Monday, 16 March 2009

Southern Illinois Irish Festival

April 2009 Southern Illinois Irish Festival Features Musical Families

The 13th annual Southern Illinois Irish Festival, coming to Carbondale April 24-26, will showcase musical ensembles with family relations. The two main acts for the Saturday night concert at McLeod Theater on the SIU campus will be a group of four young adult sisters from Scotland called Give Way, and a family of 12 from Nashville, The Willis Clan.

Give Way is made up of the four Johnson sisters from Scotland: Fiona on fiddle, guitar, & whistle; Kirsty on accordion; Mairi on keyboard; and Amy on percussion. They all sing also. Their myspace website says, “The musical diversity of the group encompasses Scottish traditional and folk music, with haunting airs and lively jigs, energetic blends of folk-jazz, vocals, harmonies and bold tunes.” Their website is This is one of the top young bands from Scotland, not to be missed!

The Willis Clan consists of Brenda and Toby Willis and their 10 children, all of whom are involved in Irish music and dance. Local whistle maker Michael Burke has heard them perform at other festivals and says “They are right up there with the best Irish bands I have ever heard.” Check their website,, to learn more about Jessica, Jeremiah, Jennifer, Jeanette, Jackson, Jedidiah, Jasmine, Julie, Jamie, and Joy Anna!

Give Way and The Willis Clan will perform at McLeod Theater on Saturday night, April 25. The Friday night Celtic rock concert will be at Copper Dragon Brewing Co., featuring last year’s surprise crowd favorite from Indianapolis, Mother Grove.

The Friday night acoustic concert will feature acclaimed Irish singer-songwriter-guitarist Gerry O’Beirne, playing at Cousin Andy’s Coffeehouse at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Carbondale.

The Festival’s Celtic Fair will take place at Turley Park throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, with local family band favorite The Bankesters, as well as The Dorians, Blackberry Blossoms, Banjovi, Etherton Switch, Duddy Breeks (Scottish band from St. Louis), and well-known fiddler Dennis Stroughmatt with a presentation on Creole Music from the Illinois Country.

The Celtic Fair days will also feature children’s activities, Highland Games, Celtic merchandise vendors, food and drink, a roving Scottish bagpiper, and much more. Details are available on the festival website,, and will be in the program guide by mid April. Advance concert tickets are available through the Festival website. Call 618-303-3320 for further information.

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