Rolling out a Celtic yule log

Carolina Ceili wrapsup traditional music in contemporary arrangements.

Nollaig shona daoibh! For those whose Irish language skills are rusty, that’s “Happy Christmas to You.” In that spirit, Asheville’s Carolina Ceili will host a special Celtic Yulefest concert at White Horse Black Mountain on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. featuring seasonal music and traditions from the Celtic lands and beyond, plus a few  special surprises. 

In Ireland, a ceili is a community gathering with traditional music, dancing and storytelling. Regional favorites Carolina Ceili will lead the yuletide revels with a lively mix of fiddle tunes, songs, carols and sing-alongs. The event also marks the release of the band’s newest CD, “Holiday Hooley.”

Carolina Ceili is made up of musicians from diverse backgrounds who have gravitated toward Celtic music. Founder Maggie Anderson (bodhran drum/flute) is classically trained and sang opera, musical theater and various styles of popular music before launching Atlanta’s popular Keltic Kudzu band in 2000. Last year she left Asheville to return to Atlanta, but has kept Carolina Ceili alive as a dual city venture.

Asheville’s Marcos Harkness (mandolin, bouzouki) is a native of Panama with a wide range of musical influences from Latin and classical to punk and blues. He discovered bluegrass and traditional Irish music while at Penn State and in Washington D.C.’s lively folk scene. 

Laurie Fisher (fiddle/flute), a professional fiddler and exuberant stage presence for more than 20 years, is a fixture on the Asheville traditional dance scene as a musician and contra dance caller. She’s also been known to hold forth on tinwhistle, piano, guitar, bass and accordion.

The band’s newest addition is 2016 Asheville transplant Zach Dean. He grew up on Irish music and Jimmy Buffet while travelling the world as a self-described "Air Force brat" but later discovered Broadway musical and heavy metal. After a completing a classical music education in college, he was a  performer/arranger for an orchestral medieval thrash metal band while simultaneously arranging Irish melodies for solo acoustic guitar.

  Everyone contributes to the group’s signature four-part vocal harmonies, a key to Carolina Ceili’s love for wrapping up traditional music in contemporary arrangements. The band’s music can also be enjoyed on their CD, "Fifty Shades of Green."

The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 advance/$20 door.