Tom Sweeney (MPS)
8 p.m.: Bastard Bearded Irishmen (CS)
8:15 p.m.: Screaming Orphans (EA)
8:45 p.m.: Hooley and Ceili Dancing with Liz Shovlin (MPS)
9:15 p.m.: Red Hand Paddy (CS)
9:30 p.m.: Gaelic Storm (EA)
11:15 a.m.: Whiskey Limerick (EA), Children's Irish Dance Matinee (CS)
11:30 a.m.: Dennis Doyle (MPS)
Noon: Irish Dog Workshop (HS)
12:30 p.m.: Matthew Craig and The Kerry Tipper Band (EA)
12:45 p.m.: Callan (MPS)
1 p.m.: Tom Sweeney (CS), Irish Love Stories -- Alan Irvine (storyteller) (HS)
1:30 p.m.: Beginning Irish Language (HS)
2 p.m.: Bell School of Irish Dance (EA), Clear Blue Sunday (MPS), Kevin Burke -- Irish Fiddle Music Workshop (HS)
2:25 p.m.: Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance (EA)
2:30 p.m.: Screaming Orphans (CS)
3 p.m.: Dennis Doyle (MPS), More Irish Love Stories -- Alan Irvine (storyteller) (HS)
3:30 p.m.: Seven Deadly Sons -- Ballad Songs with Tom Sweeney, Evans & Doherty, Makem and Spain Bros. (EA)
4 p.m.: The Olllam (CS)
4:15 p.m.: The Wild Geese (MPS)
4:30 p.m.: Bodhran Overview (HS)
5 p.m.: Skerryvore (EA); Ancient Sport of Hurling (HS)
5:15 p.m.: Burke-Conroy School of Irish Dance (CS)
5:30 p.m.: Kevin Burke (MPS); The Wild West of Ireland (HS)
6:15 p.m.: RUNA with Dave Curley (EA), Evans & Doherty (CS)
6:45 p.m.: Clear Blue Sunday (MPS)
7 p.m.: Irish Ghost Stories -- Alan Irvine (storyteller) (HS)
7:30 p.m.: Makem and Spain Brothers (EA), Screaming Orphans (CS)
8 p.m.: Hooley and Ceili Dancing with Liz Shovlin (MPS)
8:45 p.m.: Skerryvore (EA)
9 p.m.: Solas (CS)
10 p.m.: Carbon Leaf (EA)
10 a.m.: Irish Mass (CS)
11:30 a.m.: Patrick Regan (bagpiper) (CS)
11:45 a.m.: Pittsburgh Ceili Club (EA), Dennis Doyle (MPS)
Noon: Highland Dancing (HS)
12:15 p.m.: Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh (EA)
12:30 p.m.: Pittsburgh Irish Reelers (EA), Cahal Dunne (CS), Beginning Irish Language (HS)
1 p.m.: Pittsburgh Police Pipes and Drums (MPS); Bodhran Overview (HS)
1:30 p.m.: The Olllam (EA)
1:45 p.m.: Kevin Burke (MPS)
2 p.m.: Solas (CS); Irish Names origins (HS)
2:30 p.m.: Ancient sport of Hurling (HS)
2:45 p.m.: RUNA with Dave Curley (EA)
3 p.m.: Na Gaels (MPS)
3:15 p.m.: Seven Deadly Sons -- Ballad Songs with Tom Sweeney, Makem and Spain Bros., and Evans & Doherty (CS)
3:30 p.m.: Intro to Highland Bagpipes, etc. (HS)
4:15 p.m.: Skerryvore (EA), Slua (MPS)