Family band Celtic Spring brings St. Paddy's spirit to Prescott
This "Von Trapp family of Celtic music" jigged their way to the top five of the finals of NBC's "America's Got Talent."
Celtic Spring is Greg and Mary Wood and their six children ranging in age from 7 to 22, five of them fiddle players, all dancers.
The Southern California-based touring outfit has appeared on American morning television shows, festivals, theaters and symphony performances around the U.S., Canada and Europe, and is scheduled to play in Prescott on St. Paddy's weekend.
Greg Wood defines Celtic Spring's music as mostly traditional Celtic, with original compositions reflecting the Wood children's musical education background.
"Everyone is also classically trained on the violin, so that whole discipline of classical music really helps their virtuosity in the folk style, and brings in a lot of different arrangements that have that influence," Wood said by phone from Birmingham, Ala., adding that the kids also absorbed bluegrass, Norwegian and Appalachian styles at fiddle camps growing up.
Wood said the family's passion for Celtic culture evolved from his wife's upbringing in an Irish household and their own interests.
"She always wanted to play fiddle and do Irish step-dancing, but her mother had her doing piano and ballet. I love Irish music and dance, so she thought we should pass this down to our kids," he said.
Wood said after the first two kids took up violin and step-dancing at the age of four, all the others followed.
"Once the first two were doing it, everyone else after that knew this was just part of life, and all wanted to do it. We didn't start out with the goal of actually being a band; we started with the goal of passing down the tradition of Irish culture of music and dance," Wood said.
Celtic Spring was born out of the kids performing in public places to try to earn money to attend fiddle camps.
"It started out with birthday parties; then they got invited to play weddings. Then it was festivals; now it's theatres,
TV, and everything else," he said, adding that the children even took over the band's musical arrangements and choreography.
"They learned much from people they studied under - great fiddlers from Scotland and Ireland, and teachers from Ireland for the dancing - and they made it their own. They are the band. My wife and I are basically the backup for what they're doing - my wife plays the keyboards, (and I'm) on percussion - but they're the ones making it happen. It's become their passion," he said.