On January 1st 2004 Salsa Celtica were the first artists to perform on BBC Radio 3's live transmission from Lock 17 (formerly Dingwalls) in London. This is the culmination on BBC Radio 3's annual World Music Day and a high profile start to an important year for Salsa Celtica.
Three weeks later on Friday January 23rd Salsa Celtica performed in the Strathclyde Suite of Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall in front of an audience of industry and Scottish fans as part of the Celtic Connections Festival. This was a debut performance for new material developed during autumn/winter 2003. Salsa Celtica's performance at Celtic Connections was later broadcast on television on BBC4 on Friday 5th March. Further blurring the boundaries between salsa and Celtic sounds and daring to tear down the walls that define musical genres with a irrepressible energy and an inventiveness that always leaves audiences gaping, in 2004 Salsa Celtica are ready to declare their intent to take their place as one of the foremost World Music bands of the UK.
Salsa Celtica's remarkable success story began in 1995 in the bars and clubs of Edinburgh and Glasgow. They were an immediate hit with the locals and the newly arrived Hispanic community. After recording their debut album
'Monstruos y Demonios' (Monsters and Demons), Salsa Celtica took their music around the village halls of Scotland: from Skye to Mull, Iona to Barra, Lewis to Orkney, Ullapool and everywhere in between.
After this they saved up their pennies and headed off to Cuba to hang out with salsa groups, including Son14 and Sonora La Calle, and generally soak up Afro-Cuban sounds in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Swapping whisky for rum they were asked to join in at musical/religious "bembe" gatherings and were invited to worship the Afro Cuban "orichas". After acquiring new tastes and skills they returned to Scotland to sign to Scottish label Greentrax and to release two albums 'The Great Scottish Latin Adventure' and there current album 'El Agua De La Vida'.
Following on from a sensational breakthrough in 2003 when 'El Agua De La Vida' reached number 5 on the World Music Chart of Europe and number 24 in the end of year round-up 2003 World Music Chart for Europe and was also their first album released in the US on Compass Records, 2004 saw the band take their unique fusion of Latin and Celtic sounds on tour in the UK for the first time. The nineteen date tour highlight was a sold out headline performance at the UK's premier World Music venue, Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank on Friday April 16th as part of the La Linea Festival, which saw the entire audience on their feet throughout most of the show and much dancing in the aisles.
In support of their UK tour, Salsa Celtica re-released the album El Agua De La Vida on March 1st 2004. The album gained a prestigious Top Of The World recommendation in the UK's foremost World Music magazine Songlines.
'This is a tremendous album which further establishes this unique group as a dynamic force on the world scene.' Songlines
The album also achieved the paper's highest rating for its review in London's Evening Standard the week before their show at Queen Elizabeth Hall,
'Just what it says on the tin, a great Scottish salsa band that manages to combine the Cuban charanga sound of flute and fiddles with a Highland blend of flute fiddles and bagpipes…one style flows naturally into another and there is a fizzing instrumental musicianship. Live, they are a storm.' Evening Standard
During the tour the band were featured on BBC Radio 2's flagship folk programme The Mike Harding Show on April 7th. On April 4th The Andy Kershaw Show on BBC Radio 3 also broadcast a session and interview with the band, specially recorded at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios.
The UK tour was followed in the summer by a series of high profile festival dates including Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Dublin's Temple Bar Festival, Ghent's (Belguim) Pole Pole Festival, Northern Ireland's Celtic Fusion Festival and the National Theatre's Watch This Space Festival on London's South Bank.
In Autumn 2004 they will perform in front of 40,000 people as part of the prestigious BBC Proms In The Park in September and in November they have been chosen to close Belfast's Queen's Festival.
2004 has seen Salsa Celtica establish themselves as an important force in World Music in the UK and beyond, winning new fans and reaching a new level of profile and critical acclaim.
Musicians who perform with Salsa Celtica include
Toby Shippey (trumpet), Lino Rocha (vocals), Dougie 'El Pulpo' Hudson (congas), Adam Sutherland (fiddle), Phil Alexander (piano), David 'Demus' Donnelly (bass guitar), Steve Kettley (saxophones, flute, jaws harp), Éamonn Coyne (banjo, tenor guitar), Fraser Fifield (bagpipes, whistle, saxophones), Ryan Quigley (trumpet), David 'El Chimpo' Robertson (bongos, percussion), Chris Stout (fiddle), Eric Alfonso (timbales).
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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Our current header image was taken by Nick Bramhall and you can find the original here.