Okotokian brings colourful Irish heritage to the stage
Arts: Performance features Celtic music and dance March 15
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 11:58 am
An Irish-born lad who grew up with that country’s traditional reels, jigs and upbeat Celtic songs is bringing his rich heritage to Okotoks.
During a storied career between 1967 and 2011 Sean Buckley became an Irish icon in Calgary as the former producer of the Irish Liffey Players Drama Society, founder of the Celtic Folk club, executive with the Irish Cultural Society and player of the badhran (a Celtic drum) in a variety of Irish bands.
Now a resident of Okotoks, Buckley has his sights set on his new community as a spot to bring his favourite music.
“What I’m trying to do is lay out the groundwork for what might become a folk club in terms of format, content and venue,” he said. “Okotoks is a smaller community, but I don’t see it being any different. Okotoks appears to be a very strong community in support of the arts and entertainment.”
Buckley is bringing Celtic Collective, a collection of four Calgary area Celtic music and dance groups, to the Okotoks Rotary Performing Arts Centre on March 15 at 7:30 p.m.
The evening will feature three-member Celtic band Get Reel, Okotoks’ Scoil Bhriomhar Irish Dance, Calgary musicians The Sunday Nite Band and Irish born singer and guitarist Shae Scully. All performers will be unplugged, relying on the building’s acoustics to carry their sound.
“What I’m trying to do is establish a Celtic presence in the community and provide a forum where we can present a broad spectrum of primary Celtic song, music, dance and even storytelling,” said Buckley. “They go from the ridiculous to sublime – drinking and fighting songs to love songs.”
Scoil Bhriomhar Irish Dance co-owner and head instructor Ali Hampshire said she is happy to have the opportunity to showcase the talent of her Irish dancers. She said Celtic Collective further promotes the Irish culture in Okotoks.
“Sean has done things like this in Calgary and it’s been a huge success,” she said. “Bringing this to the town will add to the culture and multi-cultural mosaic we have here in Okotoks. I’m sure it will be a huge success and hope to see more in the future and hope we can be a part of that.”
Whistler and step dancer Deborah Mandzuk of Get Reel said the band is bringing songs from the Maritimes to the Okotoks stage.
“We do some Irish Celtic tunes, Cape Breton tunes with some dancing thrown in there,” she said.
Mandzuk said she is eager to work with Buckley in his initiative to bring his Irish heritage to the stage in Okotoks.
Celtic music was a part of Buckley’s life from the beginning. His father was a drummer in a dance band, his mother a singer and pianist and his uncle a storyteller, so it’s no wonder Buckley is a natural on stage.
With roots that deep he is eager to share his history with others as an emcee, actor and musician.
“I really enjoy having a stage,” he said. “I just like to be out there putting a face on this Celtic stuff.”
Buckley said he hopes to draw on local and regional Celtic performers and showcase their talents, whether it’s a professional dancer or someone who loves to play the fiddle.
“I want to provide a stage for grassroots performers,” he said. “Not necessarily those aspiring to go on the road but those who have something to offer and deserve an opportunity to get on stage.”
Buckley has already lined up a second show at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre for Nov. 9.
Advance tickets to see Celtic Collective on March 15 can be purchased for $15 at the Okotoks Art Gallery or by calling 403-938-3204. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20.
Refreshments and snacks will be available for purchase.