Highland Games builds lineup

January isn't too early to start thinking about the 2011 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

Celtic Force front man Donovan Murray is already lining up acts he's calling "unforgettable."

"We felt like it would be a good year to be able to introduce some new faces to the event as far as the entertainment is concerned," he said.

And, while the music centers on Celtic tradition, it comes from a multitude of genres, including world and bluegrass.

"We just look for bands that can relate to folks and that have a pride in the heritage that they're representing for their music," he said. "It's an ongoing process."

And this year's additions promise not to disappoint.

They include Saor Patrol (www.saorpatrol.com), Skerryvore (www.skerryvore.com), Rathkeltair (www.rathkeltair.com) Cutthroat Shamrock (www.cutthroatshamrock.com ) , The Blessed Blend (www.theblessedblend.com) and George Hamilton IV (www.georgeiv.net).

MT has the skinny on your first look at Highland Games 2011.

Saor Patrol

Think tribal.

Around since the '90s, these guys grew out of the "initiative that happened around the 'Braveheart' film," Murray said, and these guys are into history. Outside of their music careers, the crew has appeared as extras in movies like "Gladiator."

"We are absolutely beside ourselves to perform for you all," band member Charlie Allan said via e-mail.


"They're the young guns of Celtic Rock, the hottest thing in Scotland this year," Murray said. "They have a lot of energy and they combine a little bit of country in with some of their stuff."


With two members hailing from Seven Nations, they're a self-described "Celtic rock jam fusion experience."

"These guys have been around a little while," Murray said.

Cutthroat Shamrock

"They are Appalachian Celtic punk," Murray said.

Their website says they are what would happen "if bluegrass and punk rock walked into an Irish pub and got kidnapped by pirates."

The Blessed Blend

They're a "Native American Celtic group," Murray said, with a special connection to the games, according to the band's Laralyn Riverwind.

"My husband and I attended the Highland Games as guests ... and an elderly man at the games was the one who told us the story of the term blessed blend (the term to describe the union between a native person and a Celt) ... and it was at those games that the name of our band was born," she said.

George Hamilton IV

He's "for all those folks who want the traditional side of things," Murray said.
The 50-year music vet originally hails from Ashe County.

This is just part of the lineup. The Highland Games happen July 7 through 10 at MacRae Meadows at Grandfather Mountain, and it's never to early to plan your trip! For more information, visit www.gmhg.org. by Lauren K. Ohnesorge from Mtn Times

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