Music pulls community together at Celtic fest

By Carol Feineman

Like half the musicians at this yearís Celtic Festival, Alasdair Fraser subbed for another musical act who could not travel to Northern California.

Fraser was to play at the New Hampshire Highland Games this weekend, but the Nevada County resident could not find any air flights. He agreed Friday to headline KVMRís concert the next night and invited Los Angeles and Bay Area fiddlers to join him. Fraser also pulled a few members of Saturdayís bands some musicians he met just that day ó and formed an impromptu band along with area musicians Isaac James, Gary Campus and Rob Bonner.

With the first chords of Fraserís set, a few thousand in the audience were on their feet.

"Thereís a lot to say (about this week), but Iím in a mood to celebrate life," Fraser said after the first song. "Tonight, I want to share international and human values ... I want to see people get up and dance."

That seemed to give the audience permission to rush to the stage, as jigs, reels and airs followed for almost two hours. The audience members who remained in their seats clapped their hands, tapped their feet and loudly voiced their approval.

For his finale, Fraser invited 26 smiling musicians and dancers onto the stage as the audience screamed for more.

"It was even more of a sense of coming together than I imagined," said Fraser, minutes after his performance.

"Iím glad I live here," Fraser added softly.


Audience mail:

"Your music and energy was like a healing salve for our family the likes of which we will never forget." -- H. & A. L.

"We were moved deeply by what you were able to accomplish... The "world" sound, along with the lovely old Methodist hymn, was a long, cool drink of water for our spirits, parched by the searing tragedy of the week's events. Thank you, and God bless you for your healing presence." -R. & S. S.

"In times of crisis and need, there are always a few who rise above the ordinary. Mr. Fraser not only played as the headliner on Saturday night, but, much like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, coaxed a host of others to join him in what he called a "celebration of life," ...drawing together friends and neighbors to begin healing the pain and fear caused by the past week's events. I am deeply appreciative of the great gift Mr. Fraser gave his audience, a reaffirmation of the resilience of the human spirit." -- B. S.

"The music was magnificent [and] the pulling together of everyone as a community was great." B. & G. D.

"Thank you for your incredible energy that saved our wonderful Celtic festival!!" -- L. S.

"My father is still speaking of Alasdair's performance and generosity.. Thank you! Thank you. Thank you. You certainly brought a bright spot to our dreary world. Blessings," --M. B.