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Exceptional performances and much, much more

 HUERFANO — The 10th annual Spanish Peaks Celtic Music Festival with events staged in Walsenburg, La Veta, Cuchara and Gardner from last Thursday through this past Sunday was packed with exceptional performances by each of the attending international stars of Celtic music. As wonderful as the performances were (more than one or two of those performances were the “best I have ever witnessed”), it was the other part of the festival that I will never forget. The instrument, story telling, singing and dancing workshops combined with the session playing and demo performances offered intimacy, education and a whole lot of fun. For example, during one of the performances, I listened intently as Máirtín de Cógáin (Singer, Bodhran/Drum Player and Storyteller Extraordinaire) told a slightly naughty, outrageously funny story involving shiny ball bearings, gastric distress and shooting the cat. Aside from the fact that my ribs hurt from laughter, it was a delight to witness a master storyteller as he worked his magic on the audience. What was even better was the opportunity to sit in a workshop with eight other people and participate as Máirtín discussed the history and art of storytelling in Ireland. Rather than a formal, structured approach, the workshop was more of a conversation for an hour and a half about Ireland and storytelling and how to entertain. In the process we learned a little about Máirtín de Cógáin and his passion for music, Ireland and the safe intimacy of sharing a story whether fact or tall tale. According to Máirtín, the important thing is “Do you see my soul?” At the performances this past weekend, the one commonality among all groups was that, no matter how much fun the audience was having, the performers always appeared to be enjoying it more. I happened to mention this to one of the performers, commenting that it appeared the members of the band were having so much fun they would be willing to perform for free. With a devilish twinkle in his eye he informed me that, “We all work for free. We get paid for the travel.” As I smile and reflect on the great experiences of this past Celtic Festival weekend and anticipate what next year’s festival will bring, I am reminded of another saying that sounds a lot like a Yogi Berra quote. “I am nostalgic about the future.”